Friday, April 29, 2011


2011Pinnacle Awards recognize leaders in growth, innovation and community support

The Pinnacle Small Business Awards Presented by Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) are among the Chamber's most prestigious awards. The celebration recognized both emerging companies as well as companies that have exhibited a substantial history as an established business.

Commdex Consulting, LLC Owner Prince Niyyar was awarded the 2011 Overall Gwinnett Small Business Person of the Year Award and was also the winner of Gwinnett's Small Business Person of the Year for the 10 - 99 employee category at the Gwinnett Chamber's Pinnacle Small Business Awards Luncheon on April 29. Additional Small Business Persons of the Year Awards were presented to Mark and Anne Lackey with Atlanta Housing Source at Solid Source Realty for the 1 – 9 employee category and Teddy Russell with Russell Landscape Group, Inc. for the 100+ employee category. Twenty-two additional small businesses were also awarded Pinnacle Awards and named among the prestigious "Pinnacle Top 25" for demonstrating extraordinary growth and contributions to the community.

"These risk-takers, innovators, and givers are the ones who create jobs and provide much-needed services for our community, leading to a better quality of life for everyone," said Gwinnett Chamber President & CEO Jim Maran. "These are the leaders who are laying the foundation for a bright future full of hopes, dreams and opportunities. For this, these small business owners and non-profits deserve to be recognized and celebrated."

The companies honored at the luncheon were selected from hundreds of nominations and from 50 finalists as Gwinnett's Top 25 Pinnacle Small Business Award Winners. Companies were selected based on steady and above average growth and profitability, growth in number of employees, contributions to the community, overcoming adversity, original entrepreneurship and more, as defined by the Small Business Administration for their statewide and national awards. Commdex Consulting, LLC, Atlanta Housing Source at Solid Source Realty, and Russell Landscape Group, Inc. scored the highest combined scores in their respective employee categories.

From those three winners, Commdex Consulting came away with the highest scores overall, winning Gwinnett's Overall Small Business Person of the Year, and will go on to compete as Georgia's Small Business Person of the Year.

The Gwinnett Chamber and Presenting Sponsor AJC also recognized Gwinnett's top non-profit organizations, whose generous and inspiring efforts can be seen and felt throughout Gwinnett. Receiving the Pinnacle Non-Profit Awards are the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia for the top small non-profit category, Annandale Village for the top mid-size nonprofit category, and Hi-Hope Service Center for the top large non-profit category. The non-profits honored at the luncheon were selected based on board of directors strength; staying power; growth in employees/volunteers and budget; innovation of service; response to adversity; and overall contribution to the community.

A new addition to the ceremony, the Pacesetter Award, was presented to Brand Mortgage Group, LLC. In a time of economic uncertainty, the recipient of the first-ever Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Pacesetter Award raced past its competition -- displaying innovative practices and determination. The ability to grow at a record-setting pace while maintaining focus and providing a quality service has allowed this year's pacesetter, Brand Mortgage, to overcome adversity and stand out in a crowd.

The Pinnacle Small Business Award Winners

Commdex Consulting, LLC - Overall Small Business Person of the Year and Small Business Person of the Year (10 - 99 employee category)
Starting with a personal investment of only $2500, Prince Niyyar, owner of Commdex Consulting, LLC has kept his company debt free since its inception in 2001. Commdex – a wireless systems integrator specializing in design and implementation of wireless solutions – is a true American entrepreneurial success story starting with Prince coming to American from his native India with only a few dollars in his pocket. What is truly admirable is his determination in overcoming the challenges of a language barrier, lack of capital and a business network to grow a vibrant business that made the Inc 500 list of "Fastest Growing Companies in the Nation" in 2010.

Atlanta Housing Source at Solid Source Realty - Small Business Person of the Year (1 – 9 employees)
In what most people and news outlets portray as a "bad time for home sales," Atlanta Housing Source at Solid Source Realty continues to excel and perform in the top of their industry with caring service that is second to none. Husband and wife team Mark and Anne Lackey are growing their real estate company in a down market by employing agents with servant hearts enabling them to respond to the many people who are underwater on their mortgages and find solutions for them so that they can move forward with their lives. By serving individuals one at a time, the Lackey's grew their company by an astounding 76.8 percent in 2010.

