Whiteville Business Owner Receives Small Business of the Year Award from Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

WHITEVILLE — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services has honored Dee’s Power Up Cleaning Services founder Darlene Lane with a 2018 Small Business of the Year award.

The DVRS Small Business Award recognizes the success of clients who overcame disability to become self-employed and highlights community and state partners who provide critical support to entrepreneurs with disabilities. 

“All entrepreneurs face challenges to be successful,” said Tara Myers, DVRS division director. “But these inspiring entrepreneurs have shown the incredible grit and determination to create growing businesses while facing serious disabilities that might have stopped the rest of us.”
Lane first contacted the division in 2011 seeking help with starting a small cleaning business. She received a series of evaluations, and because of her disability and the variety of management skills required to run a business, her counselors didn’t initially support her goal of self-employment. Lane refused to give up and eventually gained support from her counselor who referred her to the Small Business Center at Southeastern Community College. Two years later, Lane had received her GED and was working with the community college on a business plan. 

Dee’s Power Up Cleaning Services faced some tests on its way to winning the Small Business of the Year award. Hurricane Matthew destroyed some clients’ homes, and Lane’s efforts to expand the business into small commercial areas proved unsuccessful, losing out on contracts to more established businesses in Columbus County. Again, Lane refused to give up.

“I’m from a tough part of New York,” she said.  

With help from Southeastern Community College, Lane began seeking government contracts in nearby Fayetteville and businesses outside of Columbus County. Dee’s Power Up Cleaning Services began winning contracts, and seven years after first meeting with DVRS to start the business, profits have grown beyond Lane’s targets.

Candidates are nominated by the division’s counselors, small business specialists and policy team. To be selected, the client must have successfully achieved their vocational rehabilitation goals, be willing to be publicly recognized and have overcome significant challenges in building a sustainable business. 

The division’s Small Business Advisory Committee, which includes entrepreneurs and other members of the state’s small business community, review the nominees and select a winner, who receives a plaque.

Other winners of the DVRS Small Business of the Year award were Charles Nembhard of Charley King’s Jamaican Jerk Sauces in Black Mountain, attorney Patrick Newman in Morehead City and David Tedrow of Senior Health Insurance Brokers, LLC, in Durham.

DVRS is dedicated to providing an array of comprehensive employment preparation and support services to people with disabilities seeking to gain, maintain or advance in employment. Additional services are provided to individuals seeking assistance to maximize their independence in their home and community.