2007 Business Excellence Awards Script

Emcee Opening Remarks

Good evening and welcome to fifth annual New Hampshire Business Review Business Excellence Awards.

Tonight we will honor 15 businesspeople who have gone above and beyond what it means to do business in New Hampshire. Yes, they run or own a successful small business or organization – but, more than that, their determination, innovation, industriousness and generosity embody the award’s spirit.

Each year, we receive dozens of deserving nominations, but because this year’s candidates were particularly strong, we will also be mentioning a number of finalists in addition to the winners in many of our 13 categories.

As we have since the start of the Business Excellence Awards, we also will be inducting 3 more individuals into our NHBR Business Excellence Hall of Fame. They are being honored for their lifetime commitment not only to the New Hampshire business community but the entire state as well – and it’s a commitment that far transcends merely watching their company’s bottom line.

All of tonight’s winners, finalists and nominees and, especially the nominators, ought to be congratulated for all their hard work. You are a large part of what makes New Hampshire not only such a great place to do business, but a great place to live as well.

Business Services

Finalist: James Grady, LighTec, Merrimack

Winner: Deborah Osgood, Knowledge Institute, Exeter

New Hampshire has many resources to help businesses that are just starting out, as well as for those who already have a track record of success. But that’s the problem — we have so many, it’s hard for business owners to figure out where to start.

Deborah Osgood thought so, too.

In the 1990s, she and her husband William created the Knowledge Institute and its Business Utility Zone, or BUZGate, as it is known.

Part Web portal, part forum, BUZGate points users to the information they need in just a few mouse clicks, drilling through literally millions of resources available in the Granite State and across the country.

What’s more — use of BUZGate is free to users. It’s paid for by private sponsorships.

In addition to BUZGate, the Knowledge Institute oversees myVirutal Business Incubator and currently serves over 1,000,000 small businesses and facilitates business-to-business relationships in all 50 United States and internationally.

Deborah is active in other business organizations as well. She serves as a SCORE counselor, works on the Start-Up NH Business Plan and MIT Entrepreneurial Forum committees. Most recently she has been mentoring an Iraqi woman through a State Department pilot program.

But Deborah is far more than just business. She actively participates in many children’s charities, nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. Some of the organizations to which she lends her talents include the Youth Development Center, the Youth Leadership Program, Jobs for America’s Graduates and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

If knowledge is power, Deborah Osgood of the Knowledge Institute is very powerful indeed, and she has made New Hampshire and even the nation a little stronger because of her efforts.

That is why she is tonight’s winner for Excellence in Business Services.


Finalist: Brian Hooper, MSI Mechanical Systems Inc., Salem – Brian was also the July 2007 New Hampshire Business Review EYE Award Winner, which honors emerging young entrepreneurs.

Winner: George Hague, ConEst Software Systems, Manchester

I don’t know how many of you stop to consider all the electrical systems that make your offices work — but George Hague does.

Chances are George has already figured out how the lighting and my microphone could work better — I hope that doesn’t include turning it off!

George has been in the electrical industry for more than 40 years. He started his first business by not doing business — he’d diagnose electrical problems made by other electricians, allowing clients to go back to their original contractor with the information.

Well, more times than not, those clients asked George to do the work instead. Service like that built a loyal customer base throughout New England.

In 1989, he founded ConEst Software Systems. His company’s IntelliBid electrical estimating software is used by more than 5,000 contractors worldwide.

This past July, ConEst was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the country’s 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies.

But there’s more to George than just wire and watts. He has donated the IntelliBid software to a number of schools around the country, including the New Hampshire Community Technical College in Manchester and Laconia, ensuring electrical program students graduate with the skills they need to secure a career.

He supports local police and fire departments and even made a financial donation to a customer on the Gulf Coast who supplied housing for families left homeless in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Because he has sparked so much interest in students entering electrical programs and support from clients and the community he serves, George is our 2007 winner of Excellence in Construction.

Financial Services

Winner: William McCarron, Prime Buchholz & Associates Inc., Portsmouth

One might think that a nonprofit organization and an investment firm are incongruous partners, to say the least. For William McCarron, they should be the best of friends.

According to William, appropriate investments provide steady income which enables nonprofits to continue doing their work for the greater good.

Because of that philosophy, most of the clients at McCarron’s firm, Prime Buchholz, are nonprofit organizations.

Under William’s tenure, which began in 1990, Prime Buchholz oversees some $30 billion in assets and has grown from 7 to 250 clients and from just 5 employees to 90.

They say money talks, and with Prime Buchholz, they are right — at least as far as what it says about the community services William’s firm supports. No less than 14 organizations were brought to the attention of our judges – all nonprofits receiving financial support from Prime Buchholz. What’s more, most of these donations were made over a span of just 4 months.

