While the turnarounds of large corporations often receive lots of attention, the less public triumphs of small businesses are not always recognized. Twenty years ago, insurance executive Gary V. Trippe decided to change that.
The former CEO of Oswald Trippe and Company (now BB&T-Oswald Trippe and Company) created the Blue Chip Community Business Award, a program designed to recognize entrepreneurs who have triumphed over adversity. The awards program serves two purposes: it honors those who succeed in overcoming obstacles while also inspiring others to do the same.
The program has honored a wide range of businesses that have found innovative ways to succeed despite economic downturns, catastrophic illnesses, reversals of fortune, the destructive forces of Mother Nature, racism, unethical partners, maddening bureaucracy and a host of other adversities.
Over 20 years, the list of winners is broad, encompassing jewelers, restaurateurs, media and marketing firms, real estate professionals, health services companies and financial advisors.
“When you look back at all the winners, it is a very impressive group,” said Trippe. “They exemplify the spirit of the Blue Chip Award, which honors the dedication and creativity it takes to keep a business running, no matter what obstacles come along. I hope that sharing their stories with others has served as an inspiration and that other business owners have learned from their successes.”
Today, the Blue Chip Community Business Award is a well-respected and much sought-after honor and one that has recognized entrepreneurs throughout Southwest Florida for their success.
The 2013 winner, veterinarian Elizabeth Dixie Brown, owner East West Veterinary Care Center, feels proud to have been recognized, “It was humbling to win an award for overcoming adversity, when I knew in my heart that every person sitting in that same room is successful because they too had learned and grown from whatever adverse event life dealt them. It was a special honor. It is much more than an award; it is the recognition within the business community that humbles me. I will continue to strive for growth and success. To be recognized for my achievement was the pat on my back, and for my hardworking wonderful staff, that was greatly appreciated.”
Fireservice Disaster Kleenup, based in Fort Myers, was the first recipient and the company still values the recognition.
“We’ve moved a couple of times, but the award is still in our front entryway,” said Fireservice CEO Bill Maute, whose parents founded the firm. “Winning this award in 1994 was a really, really big deal. We have great respect for Mr. Trippe and felt it was a great honor to be recognized by him and his company. Fireservice was founded in 1971, and has been through many changes, but the company’s philosophy is still the same: We take care of our customers with integrity. We feel honored to be the first company to have been awarded the Blue Chip Award.”
The recipients aren’t the only ones who are proud to take part in the program. The motivational speakers chosen each year to deliver the keynote addresses at the well-attended award luncheons find the experience particularly meaningful and uplifting as well.
Nikki Stone, a motivational author and lecturer, was an Olympic gold medal skier before sustaining a life-threatening spinal injury while skiing. She has been among those distinguished guest speakers and the only one invited to return for a second engagement.
“Presenting at the Blue Chip Community Business Award in Southwest Florida has truly been one of the biggest honors and privileges I’ve had in my 20-plus years of speaking,” Stone said. “The spirit and respect for the honorees is contagious. The community support surrounding the event is enough to help any challenged business get back up on its feet. The energy of the event is only outdone by the people running it. Their passion and devotion to the community is what has created such fond memories.”
An independent panel of judges will select one business from the field of applicants to receive the 2014 award. Finalists and the winner will be recognized Thursday, Nov. 6, during a luncheon ceremony at Harborside Event Center, at 1375 Monroe St., Fort Myers. Registration begins at 11 a.m. The program begins at 11:30 a.m. Contact Stacey Mercado at 239-985-7614 or email@example.com for information.
This year’s keynote speaker will be New York Times best-selling author Sgt. Dakota L. Meyer, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Ganjigal in Afghanistan in 2009 at age 21. He has written “Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War.”
The 2014 Southwest Florida Blue Chip Community Business Award is endorsed by the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Business Observer, Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte County Economic Development Office, Christian Chamber of Southwest Florida, City of Cape Coral Economic Development Office, Englewood-Cape Haze Area Chamber of Commerce, Estero Chamber of Commerce, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida SouthWestern State College, Florida Weekly, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce, Gulfshore Business, Hodges University, Lee County Economic Development Office/Horizon Council, Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Florida Business Today, Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.
BB&T-Oswald Trippe and Company provides comprehensive insurance and risk-management services to families and businesses throughout Florida. The agency offers protection from the nation’s leading insurance companies. BB&T-Oswald Trippe and Company has offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Holmes Beach, Miami, Naples, Ocala and Weston, Florida.
BB&T Insurance Services, the fifth largest insurance broker in the U.S. and the sixth largest internationally, is a wholly owned subsidiary of BB&T. Founded in 1922, it operates more than 100 insurance agencies in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and California. Visit Insurance.BBT.com/ to learn more. BB&T Insurance Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of Branch Banking & Trust Company.