Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 11, 2013

32 considered for chamber's Small Business of Year Award

BY KATHY GIBBONS kgibbons@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Sure, being nominated for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Celebration is an honor.

But it’s also an opportunity for self-examination, said Kelvin Shaw, owner of Cartridge World on S. Airport Road.

“It really helps you look at your business and know where you’re good and not so good,” he said.

Cartridge World is among 32 small businesses being considered for the chamber’s 2013 Small Business of the Year Award. Each was showcased Wednesday at Northwestern Michigan College’s Hagerty Center.

Judges are evaluating the applicants and will narrow the field to 10 finalists. Each will participate in a Meet the Top 10 Breakfast on May 8.

“We put them on a panel in which they’ll be asked questions,” said Chamber Chief Operating Officer Laura Oblinger. “When you listen to their responses, you really learn from them — things that have made them successful, their best practices. Not only are they being evaluated, but as an attendee of the event, you’re learning.”

In its eighth year, the Small Business Celebration was designed to recognize small businesses while highlighting and sharing success stories for peers.

“The sort of applicants we see today are what we refer to as our Stage Two companies — it is the sort of business that has enough employees and enough revenue and progress that shows they’re not just surviving, they’re thriving,” Oblinger said. “They’re also dealing with challenged situations, so they’re not perfect. But the overall health of the organization is good.”

Robert Brammer, co-owner with brother Charlie Brammer of Traverse City’s Stromberg Carlson Products, said their staff was “fired up” about completing the application process after the company was nominated this year. The third-generation family business manufactures accessories for RVs including travel trailers, fifth wheels and motor homes.

“It’s a good way to show people what diversity we have here,” said Kerry Glaesmer, owner of nominee Votruba Leather Goods in Traverse City. “Sometimes people don’t even know that a business exists.”

Cammie Buehler, co-owner of SBC nominee Epicure Catering in Omena, sees similar benefits.

“I think it’s great for not only the business peers, but for the community at large to just be aware of some of these small businesses,” Buehler said. “The larger businesses in town have a lot more visibility. A company like ours that does private events, we don’t have a lot of visibility.

“Something like this really helps to teach other business owners and the community about our company.”

The SBC Awards Ceremony to announce this year’s winner is May 29. For a list of this year’s candidates, visit http://tcchamber.org/2013-small-business-celebration-applicants/.