by Dani B. Alexa
Young entrepreneurs take note. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced the seven regional finalists for the DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award 2012. Each of the finalists will be honored for contributing to America’s economy while driving growth and creating job opportunities in their respective locations. The seven featured companies have already proven their worth as winners of the Blue Ribbon Award for innovative business practices and contributions to their local communities.
This year’s winner will be following in the coveted footsteps of the 2011 Great Lakes finalist and winner, Chicago-based Red Frog Events. The company managed to increase sales by an astonishing 24,000% with its ingenious events that feature an intoxicating and unequaled blend of races, mud, music, pig roasts and beer.
The seven finalists for the DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award 2012 are:
Ski Butlers (Western).
Founded in 1999 by college student Bryn Carey, this ski and snowboard rental and delivery service is used by over 30 ski resorts in locations such as California, Colorado and British Columbia, Canada. The company operates a unique policy that requires each of its employees to spend at least one day each month volunteering in the local community. This inventive strategy has improved the company’s visibility in the local community and fostered a friendly and welcoming culture for employees.
CETRA Language Solutions (Great Lakes).
Founded in 2000 by Jiri Stejskal, this translation and interpretation company offers services to government and corporate clients in almost 100 languages. CETRA offers a range of employee benefits including trips for staff and families to offer thanks for helping the company reach its goals. The company supports organizations including Translators Without Borders, the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative and the American Red Cross.
Lakeland Feed and Supply (Northwest).
Bought by Mike Pfieger in 2000, this company provides agricultural goods and services. Employing 40 local people and innovative marketing strategies including horse and buggy deliveries to the local area has seen the companies profits increase by 1200%.
BoConcept New York (Eastern).
Established in Denmark in 1962, Shaokao and Niki Cheng operate eight franchises (five in New York) selling urban furniture known for sleek style at affordable prices. Their New York franchise is the fastest growing in the world. Boasting revenues of up to $1.5 million dollars a month, the company holds around fifty annual events to support various community charities and organizations.
Virginia Eye Consultants (South Eastern).
Offers specialty eye care using world class state of the art technology. The company’s all-female management team oversees 110 local employees who benefit from a host of employee incentives including a star performers program and Biggest Loser competition.
Heritage Homes (Midwest).
Bought by Daryl Braham and Tyrone Leslie in 2000, this company positively impacts people’s lives with beautifully designed and well constructed homes. An award-winning company with unparalleled community spirit, Heritage Homes offers its goods and services to organizations including Habitat for Humanity, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, local churches and more.
RenFro Foods (Southwest & South Central).
Founded in 1940 by George Renfro, this family-owned business supplies spices, pepper sauce, syrup, jellies, chow chow and Mrs RenFro’s infamous salsa. The company offers several unrivaled employee benefits including an education allowance, free salsa and access to a generous loan program. In the past five years, RenFro has ran an annual Pink Label campaign that has raised more than $80,000 for research into breast cancer.
About America’s Small Business Summit
The winner of the prestigious award and a $10,000 cash prize, from the U.S. Chamber, will be announced at a special awards luncheon at the annual America’s Small Business Summit. Sponsored by Sam’s Club®, this year’s event will be held on May 21-23 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C.
Speakers at the event include entrepreneur and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, president and CEO of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Diane Leneghan Tomb, retired president and CEO of McDonald’s USA, Edward H. Rensi, small business editor for The Wall Street Journal, Vanessa O’Connell, and executive director of Transportation and Infrastructure in the Congressional and Public Affairs Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Janet F. Kavinoky.
“Small businesses are often described as the pulse or backbone of our country, and we admire the drive and initiative that it takes for their owners to be successful.” – Rosalind Brewer, president and CEO of Sam’s Club.
Dani B. Alexa is a small business adviser who operates her own consultancy in Manhattan, New York. She specializes in helping young entrepreneurs get the help and advice they need to launch their own startup business. She also contributes to a number of sites including Degree Jungle a resource for college students.