SBA winners By: Vick Kolenc
Von Washington, CEO and owner of IDA Technology, a federal contractor, is the Small Business Administration’s 2018 Small Business Person of the Year for Texas and for El Paso. He and three other El Paso business owners; seven business champions, or business advocates; and two organizations received the El Paso SBA office’s annual awards, at a May 3 luncheon marking National Small Business Week.
Washington, who served in the Army 13 years, retiring from Fort Bliss as an air defense officer, opened Integrated Defense Applications, or IDA Technology, in 2007. The business, which does work for the U.S., military and other federal agencies, has grown to 96 employees in three offices in three states even though federal budget cuts in recent years have made getting contracts more challenging, Washington said. He did not divulge annual sales numbers.
“When times get tough, you find other areas to grow,” he said. That’s why in 2014, he started Prime Corporate Living, a division of IDA, to provide corporate housing in El Paso, he said.
His entrepreneurial spirit came from his grandmother, Ida, who operated businesses in his native Virginia for 50 years, Washington said.
“I spent time working with her” as he grew up, “and watching her succeed,” he said.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Adrian Padilla, 22, owner of Off the Grill food trucks. Padilla started his barbecue meat food truck when he was 17. He now operates two trucks and a food trailer permanently parked at El Paso Community College’s Valle Verde campus. He has six to 10 employees, including cousins, depending on the season, he said.
“I always liked to grill with my dad and my family at home,” he said. But it was his grandfather, who operated a construction business for years, who inspired him to become an entrepreneur, he said.