It was was a sweet time for attendees of the 22nd annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards luncheon held Wednesday (E-Day) at the Star Plaza in Merrillville.
Past award winners and members of a number of small businesses, banks and organizations throughout Northwest Indiana were on hand for the event, which was highlighted by Scott Albanese, the keynote speaker. Albanese, owner of Albanese Confectionery in Merrillville, is known as the “Candy Man” for his many innovations over the last 30 years that have rocked the candy-making world.
Albanese said small businesses can thrive on two key principles. One would be “telling your story with passion” and the other is helping others.
“That story is your mission statement,” he said. “It’s where have I been, who I am now and where am I going… If you can get customers to know your story, you are on the level with Apple.”
And equally as important as helping customers is making sure they know you helped them.
“It is also important to help your employees become successful,” he said.
While Albanese has made a worldwide-splash in his industry, Don Babcock, director of economic development at NIPSCO, said the region still has “a long way to go” before Northwest Indiana is recognized around the world as a whole.
The program was introduced by Thomas L. Keon, chancellor of Purdue University Calumet. He said that it’s not only important for Northwest Indiana to grow empires, it’s also important to “reach out and build new business and industry.”
“That way, Northwest Indiana can be a rich and dynamic entity,” he said.
Winners of this year’s awards were chosen by the E-day committee, which was made up of 11 members. The following were selected:
Small Business Person of the Year: Peter Nau (Hammond Machine Works)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Pete Peuquet (Chester, Inc.)
Entrepreneurial Success of the Year: Leon Dombrowski (Accucraft Imaging)
Family-Owned Business of the Year: Robert J. Flude III (Martin Binder Jeweler)
Emerging Small Business of the Year: Kelly Jackson and Jennifer Cowger (North Star Services, LLC)
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Brad Hindsley (Spire Catering and Event Planning Farm to Fork Cuisine)
Woman-Owned Business of the Year: Desila Rosetti (Organizational DEvelopment Solutions)
Minority-Owned Business of the Year: Roxanne Perkins and Jacqueline Woods (Delicious Deep Freeze)
Small Business Advocate of the Year: Gerald Bishop (Gerald M. Bishop and Associates)
Women in Business Champion: Andrea Pearman (Diversified Marketing Strategies)
Platinum sponsors of the E-Day event included NIPSCO, Centier Bank, Fifth Third Bank, WeCreate Media, Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly and the Idea Factory.