Photo above (L to R): Fernando Pereira with his wife Claudia and Eunice Choi, director of the SBDC at UCF.

Fernando C. Pereira, president of Orlando-based Pegasus Transportation, was named the 2011 U.S. Small Business Administration North Florida District Small Business Person of the Year.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UCF, which is part of the College of Business Administration, nominated him for the award.

Pereira and his wife Claudia have run Pegasus Transportation since 1994. Starting the transportation service company with a single 15-passenger van and one driver, Pegasus has overcome several struggles including the travel industry collapse following the tragedy of September 11 and, more recently, the nation’s economic recession.

To compensate for the recent domestic downturn, Pegasus focused on the international travel market, resulting in a 300% increase in net income.

With strong financial stability, Pegasus was approved for two SBA 504 Loans, enabling the company to expand into a new 3,000 square-foot office space, as well as an expansive 3,600 square-foot shop on a 2.5 acre property.

Over the past decade, Pereira and his wife Claudia took advantage of many of the services offered by the SBDC at UCF including 10-years of in-depth business consulting, training and skill development, as well as referral resource support through the SBDC’s Small Business Resource Network.

Today, Pegasus, with offices in Orlando and Miami, operates 20 coach buses and offers itinerary planning, meet-and-greet services, luggage assistance, and on-site supervision.

Pereira states, “The SBDC has been on our side since 2001 and we couldn’t be more thankful for it.” Pereira and his family will be honored at the center’s annual small business awards luncheon, Tuesday, May 17, at the Citrus Club, downtown Orlando. The luncheon will be part of the National Small Business Week celebration, May 16-20.

You can learn more about the SBDC by visiting their website.