Twenty three suburban professionals were honored for their entrepreneurial spirit Thursday evening during the 15th annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards hosted by the Daily Herald Business Ledger.
More than 125 people lauded the honorees during the annual event at the Danada House Conference Center in Wheaton.
Entrepreneurial Excellence Award honorees for 2014Early Stage
• Rebecca Gengler, More Polish Pottery, Big Rock
• Lisa Gregor, Church Street Brewing Co., Itasca
• Michelle Thompson, Netcycler/Swap.com, Addison
• Jamie Pritscher and Erin Walter, nuphoriq, Elk Grove Village.
• John Hershey, J. Hershey Architecture, Libertyville
• Beverly Miller, Tranquility Spa and Wellness Center, St. Charles
• Prasad Ravi, INOC, Northbrook
• Susie Cummings and Bob Knott, SWC Technology Partners, Oak Brook.
• Jill Foucre, Marcel's Culinary Experience, Glen Ellyn
• Dave Walker, BizHive, St. Charles
• Mike Wyrostek, Naperville Bites & Sites.
• Victor Micelli, Des Plaines Office Equipment, Elk Grove Village.
Outstanding Service to Entrepreneurs
• Priscilla Cordero, Small Business Development Center, Governors State University, University Park
• Norman Roth, Roth Sales Enhancers, Libertyville
• Don Roth, AmpliVox Sound Systems, Northbrook
• Roch Tranel, Tranel Financial Group, Libertyville
Young Entrepreneur (under age of 40)
• Jeff Galas, OnPurposeGrowth, Downers Grove
• Jamison Ori, Rosebrook Pools, Inc., Libertyville
• Jennifer Villarreal, Sales from the Heart, Schaumburg
• Haider Saba & Tim Walter, iMotorsports, Elmhurst
The awards honor people who successfully brought their business dream to reality in six-county suburban Chicago region. The honorees demonstrate the best traits of entrepreneurship, including willingness to take risk, drive, perseverance and business creativity. Awards are presented in seven categories.
Keynote speaker Tom Walter, founder and chief culture officer of Tasty Catering in Elk Grove Village, told the group that despite the sacrifices an entrepreneur makes in starting and growing his business, the foundation of success lies in assuring a balance in work and home life and making sure family and employees are treated and recognized as partners,
"You have partners at home and you have partners at work," Walter said. "If you can create a loving atmosphere at work built on a strong culture based on altruistic purposes, your company will survive."
Walter stressed the importance of maintaining a strong relation with family, as they provide the foundation and support to keep an entrepreneur going in tough times.
"If you think this award is just about you, you're not going to last long," he added. "If you're mindful and you live in the present ... and if you tell someone that you love them, and care for them and you thank them for their support to help you get here, you'll be around for many years as successful entrepreneurs."
Many of the honorees acknowledged Walters's comments, thanking family members and business partners as they related their own stories of starting and building their dreams.
"Our employees are what makes us so special," said Michelle Thompson of Netcycler.com in Addison, who was honored in the early stage category. "We are with our employees the majority of the day, so I'm thankful that they're with me."
Don Roth of AmpliVox Sound Systems in Northbrook, who was honored in the regional spirit category, added that a business' success lies in "a foundation of integrity, trust and belief in each one of your employees.
"Our culture is one of candidness, openness and belief in each other," Roth said.
Victor Micelli of Des Plaines Office Equipment, who was honored in the Lifetime Achievement category, urged the honorees to follow his lead in inspiring employees to become involved in reforming Illinois government. Micelli said he has offered his employees additional paid time off during the holidays if they vote this November.
"I told them 'I don't care who you vote for, just vote,' and I want you to send me a picture with the 'I Voted' sticker," Micelli said. "My challenge to all Illinois businesses to do the same.
"If we can get the people who work for us to vote, we can move in the right direction," he added.
Detailed information on all the honorees will be published in the Oct. 13 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger, the suburban business journal owned by the Daily Herald Media Group, parent company of the Daily Herald.
Presenting sponsors for the Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards are B. Gunther & Co. of Lisle, First Bank & Trust, Northern Illinois University College of Business and Tasty Catering. Corporate sponsor is Leaderboard Torunament Systems.