By Emily Bloch, Contributing Writer
Jeff Turbeville was buying raw materials for his company when he got an encouraging phone call — he had been named the U.S. Small Business Association Small Business Person of the Year for the state of Florida as well as for North Florida.
But he didn’t have time to celebrate. He had to get back to work.
“As an entrepreneur, you have to remain focused on all aspects and facets of your business,” Turbeville said.
Turbeville, 50, is the CEO of Sunshine Peanut Co., a wholesale peanut-butter manufacturer based in the Mixon Town area of Jacksonville, serving schools, prisons and large institutions throughout the country.
The food-service company started in 2003, has two 22,000-square-foot facilities and employs 42 people.
“Entrepreneurs are the innovators who take risks on ideas, invest in their communities, and create jobs,” Linda McMahon, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said in a statement.
“Their skills and creativity not only support their own families, but they also make our neighborhoods and cities vibrant places to live and work, fueling our overall economic strength,” she said.
Wilfredo Gonzalez, SBA North Florida District director, said Turbeville’s win is deserved.
“Jeff and his team have worked diligently and hard over the years, and they are getting recognized for their performance,” Gonzalez said.
Turbeville was one of 53 winners named this year from across the country and U.S. territories.
For Turbeville, the honor is shared with someone dear.
“Last year, my dad, who started the peanut butter business with me … and who I had worked with in the food business side-by-side since 1991, he passed away,” Turbeville said. “I feel extremely proud and blessed because this is not only a ‘title’ to me as an individual, it is a recognition of him, my dad, Sonny Turbeville.”
Turbeville described his father as a “partner, mentor and hero” to him and his brother David, who joined Sunshine Peanut Co. in 2014.
“This is a family business and he is smiling down on us all at Sunshine right now,” the CEO said. “This one is for him, not me.”
Sunshine Peanut plans to expand, according to Turbeville. He is seeking additional capital from Florida Capital Bank.
In May, Turbeville will travel to Washington, D.C., for the National Small Business Week awards ceremonies, which take place during the 2019 National Small Business Week. As a state winner, Turbeville is eligible to be named Small Business Person of the Year for the country.
“I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the entire SBA North Florida team to wish Jeff good luck as he competes for the national Small Business Person of the Year title,” Gonzalez said.
“I have not really celebrated yet per se,” Turbeville said. “But I am looking forward to being in Washington, D.C.”