Russell Landscape Group, Inc. - Small Business Person of the Year (100+ employee category)
Over the past couple of years, the landscape industry was hit with increasingly high gas prices, employment challenges, and traffic issues. With only one operational location in Gwinnett, Russell Landscape Group - a 24 year old family-owned and managed commercial landscape company – was at a crossroads with large expenses in gas and labor sitting in trucks slowly moving through metro Atlanta traffic. While other companies were cutting back expenses, Russell Landscape Group was busy expanding to three different locations in metro Atlanta to reduce gas and labor costs. This strategy was proven successful with revenues over $20 million and listed in the top three landscape companies in metro Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Jodi Pierce, owner of AlphaGraphics, which provides digital and offset printing as well as design services and large format printing, prides herself in working with clients by helping them to understand their job and how to most cost effectively produce the job. By taking the time to teach clients design related issues for the benefits of the client's business and by looking at the client's bottom line on an expense and revenue side, Jodi's company achieved an impressive 20 percent growth rate in 2010.

American Painting & Renovations, Inc.
Almost two decades have passed since Sid Theus began doing business as a small local paint contractor. Since those early days, hard work, a clear vision and planning has allowed American Painting & Renovations – offering a wide variety of renovation services for the multi-family and commercial industries – to grow into a nationally recognized renovation contractor. When most construction companies were closing their doors, American Painting & Renovations' forward thinking, comprehensive planning, innovative cost cutting measures, and aggressive new marketing strategies has allowed the company to weather the economic storm.

ASK Staffing, Inc.
ASK Staffing's belief that innovation happens every day, and even more so in tough times, helped them throough some of the worst years in the history of the staffing industry. Through their belief in innovations and past experiences, ASK Staffing made strategic plans to target government clients. With a handful of current state and local government clients, ASK Staffing assembled a team of experts allowing them to win nine additional state clients and several local government clients. This combined with efforts to position ASK staffing to assist with a few Fortune 500 companies has allowed for ongoing growth even in tough times.

Atlanta Flooring Design Centers, Inc.
Atlanta Flooring Design Centers identified and seized a unique opportunity that presented itself to grow the business in a time when virtually all construction related companies suffered losses. By servicing multiple market segments and developing a flooring and cabinet solution, Atlanta Flooring saw a sales increase of 42 percent and a job growth increase of 44 percent followed by a sales growth of 30 percent and a job growth increase of 18 percent in 2010. With unprecedented growth, Atlanta Flooring Design Centers is looking to continue to grow outside of metro Atlanta as their existing customers demand their service in other markets.

Atlanta Special Events, Inc.
For over 25 years, Lori O'Brien has provided a full-service, one-stop corporate event production company servicing the entire southeast through her company Atlanta Special Events, Inc. She wows her clients through unique events like their "Party in a Parking Lot" that allows companies to hold employee appreciation events during the work day guaranteeing 100 percent participation while still getting in a half day of work. Their unique events combined with their ability to think outside of the box allowed Atlanta Special Events to make it through a few tough years while seeing a profitable 2010 with a growth rate of 43 percent.

Bardi Mechanical/Bardi Heating & Air
Alex Bardi, owner of Bardi Heating & Air will be the first to admit that there's nothing sexy about ducts, filters and sheet metal. All customers really want is a dependable, provider who installs, services and guarantees their work at a fair price. Understanding this, Bardi Heating & Air decided they must be unique in other ways. They found it by partnering with The Tommy Nobis Center in their electronic recycling program. Through their combined efforts Bardi proudly announces that Recycletronics has moved out of the Tommy Nobis headquarters into a 150,000 square foot facility of its own.

Bella Fiore' Salon, LLC
At Bella Fiore' Salon, owners Marla Peoples and Jennifer Sewell work hard to set themselves apart from the competition by giving each of their guests an experience that will make them feel special and appreciated. From greeting each client by name as often as possible when they come in, setting up the salon so that everyone can see what is going on at anytime, to making follow-up calls to each new guest, Bella Fiore creates an experience that makes them stand out earning the salon the Best of Gwinnett in 2009 and 2010 for Best Hair Salon by Gwinnett Magazine.

Cornerstone Financial Partners, LLC
As a financial services company with core values of prudent capital growth and asset protection, Cornerstone Financial Partners, LLC, had a significant challenge of helping clients understand the concerns about stock market at the end of 2007. With a decision of holding cash and not investing, as the year progressed in 2008, Cornerstone's prudence paid off in spades. In March 2009 Cornerstone made another poignant decision to enter the market and as luck would have it, they couldn't have picked a better time. By removing greed from the equation, Cornerstone accomplished prudent growth strategies for their clients while establishing a significant level of trust that will ensure success now and into the future.

Direct Technologies, Inc.
Owners of Direct Technologies, Inc. David Jacobson and Brett Coltman have seen much success in their 17 year old digital printer and letter shop service provider. One of their most significant accomplishments includes being listed among the 5000 fastest growing private companies in American – as represented by the Inc. 5000 list for four years running. They have achieved growth even when their competitors were closing their doors because of their cost efficiency and quick response.

