Sherrill Lester, president of QMF Steel. (Photo: Jake Dean/Dallas Business Journal)

As a child, Sherrill Lester played on the floor of her father’s machine shop. She got used to the sounds and smells of metal work and eventually launched her own career in the steel industry.

Today, she is president of QMF Steel, a $6.5 million manufacturing business with 28 employees in rural Campbell, Texas.

Linda McMahon

Lester and her team worked with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Prison Industries to figure out a way to provide a less expensive yet superior rust remover and product preserver. In honor of these accomplishments, the SBA is proud to recognize QMF Steel as the 2017 National Prime Contractor of the Year.

As head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, I’m honored to advocate for QMF Steel and the other 28 million small businesses that employ half our nation’s workers and create two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S.

We at the SBA want to give more small businesses like QMF Steel a solid foundation on which to build their own success. Whether they are starting up or scaling up, the SBA has the resources to help them – right here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

The SBA provides services through the District Office, as well as resource partners like Small Business Development Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers, SCORE, and Women’s Business Centers in more than 1,000 locations nationwide. In 2016, these partners counseled and trained more than 1.2 million clients on starting, scaling and succeeding in business. They helped create more than 76,000 new businesses and 159,000 jobs.

Our community lending partners in the Lower Rio Grande Valley District provide financing solutions for those in need of capital. For the second consecutive fiscal year, more than $66 million in loans were approved to help start or grow new retail stores, medical facilities, restaurants and franchises, as well as construction, manufacturing and technology firms in the District.

And we train small businesses on how to compete for government contracts and the ability to sell their products and services to the world’s largest customer – the federal government. In the last five years, small disadvantaged businesses in Lower Rio Grande Valley District were awarded more than $450 million in federal contracts.

Finally, the SBA provides a helping hand to small businesses recovering from disasters.

These four roles – counseling, capital access, contracting, and disaster assistance, which we call “three Cs and a D” – aim to support small businesses at every stage, whether they are launching, expanding or getting through a tough time. My hope is that as more people learn about the services the SBA provides to small businesses like QMF Steel, we can continue to revitalize a spirit of entrepreneurship in Rio Grande Valley and the Coastal Bend areas and across the country.

Please join me in supporting local small businesses, and join the conversation on social media via #SmallBusinessWeek. For webinars available to all, and for information about events throughout the country, please visit