Opening Remarks (Published: Friday, Oct. 13, 2006):
Welcome to the 2006 Business Excellence Awards.
Tonight, we will honor 15 businesspeople - coming from fields as diverse as health care, manufacturing and retail -- for their imagination, hard work and achievements.
We will also induct this year’s candidates into our NHBR Business Excellence Hall of Fame for their long-standing commitment, support and influence of New Hampshire’s business community, and the state itself. All of this year’s winners are to be congratulated. It is because of hard-working, dedicated people like you that these awards are possible.
Professional Services — Gregg M. Mikolaities, Appledore Engineering Inc.
You might think that the business of an engineering firm named “Appledore” would reflect the quiet, small bit of land by the same name in the Isle of Shoals. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Appledore Engineering has garnered some not-so-quiet honors, such as being named twice as one of the “Best Small Companies to Work For” in New Hampshire; 3rd Best Small Civil Engineering Firm to Work For in the United States; a Citizens Bank/New Hampshire Business Review "Not Your Typical Business" Award winner; and one of the 100 Fastest Growing A/E Firms in the Country.
While the accomplishments of Appledore CEO Gregg Mikolaities, the engineers and other staff might shout success, they are more like the gentle island itself in preserving local communities and donating to charities without fanfare. Gregg has mentored engineering students at UNH and has devoted thousands of hours to coaching and mentoring both girls and boys sports teams in the community. He has also swung golf clubs for the Jimmy Fund Golf Tournament, benefiting children diagnosed with cancer. This past Christmas, he galvanized an amazing employee-driven collection for A Safe Place, which provides shelter and support to victims of partner abuse.
Small, unassuming companies that do good both in their professions and in their communities are what the Business Excellence awards are all about, and Gregg -- as a leader of such a company -- is exactly the kind of person we wish to honor in this year’s Professional Services category.
Retail — Michael Satzow, North Country Smoke House, Claremont
When Michael’s family began selling smoked meats, automobiles had yet to be parked in most people’s garages, the country was ripped by the Great Depression and ordering artisanal smoked meats across a telephone, much less a wireless Internet connection, wasn’t even dreamed of yet.
As a third-generation business owner, Michael opened the North Country Smoke House in Claremont in 1986, using the traditional smoking methods his grandfather used.
While Michael’s business still retains that small-town feel, his products have reached the mouths and hearts of top chefs across the country, as well as those shopping at Bloomingdale’s, L.L. Bean, QVC. They’ve even been featured on the “Today Show.” Michael’s bacon was even served to Pope John Paul II after a visit to the United States in the late ‘90s. How’s that for “Holy Smokes”? — Meat that is.
Michael gives back to his community in many ways, including serving on the board of directors of the Claremont Opera House, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and as a member of the Kiwanis.
But perhaps the finest example of his giving nature is that he has been known to hire someone in need to work in his shop — even when he didn’t have an opening.
So much of a retail business is about the person as it is the product. Michael and the North Country Smoke House exemplify the best of both, and so we have chosen him as our winner for Business Excellence in Retail award.
Technology — Paul McKeon, BID2WIN Software Inc., Portsmouth
Quick — how much does a thousand cubic yards of concrete cost? How about 10 miles of asphalt? And paver rock? And rebar? These are the kinds of questions construction estimators must deal with every day when preparing to bid on a project. Paul’s BID2WIN software turns a project manager’s “guesstimate” into a reliable estimate, with user-friendly software that streamlines the repetitive tasks and simplifies complex ones.
Certainly growing a company while traveling down the rocky road of business is difficult, but Paul has succeeded by increasing his staff to 30 and adding 5,000 clients worldwide over the past decade.
But when you’re a small-business owner, you’re often judged as much by the work you do outside of the office as inside, and here Paul has really shone.
He is vice president of Crossroads House in Portsmouth, an emergency and transitional shelter for the homeless. He has also grown its funds more than fourfold, from $40,000 to well over $180,000, with BID2WIN itself donating $30,000. He also volunteers for the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, the First Tee organization, which teaches positive life skills to at-risk youth through the game of golf, and the Community Campus family of agencies providing a broad range of social services.
