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Eminence Awards spotlight community leaders

NASHUA – The Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce presented the 16th annual Eminence Awards luncheon, Thursday at Sky Meadow Country Club.

The event featured a panel of generational and family-owned businesses, as well as a ceremony honoring community leaders, outstanding businesses and the small business of the year.

Chamber President and CEO Tracy Hall welcomed some 200 guests and introduced panel moderator Jodi Gage. Panelists included Michael Buckley and his son, Ian, of Michael Timothy’s Dining Group; husband and wife Aaron and Adria Bagshaw, of W.H. Bagshaw Co. Inc.; and Marie Mayotte and son, Keith, of Red Brick Clothing Co.

“Today, we have a panel of experts to share their experiences with us,” Hall said, before offering some statistics on family-owned businesses: “Family owned businesses are the single biggest job creator in our economy,” she said. “Eighty-five percent of startups worldwide are started with family money, rather than outside funding. And family-owned businesses employ 60 percent of the U.S. workforce and account for 78 percent of all new jobs in the U.S.”

Panelist Marie Mayotte discussed her multi-faced clothing business, which she owns with husband, Jerry. She discussed the dynamics of keeping it all in the family.

“We encouraged our kids to go to college and figure out what they wanted to do,” she said. “But also, on the other hand, Jerry’s family has been in business for themselves for many years. His dad and his grandfather both owned grocery stores in Lowell, so, while we weren’t planning for any specific one of our kids to join us in the business, we always felt that we’d like to build a business in that it would live on past us. And if one of our kids came into the business, so much the better.”

Mayotte’s son, Danny, has also joined the family company.

Gage, who himself, took over his father’s company, Fortin Gage Flowers and Gifts, turned to Michael Buckley, acknowledging that his children were very young when he started Michael Timothy’s, and asked if it ever dawned on the senior Buckley that his children could join the family business of successful restaurants throughout New Hampshire.

“No,” responded Buckley, as the audience chuckled. “When we opened, my goal was to make my mark and be successful. And when we opened, Ian was as tall as our dining room table. So, it didn’t really occur to me at that time.”

Panelists equally shared the microphone, discussing the challenges of being a family and working together, and the importance of separating the two in order to sustain a quality balance between work and home life.

The Bagshaws discussed the value of establishing their role as a working husband and wife; and it was Aaron, when asked by Gage as what was the quintessential moment in the forward movement of their manufacturing company, who answered that it was working with his wife, Adria.

After the panel discussion, Hall began the awards portion of the luncheon, introducing first the finalists for the award for best nonprofit business of the year: Marguerite’s Place, MicroSociety Academy Charter School, and the Adult Learning Center, who won the honor.

According to its website, the center’s mission, is to continue to “excel as an educational agency designed to provide the academic skills, job training and support services needed for adults and young adults to achieve more productive lives for themselves and their children.”

The volunteer of the year nominees were Elizabeth Cote, of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society; Ric Everhard, of Great American Downtown, Positive Street Art; and winner, David Heath of the Boys and Girls Club, Chamber of Commerce.

Young professional of the year winner, photographer Kristin Hardwick, acknowledged fellow nominees Christine Collins and Alison Isaksen, before thanking, “the village,” a nod to how so often professionals rely on each other to accomplish goals in business.

Small business of the year nominees were: Mint Printworks, MI-Box New England, and winner P&L Landscaping. Owner Eric Brand called his company, “like a family business,” citing the longevity of some of his best employees.

“We have an employee that’s been with us for 18 years,” he said. “And he loves his job and comes into work every day with a smile on his face.”

Finally, the nominees were announced for business of the year. They were: Brady Sullivan, Michael Timothy’s Dining Group and Enterprise Bank, the winner.

Enterprise CEO Jack Clancy accepted the award along with Peter Rayno, New Hampshire Community Banking Director.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to receive a number of awards for being the top place to work,” Clancy said. “And when folks ask me why we receive them, it’s a pretty simple answer. We just have the best team of people. And they are like family.”

George Pelletier may be reached at gpelletier@nashuatelegraph.com.