E2E Resources
Raymer Sale began E2E Resources with one employee and zero dollars in revenue while operating from his bedroom. In the past 18 years, Raymer has grown his insurance agency that provides employee benefits, risk management, personal line, insurance, and human resource services to an organization of 17 full time and part time employees. By making adjustments to protect the company and every employee, E2E survived the economic downturn and is proudly able to make a positive contribution to the local economy while providing a safe and positive work environment.

Everdry Roofing, Inc.
While most companies in Everdry Roofing's industry struggled to keep their doors open, Owner Jamie Scuka expanded her company into commercial roof work, leak protection, and low slope maintenance. In addition to fighting a bad economy, Everydry combated negative press that the roofing industry received in 2010 while maintaining their debt free philosophy in growing their business and commitment to continuing their corporate sponsorship of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Green Financial Resources, LLC
Roger Green, owner of Green Financial Resources, has been building his business one client at a time since 1987. During this time Roger has serviced over 1800 clients as he has no minimum asset requirements and is willing to provide assistance to all who request it. Being a part of one of the leading fields impacted by the recent economic downturn, Green Financial Resources' overall business results remain strong and continue to recover. Roger projected last year that they would pace over $3 million, and they did. Roger is anticipating further growth in 2011 to their highest level in the history of the company.

Gwinnett Foot, Ankle & Leg Center
For over 32 years, Dr. Louis Jimenez has owned and operated Gwinnett Foot, Ankle & Leg Center. With his son and daughter joining the team as podiatrists, they have created a family atmosphere where patients immediately feel welcome. Over 30,000 patients have experienced this personal touch through birthday, thank you, and sympathy cards in addition to the occasional flowers that are sent to patients "just to make their day." Extending their family care through charitable works, the Jimenez family has participated in mission trips to Russia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico where they address severe foot and ankle deformities in children.

HealthCare Partners
After consecutive years of fast growth in a down market where HealthCare Partners focused on metrics and numbers, owners Rutherford and Rhonda Polhill intentionally decided to focus on a "care" message. With help from their executive team HealthCare Partners, which provides qualified physicians and physician extenders, discovered their company's purpose – "We care for you so you can care for others." This philosophy has proved a successful one as Healthcare Partners saw a 24 percent growth rate in 2010.

Lloyd Pro Group, Inc.
James Lloyd, owner of the insurance agency Lloyd Pro Group, proudly boasts that his employees set his company apart from the competition. James proclaims that his employees work hard to make sure that the customer experience is "Raving Fan" worthy. In addition, their partnership with Nationwide further sets themselves apart from the rest by allowing Lloyd Pro Group to deliver the best insurance products for the best price.

McMahan's Sartorial Clothing
McMahan's Sartorial Clothing has over 300 competitors in the state of Georgia, but there are only three tailors in the entire state that hand draw each pattern, hand cut fabric and hand sew each garment. Owner Travis Giles stands out from the rest by offering a truly custom made, hand sewn garment that is the best value in the industry. Because of this, for over nine years Travis has helped business professionals all over Gwinnett and metro Atlanta make a good first impression.

North American Bioproducts Corporation
Founded in 2001 by Kevin Dailey, North American Bioproducts which produces quality fermentation products for fuel, beverage and industrial alcohol producers, has grown from $250,000 in annual sales to $15 million for 2010 with growth projections in excess of 11 percent in 2011. They have extended their product sales to include 10 countries and have grown from one employee to 27 for 2010 with projections of 30 plus employees in 2011. By becoming more than an ordinary vendor and employer, Bioproducts has become a place where employees want to come to work and a value-added business partner that provides a consistent product and industry leading technical services.

Paradigm Security Services, Inc.
Paradigm Security Services mission statement, "Superior Security Services Through Superior Training" has led them to a profitable business of providing professionally trained security officers and patrol services. By going above and beyond the mandatory training required by the state of Georgia and investing in a higher level of personal and professional training, Paradigm is able to provide a superior service at no additional charge to the client.

Prosthetic Care, Inc. or ProCare, a medical practice providing prosthetic devices for upper and lower extremities for amputees, goes above and beyond the call of duty for its patients. One of many examples of their care and compassion is the development of the C.A.R.E. Initiative. Under this program, referring physicians are informed that, whenever possible, ProCare would like to begin seeing patients before the scheduled amputation. This program has resulted in shorter hospital stays and faster rehabilitation saving considerable medical expenses. Through programs like C.A.R.E., has seen a consistent sales growth of over 20 percent for each of the past three year.

Rocket IT
Matt Hyatt started Rocket IT – a full-service technology management and support company - when he just 25 years old. Having just been laid off from another job, having no entrepreneurial experience, and no money in his pockets, Matt relied on his positive attitude to get his idea and company off the ground. This positive attitude has kept Matt's business running for over 16 years and enabled him to embrace change to meet market conditions. Most recently, Rocket IT changed to become a mission critical technology partner with each client contributing to a nearly 14 percent growth rate in 2010.

