Viv Helwig, owner and president of Vested Metals in St. Augustine, was named the 2022 North Florida and Florida Small Business Exporter of the Year at the 30th Annual Small Business Week awards event May 25 at the University of North Florida.
Vested Metals started in 2014 and supplies specialized metals – aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, brass, copper, bronze and other hard-to-find alloys – to medical, defense, aerospace, transportation and energy companies throughout the United States and abroad.
The company prepares the raw material to customers’ needs to simplify the production process.
Helwig, 36, has history with the SBDC. He was named the 2020 Minority Small Business Owner for the North Florida district.
Helwig was born in Jamaica and comes by his entrepreneurial spirit from his mother. The single parent often worked three jobs and became a licensed real estate agent, forming her own company.
Helwig is a graduate of Flagler College and was active in the Society for Advancement of Management, where he won several awards. He was named one of Flagler College’s 50 Alumni of Distinction.
Helwig started in sales at Carpenter Technology Corp., which manufactures stainless steel. Helwig had no experience in the metals field but remembers being told that the company was building a sales team.
He started Vested Metals with a $200,000 investment, including $70,000 from family savings and retirement accounts. Like many small business owners, he didn’t take a salary so he could keep the company going.
Vested Metals had revenue of $8.85 million in 2021. For three years it has been listed on the Inc. 5000 List and has been named one of the fastest-growing small businesses in the nation.
Throughout his career, Helwig has sought mentors to help guide his career. He relied on relationships developed working with SBDC to turn Vested Metals into a successful venture in less than 10 years.
“It’s all about having a seat at the table. This is a business of long-term views. It’s about how we treat our suppliers. It’s about building something that is sustainable,” he said.
Helwig was featured as one of the Jacksonville Daily Record’s 2022 Top Entrepreneurs. Current events are driving his business in different directions and his challenge is to find new suppliers.
“Customers value quality and there are a great many natural resources in Ukraine. Russia is a large supplier of titanium,” he said.
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