American Express

Out of more than 12,000 U.S. small-business entries, Hendrick Boards in Anaheim is the top vote-getter of the Big Break for Small Business contest by American Express OPEN and Facebook.

Triplets David, Donnie and Darren Hendrickson, 25, will receive $25,000 for Hendrick Boards and two days of advice from small-business experts at American Express and Facebook.

Hendrick Boards designs and sells T-shirts, accessories and maple and bamboo skateboard decks. Revenues are around $250,000, and they donate $2,000 to $5,000 a month to 150 nonprofits that help abandoned animals.

In August, Hendrick Boards and nine other finalists vied for votes online in the competition of the small-business arm of American Express credit card and Facebook social network. The purpose of the contest, now in its second year, is to recognize entrepreneurs with a passion to grow their businesses through social media and desire to give back to their communities.

Five of the 10 win $25,000 and business counseling sessions. The other winners are:

Another plus of the contest was the 30 percent boost to sales that Hendrick Boards received.

"We finally had the chance to show the world that you can be small and still make a great impact," Hendrickson said.

The contest is another way that American Express OPEN has sought to help small businesses, said Laura Fink, vice president of social media for American Express OPEN.

While five top winners receive hands-on help from American Express OPEN and Facebook experts, "all participants had an opportunity to learn more and get something out of the program," she said.

Last years winners went to Facebook headquarters to learn more about using the companys social network platform to build their businesses, she said. This year, the experts will visit the winners location.

"On day two, we will allow them to invite other local businesses to hear the experts," Fink said.

Although Fink called the Big Break for Small Business contest a success, she added that American Express OPEN has not yet decided whether to schedule it for 2013.

As for this year, the Hendrickson triplets want to use the prize money and expert advice to fully integrate the nonprofits with which they work into the Hendrick Boards website and social media marketing.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for nonprofits because most are not savvy about social media," David Hendrickson said. "The main goal is to integrate our Facebook page and website with our 150 nonprofit accounts so we can connect with their supporters from one hub."

David Hendrickson is a graphic designer who loves animal and skateboarding. He first dreamed up Hendrick Boards as a way to combine his passions and talents to raise money to pay the medical bills for his rescue dog, William. He only had $250 and a silhouette drawing of William that he screen printed onto T-shirts. He hand painted koi into skateboards and sold his products online.

The business grew so fast that he enlisted his brothers help. The triplets had grown up in a family that rescued animals all the time, from a bobcat to a 20-pound tortoise. Helping animal rescue nonprofits became part of the companys mission.