U.S. GreenSource Corp.
U.S. GreenSource Corporation designs and builds "Solar Hybrid Roofscapes" for Gwinnett's eco-friendly homes. Their product is truly unique compared to asphalt architectural shingles in that their product helps to reduce petroleum consumption and dependency, pollution, household energy costs and homeowner's insurance rates. And to top it off, their products are 100 percent made in America. With just two years under their belt, U.S. GreenSource is leading Gwinnett's future for residential solar roofing systems.

Wealth Horizon, Inc.
When the market is going up, everyone is happy. When the market isn't, Jerri Hewett, owner of Wealth Horizon, Inc., knows that clients' emotions will be at the forefront of conversations. In 2002, Jerri made a key decision that positively affected her company for years to come. Vowing to never go through another downturn like the tech bubble, Jerri established a sell target on each asset that Wealth Horizon buys helping to manage risk by protecting assets during downturns. As a result, clients of Wealth Horizon saw much smaller losses in 2008 relative to market losses and Jerri's company grew revenues by 25 percent from the previous year.

Pacesetter Award

Brand Mortgage
The crash of the financial markets in 2008 could have been a devastating blow to Brand Mortgage. By becoming proactive rather than reactive and implement new systems and work flow procedures to comply with new regulation before they were required by law, Brand Mortgage was able to focus on their business while others were struggling to comply. Also leading to their staggering 101 percent growth in 2009 and 30 percent growth in 2010, Brand Mortgage teamed up with The Impact Group and their local builders to create the Northeast Georgia Downpayment Assistance Program to help buyers with their down payments. This not only helped to grow their business, it also helped local builders sell their inventory in a stagnant market, reducing foreclosures and blight in the community.

The Pinnacle Non-Profit Award Winners

Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia – Top Small Non-profit
In a five year period, the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia – which helps individuals and corporations to successfully achieve their philanthropic goals – has experienced significant growth from $14 million to $31 million in assets. Because of this growth, in 2009 and 2010 over $11.9 million in grants were issued to over 300 non-profit organization and charitable programs working in community services, health and human services, the arts, education and environmental improvements. The Community Foundation knows that the more a society practices philanthropy in any form, whether through personal time or treasure, the more stable and strong the economic climate becomes. The Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia is proud to be a vehicle that provides the opportunity to design and shape our community's future.

Annandale Village – Top Mid-size Non-profit
Annandale Village - a private, non-profit organization - has been providing a community for adults with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury for 42 years in Gwinnett County. The quality of their service to the community has been recognized for second year in a row by U.S. News and World Report in their Top 100 Nursing Homes in America. Fundraisers such as the well-known, Jazzy Thing Fundraiser, allows Annandale to receive such recognition by providing funds to face the challenge of economic adversity head on. In addition, unique programs like the Jackson House Day Program, which promotes independence and teaches valuable tools necessary for community development by having Villagers run their own café for other Villagers and staff members, allows Annandale to meet the growing of demand of adults with developmental disabilities while helping them to participate in society as responsible citizens. All of this and more has led to Annandale being the top nursing home in the state of Georgia.

Hi-Hope Service Center – Top Large Non-profit
For over 50 years, Hi-Hope has improved the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Through their weekday programs, supportive employment services and residential group homes, Hi-Hope has increased individuals' opportunities to contribute to their community, whether through working, volunteering or participating in community activities. Without these supports, many individuals would be sitting at home, living in nursing homes or state institutions that deprive them of the rights to be productive, contributing members of their community merely because they have a disability. Despite funding cuts, a diversified funding stream implemented recently has allowed Hi-Hope to create a firm foundation for Hi-Hope to not only survive, but to flourish. A recently established tag line affirms this hope: Hi-Hope Service – 50 years strong and growing.

Additional sponsors include Platinum Sponsors Delta Community Credit Union, IntegriCom, Inc., Moore Stephens Tiller LLC, and Staples; Gold Sponsors Andersen, Tate, & Carr, PC, Brand Mortgage Group, LLC, Smith & Howard, PC, and Tillman Allen Greer, LLC; and Bronze Sponsor Rhodes, Young, Black & Duncan.

For more information on the Pinnacle Small Business Awards, visit


About the Gwinnett Chamber
Named one of the top three metro chambers in the United States by ACCE, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's membership varies from FORTUNE 1,000 companies to innovative startups, and stretches across the Atlanta region, from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to UGA in Athens. Representing more than 7,200 members from more than 2,500 firms, the Gwinnett Chamber is the Southeast's 6th largest chamber and focuses on creating and growing quality job opportunities while enhancing the community's quality of life.

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