Northeast Kentucky Small Business Awards recognizes 70 local businesses, professionals
Ashland Alliance News / Posted May 17, 2014
ASHLAND Small businesses are the backbone of commerce in Boyd, Carter and Greenup Counties. Together they account for more than 95 percent of the economic activity in the region, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
On Thursday, May 15, more than 70 small businesses and entrepreneurs from the region were recognized at the 17th Annual Northeast Kentucky Small Business Awards sponsored by Morehead State University’s Ashland Business Development Center. The 2014 Small Business of the Year Award was given to one of Ashland’s longest standing downtown businesses, which for more than six decades has been operated by it’s founders Don and Betty Korros. Don’s Men’s Shop and Don’s Formal Wear was also recognized as the 2014 Downtown Business of the Year.
A record number of businesses, 70 all together, were nominated in 2014, with several receiving multiple nods. Organizers moved the event to the Boyd County Community Center this year, in order to accommodate the expanding number of nominees, sponsors and community member attendees.
“People are realizing that a small businesses community is the backbone. They are the job creators, the innovators, the people who contribute to the community,” said Kim Jenkins, director of the Ashland Small Business Center. Jenkins said the number of nominations — an all-time record in 2014 — is a testament to the strength of the business community here. “That just speaks volumes about the community and small business success,” she said.
Jenkins said the awards ceremony is important in order to raise awareness of the small business community and their contributions. “They are the unsung heroes of the community,” said Jenkins. “A lot of times they get overlooked. It’s good for them to be recognized and this is a good public relations and networking opportunity for them,” she said, “It is important, it helps grow their business.”
“Small businesses have a hard time succeeding and any encouragement, anyway we can get to know them and support them, is one way we can get jobs in Northeast Kentucky. A lot of people would like to come back home, after they go out and get educated. One way that college graduates or people working can come back is to be entrepreneurs, but they have to have the support to allow their business to succeed,” said Ashland Alliance Chairman Ed Neely.
“We can really breed small businesses if we work to do that. It also helps you when you go through downturns if you have a really diversified number of small businesses you aren’t going to have a huge amount of layoffs from large businesses. Small businesses are very, very important,” Neely added.
The event recognizes businesses, business advocates and non-profit organizations across 10 separate categories in the three county region including: New Business of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year, Retail/ Wholesale Business of the Year, Service Business of the Year, Business Professional of the Year, Construction/Contracting Business of the Year, Downtown Business of the Year, Family-owned Business of the Year, Non-profit Organization of the Year, Small Business Champion of the Year. The Small Business of the Year award is granted to the top business among all categories.
Nominees were sought from the public and a five-person panel selects winners. Entries are judged on their current success, staying power, potential for growth and innovation, ability to overcome obstacles as well as their ongoing commitments to supporting the communities they call home.
2014 Small Business Of The Year / Downtown Business of the Year
Founded in 1949 by husband and wife Don and Betty Korros, Don’s Men’s Shop & Don’s Formal Wear, located on Winchester Avenue in Ashland, will celebrate its 65th Anniversary in the coming months. Don passed away in 2012 at age 83, but Betty continues to be involved in the day-to-day operations.
The secret to their success, said Betty Korros, is having good employees and excellent customer service. Don Korros always said, “All we have to offer today is service,” quoted his son B.J. Korros.
“I just can’t believe this award, I’m just so thrilled with it. I want to thank my employees. … We raised a lot of boys and girls in the shop,” added Betty Korros, referring to the large number of young employees the shop has had over its six-and-a-half decade history. She said her goal is for the shop and its legacy to continue on for at least another 65 years.
Additional Downtown Business nominees were: Lands Carpet Center, Jamie Lands; Grayson Sporting Goods, Mike Keaton; Rupert’s Department Store, Tim Wilson; Holly B’s Jewelry & Gifts, Brook Elswick-Robinson; and Tyler’s Pizza, Carolyn Callihan.
2014 New Business of the Year
Operated by husband and wife Marty and Erica Myers took home the award for businesses who have been in operation less than three years for their franchise location of Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt. Located at the Ashland Towne Center Mall the business employees 15 and revenues have grown substantially since it opened in 2012. The couple have dedicated themselves to helping other entrepreneurs in the region start their own businesses and succeed and will open Ignite, a shared-space business incubator later this month.
Additional New Business nominees were: Aaliayah’s Children’s Boutique, Rannaye Middleton; Agape Home Helpers, Janice Weber; Ashland Regional Theatre, Maria Whaley; Estep’s Family Restaurant, Ronnie Estep; Grayson Gallery & Art Center, Dan and Mindy Click; JH Johnson and Associates, James Johnson and Mae Deane Torgrimson; Kentucky Antler Company, Kent and Gayleen Montgomery; LMN Productions/The Greater Ashland Beacon; Philip & Lora Stewart and Jason & Kimberly Smith; Olive Hill Council for Planning and Restoration, Debra Baker Harman; and Tina’s Tinting, Tina Sanchez.
2014 Emerging Business of the Year
Print My Threads owned by Kyle and Annie Robinson was recognized as the Emerging Business. Started in the couples’ garage five years ago, the eco-friendly apparel and screen-printing business expanded every year. Last summer the business moved from its former 400 square-foot location to a 9,000 square-foot warehouse in Flatwoods. The couple renovated the building, long vacant, and hired two additional employees bringing their total to five. In addition Print my Threads donates 1 percent of its annual profits to green charities and organizations.