Both in business and in giving back to the community, Paul has made the road of blacktop — and of life — smoother for many. And that is why we are honoring Paul tonight with our Business Excellence in Technology award.
Business Services — Jeffrey Baker, Image 4, Manchester
If an entrepreneur represents the creative image of a company, Jeff more than fills the role. He led his marketing and display visuals company through two turnarounds — once after taking over a failing start-up, and again after the post-September 11th recession.
By finding creative solutions, making hard decisions, and capturing new markets to add value for his customers, Image 4 is back on top, with over 15 employees and revenues approaching $3 million -- and clients such as Standard & Poor’s, Konica-Minolta and Stanley Works.
Jeff’s creative problem-solving doesn’t end at his business. He is a board member of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility, finding ways of doing good business by doing good for the community and the environment. He is also member of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s Vested for Growth, which offers creative financing to businesses whose growth needs don't fit the criteria of senior bank debt or equity. He also helped develop the photographic accreditation curriculum for what is now Chester College of New England, and has taught music and photography to children for over a decade.
We think Jeff defines the image of success and that is why he is our award winner for Business Services.
Media & Marketing — Katie Delahaye Paine, KDPaine & Partners, Durham
It takes a rare bit of insight, not to mention guts, to locate an office of a high-profile company in a faraway town, but Katie Delahaye Paine did just that by recently opening an office in Berlin to support her Durham-based marketing metrics company KDPaine & Partners. “Why outsource to India?” she has been quoted as saying. “It makes much more sense to expand in New Hampshire in an area that needs jobs and has plenty of available space.”
Then again, this move isn’t really all that surprising to those who know Katie. A successful entrepreneur, Katie has launched two highly profitable businesses. First, The Delahaye Group, which was once one of the largest employers on the Seacoast, then KDPaine & Partners in 2002. And in just four years, she has already reached $1 million in sales in that second endeavor.
The challenges she has faced in building her businesses, however, are nothing compared to those she has faced in her personal life. She survived earthquakes in California, a fire that destroyed her house, and even a battle with cancer in 2004 — which, if you think about it, had put her square in the middle of growing her second million-dollar business.
Giving back to the community is just part of the continuum of practicing good business for Katie. Just one of the many examples — Katie founded the Seacoast Concert for a Cure, which has raised over $50,000 in support for breast cancer survivors. She serves on the board of Fill the Gap, a local program to help those recently diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as the New Hampshire Political Library. And she shares her knowledge with her students in the Intro to Business class at the University of New Hampshire.
As the epitome of the can-do spirit of our Business Excellence awards, we honor Katie tonight with our award for Media & Marketing.
Nonprofit — Linda L. Harvey, Laconia Area Community Land Trust Inc., Laconia
While the transition from social worker to land developer sounds complicated, it is one that Linda has embraced whole-heartedly.
If you think about it, both careers can be quite similar. A social worker works for society — that is people — and developing abandoned property into safe homes providing shelter for the homeless is perhaps one of the purest expressions of working for people. This is exactly what Linda and the Laconia Area Community Land Trust do for Lakes Region families in need of affordable housing.
As the soul of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust, she has built the nonprofit from a limping-along-on-a-shoestring budget to one with combined net assets of $16 million.
The list of awards Linda has received for her work in affordable housing literally takes a full page. And even though her “day job” is leading a nonprofit organization, she still finds time to lend her talents to still other affordable housing organizations and boards, as well as the New Hampshire Community Technical College, the Lakes Region United Way, and Cornerbridge of Laconia, supporting those with mental illness.
Linda is indeed a worker for the people, and so we have honored her as our Business Excellence Award winner for Nonprofits.
Health Care — Karen Drelick, Rejuvenations Professional Massage LLC, Stratham
When your business is making others feel better, people might write off what you do as a mere luxury. But Karen has helped to raise New Hampshire’s awareness of therapeutic massage as a science as much as it is an art.
By working with physicians, physical therapists and chiropractors, Karen, a licensed physical therapy assistant and massage therapist, has given free lectures, visited businesses and organized health fairs to help educate the public on therapeutic massage as a medical treatment, as important to health and well-being as antibiotics for infection or bandages for a wound.
