America's Best: Telling Their Stories Their Way

April 27, 2011
Post a comment

A new video series launched today by the U.S. Small Business Administration and ADP® offers insight into the story behind the story of six successful American companies.  Featuring the individuals who built their businesses from an idea to become industry leaders, the “America’s Best” series shares keys to success, best practices and lessons learned for today’s entrepreneurs.

“With this series, SBA and our partner ADP offer current and potential entrepreneurs a chance to hear from the people who built their big ideas into some of America’s most successful companies,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.  “These six people share their personal perspectives and insights into the challenges they faced, along with their failures and successes, while also offering an inspirational look at the resiliency behind America’s spirit of entrepreneurship.”

The “America’s Best” video series is available online at and on  The series was produced in partnership between SBA and ADP, a provider of human resource outsourcing, payroll services and benefits administration. 

Told from the perspective of company founders and key executives, the “America’s Best” videos profile once small U.S. businesses with remarkable stories of entrepreneurism, growth and success.  They are part of the SBA’s ongoing effort to celebrate entrepreneurship and provide small business owners and start-ups with relevant programs and resources to help them grow their businesses and create jobs.

“Throughout its history, SBA has provided critical support to tens of thousands of startups and small businesses,” Mills said. “This series highlights the stories of six of those firms and shares best practices and lessons learned that can be helpful to other entrepreneurs and small business owners who are working every day to grow their businesses and achieve their own piece of the American dream.”

“Like the SBA, ADP has a long history of supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses with a proven record of helping businesses grow.  ADP is proud to have worked closely with the SBA to make this series of educational videos available on the web and to honor some truly remarkable business success stories,” said Regina Lee, ADP’s president of Small Business Services and Major Account Services.  “We join the SBA in saluting the accomplishments of these six businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit of the people behind them, and hope that these compelling and motivating videos will inspire and inform others on the path to similar success.”

Featured companies in the “America’s Best” video series include:

  • Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation, Port Washington, Wis. - Established in 1922, Allen Edmonds operates 32 retail stores in 17 states, and is among a small minority of companies continuing to produce the majority of their shoes domestically.  Between 1979 and 1989, Allen Edmonds received SBA-guaranteed 7(a) loans totaling $2,265,000.

  • Cerner Corporation, Kansas City, Mo. - In 1979 the three founders, Neal Patterson, Cliff Illig and Paul Gorup, sat around a picnic table and decided to create a company.  Today, Cerner Corporation is an industry leader in medical system design.  In 1983 Cerner received a $200,000 7(a) loan and a SBA- licensed SBIC financing of $630,000 in 1986.

  • Columbia Sportswear Company, Portland, Ore. - Rescued from near bankruptcy, Gert Boyle took over operations of Columbia, started by her parents, and turned it into a $1 billion company.  The business received an SBA-backed loan for $15,000 in 1970.

  • The Gymboree Corporation, San Francisco, Calif. - Joan Barnes created Gymboree in 1976 as a place where moms and their children could play and exercise. Since then, it has become a giant corporation that includes almost 600 Gymboree retail clothing stores and nearly 300 Gymboree Play & Music centers worldwide.  Over the years, the corporation received investments totaling nearly $5 million from a SBA-licensed SBIC.

  • Radio One, Inc., Lanham, Md. - Among the largest African-American owned and operated media corporations in the United States, Radio One was started by Catherine L. Hughes in 1980.  Radio One owns and/or operates 53 radio stations located in 16 urban markets in the United States.  The company received investments totaling $9.5 million from SBA-licensed SBICs in the late 1990s.  Hughes also received an SBA-guaranteed 7(a) loan for $600,000 in 1980.

  • Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif. - Founded in 1964, Ruiz Foods is the top seller of frozen Mexican dishes in the United States.  Under the brand names of El Monterey and Tornados, it produces nearly 200 frozen Mexican foods.  Ruiz Foods co-founder Fred Ruiz benefitted from technical assistance through SBA-affiliated SCORE counselors and also received SBA-guaranteed 7(a) loans in 1977 and 1979 totaling $275,000.