The Small Business Week awards luncheon was held Oct. 18 at Zota Beach Resort.
Shane Catts could only say thank you.
He was so overwhelmed that Happy Paddler Kayak Tours & Ecoventures, the business he runs with his wife, Holly Rolls, was named Small Business of the Year with 10 or less employees that he was left almost speechless.
Catts was not only one of 110 attendees at this year’s Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Week awards luncheon at Zota Beach Resort, but he was also the owner of one of 12 businesses recognized for their work.
Awards were given to three businesses in each of the four categories: Rookie Small Businessperson of the Year; Small Businessperson of the Year (10 or fewer employees); Small Businessperson of the Year (11 or more employees); and Good as Green Business of the Year.
There were more than 50 nominations throughout the four categories, but only three businesses in each were award plaques and certificates. As the first, second and third place winners accepted their awards, they shared some thoughts with the crowd, and before each category was awarded, last year’s winners shared some words.
Susan Robinson, who won in the rookie category last year alongside her husband, Ferruh Muktar for their business, Key Culinary Tours, offered her advice and help to any rookie businesspersons in the room.
Later, Michael Vejins, the Small Business Council chairman, said that that offer of help is what small businesses, and the chamber, are all about.
As Vejins announced the winners, he said that what he’s found in businesses is that it’s all about how people look at things.
“I’m sure failure is not in your vocabulary,” he said to the crowd.
His words echoed what Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren had told the crowd earlier. She said small businesspersons take risks, enjoy the highs and suffer the lows, but they can all make a difference.
“Entrepreneurs can change the world,” she said.