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Kingsport businesses win KOSBE awards

Staff Report • Dec 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The winners of the 2009 annual KOSBE Awards were handed out Thursday night by the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce’s Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship (KOSBE).

Edo Sushi Bar & Grill (May Ling Hu-Lai and Benson Lai) took first place in the category for Young Entrepreneur Award (under age 40). The owners have been in their new location in Kingsport for more than two and a half years and opened a second location in Johnson City in September.

The runner-up for young entrepreneur was StudioTan (Reid and Kristin Burton), which opened in October 2007. Studio Tan is looking to open a second location in 2010.

Phil’s Dream Pit LLC (Phil and Dianna Pipkin) took first place in the New Business category. In addition to running the restaurant and catering, Phil’s Dream Pit has begun bottling its sweet barbecue sauce and plans to export it and sell it in retail stores.

Pinnacle Ranch LLC (Holly Hopson and Ellen Stroud) was runner-up for a new business. The main services offered are equine-assisted psychotherapy, growth and learning, and organizational development.

Maxwell Coach Co. Inc. (Charles W. Maxwell) was awarded first place for Business Excellence (employing fewer than 10 employees). Maxwell has four vehicles: a 56-passenger motor coach, a 50-passenger motor coach, a 15-passenger van and a seven-passenger van.

A Team Real Estate Professionals (Pam Addington) was named runner-up. A Team has remained in the top five agencies in Kingsport and is 10th in Northeast Tennessee.

Clean + Safe Janitorial Services (John Humphries) received the award for Business Excellence (employing 10 employees or more). Clean + Safe employs 50 employees and is known throughout the region as “The Happy Janitors.” In the past year, post-construction cleanup has been the biggest growth area. This is the second KOSBE Award win for Clean + Safe. The company was also named a winner in 2005.

Selections were made based on reported past financial performance, growth in number of employees, business staying power and history, story of success overcoming adversity, community involvement, marketing creativity, and presented strategies for growth.

The Impact Award for an outstanding individual and small business advocate was presented to Joyce Grills, owner of The Haggle Shop. Debbie Dykes of River Mountain Antiques & Primitives nominated Grills because she tells everyone she meets how wonderful downtown is.

Also during the ceremony, Kingsport City Mayor Dennis Phillips presented keynote speaker Michael Strickland with the key to the city for setting the example and inspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed. Strickland is founder and chairman of Knoxville-based Bandit Lites, one of the largest companies in the entertainment lighting industry.

The title sponsor of the 2009 annual KOSBE Awards is Southeast Community Capital. Additional sponsors include Citizens Bank, Clark & Company Development, GTS Refreshment Services, Integrity Capital Management, Kingsport Times-News, Leinbach Building Services, Pal’s Business Excellence Institute, Plastic Surgery Center of East Tennessee, the Small Business Administration (SBA), Triten Insurance & Financial Services Inc., Urban Synergy, and Wilson Worley Moore Gamble & Stout PC.

The awards ceremony was recorded by Elixir Media Group and will be shown on Kingsport’s government access channel, MyTown Channel 16 TV, in the coming weeks.

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