SBA Names Eastern Pa. 2017 Veteran-Owned Small Business of Year

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NEWS release

PRESS OFFICE

Release Date:

May 1, 2017

Contact:

Robert Goza (610) 382-3084 | robert.goza@sba.gov

Release Number:

20170501-002

Internet Address:

www.sba.gov/pa

SBA Names Eastern Pa. 2017 Veteran-Owned Small Business of Year

Bella Azie, Inc. with Firm President Dr. Win Somboonsong introduced May 5

EASTERN Pa.– U.S. Small Business Administration Eastern Pennsylvania Deputy Director Michael Kane officially introduces Eastern Pennsylvania’s Veteran-Owned Business of the Year, Bella Azie, Inc., with firm President Dr. Win Somboonsong May 5 at noon. Media are invited to attend.

WHO:       Michael Kane, Deputy Director, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District

                  Dr. Win Somboonsong, President, Bella Azie, Inc.

                  Sherwood Robbins, Managing Director, Seedcopa

                  Invited: Local, state and federal officials

WHAT:    Dr. Win Somboonsong’s firm, Bella Azie, Inc. (OC) & 217 W State Street Associates (EPC) introduced as 2017 Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year; media tour of business with interview and photo opportunities

WHEN:    May 5 at noon

WHERE: Bella Azie, Inc. 704 W. State Street, Media, PA 19063

“It’s wonderful to have the privilege to recognize the achievements of leading veteran-owned Pennsylvania small businesses,” said Antonio (Tony) Leta, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “Small businesses owners like Dr. Somboonsong are where the rubber meets the road. SBA and our resource and lending partners are proud to see these American entrepreneurs succeeding and helping drive our nation’s economy.”

Somboonsong was born in Philadelphia, Pa. Soon after, he returned with his family to Thailand where he lived until the age of 15 when he returned to attend Valley Forge Military Academy. After graduating high school, he attended Texas Tech University for his undergraduate degree. Seeking to continue his education, he entered the United States Navy ROTC program to complete his Master's degree. He attended Colorado State University and upon graduation, attended Officers Candidate School in Newport, RI and was commissioned as an Ensign in 1989. Somboonsong completed his education by earning a Ph.D. in structural engineering at Drexel University while assigned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard and Willow Grove Joint Air Base.

Leaving the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant (O-3), Somboonsong entered private business as a structural engineer specializing in design/renovation of large suspension bridges, including the renovation of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge. He left engineering and entered the restaurant business in order to better support his family. Working closely with his spouse, Sutilda Somboonsong, he opened Teikoku restaurant in Newtown Square, Pa. with the aid of an SBA 504 Loan issued through Seedcopa as the Certified Development Company in 2003. His concept was to provide a sushi-centric Asian fusion restaurant to the suburban community.

The Asian fusion concept was new to the suburbs at the time of Teikoku's opening. Somboonsong continues to provide upscale, Asian inspired food in a high-end setting at reasonable prices. The menu is adjusted seasonally to highlight the available, fresh ingredients and the quality and variety of the sushi selection is one of the best in the region. His collective restaurants have a long history of strong financial performance and cash flow, even during times of economic difficulty. The success of Somboonsong’s initial signature restaurant, Teikoku, has fueled the creation of four total restaurants in Delaware and Chester Counties under the Win Signature Restaurant moniker that now employs 180 individuals. The latter of the three restaurants was also financed by an SBA 504 Loan through Seedcopa in 2012.

Somboonsong has demonstrated strong staying power in an industry that is perhaps the most difficult retail industry in the region. A majority of restaurants will typically fail into two to three years; however, his first Win Signature restaurant (named Teikoku) opened in 2003 and remains financially strong and viable. He also adjusts his menu offerings and related pricing as necessary to ensure the business' survival and reserves as much cash as possible in the businesses so that they maintain a solid operating base during difficult economic times. Further expansion is planned for a new restaurant to be named Azie Southeast and significant renovations to the original Teikoku restaurant to include a permanent greenhouse and expanded garden dining. Both projects will further increase employment opportunities for the region.

“It’s wonderful to receive this award as the Veteran-Owned Business of the Year, because I wholeheartedly credit the successful management – and the success of my businesses – to my Naval training and service. The U.S Navy taught me the importance of making well-informed, decisive decisions and the importance of planning for problems that could arise,” Somboonsong said. “I also give credit to the SBA 504 loan program as an important factor in the success and expansion of the businesses. I was able to make use of the program’s long term fixed rate financing and preserve capital to support the working capital needed for stabilization and growth.”

“Seedcopa is proud to nominate Dr. Win Somboonsong for consideration as the U.S. Small Business

Administration, Eastern District of Pennsylvania Veteran-Owned Small Business Person of the Year for

2017,” said Sherwood Robbins, Seedcopa Managing Director. “Dr. Somboonsong has taken advantage of the capital preservation aspect of the 504 Loan program to create financial reserves that enable him to better support his businesses and create jobs in our community.”

For over 30 years, Seedcopa has helped businesses get the money they need to start, grow and expand with loan programs that promote economic development. Together with affiliate Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) and numerous other economic development partners throughout Pennsylvania, they help to grow local businesses, create and retain jobs and stimulate local communities. Their programs – through federal, state and local agencies – are a compliment to conventional, commercial loans. Benefits often include a long-term, below-market fixed interest rate, less money out of pocket or extra consideration of lower-appraised values. The Seedcopa team has over 75 years of combined government lending experience and a dedication to excellent customer service.

SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Veteran-Owned Small Business Person of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties. These events are local observances of the annual Presidentially-designated National Small Business Week. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director Antonio (Tony) Leta will present the Small Business Week Awards at the annual “SBA Awards” event May 24. The event is open to the media. The “SBA Awards” recognition event will begin at 4:30 p.m. on May 24 with the awards ceremony followed by dinner and networking at the Manor House at Prophecy Creek Park, 205 West Skippack Pike (Rte. 73), Ambler, Pa. 19002. SBA’s Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania. These events are local observances of the annual Presidentially-designated National Small Business Week. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy.

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To request interviews or photos, contact Robert Goza, SBA’s Public Information Officer in the Eastern Pennsylvania District Office, at 610-382-3084 or robert.goza@sba.gov.Cosponsorship Authorization #17-0303-67. SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact: Patricia Kratz, 610-382-3081 or patricia.kratz@sba.gov.