Jerry Petrick, a small business advisor with the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), has been named the organization’s State Star and will be honored at this year’s national SBDC conference in September. Washington State University is the statewide host of the Washington SBDC and Petrick is an employee of WSU.
“Jerry brings tremendous value to the network,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC. “He is skilled at helping business owners build their capabilities and their confidence, and he helps colleagues do the same.”
The State Star award is meant to recognize an advisor who is an exemplar for the entire network and Petrick is a deserving recipient, Fladland said. “Our network and businesses across southwest Washington are better because of him.”
Since joining the 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 to access more than $38 million in capital, start more than 62 businesses 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 in Kelso.
Tabitha Beneke, owner of Keys Plus in Longview, Wash., started working with Petrick in 2012 after her father died without a succession plan for his locksmith business. Beneke, who had no previous experience as a small business owner, contemplated 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’s been so great at teaching me to always ask ‘why?’ He encourages me to get to the bottom of everything, whether it’s good or bad, so we can nuture what’s good and fix what’s bad.”
Gary Walsh, owner of Top Notch Yard Service, started working with Petrick in 2020. In response to a client satisfaction survey, he wrote that Petrick’s assistance was “invaluable.” “He gave us advice that literally helped us save our business,” Walsh wrote. “Meetings with Jerry are not only useful but each time we leave his office, I feel a heightened sense of motivation and passion towards my business.”
Each Washington SBDC business advisor must complete a rigorous certification process within six months of being hired and Petrick has mentored more than six colleagues through the process.
Petrick’s most recent mentee was Kirk Duncan, an SBDC advisor in Yakima who completed the certification process in April. Duncan, who was a successful small business owner for more than 20 years before making a career change to public service, said Petrick was an excellent mentor. “He really knows his stuff and he has a great, relaxed attitude which makes learning the certification modules easy and enjoyable,” he said. “I was fortunate to have him as a mentor.”
Over the past several semesters, Petrick has served as a mentor/coach to student consulting teams participating in the WSU Vancouver Business Growth Mentor and Analysis Program. Petrick has also been a mentor for the WSU Pullman Carson Business Solutions capstone project.
Petrick, who earned an undergraduate degree from the University of San Francisco in organizational behavior and an MBA from WSU, lives in southwest Washington with his wife, Michele. Together they enjoy exploring all the beauty and experiences the region offers.
Petrick is one of more than 35 SBDC business advisors 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 funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, WSU, and other institutions of higher education and economic development. In addition to 17 business advisors employed by WSU, more than a dozen SBDC advisors within the Washington SBDC network are employed by other institutions of higher education or business nonprofits.