Two Seacoast-area business leaders have been named New Hampshire award winners by the U.S. Small Business Administration


By: Michael McCord
Date: Monday, Apr 18, 2005
Publication: Portsmouth Herald

Lisa DeStefano, founder of DeStefano Architects of Portsmouth, which designed the Hilton Garden Inn project, was named the first-ever Woman Business Owner of the Year. Lewis M. Roch III of North Hampton, an entrepreneur who has started six companies, was honored as SCORE Counselor of the Year.

That desire is fueling a real estate boom downtown, where condominiums and town houses have been going up beside stately century-old buildings, with selling prices of $450,000 to more than $1 million, an unusually high price for this housing market.

DeStefano said she was "thrilled to be honored" with the SBA award, which she said comes a few weeks before her firm's May 1 celebration of its first decade in business.

"We have a great team in the office, and if I've been successful, it's because I've surrounded myself with people who trust and depend on each other," she said.

A Portsmouth native, DeStefano has seen her architectural company grow to 10 employees and break the million-dollar mark in annual revenue. She has been a strong advocate of reviving the city's northern tier.

In the past few years, DeStefano Architects has been part of some of the city's major commercial projects, including the Porter Street townhouses, Portsmouth Gas Light Co., and the 28 Deer St. complex.


"I grew up in the community and I'm a part of it," she said. "I take pride in being surrounded by these creations that change how life is (here)."

Though she works in a male-dominated field, DeStefano said, "I don't promote myself as a woman-owned business and I don't weigh my success as a separate male-female issue. "The award could be a positive thing if I can be a mentor to others," DeStefano said.

She has already been a mentor at the New Hampshire Women's Business Center and has served on various local boards, including the Seacoast Family YMCA and the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.

"Lisa is a wonderful leader and an outstanding businesswoman," said Ellen Fineberg, director of the Women's Business Center, which nominated DeStefano. "Her success inspires entrepreneurs."

Roch joined the Seacoast chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, three years ago after reading about the organization in a local newspaper.

Roch is one of SCORE's 10,500 volunteers who offer small-business counseling and training through a network of 389 chapters across the country, including six in New Hampshire.

"I am surprised and honored," Roch said about the award. "I didn't think I was doing anything special. I was just enjoying what I was doing and trying to help. I hope (small-business owners) get some benefit from the information I share."


Among Roch's numerous business accomplishments, he co-founded Objective Communications, a video networking company in Virginia that once had a satellite office in Portsmouth.


For the Seacoast SCORE office, Roch has been involved in various technology projects, including redeveloping the chapter's Web site and re-establishing a registry of local businesses to share with clients.


Roch and DeStefano will join the other award winners from across the state at the SBA's annual "Salute to Small Business" luncheon May 26 in Bedford.


The other 2005 winners are: William F. Whyte, chief executive officer of W.S. Badger in Gilsum, Small Business Person of the Year; Polyonics of Westmoreland, Exporter of the Year, winning not only in New Hampshire, but taking regional and national honors for its bar-code application products; Creative Optics of Bedford, Region 1 Prime Contractor of the Year; Peter and Leslie Van Berkum, co-owners of Van Berkum Nursery in Deerfield, Jeffrey H. Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year; Deborah Anderton, vice president of The Berlin City Bank, Financial Services Champion; and Linda Lin, founder of Butternut Design in Bedford, Women in Business Champion.

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