The Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center and Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado wrapped up a week celebrating small businesses in the region with an awards ceremony honoring business owners, volunteers and champions.
The week kicked off Monday with a food truck competition and a seminar on retailing. Tuesday’s events covered marketing tips while Wednesday’s were about social enterprises and the benefits the community reaps from them.
More than 500 people attended local events, all with the theme: Inspire. Innovate. Impact.
The finale was Thursday: an evening awards reception and party.
Dennis Hisey, El Paso County commissioner told the crowd Thursday night that small businesses drive the local economy and bring jobs to the region. The Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution in honor of small business week.
Jeff Greene, chief of staff for the city of Colorado Springs, thanked the small businesses present at the ceremony.
“Without small business, we would not have an El Paso county; we would not have the Pikes Peak region. Tonight is the Academy Awards of small business, and I’d like to give special recognition to the SBDC and the BBB. Without those organizations, working together, we would not have a successful business climate.”
And Tom Naughton, regional president of US Bank, said that a national survey of 3,200 business owners found Colorado businesses had more confidence in the state and national economy than those in other parts of the United States.
“Business owners in Colorado were more optimistic about revenue and hiring,” he said. “More Colorado small business owners are planning to expand.”
Award winners were:
Volunteer of the Year: Darrell Fleck, RMJ Capital
“Small business is my passion,” he told the crowd. “I can’t see a product or a service without analyzing it: where’d they get the idea; how do they get it to the marketplace; how can they do it better? It drives my wife crazy.”
Fleck said the SBDC measures revenue and jobs created — but should also measure money saved.
“We’ve saved tens of millions of dollars for business owners, keeping them from going down the wrong path,” he said.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Clay Guillory, Titan Robotics
Guillory, 28, started his business as a hobby in his garage, tinkering with 3-D printers. He is now moving into a 1,200-square-foot building and is about to hire his tenth employee.
“I can’t believe it’s come this far,” he said. “I love the Springs; I plan to stay here. Why would I leave?”
Family-Owned Small Business of the Year: John and Beth Hughes, O’Briens Carpet One.
The criteria for the award includes a family-owned business that has passed from one generation to another and operated with at least a 15-year positive track record. The Hughes fit the bill: They are on the third generation, have four Colorado Springs locations and have an eight-figure revenue margin.
Veteran-Owned Business of the Year: David Hollenbach, DSoft Technology Co.
Hollenbach couldn’t attend the ceremony, but the award was given to a business with a three year success in sales and profits, that has increased jobs and puts out innovative products and services.
Small Business Champion of the Year: Dave Van Ness, Old Colorado City Associates
Van Ness, named a champion, was once a small business owner. He owed a computer company in the 1970s that outfitted nonprofits like the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Fine Arts Center, the American Red Cross and Silver Key.
The award was given to a person who promotes small business, including volunteering time sand services to small business interest and groups and educating the cause of small business in the legislative process.
Small Business Person of the Year: Mike Tipton, Integrity Communications Solutions.
The award is given to a small business owner who develops an outstanding, growing business with innovative products, increased jobs and increased sales.
Tipton is a veteran who has increased his business by 75 percent in the past three years. He has 14 employees.
He thanked the Small Business Administration and the SBDC.
“I didn’t get here by myself,” he said. “My background is submarines. I got here with help from the SBA, my business partners and my bride of 24 years.”
Tipton will compete for the statewide small business person of the year award next year.
Also announced at the ceremony: Apogee Engineering of Colorado Springs won Region 8’s SBA business of the year award. The region includes Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Utah.