The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently canceled its May 9 award ceremony for Delaware businesses due to concerns about budget cuts and alcohol drinking at events. But that didn’t stop the winners from coming together last night at the Christiana Hilton to celebrate the 2019 Small Business Award Winners.
Patricia Rivera, founder of Hook PR & Marketing in Milton, called Delaware businesses “a wonderful community” in her acceptance speech for Minority-Owned Business of the Year.
Don Chupp, founder of Fireside Partners in Dover, offered a similarly optimistic message in his acceptance speech for Small Business Person of the Year. “Any good person surrounds himself with good people,” he said.
iHeartMedia Delaware, in connection with Kelly Ramey and Carl Pace of The DMI Group and Frank Montisano of Excel Business Systems, helped organize the dinner, said Brit Goldstein, area president of iHeartMedia.
John F. Fleming, director of the SBA Delaware District, said smaller awards ceremonies are filling the void nationwide.
Christina Stanbery earned Woman-Owned Business of the Year honors for founding Beyond Fifty Fitness Center. A former police officer and a nurse, she opened the first location in 2015 in North Wilmington, expanded to Hockessin this year and is thinking of adding a Sussex beach facility.
Older people need “a non-intimidating, non-competitive place to exercise in peace,” said head trainer Anne Balbach.
Linda Price, a vice president at Fulton Bank in Georgetown, was named Financial Services Champion. She said the dinner capped “an emotional day” for her, one of Fulton’s two small-business mentors in the state.
“Fulton sees the value of small businesses and is one of the few banks around with specific small-business products,” she said.
In an interview, Chupp expanded on his team philosophy. Valued employees – about 15 full-time and 50 part-time at the worldwide emergency response specialist – have the trust and fortitude to know their boss sometimes wants to hear “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Fireside, he noted, was one of the first startups in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce incubator.
Rivera started working part time in PR and marketing in 2003, but when she got serious about starting a business in 2016, she was blessed to be in a “state that supports small business” and to find a mentor in Antara Gupta, a former president of Delaware SCORE, who nominated her for the award.
Nick Collazzo, executive director of the Victory Village veterans home in Middletown and a SCORE coach, said he nominated Montisano because he focuses on “people, not products or processes.” He “likes to support people whose enterprise lets them rise above people who criticize.”
Here is the full list of winners.
– By Ken Mammarella