Small Business, Big Dreams

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From a company that started in a basement to a business with garage beginnings to friends that became business partners, Gwinnett has quite a range of small businesses.

The five finalist selections were based on criteria such as the company#s staying power, their growth in number of employees, their increase in sales and/or unit volume, original entrepreneurship, innovative product or service, response to adversity and evidence of contributions to the community. Here#s a look at the five companies, all winners in their own right.

If you were to ask Sonny Deavours what#s the one thing he#d like to tell people, it wouldn#t be about building a home. It would be about becoming an organ donor. It may sound unusual for a successful home builder to be so fervent about donating organs, but once you understand how a donor changed his life, you can see the why and wherefore of his passion.

#I never woke up a day in my life that I wasn#t sleepy. I didn#t understand then that it was my kidney,# said Deavours, president of Brayson Homes. After losing a kidney, Deavours needed a replacement. The waiting list for donors was long, so his three sisters stepped in to help. Two of the sisters were a match, but one sister was a perfect match. She became Deavours# kidney donor, totally changing his life. #It#s a gift that doesn#t cost anything, but gives so much. Every day you see people walking around because of another person#s donation,# said Deavours. #There are so many people waiting for transplants, especially kids.#

To help support a cause that means so much, each year Brayson Homes builds a house and donates all the proceeds to the Georgia Transplant Foundation. #I hope to encourage other people to donate,# said Deavours.

But Deavours also has other interests besides encouraging people to donate organs. The founder of Brayson Homes, he started his career selling new homes in subdivisions for other builders. Deavours knew he wanted to build homes, it was just a matter of building up some capitol. #I felt I would enjoy building as I#d always had a keen interest in construction,# said Deavours.

It wasn#t easy at first. Building, cleaning, being the punch-out man # Deavours did everything. #I was working so hard, I didn#t have time to make money. That first year, I built about six houses, then started building more.# Today the company employs 85 people, a far cry from 25 years ago.

#Over the years, one of the greatest things about building homes has been seeing young people get into a home, making their first investment and giving them a home to live in. We specialize in entry-level ranch-style homes,# said Deavours. Brayson Homes has built more than 6,300 homes over the years, making them a leader in Gwinnett#s housing market.

With a view to providing homebuyers with the amenities they want, Brayson Homes is continually building neighborhoods with features like streetlights for safety and security, luxurious master baths, meandering streets for curbside appeal, a 10-year structural warranty on each home and more. Provided by Home Buyers Warranty Corporation (HBWC), each Brayson home has a limited warranty backed by insurance that covers the house from frame to foundation, interior finishes to exterior finishes.

But Deavours# building quality doesn#t stop there. Brayson Homes also has been given the trademark of a Home Buyers Warranty Diamond Builder (HBW), marking them as one of HBW#s leading quality homebuilders in the U.S.

Overcoming obstacles like his kidney transplant, the cancer that took his eye and the challenge of building a business deserves to be rewarded. And rewarded he was. At this year#s Small Business Person of the Year Awards, Deavours was chosen as the winner of the award, competing against four other companies. Richard Tucker, president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber said, #Deavours embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that makes Gwinnett a place where success lives. His efforts, hard work