Ochman Receives Small Business Person of the Year Award

WARREN, Ohio – A local businesswoman was presented the 2023 Small Business Person of the Year award by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Cleveland District on Tuesday afternoon as part of National Small Business Week.

The award is based on criteria such as growth in employees, growth in sales, resiliency, overcoming adversity and community involvement.

Dawn Ochman, president and CEO of Dawn Inc., said her construction company will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The company does federal, industrial and commercial work. 

Dawn Inc. now has 35 people on staff, but Ochman said in the past 30 years it has gone through a lot of transitions

“In 1993, I started with one dump truck and was a subcontractor,” she said. “In 2008, when the economy shifted, we focused more on federal work, and that’s when we transitioned into construction. Since then, it has grown into the commercial and industrial markets.”

In the Mahoning Valley, Ochman said some of her more recognizable work includes the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, the federal buildings in downtown Youngstown, the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake and the YWCA.

Ochman was first notified she would be receiving the award a week ago.

“It’s so overwhelming and humbling,” she said. “The award is given to me, but the award is really to the whole team. We have an amazing team here. We get along well, and we work well together.”

The company also does a lot of charitable work in the community, Ochman said. Currently it is working with Dylan’s House to find housing for adults with autism.

“We sit down, we focus, we put our heads together, and really there is nothing we can’t accomplish,” she said.

As a small business owner, Ochman said it is her job to take care of her employees, and then they reciprocate that to the customers. 

“It is my job to have a pulse on what they need in the way of growth opportunities, in the way of training, in the way of benefits, and I need to foster a good culture for them, and then they will in turn take care of our customers,” she said.

Ochman said what kept the company afloat through the years was its ability to adapt with the times, even through economic hardships.

“In construction, you never know from year to year where people’s budgets are, how the economy is going to go, and winning or losing one job can be a growth to a decline from year to year,” she said. “You always aim to grow.”

John Turner, newly named director for the SBA’s Cleveland District, said Ochman fit this criteria best.

“It’s an award to recognize the hard work that small businesses across America with small underserved communities that have been working hard building their businesses – that’s what the Small Business Administration is here for – to help them reach their dreams,” he said.

Turner said the SBA has 68 offices across the U.S. and has evolved a lot over the years.

Although it varies from year to year, this year the SBA gave out only one district award, Turner said.

“National Small Business Week recognizes small business inspirational achievements and contributions to the community and our national economy,” he said. “The small business administration was created with the mission of helping businesses start and help them expand.” 

Pictured at top: John Turner, director for the SBA’s Cleveland District, and Dawn Ochman, president and CEO of Dawn Inc.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.