The Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) recently held its 25th annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards luncheon.
The event is put on by the ISBDC along with local universities and businesses, and is meant to recognize outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners who “breathe life into our local economy.”
Tom Sourlis of Mortar Net Solutions, also the Lifetime Achievement winner, was the keynote speaker for the event.
The 2016 Honorees are:
Lifetime Achievement: Tom Sourlis of Mortar Net Solutions, Porter County. Sourlis—inventor, artist and restorer--came up with an innovative solution to a mortar issue. Now, that product is in thousands of masonry buildings nationwide. With that success, Sourlis has put money back into his community by assisting non-profits and foundations. www.mortarnet.com
Small Business Person of the Year: Tracy and Berry Triska of Traffic Control Specialists (TCS), based in Starke County, which provides rental and contract-based traffic control systems. Look at the back of those orange traffic signs for TCS, and you’ll see some of what TCS does. www.tcspecialists.net
Entrepreneurial Success: The Martinez family of OM Distributors, Lake County. Under the brand name Tortillas Nuevo Leon, this family business produces tortillas, chips and tostadas. www.tortillasnuevoleon.com
Minority-Owned Business: Paco Fernandez of Paco’s Custom Clothiers, Lake County. Born in Mexico, Fernandez came to the United States in 1967 and worked in the clothing industry for 28 years before setting up his own store in 1999. The business now has a showroom in downtown Chicago and do business in 19 cities. www.fineclothing.net
ISBDC Client Maker of the Year: Vincent Leman of Dust and Ashes Productions, Porter County. A client of ISBDC since 2014, Leman and his wife Jessie are the driving force for the umbrella company that includes branches like Dust Furniture, creating artistic but functional home décor and modern office furniture. www.dustfurniture.com
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Kevin Hand of Zounds Hearing, with four locations across Lake and Porter counties. A franchise opportunity with Zounds Hearing satisfied Hand’s goal of opening a business, and after opening his first location in Crown Point in 2014 he has already opened three more locations in just two years. www.nmginspires.com/zounds
Family-Owned Business of the Year: Damasius family of Vyto’s Pharmacy, Lake County. Since its first store opening in 1989, the family has kept the culture and values of a small business that is interested most in its customers’ health. www.vytospharmacy.com
Garry Bradley Small Business Advocate of the Year: Sue Anderson of Hammond Development Corporation, Lake County. Anderson is the consultant/program director since 2007 and works with the organization’s incubators to help entrepreneurs, as well as working with students and internship programs. www.hammonddevelopmentcorp.com
Emerging Business of the Year: Laurie Clark and Annette Bloss of Dawg Paradise Inc., La Porte County. The two started a mobile grooming business in 2010, then opened Dawg Paradise in 2012 as a luxury pet boarding company, which has since expanded both its offerings and capacity. www.dawgparadise.com
Lorri Feldt, Regional Director
Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center