As if these organizations weren’t enough, the firm matches many of its employees’ charity donations 2 to 1.

William McCarron invests in his community as much as his community invests with him, and that’s why we have chosen him as our Excellence in Financial Services winner.

Health Care

Finalist: Robert C. Hannon, M.D. & Robert S. Schall, M.D., Salem Radiology, Salem

Winner: Matthew Albuquerque, Next Step Orthotics & Prosthetics, Manchester

When you held your drink in your hand or walked over to greet a friend tonight, you probably didn’t give those actions a single thought.

For those without full function of their limbs, these simplest of tasks can become heart-wrenchingly arduous.

Matthew Albuquerque of Next Step Orthotics & Prosthetics works every day to make such actions for those missing their limbs just as much an afterthought.

Matthew’s company fits amputees with artificial limbs, tailoring them to each individual’s specific needs. He strives to make each client’s prosthetic as lifelike as possible.

He has been quoted as saying, “We’re not giving you a leg, we’re trying to give you your life back.”

Matthew’s work has enabled many to achieve things they hadn’t even tried before they required a prosthesis. Some of Matthew’s clients have gone on to golf, ski, and even sky-dive.

To the littlest survivors of limb damage, this can mean the difference between being able to play with other children or not, as pediatric prosthetics are a passion of Matthew’s.

Veterans also hold a special place in Matthew’s heart. With so many young soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq the victims of IEDs, many of his clients have military backgrounds. Next Step has partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project in Waterville Valley, a veterans advocacy organization, and with Dean Kamen’s DEKA Research and Development Corporation on the development of an advanced upper-body prosthetic.

Matthew’s career as a prosthetist doesn’t stop him from giving back to the community. He is a youth sports coach, a former board member of the Boys & Girls Club, and a member of Veterans Counts, the New England Handicap Sports Association and the National Amputee Golf Association.

And so we are inviting Matthew to take his next steps to the podium to receive his award for Excellence in Health Care.


Winner: Denise Meadows, E.F. Lane Hotel, Keene

Running a hotel is a little like running a Broadway show. As general manager of Keene’s E.F. Lane Hotel, Denise Meadows must play not only stage manager, ensuring the smooth flow of operations, but she’s also scenery master, making sure the hotel is spotless, she’s the prop master, setting restaurant tables just so, an usher, escorting guests to their rooms, and even stagehand, doing odd jobs around the property.

In short, Denise will do anything to make a guest’s stay as pleasurable as possible and as unaware of any difficulties happening backstage as possible.

That’s more than many bosses would do, but Denise goes even further and treats her employees like family.

She throws an annual employee recognition party each year. She will often send staff to other inns and hotels, as much as out of gratitude as to learn from other establishments.

Denise has been known to pay for groceries for some of her employees who attend college. She has even paid for medications, utility bills, spoken with landlords, and has sent maintenance staff to her employees’ homes to aid them during difficult situation.

To her broader community family, Denise promotes regional travel as a member of the Monadnock Travel Council, the New Hampshire Travel Council, the Discover New England Summit, and other hospitality associations.

Denise also volunteers locally, assisting the Humane Society with pet adoption, the Keene Music Festival, AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region and many others.

Because her hospitality reaches far past the walls of the E.F. Lane Hotel, we honor Denise Meadows with our Excellence in Hospitality award.


Winner: Sari Ann Strasburg, Strasburg Law P.L.L.C., Bedford

Sari Ann Strasburg is a true public servant. As a certified public accountant and attorney, she worked as both corporate counsel and later at a law firm. But she undertook that breathtaking leap in 2003 to open her own law practice.

As many here tonight might understand, that is courageous enough of a move. But she went a step further to serve the public and decided to help other would-be entrepreneurs take that same leap by serving on the board of the Women’s Business Center, a nonprofit organization supporting women business owners and helping other women to start their own businesses.

Sari Ann was so accomplished at her role at the WBC, she was appointed vice chair after only 7 months, and then chair just 5 months later.

She is also a frequent lecturer in New Hampshire and around the country.

Also true to her commitment as a public servant, Sari Ann works with many other New Hampshire nonprofit organizations, such as the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra, the New Hampshire Business Committee for the Arts, and the New Hampshire chapters of the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society.

For her service in the field of law and for serving others, we honor Sari Ann Strasburg with our Excellence in Law award.


Winner: Peter Egelston & Joanne Francis, Smuttynose Brewing Co., Portsmouth

Peter Egelston started the Smuttynose Brewing Co. because he just couldn’t say, “No.” In 1994, when the craft brewing movement had just begun, Peter was part-owner of the Northampton Brewery in Northampton, Mass., and the Portsmouth Brewery here in New Hampshire.

