Small businesses SCORE during annual awards dinner

May 11, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • Vickie Hrabal, owner of Oak Hill Interior Design in Hagerstown, receives the SCORE Small Business Award Friday night from Bob Poor, SCORE small business mentor. The award was presented at the SCORE Small Business Awards dinner at Fountain Head Country Club.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Three years ago, Vickie Hrabal found herself without a job — so she created one.

The interior designer had been working for a kitchen and bathroom design company in Hagerstown when the economy tanked, and she was laid off in February 2009. Finding that no one was hiring designers in the area, she established Oak Hill Interior Design at 114 N. Potomac St.

"Crazy or not, I decided to open my own business," the former Texan told the members and guests at Friday's SCORE Hagerstown annual awards dinner.

She later said she now has two part-time employees and is considering hiring some designers on commission.

"I have about 20 clients now, and that's too much for one person," Hrabal said.

Hrabal was the recipient of SCORE's Small Business Award.

She thanked the organization for its help, as well as her husband, Craig.

"He's my IT Department," she said of her husband.

"Over the past three years I've been able to rely on SCORE to point me in the right direction," Hrabal said.

That included helping her decide how to set up the business, how to market it, and how to get involved with organizations such as the Rotary Club to get the company's name out in the community.

The Appreciation Award was presented to Charles Zemene for his long-time service in leadership role with SCORE, including chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer.

Zemene continues to serve as a counselor to new clients and a mentor to new chapter members.

SCORE Service Awards also went to the following people:

  • 15 years — Pat Halladay, Wright Gardner Insurance; Chris Marschner, director of Hagerstown Community College's Technology Innovation Center; and Richard Kidd, vice president, First United Bank.
  • 10 years — Harry Sachs, library director at Washington County Free Public Library; and Richard Walton, instructor at Frostburg State University.
  • Five years — Bob Jones, retired certified public accountant.
SCORE was established in 1964 as the Service Corps of Retired Executives to provide mentoring and counseling to start-ups and small businesses seeking to expand.

The Hagerstown chapter was established in 1983, but Chairman Bob Jones said most of its 22 members are still in business, not retired.

Of the six members who received years of service pins Friday night, Jones noted he was the only one who was actually retired.

In the previous 12 months, SCORE chapter members volunteered more than 700 hours assisting more than 270 new clients and held workshops attended by more than 300 people, Jones told the group.

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