Suffolk businesses tapped for award

Published 10:58 pm Thursday, March 18, 2010

Four Suffolk businesses have been nominated for one of the area’s most prestigious honors for small businesses.

Bennett’s Creek Farm Market, Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy, Flexa Furniture Inc. and River Stone Chophouse are the four Suffolk businesses on a lengthy list of nominees from South Hampton Roads for Small Business of the Year. One of them will be named Suffolk Small Business of the Year and go on to compete against four other winners — one each from Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach — for the title of Hampton Roads Small Business of the Year. The award is sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

“It recognizes the accomplishments of an individual and a company in contributing to the economic vitality and quality of life for the city and the region,” said Jim Carroll, vice president of small business for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. “There are very, very few times when small businesses get a chance to be recognized.”

Businesses get tapped for consideration either by nominating themselves or by someone else nominating them. Once nominated, the Chamber sends a request for information such as their number of employees, mission, financial information and more.

“That kind of gives us the same information across the board, so it gives them the same criteria for everybody,” Carroll said.

Entries then are evaluated by a committee composed of community members in a variety of fields. The committee chooses a winner for each city and then an overall winner from the five city winners.

The awards “celebrate the spirit of small business ownership and the people who are willing to take the risks to deliver the goods and services we so desperately need,” Carroll said.

Owners, managers and presidents of the Suffolk nominees said they were honored their business had been suggested.

“It feels great,” said Karen Monk, a manager at Bennett’s Creek Farm Market, located on Bridge Road. “We were nominated and won in 2003, so we were pleasantly surprised someone thought of us again.”

Monk credited the store’s specialty products and friendly atmosphere with giving it an edge over large grocery stores.

“We have specialty items you can’t find anywhere else,” Monk said. “We have a good group of regular customers, and we greet them by name.”

Delegate Chris Jones also described himself as “pleased and surprised” by the nomination of Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy, which he owns.

“It’s a testament to the staff that I have,” Jones said. “They treat the customer like they want to be treated.”

FLEXA Furniture Inc., which maintains a manufacturing facility and outlet store in Suffolk, also was nominated. Paul Blount, president and chief operating officer, said the company has tried to be more involved in the community since he and his business partner, Mark Lewis, took the helm.

“Since we took over, we’ve tried to become far more integrated locally,” Blount said. “The difference was noticed in Suffolk.”

The River Stone Chophouse also was nominated for an award. Cindy McGann, vice president of operations for the upscale restaurant, attributed the nomination to how the restaurant treats its employees.

“We do a lot of things for the employees,” McGann said. “If we don’t treat them well, how in the world can we expect them to treat our guests well?”

The Small Business of the Year awards will be presented at a luncheon May 25 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center. For more information, visit www.hamptonroadschamber.com.

The full list of nominees from all five cities is as follows:

1st Choice Pest Control, LLC; 5 Star Technologies; A. Reddix & Associates; AgentWall Systems Inc.; Ameriprise Financial Services; Animal Medical Center; Answer Center; Apogee Solutions; Applied Services and Information Systems, Inc. (ASIS); Asset Recovery International, LLC; Bayside Harley Davidson; Beach Eye Care; Beach Windows & Siding; Benchmark Carpet Cleaning & Restoration; Bennett’s Creek Farm Market; Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy; BK Appraisal Services; BNI Southeastern Virginia; Business Computer Solutions; Business of Communications Systems of Tidewater; Cape Henry Associates, Inc.; Catalytic Generators, Inc.; Cinema Cafe; Classic Air’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning; Cleaners Closet Inc.; Colonial Staffing; Color Me Mine; Customer Magnetism; The UPS Store #5721; Dodl & McKinney, PC; Doma Technologies; Eastern Virginia Family & Cosmetic Dentistry; Endurance Network Services; Engineering Resources Group; Esprit Decor; Fitness Together Norfolk; Flexa Furniture, Inc.; Floor Coverings International; Forrest Exterminating; Four C Construction; Global Supply Solutions, LLC; Gromelski & Associates, Inc.; Hayden Frye Associates, Inc.; Hunt Homes of VA; HVAC Warehouse; Innovative Human Resources Solutions; IntellecTechs; J & M Real Estate Investments LLC; Jenel Smith — State Farm Insurance; JENESS Uniform Centers; JES; Judy Boone Realty, Inc; Julian Swain Builders Inc.; Launch Interactive; Lesner Inn; Mad Science of Hampton Roads; Map Environmental; Marcari Russotto Spencer & Balaban PC; Mechanical Equipment Sales, Inc.; Naval Automation Group, NCP Community Development Federal Credit Union; Noah Enterprises, Inc.; Paradise Tans; Pay Day Pay Roll Services; Priority Title & Escrow; Prism Maritime LLC; Providence Computers Inc.; PuroClean Property Damage Restoration; Rapid Refill Ink; Remedy Intelligent Staffing Services; River Stone Chop House; Sagemark Consulting/Lincoln Financial Advisors; Schanck Group; Shiflet Cox & Morgan PLC; Signal 88 Security; Signature Financial Management, Inc.; Solar Services; Sundays Blue Box Tanning; Taste Unlimited; The Closing Table; The Noblemen; The Resource King; The Royal Chocolate; The Sachs Group; The Space Above, Inc.; Tivest Development, LLC; Todd Rosenblieb Dance; Union Mortgage Group; UrsaNav, Inc.; USA Backgrounds, Inc.; Valkyrie Enterprises LLC; and Wolcott Rivers Gates.