Her healing hands have also touched others in the form of giving her time and donations to many local charities, such as the New Generation Shelter, American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, and the Richie McFarland Center supporting children with developmental challenges.
Giving our Business Excellence in Health Care award to a deserving small-business owner like Karen makes us all feel good.
Construction — Craig Jewett, Jewett Construction Co., Inc., Raymond
Sometimes, to make construction stronger you have to deconstruct. That is exactly what Craig did when Jewett Construction began to grow too quickly.
At the helm of his family’s company since 2001, Craig was faced snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory a few years later, when the firm became inundated with work. He took a courageous step and contracted his marketing, preserving the quality of the business over quantity.
Jewett Construction has thrived under Craig’s craftsmanship, growing a net worth from $500,000 to $1.75 million and $16 million in sales last year.
Craig’s leadership isn’t all about drywall and nails. He has been recognized by the Union Leader in 2005 as one of the “Forty Under 40” people to watch. His company supports over 30 businesses and charitable organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, the Daniel Webster Council and his hometown of Raymond, where he and Jewett Construction have supported with time and materials for a number of projects.
Building solid relationships as well as solid buildings, Craig is our award winner for Business Excellence in Construction.
Real Estate — Joy Tarbell, Prudential Joy Tarbell Realty, North Conway
It’s been reported that in any home sale, up to seven families can be affected as the chain of selling and buying spreads outward. From Joy’s work, it’s clear to see that far more than seven have been touched by her success and genuine kindness.
Certainly, a good Realtor finds a home for her clients, but it’s not often that the other agents and office staff are treated with the same amount of care and respect. Joy developed her own training program precisely so she could help new agents become more successful. She has installed the newest technology to aid her employees. She also made sure that her staff has full benefits, ranging from health insurance to flex time to profit sharing.
Her hard work has been honored by her peers in the real estate industry numerous times, including the Realtors Honor Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, the 2006 Prudential Cornerstone Award for sales, and Prudential’s Chairman Circle Gold Award in 2006 given to the top 3 percent of all Prudential sales associates.
And, as many of us would agree, a house wouldn’t be a home without our four-legged family members. Joy has taken animals to heart as a strong and vocal advocate for the Conway Area Humane Society, leading numerous events and fund-raisers.
Many other nonprofit organizations have also benefited from Joy’s involvement, including the Starting Point shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence as well as volunteer for other efforts in her home community of North Conway.
We would like to honor Joy with another award to add to her collection, our Business Excellence Award for Real Estate.
Finance — Charles C. Kulch, Kulch Financial Services, Nashua
Charles, an investment broker and small-business owner, has made money the old-fashioned way — he earned it. What’s more, he earned it by earning it for others.
Once the youngest CFO in the country of a publicly traded company, Charles has put his financial experience to good use as this owner of his Kulch Financial for over 15 years, serving over 500 clients and earning $80 million in assets. He has also been named the No. 1 investment broker in the country by Investors Capital Corp. for the last six years.
When Charles isn’t trapping bears and loosing bulls on Wall Street, he coaches his children’s soccer team and volunteers with many other community and charitable organizations as coach, sponsor, and host for events, and contributes significantly of time and money to charitable and community programs. He also provides investment education workshops to the community in Southern New Hampshire.
Charles is our very own IPO — Investment Person Overachiever — going beyond the ordinary and expected for his clients, his family and his community. That is why we chose him as our Business Excellence award winner in Finance.
Hospitality — Richard F. French, Bagel Works/The Works Bakery Café, Keene
The Works Bakery Café, based in Keene, is a perfect example of a little big company. Richard does things at his five small New England bake shops that many, even most, large companies do not. He provides health benefits for his full- AND part-time employees. He practices “open-book management,” meaning each store’s profits are posted for all to see. He empowers his staff to aid in making decisions for the company, and even pays them bonuses for ideas that will generate revenue or cut costs. And not the very least, he uses all-natural, environmentally conscious ingredients, often using locally grown or produced products.
Not surprisingly, Richard has not overlooked the community. Each of his stores donates some $10,000 to non-profit agencies in their areas. The company as whole sponsors many more charitable causes.
