“WHAAAATTT?!?!” the collective sound that our family made at the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Gala on Saturday night upon learning we had won the 2017 Small Business Excellence Award! My wife, Gina, later told me she punched me in the arm several times saying “we won!” over and over, but I honestly don’t remember. It was a blur; something hard to comprehend then and still barely real to me now.
We were nominated with four other great businesses with a huge presence in our community: Normal CornBelters, Core 3 Property Management, Paul Davis Restoration, and Evergreen Racquet Club. It was an honor just to be nominated with these businesses, three of whom I have ties with through my BNI group. I was prepared to congratulate Ryan Eucker with the CornBelters, Sam Starkey with Core 3, or Chris McConnell with Paul Davis who sat with his wife, my friend Michelle McConnell, next to us at the Gala. These are all outstanding companies and I would have been happy if any of them had won.
Yet somehow or another we ended up on stage accepting the award. I said a few words about how grateful I was. Dad talked about our start 36 years ago with furniture from a church basement and an old typewriter. A few handshakes with the presenters and a hug from each other, then backstage to something that felt slightly more real. It went by so quickly and in the moment it was hard to say all that we felt or recognize all of the people and businesses that connect to us receiving this honor.
As it sinks in now, there are so many people I want to thank from the bottom of my heart for their involvement with our company and for their involvement with us being recognized at the Gala:
- First of all, thank you to the McLean County Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event and for keeping our business connected to our community month-after-month and year-after-year. You are amazing and have earned every bit of your 2017 Outstanding Chamber of the Year award!
- Thank you to the sponsors and presenters who put on this outstanding Gala, including my friends and fellow Rotarians Justin Boyd and Kevin Birlingmair who were onstage congratulating us as we received the award.
- A HUGE thank you to Cheryl Hussain with Majestic Interior Design for nominating us! Cheryl does everything well, so being a finalist was certainly the result with her excellent nomination.
- A special thanks to the Mechanical Devices team, Dallas Wickenhauser at R.B. White, and Rita Marlow for writing kind and thoughtful letters of recommendation on our behalf for the finalist packet.
- Thank you to all of our business clients whose continued partnership year after year are the reason we exist.
- And thank you to all of our hard-working employees who show up and do their job every day, sometimes with little recognition. We see your work and are committed to supporting your success in any way we can.
- Thank you to Jerome Gerber of Award Staffing and John Hayes of B. Loehr Staffing, both connected with us through TempNet, for your guidance in the right direction the past two years. And for all of the support of our fellow TempNet members!
- Thank you to our staff: Clif, McLean, Cole, and Sheryll. You make it happen, showing persistence and ingenuity in a challenging industry.
Thank you to my mother, Julie, for providing endless support and encouragement to our company.
- And thank you to my father, Ken, for building our company with integrity and laying the foundation of who we are. I’ve learned more than you will know from watching how you conduct business. And I’m grateful every day for your continued presence with our company.
- Thank you to my wife, Gina, for driving from Alaska with me and our baby boy 7 years ago to start a new life in Illinois. We’ve been living a different kind of adventure, but there’s nobody I would rather do it with than you!
- And thank you to God for blessing us and so many people who have come into contact with our company throughout the years! As the Psalmist David says, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”
I want to also congratulate to my friends, Jamie and Kelly Mathy, for Red Raccoon Games winning in the Micro Business category! Jamie, you’ve taught me so many great lessons about business and community that have been invaluable, both by our conversations and by you modeling it day after day. And thank you again for bringing me into the Bloomington-Normal Sunrise Rotary Club over two years ago!
Finally, we greatly appreciate everyone who has sent kind words and congratulations to us in the past few days! I feel so glad to live and work in this community, a feeling only reaffirmed by your well wishes.
As Jamie Mathy said so eloquently on Facebook this week, “Saturday was a good night.”