San Diego Business Journal

San Diegan Named Small-Business Man of Year

MiraCosta Offers Course In Self-Marketing Skills

by Lee Zion, Staff Writer

A San Diego man has been named as the 2002 Small-Business Man of the Year.

The U.S. Small Business Administration selected Robert Papera, president of Expo Industries, Inc., June 5. The announcement came at the 2002 Small and Emerging Business Annual Awards luncheon, jointly sponsored by the SBA and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

A Vietnam War veteran, Papera was stationed in San Diego, where he fell in love with the city. While in San Diego in 1976, Papera accepted a friend's offer to join Expo Stucco, a building supply company founded in 1929.

Papera and his family eventually bought the company in 1982. After that, the company expanded rapidly, opening four additional distribution centers in Southern California, according to the official biography information from the SBA.

Due to the collapse of the construction industry in the early 1990s, Paperas successfully restructured Expo and drove it to expand its markets internationally. At the same time, the company broadened its product line to include additional building materials.

Now, the company has a Southern California client base of 350, and also supplies materials to Mexico, China, Japan and the Philippines.

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Market Thyself: MiraCosta College is holding a series of small business seminars to help teach entrepreneurs the basics of how to market themselves.

The forums, offered through the college's Community Service Program, will be held on successive Tuesdays. Each program starts at 6:30 p.m. in Room 309 at Mira Costa's San Elijo campus, in Cardiff.

Topics include characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, types of business opportunities, setting up your business concept, and developing a mission and vision statement.

Classes are "Sales and Marketing Strategies for a Growing Business," June 11; "Strategies for Keeping Your Business in the Black," June 18; "Small Business Customer Service," June 25; and "How to Write a Business Plan," July 2. Each class costs $42.

For information or to register, call (760) 757-2121, Ext. 6820.

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Women's Get-Together: The Rancho Santa Fe Business and Professional Women's Networking Group will hold its monthly meeting June 20.

The group gives professional women throughout the area an opportunity to do business together, highlight their services or products on display tables, meet other professional women in the community, and more, said Judy Parker, spokeswoman for the networking group.

The speaker will be Steven Kern, director of European art at the San Diego Museum of Art. The cost, which includes lunch, is $19 for members with reservations, and $23 for guests and for members without reservations. The event starts at 11:15 a.m., at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

For information, call Parker at (858) 481-0713.

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Helping Hands: A new project at Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita, designed to help families with small children, will in turn get some assistance from dozens of helping hands.

Plaza Bonita's "Family Restroom," a family-friendly bathroom that allows parents to take all their children to the restroom at once and keep them together, was recently profiled in this column. Now, to mark its opening, the shopping center is holding a community art project which will help raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of National City.

Residents from throughout South County are invited to participate in the "Family of Hands" event June 15, starting at noon in Center Court. Shoppers are invited to paint handprints on the tiles, which will then adorn the wall along the corridor to the new restroom, said Ronnie Warmuth, a spokeswoman for Plaza Bonita.

Tiles can be purchased for $10, with additional tiles available for $9. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the Boys & Girls Club, she said.

A local ceramics store, Back Door Ceramics, donated the 6-inch-square tiles for the event. The store will also take the painted tiles back to their kiln to glaze and fire, before the tiles are installed in the corridor, Warmuth said.

"We want to welcome the community to come out and help us finish the project by adding a very personal touch to their Shoppingtown," she added.

For information about the community art project or the new family restroom facility, call (619) 267-2850.

Send tips for this column to, or call (858) 277-6359, Ext. 112. The deadline for the June 24 issue is June 14.