The winner of the 2017 Small Business Person of the Year Award is Kara DiPietro of Hospitality Millwork Construction, Inc. or HMC in Columbia, nominated by The Barbour Group.
A lifelong love of learning led Kara’s transformation from elementary school teacher to student of business. Kara started teaching right out of college and was quite content. It wasn’t until her father, Gerry Dzurek, founder of HMC, Inc., asked her if she had interest in taking over the family business that she transitioned from teacher to student.
HMC is a design build firm that customizes millwork for large food service operations such as hospital cafeterias. HMC designs and builds innovative unique café and dining facilities that maximize opportunities for innovation, functionality and design; from the back of the house kitchen space to the serving stations and dining room.
The business had been doing very well for over 20 years when Gerry sought to open another office in Los Angeles and asked Kara to come on board and take over East Coast operations. Kara left teaching and joined her dad, initially focusing on marketing and learning as much as she could about the day to day operations. It wasn’t long before Kara’s quest for knowledge had her up to speed on everything from construction and human resources to goals and metrics.
Since taking the helm, Kara has instituted process improvements, increased employee morale, grown revenues by 20% and has positioned HMC to become one of the largest design build millwork firms in the Mid-Atlantic Region. She currently employs 30, with annual sales of over $10 million dollars. Along the way, she sought assistance from the SBA Baltimore District Office and PTAP - the Procurement and Technical Assistance Program to learn more about government contracting..
Kara is a member of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Baltimore Committee and has been a vital partner in Sagamore Development’s manufacturing workforce development program, a seven week training program positioning students for jobs in the manufacturing industry.