Event marks 25 years of local business awardsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s Entrepreneurial & Business Excellence Hall of Fame (EBE HOF) ceremony will mark the 25th year of honoring regional businesses and entrepreneurs for excellence.
Larry and Adam Davenport have been the driving force behind the mission since Larry brought Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards program to the region in 1989. In 2006, with Ernst & Young’s blessing, his son Adam replaced the program with the newly formed EBE HOF.
Larry retired from Ernst & Young in 2007 and is now a principal with Davenport, Hanf and Co. (DHC).Adam is EBE HOF chairman and president of Gorillas & Gazelles, the founding sponsor of EBE HOF.
Including this year’s winners, more than 200 individuals from more than 150 companies have been recognized locally, Larry said.
“We’ve very, very proud of the opportunity we’ve had to bring companies and their employees forth for recognition over the years,” Larry said. “Many entrepreneurs go their whole lives without receiving any recognition whatsoever, and these are the people who drive the economy.”
Larry said he’s especially proud to see his son carrying on his work.
“The transition to Gorillas & Gazelles went famously and, as a result, the program has actually grown under their leadership,” Larry said. “It’s a tremendous sense of pride to watch Adam take a program I truly loved and grow it and make it better.”
Five area businesses will be honored at this year’s induction ceremony Nov. 7. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m. at The Pinnacle, 1772 Indian Wood Circle, in Maumee, with the ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $85.
Honored for business excellence will be The Danberry Co. Realtors, Meyer Hill Lynch and Ed Beczynski, owner of The Blarney Irish Pub, Focaccia’s Deli and Café Focaccia’s. Honored for excellence in family business will be Toft Dairy. Honored for innovation in business will be MAGNETNotes.
“This year, our winners range from a real estate agency to a 100-year-old dairy to an inventor,” Adam said. “We find more and more companies each year that are doing spectacular things that a lot of the region might not know about. We’ve already got a couple of nominees in for next year.”
Nominees come from businesses within about 60 miles of Toledo and winners are chosen by an independent panel of judges.
The winner of the Davenport-Longenecker Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Advocacy is announced at the event.
“They don’t get any better than our winner this year,” Larry said. “He’s never been honored by us and it’s overdue.”
More than 700 people representing more than 300 regional companies attended last year’s ceremony, Adam said.
“Every year it is amazing to meet the honorees and hear their inspiring stories,” said Megan Stockburger, owner of Events by Megan and a member of the EBE HOF’s executive committee. “I promise that after attending this event you will walk away refreshed and eager to go back to work.”
Scott Libbe, executive vice president of Rudolph|Libbe, has attended the ceremony since 1989, when Fritz Rudolph, who founded Rudolph|Libbe with his brother Phil Rudolph Sr. and cousin Allan Libbe, was recognized with an Entrepreneur of the Year award.
“The EBE HOF is a tremendous honor and well-deserved recognition for local businesses. This award does so much to encourage and recognize the courage and hard work of entrepreneurs and family businesses,” Libbe wrote in an email to Toledo Free Press. “It’s exciting to learn about all of the different entrepreneurial and growing businesses here in Northwest Ohio. Years of hard work go into making a business successful, and I enjoy being there to congratulate these committed people and their companies.”
John Szuch, executive officer at Signature Bank, also attends the event every year. He and Bob Sullivan won an Entrepreneur of the Year award in the mid-1990s for founding Capital Bank.
“It’s great there’s an event honoring entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs are the key to the growth of the American economy,” Szuch said. “This event is a real celebration of business. It’s gone through a couple of modifications over the years, but I’m really glad the legacy was carried on from Ernst & Young to Gorillas & Gazelles. It’s an event all the business community looks forward to every year.”
Event sponsors are Bowling Green State University’s College of Business and BGSU’s Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which focuses on creating student-owned businesses.
“We applaud this year’s winners and know starting and sustaining a business can be a difficult task,” Ray Braun, dean of the College of Business and member of the EBE HOF’s executive committee, wrote in an email. “It is important to recognize these business leaders who are creating a better quality of life for Northwest Ohio.”
The theme for the 25th anniversary is past, present and future entrepreneurs, said Kirk Kern, director of the Dallas-Hamilton Center and another EBE HOF executive committee member.
“For the past six months we have launched three startup businesses for BGSU students,” Kern wrote in an email. “Those student business owners will be at the EBE event and hopefully will be EBE award winners in the near future.”
Other sponsors include DHC, BDO, the Regional Growth Partnership, JobsOhio and the University of Toledo.
For more information, visit www.ebehof.com.
Tags: Adam Davenport, Bowling Green State University, Café Focaccia’s, Capital Bank, Dallas-Hamilton Center, Davenport-Longenecker Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Advocacy, EBE HOF, Ed Beczynski, Entrepreneurial & Business Excellence Hall of Fame, Focaccia’s Deli, John Szuch, Kirk Kern, Larry Davenport, MAGNETNotes, Megan Stockburger, Meyer Hill Lynch, Ray Braun, Rudolph/Libbe, Scott Libbe, The Blarney Irish Pub, The Danberry Co. Realtors