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Happy National Small Business Week! In the Twin Cities, we’re celebrating with the Champions of Business Awards, co-sponsored by Calhoun Companies, JUX Law and C-Level Magazine. We've selected the best of the best for each of the five categories, and here are your winners:
Social Entrepreneur: Versique
Versique’s ingrained attitude of putting community first makes them a true social entrepreneur. The company works with a number of community partners throughout the year, helping to transform the world around them. Among the community efforts Versique supports are Simon Says Give, organizing inventory and packing thousands of school supplies for children in need; Dress for Success, collecting professional clothing for women in need; Stop Hunger Now, packing meals for families and children worldwide; and Movember/Prostate Cancer Foundation, voting via donations on the best/worst employee moustaches and beards in categories such as Baby Face and Silver Fox. Congratulations, Versique! We’re proud to recognize a local small business that leaves such a large footprint on the world.
Woman of the Year: Ingrid Mattsson, Brand Director at Uponor North America
Ingrid Mattsson is a rare sight – a woman in manufacturing. As the director of brand management at Uponor North America, Ingrid directs advertising and communications, marketing, public relations and sponsorships, and is also responsible for the company’s reputation management. Under her watch, Uponor consistently wins recognition as one of Minnesota’s top workplaces, and is regularly recognized for its dedication to responsible leadership, sustainability and innovation. Known best for her energy, passion and commitment to continuous improvement, Mattsson has long term goals for the company, including increasing community involvement and growing the brand. Congratulations, Ingrid!
Industry & Community Leader: Jennifer Smith, CEO and President of Innovative Office Solutions
Jennifer founded Innovative Office Solutions in 2001 and has grown the company to be the largest independent office products company in the Midwest and one of the largest in the nation. Employees are guided by a shared vision, set of core values and a brand promise that sets the tone for all interactions and has helped Innovative be named on the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by the Minnesota Business Journal every year since its inception. Jennifer’s progressive thinking extends beyond her own business as a member of the Forum for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), serving on the Board for the Committee of 200 as their Membership co-chair and being on the Dealer Advisory Board of Essendant. Jennifer is also dedicated to giving back, recently making a trip to Africa as part of Opportunity International, a nonprofit that provides small business loans, savings, insurance and training to more than five million people working their way out of poverty in a developing world. She also helped start a nonprofit, the InSports Foundation, an organization with a mission to help underprivileged kids participate in sports. Congratulations, Jennifer! We're proud to recognize an industry leader with such deep ties to the community.
Right-Hand: John Thwing, SBA Lender at Wells Fargo
Among the local business community, John Thwing is known as the SBA guy. As a Business Development Officer for Wells Fargo SBA Lending, John is one of the busiest lenders in Minnesota and has closed over $200 million in SBA loans. He has also helped finance and close multiple business sale transactions, particularly for brokers helping small business owners. John's support adds credibility to the sellers asking price and inspires trust and confidence in otherwise skeptical buyers, which in turn develops trust and confidence in the deal. In addition to his work, John also regularly speaks about small business financing, most recently at a seminar for people interested in buying a business or franchise. He is also an affiliate member and sponsor of the Minnesota Commercial Association of Realtors(MNCAR) and volunteers as a business plan judge for the University of St. Thomas MBA program and for BPA-DECA. Congratulations, John! We’re happy to honor someone who so thoroughly supports small business!
Small Bsuiness Champion of the Year: Ewald Consulting
Ewald exemplifies what happens when top-notch services meet engaged employees. Whether personnel are getting together at Second Harvest Heartland, enjoying a happy hour, or volunteering at Feed My Starving Children, they do so with a passion for making a change in their community and the industry. Leadership at Ewald is authentic and accessible, and it makes a true difference within the workplace. Turnover at Ewald is extremely low due to training, benefits, pay and co-workers, who take time to care, teach and mentor. Constantly highlighting best practices, Ewald offers their clients cutting-edge marketing, authentic relationship management and support services that are re-defining the industry as a whole. Congratulations, Ewald Consulting! We’re thrilled to honor you as our Small Business Champion of the Year.
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