Doing all this good has only strengthened Richard’s bottom line, which he in fact doubled last year. His cafés claim the highest sales volume per unit in Northern New England, with new stores turning profits within six months.
If there are any “holes” in this bagel man’s work ethic, we couldn’t find them. And so we honor Richard with our Business Excellence Award for Hospitality.
Manufacturing — Kristin & Stephen Powers, Trikeenan Tileworks, Keene
Beautiful tilework is created by a solid mortar bed, striking tile designs and sturdy grout holding it all together. The Powers’ Trikeenan Tileworks company has been created in the same way — a solid financial foundation upon which to build, exquisite tiles, and Kristin and Stephen’s continual hard work holding it all together.
Since 1990, Kristin and Stephen have grown their company from hand-making tiles on their apartment floor to a 12,000-square-foot facility in New Hampshire with a second 45,000-square-foot facility in New York. And despite all the modern advances in manufacturing, they prefer earth-friendly methods to produce their tiles.
Their products have been featured locally on WMUR’s “Chronicle,” and on New Hampshire Public Television as well as on PBS’s “This Old House,” HGTV’s “I Want That,” and The Learning Channel.
Despite their success, Kristin and Stephen have found time to give back to their hometown of Keene. They organized a tile-making project with children for the pediatric clinic at Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Cheshire Medical Center and the Symonds School as well as creating tilework for the Monadnock Waldorf School.
As leaders in hand-making tile and giving a hand up to community projects, join me in honoring Kristin and Stephen as our Business Excellence in Manufacturing award winners.
Public Service — Ellen Fineberg, Women’s Business Center, Portsmouth
While Ellen may be the executive director of an organization focused on women, what she truly is, is an advocate for business development in New Hampshire - and, therefore, family development. When you help a woman grow a business and gain financial independence, more times than not, you are also supporting a family.
Ellen took the helm of the WBC in 2001, righting a foundering ship. She helped to secure SBA assistance and other funding at a critical time. Without those funds, the WBC would have been closed down, leaving literally hundreds of women — and their families — without business guidance.
She is also responsible for developing needed programs, attracting needed talent to the WBC’s board of directors, and expanding the WBC to reach women all across the state.
Ellen also finds time to give back to the community by volunteering for Portsmouth’s Art-Speak, the city’s cultural awareness initiative, the Portsmouth Historic District Commission and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Serving women and the public at large on so many levels, Ellen is our award winner for Business Excellence in Public Service.
Transportation — Nancy Phillips, Nancy Phillips Associates Inc., Exeter
The “King of Cars” in New Hampshire is actually a queen. Nancy’s is currently the only female auto dealership broker in the country. She and the other professionals at her company don’t just sell cars — they sell car dealerships. Now, that’s a lot of tire-kicking!
Nancy’s company claims it can sell most dealerships within nine months -- quite a feat for selling multi-million dollar pieces of property in a market where a $300,000 home can take longer to sell.
There’s no doubt that Nancy is a strong and savvy business owner, but it’s her advocacy for the industry and for children that really sets her apart from other brokers. She has been honored by the Women’s Automotive Association International with its 2006 Spirit of Leadership award for her significant role in the industry. She helped to found the New Hampshire Automobile Association’s Charitable Foundation. Nancy has also been active in New Hampshire’s Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected children, better known as CASA. She has also helped create a summer camp for at-risk girls.
As the great-granddaughter of the acclaimed art glass painter Frank Guba of the Pairpoint Glass Company, Nancy is also a great patron of the arts, who ensures that her great-grandfather’s legacy of painted china and porcelain lives on.
Join me in congratulating Nancy Phillips as the recipient of our Business Excellence in Transportation Award.
Hall of famers
Our 2005 Hall of Fame inductees are probably well known to most of you. If not, these are people you definitely should meet. Either way, we can all learn something from them.
All too often, the word “visionary” gets thrown around to describe entrepreneurs. But the word barely does justice to describe the foresight and determination of Tom Corcoran.
