Local breweries received their share of attention during the Small Business Week luncheon Friday at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
The luncheon was the culminating event of a weeklong series of workshops and seminars designed to provide advice, assistance and resources to the city’s small businesses, an event sponsored by the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center and the Better Business Bureau.
Mike Bristol of Bristol Brewing won the Small Business Champion of the Year award for its efforts to support small business. And Chris Wright won Small Business of the Year for his success with Pikes Peak Brewing in Monument.
“It’s important to drink local,” Wright told the crowd at UCCS. “You’re keeping that money right here in the community. We’re all doing excellent work – look at Red Leg Brewery (which was nominated for Veteran Owned Small Business) and Bristol. Support your local businesses.”
The luncheon ended with a business talk from Gerry O’Brien, a nationally known speaker about marketing and branding who told the crowd to find their “because” and they would be successful.
“It’s all about that ‘because,'” he said. “Find what makes your business different – tell people to use your services or shoat your business because… and find something that sets you apart from your competition. If you say you have good customer service, it becomes fluff to the customer. Everyone says that. Say something different.”
O’Brien, who served as brand manager for Coors, said that was advice he followed for the beer company that allowed it to grow even as other major brands were shrinking.
“The customer base changed,” he said. “Craft brews are growing – but Coors posted growth because we had a compelling ‘because.'”
Other award winners were:
• Wes Niswonger of Patsy’s Candies for Family Owned Business of the Year;
• Ryen Hitzler of Flying Horse Medical Center for Veteran Owned Business; and
• Johnathan Rick of J.Rick Lawn and Tree and Dakota Landscapes for Young Entrepreneur of the Year.