He found himself with some fermenting tanks from an auction at the old Frank Jones Brewery in Portsmouth. Since he now had the equipment, he figured it was time to start his own facility. Soon, Smuttynose Brewery, named for one of the Isles of Shoals, was born.

Right away, you could tell things were going to be different. Beer was created in small batches to keep the quality high. As employees came on, Peter, joined by his business and life partner Joanne Francis, they did start saying “No.”

Peter and Joanne said “No” to pollution — they recycle many of the byproducts from the brewery, including spent grain and other waste. That commitment to the environment is included in plans for their proposed new brewery, which will use environmentally conscious building and brewing practices.

Other “No’s” they are passionate about include “no hunger” — Peter is a board member of Taste of the Nation; “no loss of culture” — Joanne is a board member of The Music Hall in Portsmouth; and “no heart disease” — 25 cents of every case of Smuttynose beer goes to support the American Heart Association.

With Peter and Joanne, “no” can actually mean a supportive “yes.”

For making people and the environment a little healthier one bottle at time, we award Peter Egelston and Joanne Francis with Excellence in Manufacturing.

Media & Marketing

Winners TIE:

Laurie Ferguson, New Hampshire Made
Nick Soggu, SilverTech

Textbooks may say marketing is about building awareness of a product or service, but for Laurie Ferguson of New Hampshire Made and Nick Soggu of SilverTech, marketing is really about people.

Laurie Ferguson became executive director of New Hampshire Made in 2004, when the foundering nonprofit supporting the state’s cottage industries had mounting debt, declining membership and shaky income.

In just 3 short years, Laurie has turned the organization around, increasing membership from just a few dozen to over 700 members, generating regular income for the nonprofit. She has solidified the brand identity of New Hampshire Made to truly stand for products symbolic of the authenticity of the Granite State. She has spearheaded a number of projects for the organization, including a complete redesign of the Web site, nhmade.org, creation of the popular “Guide to New Hampshire Products & Services” — with over 100,000 copies distributed — and she launched two affiliated organizations — the New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection and the New Hampshire Winery Association.

Nick Soggu, president of the Manchester interactive marketing and Web design firm SilverTech, also faced his share of troubles in his firm’s infancy when he founded the company 10 years ago.

Steering the company through the tech bubble with a steady hand, Nick’s respect and caring for his employees and clients also helped to see the company through the tough times.

He supports work-life balance benefits at his firm. Even several senior members of the company work just part-time.

Nick gives back to his community in many ways too. He is an adjunct professor of computer science at UNH and Merrimack College. He is a director on the boards of several organizations, such as the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the Manchester Area Colleges Consortium, Manchester Development Corporation, and Citizens Bank. He also supports many nonprofit organizations with Web and E-mail hosting and other services.

Products and Web sites are merely things. But with the leadership of Laurie and Nick, the stories of the people behind those products and businesses become the real items marketed.

For this, we award both Laurie Ferguson and Nick Soggu our Excellence in Marketing honor.


Winner: Julie Baron, Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire

Julie Baron plays fairy godmother to many of New Hampshire’s seriously ill children.

As chief executive officer of Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire, Julie helps make wishes come true for children with life-threatening illnesses at no cost to their families. The wishes can be something as relatively simple as a trip to Disney World or as complex as digging for dinosaur bones with scientists in a remote corner of Montana.

The truth of the matter is that running an organization like Make-A-Wish is not as simple as waving a magic wand.

To grant wishes — the average cost of which is about $10,000 — takes some seriously hard work, especially when the number of wishes granted has increased 60 percent in the few short years since Julie has been at the helm.

Julie networked with numerous organizations to expand the depth of talent in her staff, the nonprofit’s board, and greatly increased the number of donations.

As a result, Make-A-Wish in New Hampshire is running in the black and has met every fund-raising goal under Julie’s leadership.

Despite such a demanding job, Julie also brings her special brand of magic to many other civic and nonprofit organizations, such as Queen City Rotary, Pastoral Counseling Services, the American Cancer Society, the Women’s Business Center and the Manchester and Concord chambers.

She is also a Justice of the Peace and foster parent.

For all the hard work she does — and even pulling off a few small miracles — we have named Julie Baron our Excellence in Nonprofits winner.

Real Estate

Winner: Thomas Farrelly, Cushman & Wakefield New Hampshire

Being a real estate professional these days is not easy. But then, when is it ever easy?

Thomas Farrelly opened the Manchester branch of Cushman & Wakefield in 1986. In February. Not exactly the kind of climate to be selling office buildings.

Thomas built relationships the old-fashioned way — by going literally door-to-door, convincing investors that southern New Hampshire was worth their interest and their dollars, even tracking data and publishing reports to prove it.