I’m sure plenty of ex-Olympic skiers dream of one day owning a ski area. But it was Tom’s vision to create an entire town, a year-round resort community in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that would grow to become one of the foremost mountain resorts in the East. What was his inspiration? A little town with a couple of rope tows and trails, 20 privately owned cottages and 500 acres of land for sale.
Today, Waterville Valley is internationally known,
with well over a thousand condominium units, private homes, time shares, hotel rooms, a commercial complex with shops and restaurants. And, of course, one of the finest ski areas in the country.
That’s what you call an entrepreneur. Tom, along with the late Sherman Adams, was one of the key figures behind the creation of the modern ski industry in New Hampshire - a business that each year employs thousands of people and attracts millions of tourist dollars into New Hampshire.
But Tom is much more than an entrepreneur. Through innovative planning and zoning efforts, he ensured that the resort would not become heavily commercialized - a model for so many other resorts that followed.
And Tom’s dedication to Waterville didn’t end at its creation. He devoted 35 years of service to the town as a selectman - at the time the longest-serving town official in New Hampshire, both to ensure that his vision was followed but also to make sure that the community remained, in his words, “unique and wonderful.” And anyone who has been to Waterville knows that his vision has been realized.
Accepting the Business Excellence Hall of Fame Award on behalf of Tom Corcoran is Bill Cantlin, president of The Waterville Company.
New Hampshire entrepreneurs are very lucky to have people and organizations all over the state that work hard to help them get on their feet. But it’s safe to say that no one has helped as many New Hampshire small businesses survive and thrive as Mary Collins.
Since 1997, Mary has been executive director of the SBDC, the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, which is run under the auspices of the Whittemore School at the University of New Hampshire. In that time, the SBDC’s counseling services, financial and business planning advice, and help with navigating the red tape of government have been a godsend to thousands of budding entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses - from small home-based retail operations to high-tech manufacturers. And during her tenure, the New Hampshire SBDC’s pioneering outreach efforts have served as a model for other SBDCs around the nation.
It’s a great program, but since it’s funded almost exclusively through government agencies, Mary has to work tirelessly, sometimes heroically, to ensure that the New Hampshire SBDC stays afloat. And, often against great odds, she has.
Considering all the work she puts into the SBDC it’s almost remarkable that Mary also finds the time to help New Hampshire businesses in so many other ways. Among other positions, she is executive vice president of the New Hampshire High Technology Council, is a member of New Hampshire International Trade Advisory Board and participates on the Economic Development Committee of the Business & Industry Association. Widely respected for her work at the national level, she also chairs the Association of Small Business Development Centers’ Legislative Committee.
See what I meant when I said “tireless”? Please join me in welcoming Mary Collins into our Business Excellence Hall of Fame.
Martin L. Gross
There are very few people who have done so much for the economic and physical health and well-being of New Hampshire than Marty Gross.
Marty, an attorney with the Concord firm of Sulloway & Hollis for over 40 years is well known in Concord and beyond for his expertise in business and insurance law. For just one of those pieces of legislation alone, he would probably be honored here tonight.
As one of the key architects of the Business Profits Tax in the 1970s, Marty helped change the state’s economic landscape, ushering in the era of business growth and diversity that we still benefit from today.
But his resume only starts there. In fact, if you can think of an organization or institution that has a significant impact on the state’s health care, its cultural or business life, or its public policy, chances are very, very good that Marty Gross not only plays a role in it, but that he has played a role as its leader - and, more often than not, as one of its FOUNDERS.
Marty was a driving force - perhaps THE driving force - behind the establishment of New Hampshire Public Radio in the 1980s. He helped make a reality the dream of turning the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord into one of the premier entertainment venues in New Hampshire. His community efforts have included being chair of the Capital Regional Health Care Corporation, one of the founding directors of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, and he’s had a longtime association with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Trust me - this list just scratches the surface.
It’s really hard to sum up the influence that Marty has had on the life of New Hampshire. But one thought comes to mind: He’s a role model who all other people in the business community should follow, a man who devotes himself not only to his career but the community at large. As one person said of him, “Marty leads by example.” Indeed he does.
Accepting on Marty’s behalf is Robert Lanney, managing director of Sulloway & Hollis.
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This article appears in the July 6 2007 issue of New Hampshire Business Review