Additional Emerging Business nominees: BWH Security, Scott Wamsley, Jr.; D&R Metal and AG Supply, Darrell Willis; Grayson Electronics/RadioShack, Byron and Linda Owens; Jewlies, Julie Runyon and Jennifer Runyon; MaMa Hazel’s Bakery, Michelle Wallace; Mudpyz-n-Butterflyz Kids Consignment & Boutique, Marcella Evans and Anita Watts; Tri-State Counseling & Psychotherapy, Steven Tackett.
2014 Retail/Wholesale Business of the Year
During its eight years of existence, Melanie’s Custom Bows and More, founded by Melanie Tierney has grown from a home-based business to a retail shop. The custom hair bows and children’s clothing business is noted for it’s one-of-a-kind handmade items and its exceptional and friendly customer service.
Additional Retail/Wholesale Business nominees: Beautiful Things, Jeanie Waugh and Lisa Waugh; Kentucky Automotive Center of Grayson, Lydia Crawford.
2014 Service Business of the Year:
Over the past 39 years, Paul Grant and Tom Grant have built Grant Inc. comprised of multiple Giovanni’s Pizza locations, into a thriving enterprise of beloved hometown pizza and Italian restaurants. The pair began with 12 employees and a single restaurant in 1975, eventually expanding into four locations with 60 employees. During that time revenue grew from $300,000 to $3.8 million in sales.
Additional Service Business nominees: Ambiance Salon, Eric & Tabitha Coyer; Callihan’s American Pub & Grill, Tal Callihan; Phil Clark’s Martial Arts Academy/Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu of KY, Phil and Cara Clark; Crossroads of Hope, Valerie Frasure; Fast Change Oil and Lube, Nile Barnes; Ink in a Blink, Mark Dillon; Justice Enterprises, Michael Justice; Kyova 10 Theatres, George Bagnoli; Ross Real Estate Services, Lucien Ross and Bea Rice; Ruffin’ It Pet Boutique, Margaret McCue; Wilson Fitness & Martial Arts, Allen Wilson.
2014 Business Professional of the Year:
MJ Wixsom D.M.V. of Guardian Animal Medical Clinic was recognized as the Business Professional of the Year. Its mission is to “Provide outstanding, progressive, professional, compassionate veterinary medicine and surgery, in a pleasant and cheerful environment.” Accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, the clinic has reached the highest industry standard of service.
Additional Business Professional nominees: Dr. Jack Borders, Regional Psychotherapy Services; John Dean, CPA, Jackson Hewitt; Dr. Gary Dillon, Dillon Chiropractic; Dr. William and Kathy Thorner, Caring Dentistry.
2014 Construction/Contracting Business of the Year:
Chris Riffe started his career in contracting in 1993 at age 17. At age 19, he founded Riffe Contracting with a bobcat and a crew of three employees. Today, Riffe Contracting employs six full-time employees and more than 30 contractors and boasts a full-range of construction equipment and a waiting lists of clients. The company specializes in incorporating smart technology into the homes it constructs.
Additional Construction/Contracting Business nominees: Covenant Cable, Rocky and Christy Kiser; Creative Home Solutions, Curt Clevenger; Steve Logan Construction; Steve Logan; Steen Cannon & Ordinance Work, Marshall Steen.
2014 Family-Owned Business of the Year:
Porter’s Tire and Auto Service first opened in 1960 and was founded by the father of current co-owners and operators Scott Porter and Jenny Harris. The Olive Hill business began by selling new and used brand name tires and offering automotive repair services. In the 1980s it became an EPA-certified tire recycler, and has grown from a staff of four to 15.
Additional Family-Owned Business nominees: DJ’s Kitchen Corner, Dale Jones; K.C. Hardin Greenhouse & Garden Center, K.C. Hardin; Rick’s Towing & Recovery, Rick Rice; James Family Outfitters, Bobby & Carol James; Tackett’s Furniture, Debra Baker Harman.
2014 Non-Profit Organization of the Year:
The Kentucky Educational Development Center is Kentucky’s oldest and largest educational cooperative. Since it’s inception in 1965, the non-profit educational consortium has grown to include 60 member school districts and 90 employees.
Additional Non-Profit Organization nominees: Ashland Animal Rescue Fund, Dave Gillium; Ashland Youth Ballet, Kim Robinette and Maria Whaley; Carter County Public Library, Nellie Jordan; Eastern Kentucky Junior Golf Association, Tom and Pat Cooksey; Grahn School Community Center, Starlene Harris; Helping Hands of Greenup County, Deborah Blevins; Highlands Museum & Discovery Center, Carol Rice Allen; Hope’s Place Children’s Advocacy Center, Brandi Bayes; Olive Hill Center for Arts and Education, Linda Lowe; Ramey-Estep Homes, Denny Locey.
2014 Small Business Champion of the Year: Mark Strother, of Commercial Bank of Grayson, was selected for his tireless work and dedication to a host of economic development, community betterment initiatives, service organizations and a variety of non-profit organizations in Carter County. The third generation of his family to be named bank president since it’s founding in 1881 Strother is the 5th individual to hold the title.
Additional Small Business Champion nominees include: Jason Suman, of Citizens National Bank; Earl Twinam, of First and Peoples Bank.
Jeff Elswick, vice president and chief commercial lender of Kentucky Farmer’s Bank was also recognized at the event for receiving the 2014 Kentucky Small Business Financial Services Advocate of the Year Award. Elswick was named Northeast Kentucky Small Business Champion of the Year in 2013, which made him eligible for state recognition. He was selected to receive the award from among nominees across Kentucky. It was presented Thursday by Ralph Ross, director of the Kentucky District of the Small Business Administration. Elswick is the immediate past chairman of the Ashland Alliance.