BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo business owner Lenny L. Johnson, who with a partner and $7,500 built a two-man residential plumbing business into a multimillion-dollar construction management enterprise, has been named Region II Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA’s Region II comprises New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
He and the SBA’s other nine regional award winners have been invited to a White House reception on Aug. 26 during this year’s National Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference in Washington, D.C.
Johnson is president of L&D Johnson Plumbing and Heating, 1478 E. Delevan Ave., Buffalo, N.Y. He graduated from the UB Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership’s Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program in 2008 and its core entrepreneurial program in 2009.
Johnson and Donald Johnson (no relation) started the business in 1999. Their company now employs 28 and had revenue of $4.6 million last year from residential work and major commercial projects for customers that include the Buffalo Public Schools, the UB School of Dental Medicine, several Veterans Affairs hospitals in upstate New York and the Niagara Falls Air Force Base.
“I took this dream I had and I didn’t just dream it, I lived it,” Johnson says. The 43-year-old former Marine left a job as a master plumber with the Buffalo Board of Education to go into business. An invitation to the White House wasn’t in the dream.
Johnson credits the UB business programs with getting him to refocus on his business plans. “When my partner and I started, we didn’t know business. I was a plumber.”
UB’s Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program is a year-long series of courses and mentoring opportunities designed to help minority and women entrepreneurs move their companies to the next stage of development.
It has graduated more than 100 business owners. Located in UB’s Jacobs Executive Development Center on North Street in Buffalo, the program is a component of the UB School of Management's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The Allstate Foundation has provided underwriting support for the program since 2003.
The Wall Street Journal has ranked the UB School of Management No. 9 in the nation among schools with strong regional recruiting bases. In addition, BusinessWeek has ranked the school as one of the country's top 5 business schools for the fastest return on MBA investment, and Forbes cited it as one of the best business schools in the U.S. for the return on investment it provides MBA graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.