SBA announces award winners

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:22 pm

An Eau Claire businesswoman whose firm makes simulated babies that help teens understand the demands of pregnancy has been named Wisconsin’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2002 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Mary Jurmain, president and CEO of BTIO Educational Products, Inc., of Eau Claire, will be honored during the SBA’s annual awards breakfast on June 7 at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee.

She is one of 10 Wisconsin persons that the Wisconsin SBA office is honoring this year, including three from Milwaukee and one from Sheboygan.

Jurmain established Baby Think It Over after she and her husband Rick saw a television program about teenage pregnancy in 1993. The program showed teens carrying eggs and flour sacks to simulate caring for an infant. Rick thought those items were poor substitutes for infants, as there was no crying or waking up in the middle of the night. Mary commented to Rick that, since he was an engineer, he should invent something that does simulate an infant.

That’s exactly what Rick did, and the company was founded in 1994 while the couple was living in California. In 1996, they moved the company’s corporate and manufacturing facilities to Eau Claire. The firm is now known as BTIO Education Products (www.btio.com). BTIO has 61 employees and has grown to be a multi-million dollar operation. Mary runs the company’s daily operations. More than one million teens have gone through the company’s Baby Think It Over program.

Local winners of this year’s SBA awards program are Andrew Salamone, president of CarSpot in Milwaukee, young entrepreneur; Bevelyn Johnson, director/owner of AJA Enterprises, minority small business person of the year; Tina Kelly-Beckett, Miller Brewing, Milwaukee, minority small business advocate; and Stephen Kiefer, Kieffer & Co., Sheboygan, runner-up small business person of the year.

For more information on the Awards Breakfast, contact Mary Trimmier at 414-297-1093.

Jurmain is among 53 top small business persons – one from each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, and Guam – who will be honored by the SBA at national ceremonies in Washington, D.C. May 5-11. As the winner of the Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year Award, she could be named National Small Business Person of the Year during the national event.

2002 Wisconsin Small Business Award Winners

Small Business Person of the Year – Mary Jurmain, BTIO Educational Products, Eau Claire

Runner-up – Stephen Kieffer, Kieffer & Co., Sheboygan

Emerging Small Business Person – Trish Zdroik, TAZ Family Farm, Rosholt

Young Entrepreneur – Andrew Salamone, CarSpot, Milwaukee

Entrepreneurial Success – Lee Markquardt, Markquardt, Inc., Eau Claire

Minority Small Business Person – Bevelyn Johnson, AJA Enterprise, Milwaukee

Minority Small Business Advocate – Tina Kelly-Beckett, Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee

Financial Services Advocate – Michael Dempsey, Associated Bank, Neenah

Women In Business Advocate – Marian C. Walluk, Personnel Advisors, Inc., Madison

Accountant Advocate – John Krause, Virchow, Krause & Co., Oshkosh

Home Based Business Advocate – John Opichka, Urban Hope, Green Bay

April 12, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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