He was one of the first to practice tenant representation — a practice through which he has closed on more than 20 million square feet of transactions to date.

But Thomas has looked beyond leases and acreage to his community. He has donated his time to many professional and charitable organizations, such as the New Hampshire Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Board, the New Hampshire High Technology Council, the Software Association of New Hampshire, the Boy Scouts of America and the Educational Farm at Joppa Hill helping to support its mission to increase public awareness of open space, sustainable agriculture and the environment.

As his nominator – Kirk Roth of Roth & Roth LLC — put it so eloquently, Thomas put New Hampshire on the commercial real estate map and investors have been coming to the Granite State ever since.

Please join me in congratulating Thomas Farrelly in receiving our Excellence in Real Estate award.


Finalist: Donna Welch, From Out of the Woods Antiques, Goffstown

Finalist: Walter & Chris Chapin, Company C, Concord – also a 2005 BEA winner in Retail

Winner: Jackie Staiti, Amanda Thomas Unlimited

“Shopping therapy” is a temporary feel-good exercise at best, an excuse for throwing money away at worst.

For the customers at Jackie Staiti’s shop, it is indeed therapeutic — even life-changing, in the truest sense of the words.

Jackie owns Amanda Thomas Unlimited in Amherst, a store that specializes in wigs, women’s prosthetics, menopause products and other items meant to soothe and nourish a woman’s soul.

Many of Jackie’s clients are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or are survivors of breast cancer.

To a woman who has had enough knocks against her physical being, something as seemingly simple as a beautiful scarf or a natural-looking wig can change her whole outlook on herself and her life.

Jackie provides that life-affirming experience, and more. She can spend upwards of 2 hours with a client on her initial visit. She has been known to go to clients’ homes or hospital rooms when they were too sick to come to her.

Jackie, who’s also a certified breast prosthetic fitter, also helps women regain their body confidence through appropriately fitting prosthetics and bras after a mastectomy.

This former controller for a software firm felt something was missing from her life. She wanted to see and feel the direct impact of her hard work while solving problems for women.

We feel Jackie Staiti has done that and more — she has helped so many other women begin to start reliving their lives. This is why she is our winner for Excellence in Retail.


Finalist: Tom Daly & Jeremy Hitchcock, Dynamic Network Services Inc. – March 2007 EYE Award winners

Winner: Michael Gray, Global Relief Technologies, Portsmouth

Michael Gray stood surrounded by 30,000 refugees in the Balkans during the regional conflicts of the 1990s as a coordination office for the U.S. State Department. And all he had to manage the immense need for resources was a pencil and a pad of paper.

He knew there just had to be a better way. And, like so many entrepreneurs, he built that better way.

As founder and chief executive of Global Relief Technology, Michael has pulled together wireless and satellite technology, GPS systems and databases into an easy-to-use data collection and communications tool that assists relief workers and military personnel in saving lives all over the world.

Creating more than just a souped-up iPhone, Michael has developed a state-of-the-art information center capable of analyzing and processing data at lightning speeds, enabling clients to make decisions impacting thousands. Updates to software and other information can also be transmitted in real time to those in the field using the handhelds, saving precious time in coordinating resources.

Michael’s business may look globally, but he also has his eye on his community. Many nonprofits here and abroad receive Global Relief Technology’s systems at a greatly reduced cost or by donation.

A Navy veteran, he has hired several former service personnel, some of whom have sustained crippling injuries in the war in Iraq.

For helping others to help those most in need here and around the world, we honor Michael Gray with our Excellence in Technology award.


Winner: Mark Lore, Ride-Away Handicap Equipment Corp., Londonderry

“Your dedication, compassion and assistance … changed the world for our family.”

These are the words of just one individual whose life was touched by Mark Lore and his company, Ride-Away Handicap Equipment Corp.

Ride-Away modifies vehicles for those with handicaps and physical disabilities. But more than just installing a left-foot accelerator or wheelchair-accessible driver’s seat, Mark helps his clients gain independence, maybe for the first time in their lives.

Mark’s support doesn’t end with his clients. He is a firm believer that employees come before profit. In the early 1990s, when he first took over the firm from another owner – and with banks calling in their loans — the company was put in a difficult position. Mark paid his employees with funds from his own credit cards rather than let people go.

Running a business that helps so many in need, the local community is never far from Mark’s mind either. Ride-Away gives away 10 percent of earnings each year to charity. He is involved in such nonprofit organizations as the United Way, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Granite State Independent Living. He also encourages his employees to take an active role in their own communities.

Mark helps the disabled to be able again – and that’s why we have chosen him to be our winner for Excellence in Transportation.


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