Jerry Petrick, small business advisor at the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), has been named the organization’s State Star and will be honored at this year’s SBDC national conference in September. Washington State University is the statewide host of Washington SBDC and Petrick is an employee of WSU.
“Jerry brings tremendous value to the network,” said Duane Fladland, Washington SBDC State Director. “He’s adept at helping business owners build their skills and confidence, and he helps colleagues do the same.”
The State Star award is designed to recognize an advisor who is a role model for the entire network, and Petrick is a deserving recipient, Fladland said. “Our network and business in Southwest Washington has improved thanks to him.”
Since joining Washington SBDC in 2011, Petrick has worked with more than 800 entrepreneurs to help them start, grow or buy/sell a business. Clients have credited him with helping them access more than $38 million in capital, start more than 62 companies and create or save more than 560 jobs. Over the past 10 years, Petrick has worked with clients at five different SBDC locations including Longview, Aberdeen, Edmonds and Snohomish. Petrick’s primary service area is Southwest Washington and he meets with clients in Vancouver and Kelso.
Tabitha Beneke, owner of Keys Plus in Longview, Washington, began working with Petrick in 2012 after her father died with no succession in his locksmith business. Beneke, who had no prior experience as a small business owner, considered closing the business, but 10 years later she’s still the owner and the business is thriving.
“Jerry is so personable. I feel safe sharing information with him,” Beneke said. “He was so great at teaching me, always ‘why?’ to ask. He encourages me to get to the bottom of everything, whether it’s good or bad, so we can nurture the good and fix the bad.”
Gary Walsh, owner of Top Notch Yard Service, began working with Petrick in 2020. In response to a customer satisfaction survey, he wrote that Petrick’s support was “invaluable”. “He gave us advice that literally helped save our business,” Walsh wrote. “Meetings with Jerry are not only useful, but every time we leave his office I feel an increased motivation and passion for my business.”
Every Washington SBDC management consultant must complete a rigorous certification process within six months of being hired, and Petrick has mentored more than six colleagues through this process.
Petrick’s most recent mentee was Kirk Duncan, an SBDC consultant in Yakima, who completed the certification process in April. Duncan, who was a successful small business owner for more than 20 years before moving into public service, said Petrick is an excellent mentor. “He really knows his stuff and has a great laid back attitude that makes learning the certification modules easy and enjoyable,” he said. “I was fortunate to have him as a mentor.”
In recent semesters, Petrick has served as a mentor/coach for student advisory teams participating in the WSU Vancouver Business Growth Mentor and Analysis Program. Petrick also mentored WSU’s capstone project Pullman Carson Business Solutions.
Petrick, who earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior from the University of San Francisco and an MBA from WSU, lives in southwest Washington with his wife, Michele. Together they explore all the beauties and experiences that the region has to offer.
Petrick is one of more than 35 SBDC business consultants working in communities across the state to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start, grow or buy/sell a business. The Washington SBDC is hosted by WSU and receives financial support from the US Small Business Administration, WSU and other higher education and economic development institutions. In addition to the 17 business consultants employed at WSU, more than a dozen SBDC consultants are employed within the Washington SBDC network at other universities or not-for-profit companies.