Business Ledger honors 28 local entrepreneurs
The spirit of independence and success was highlighted Wednesday night as 28 suburban professionals were honored at the 16th Annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards sponsored by the Daily Herald Business Ledger.
More than 200 people attended the event at the Naperville campus of Northern Illinois University.
2015 Entrepreneurial Excellence Awaard honoreesEarly Stage
• Coleen & Brian Graham, Coleen's Better Than Breadsticks, Villa Park
• Janee Matteson, Kayak Morris, Hinsdale
• Linda Murray, Vista Linda Eye Care, Mount Prospect
• Henry Matthew Bellagamba, Fullerton Engineering, Rosemont
• Chuck Pine, Chuck's Southern Comforts Café, Darien
• Julie Savitt, AMS Earth Movers, Lake Villa.
• Mara Hauser, 25N Coworking, Geneva
• Michael Heilmann & Lawrence Jordan, Wi-Tronix, LLC, Bolingbrook
• David Larsen, Larsen Manufacturing, Mundelein
• Maureen O'Brien, Global Women's Leadership Forum, Batavia.
• Ronald Allen, Quad County Chamber of Commerce, Aurora
• Murray Gordon, MAGA, Ltd., Riverwoods
• Diane Middlebrooks, Itasca Bank & Trust Company
• Terri Roeslmeier, Automated Business Designs, Rosemont
• Roy Spencer, Perma-Seal Basement Systems, Downers Grove.
Outstanding Service to Entrepreneurs
• Austin Dempsey, Fox Valley Entrepreneur Center, Batavia
• Nic Zito, Rev3 / Choose DuPage, Naperville.
• Ellen Huxtable, Advantage Business Concepts, Batavia.
Young Entrepreneur (under age of 40)
• Derek & Gavin Burseth, Burseth Farm, Woodstock
• Adam Justice, Grid Connect, Inc., Naperville
• Geneva & Rena Pedersen, Treasure Breads, Yorkville
• Diana Peters, Symbol Training Institute, Addison
• James Ratke, Urban Produce Farms, West Chicago
• Matt Zahora, Chicagoland Aviation, Romeoville.
The annual EEA program recognizes successful entrepreneurship in the suburban region. The honorees demonstrate the best traits of entrepreneurship, including willingness to take risk, drive, perseverance and business creativity.
Keynote speaker Jacqueline Camacho-Ruiz, founder and director of JJR Marketing in Naperville, talked about five drivers that are a part of an entrepreneur's journey: authenticity, vision, gratitude, connecting and innovation.
"It's about taking something that already exists and putting it into another context," she said.
Camacho-Ruiz, herself a former EEA honoree, spoke of how she began her journey at age 5, selling figs from a tree in her family's backyard, and noted in many cases youthful exuberance can be a big motivator for entrepreneurs.
"I probably would have waited to start my company if I knew what I know now," she said. "Sometimes that youth, that naiveness, that childlike approach to things helps you achieve your goals."
Many of the honorees spoke of their respective leaps of faith that led them to their ventures.
"It's a labor of love and a lot of work, but well worth it to help people," said growth category honoree Dr. Linda Murray of Vista Linda Eye Care of Mount Prospect, which provides eye care services for poor and elderly patients.
Wi-Tronix LLC co-founders Michael Heilman and Lawrence Jordan, who were honored in the innovation category, also spoke to helping other through your success.
"The spirit of entrepreneurism in America is alive, and to benefit the charitable organizations that we work is what keeps us going," Heilman, of Bolingbrook, said. Detailed profiles of all of the honorees will be featured in the Oct, 12 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger.
Presenting sponsors for the Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards are B. Gunther and Co., NIU College of Business, Focus Capital Advisors, JJR Marketing and The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc. Marketing partners are MRA, Leaderboard Tournament Systems and the Quad County African American Chamber of Commerce.