Friday, Sept. 25, 2009 | 3 a.m.
Perseverance, optimism and good, old-fashioned hard work were what vaulted four small companies and a nonprofit organization to the top as the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce last week announced the winners of its 2009 Small-Business Excellence Awards.
The Sept. 17 event at the Rio was sponsored by Nevada State Bank. Winners were honored at a luncheon.
Winners of this year’s BizE Awards: Small Business of the Year, Imagine Marketing of Nevada Inc.; Entrepreneur of the Year, Joseph Vassallo, Paragon Pools; Green Business of the Year, Tangerine Office Systems; Innovative Business of the Year, Sandler Training; Nonprofit of the Year, Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
“There’s no new secret sauce out there,” said Paragon Pools founder Vassallo, when asked how his company came to be recognized by the chamber.
“It’s good old hard work,” he said. “It’s paying attention to the customer. You listen to what they have to say and work with them. It’s that simple.”
Vassallo said the recession has been harsh to all construction companies and he is hopeful that because of some recent indicators that things are turning around.
Dave Archer, CEO of Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, an organization that fosters education and provides resources for tech companies and entrepreneurs in rural Nevada, Reno and Las Vegas, said despite being discouraged by the economy, small-business operators have to try.
“In this kind of economy, you have to hunker down and focus on your strengths,” Archer said. “Perseverance is important. There are people out there who can give you help and offer you resources.”
Staying optimistic and adapting to changing business environments is the advice given by Steve Brooks, owner, coach and trainer of Southern Nevada’s franchise of Sandler Training.
“Part of that is emphasizing and going with what you know you’re good at,” said Brooks, who transformed his own 20 percent sales closure rate to 60 percent and was named rookie of the year after joining the Sandler franchise in 2003.
The five winners of the BizE Awards were selected from among three finalists in each category. Other finalists were: Small Business of the Year, Baskow & Associates Inc. and the Debtbuster Corp.; Entrepreneur of the Year, Dianna Russo of Houldsworth, Russo & Co. and Lexy Capp of Nannies and Housekeepers USA; Green Business of the Year, Ecologic Construction and Urban Environmental Research LLC; Innovative Business of the Year, Balance Effect and BannerView.com; and Nonprofit of the Year, Lied Discovery Children’s Museum and Olive Crest-Nevada.
The chamber also honored insurance company Cragin & Pike with its Century Award for 100 years of doing business in Las Vegas, and Nevada State Bank for its 50 years of membership in the local chamber.