CLEARFIELD -- When setting up her own company nine years ago, growing into a business with nearly 200 employees and 2011 revenue of $18.9 million was not what Karen Woodbury set out to do.
However, now that her company, Woodbury Technologies, has become just that, she has been recognized as the Utah State Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"I didn't have any grandiose ideas or big plans. What I had in mind was on a smaller scale," said Woodbury, 55, CEO of the company. "I don't know what happened, but I do have an ambitious streak. I just kept working hard trying to get new business, and ... it grew incrementally."
Woodbury Technologies provides technical and contract medical services for the government in 10 states. Founded in 2003, the company received its first contract in 2005 and is now the sixth largest female-owned business in Utah.
Woodbury is unlike any other business owner Roy Griggs, 61, has ever worked with. A retired Air Force colonel, Griggs was hired two years ago as a business development consultant for the company and is the one responsible for nominating Woodbury for the SBA award.
"It's more than money to her, it's about taking care of people, especially with most of our contracts with the Department of Defense, it's about the mission and everything that our country stands for," Griggs said of his reasons for nominating Woodbury for the SBA award.
In the early days of her career when she was working at Hill Air Force Base, Woodbury's dreams never included starting her own business.
"I always intended to be a stay-at-home mom, but it didn't quite work out," said Woodbury, who had five children by the time she turned 29.
She went back to school in her early 30s, earned a computer science degree from Weber State University and started an engineering career with the Air Force. After her kids were raised, her idea for a small business began forming.
Woodbury attributes her success to being in the right place at the right time, paying attention and then letting her ambition take over.
Starting a successful business is hard work, she admits.
"Being successful is not because I was so brilliant," said Woodbury. "I had the foundation and help along the way at just the right time. I believe it has to be this way for most to find success."
Griggs attributes Woodbury's success to her entrepreneurial spirit. "When I say that, it means that she knows how to be a business owner," he said.
"The way she takes care of her employees and her clients, it's a win-win-win for everyone, and that's what makes Karen different."
When asked which is harder -- being a successful business owner or a mother -- Woodbury didn't hesitate to answer.
"It is hard to be a mother because there are such difficult challenges, but overall, it is much more satisfying than anything else you'd ever do," said Woodbury. "Owning your own company is hard work, stressful and sometimes harsh, but there are rewards, too, but nothing compares to being a mother."
Earning the award landed Woodbury an invitation to the National Small Business Week celebration next month in Washington, D.C. She plans to attend.