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U.S. Chamber Selects Seven Regional Finalists for 2012 Small Business of the Year Award

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 8:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today selected seven regional finalists for the 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club®.  Each will be honored during America’s Small Business Summit, May 21–23, in Washington, D.C., where a national winner will be announced and will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the U.S. Chamber.

“These small businesses are each a shining example of the power of free enterprise and the opportunities it can create for America’s doers and dreamers,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “They are driving growth and creating jobs in their own communities and contributing to the strength of America’s economy. Our economic recovery will be fueled by these small businesses and their dedicated workers. Today we congratulate them on this achievement and encourage them to continue pursuing the American Dream.”

The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award pays tribute to businesses that excel in the areas of staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service, and strategy.  One finalist from each of the seven regions was selected out of the 75 Blue Ribbon Award winners.  The winner will be announced at an awards luncheon on May 22.

“Small businesses are often described as the pulse or backbone of our country, and we admire the drive and initiative that it takes for their owners to be successful,” said Rosalind Brewer, president and CEO of Sam's Club. “Fifty years ago, Walmart Stores, Inc. was founded as a small business, facing many of the same challenges and opportunities then that these businesses face today. We join them in celebrating this honor and the spirit of entrepreneurship that makes these businesses successful.”

The 2012 finalists, listed by region, are:

  • Eastern: BoConcept New York - Founded in 1952 in Denmark, BoConcept is an urban furniture company known for offering sleek styles at affordable prices. In 2002, Shaokao Cheng and his wife Niki invested all of their savings and opened their first franchise. They now own eight stores, with five in New York City.
  • Great Lakes: CETRA Language Solutions - Located in Elkins Park, PA, CETRA Language Solutions offers translation and interpretation services to corporate and government clients. After receiving freelance work as a Czech translator, Jiri Stejskal incorporated CETRA in 1997. As President and CEO, he has expanded to offer services in nearly 100 languages.
  • Midwest: Heritage Homes - Founded in 1995 in Fargo, ND, Heritage Homes builds beautifully designed, well constructed homes to positively impact people’s lives. CEO and Owner Daryl Braham and President and Owner Tyrone Leslie took ownership in 2000, and grew the company from building three homes during 1995 to well over fifty homes in 2011.
  • Northwest: Lakeland Feed and Supply – Located in Hamilton, MT, Lakeland Feed Supply is a full-line feed manufacturer, fertilizer blender, and supplier of agriculture goods and services. Since Lakeland’s owner, Mike Pflieger, bought the company in 2000, profits have increased by 1,200%.
  • Southeastern: Virginia Eye Consultants (VEC) – Located in Norfolk, VA, VEC provides world class specialty eye care using state of the art technology. Under the leadership of CEO Karen J. Spencer, staff has increased from 75 to 110 people, formed an all-female management team, and brought new physicians into the practice.
  • Southwest & South Central: Renfro Foods – A third generation, family-owned business founded in 1940 and located in Fort Worth, TX, Renfro Foods started as a packaged spice and pepper sauce business and later expanded to production of syrup, jellies, preserves and chow chow, and Mrs. Renfro’s salsa.
  • Western: Ski Butlers - A full service ski and snowboard rental delivery service headquartered in Park City, UT, Ski Butlers has been nationally recognized for their customer service.  Founded in 1996 by then-college student Bryn Carey, the company has grown to 80 employees serving more than 30 ski resorts.

To learn more about the summit, visit www.uschambersummit.com.

Sam’s Club®, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), is the nation’s eighth largest retailer and a leading membership warehouse club offering superior products and services to more than 47 million members in clubs across the U.S., as well as in Brazil, China and Mexico. Members save an average of 30 percent over traditional retailers. To learn more about Savings Made Simple®, visit SamsClub.com, and look for Sam’s Club on Twitter and Facebook.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.