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Small Businesses Take Home Big Awards

Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 14the Annual Small Business of the Year Awards on Friday.

Friday night was full of surprises for David Miller.

The owner of Chef by Request Catering, Miller went to the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Awards by himself. He thought his wife was staying at home with his newborn son.

But as Miller was announced the recipient of the Business to Consumer award, his wife and son surprised him. He was also given the Small Business of the Year award at the end of the event.

“(My wife) dressed up, she drove out here; she said she knew I was going to win and wanted to be there,” Miller said. “But she didn’t know there was another award. I can’t wait to call her.”

Eight other awards were handed out on Friday night including Excellence in Business, Not-For-Profit, Business to Business, Professional, Retail and Lifetime Achievement.

Ralph Trevino, president of Aries Charter Transport, was nominated in the Business to Consumer category. Trevino said he could care less about winning an award; being nominated was enough of an honor.

“When you start a business you don’t shoot for something like this," he said. "When we started we focused on that month, then maybe the next. It’s just an honor and a privilege to be here.”

Laurie Johnson, executive vice president of Visiting Angels, won an award in 2009. Johnson was a presenter during the event, honoring three businesses with the Excellence in Business award. The award honors businesses that have existed for less than five years.

Johnson was excited for those nominated and winning the award. She said the loyalty between chamber members have helped small businesses during the economic troubles and believes his loyalty has helped to produce a vibrant business culture in Naperville.

“It’s great to see enthusiastic people bring business and vitality to Naperville,” Johnson said.

Councilmen Steve Chirico attended the event, along with other members of the city council. Chirico, who also owns a small business in Naperville, complimented his colleagues who were nominated for awards.

The councilman said that the businesses at Friday’s events have proved their strength over the past three years.

“I think that businesses that are here today are the toughest,” he said. “I’d be very proud to be on any list with these people.”

One business Chirico mentioned was Crimson Design & Construction — a finalist for the Business to Consumer award.

Although Crimson didn't win, president Joel Kristianson was excited to be nominated.

“It’s quite an honor for me; it was actually a surprise,” Kristianson said. “Being nominated, to me, means we are connected to the community.”

Kevin Harris, chairman of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, echoed Kristianson's sentiment. He reminded the group that people are the heart of the community and small businesses are the bone structure.

Some in attendance might have argued that Bev Freir, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, is both part of the heart and bone structure of Naperville. Frier said she was humbled to win the award, but also took the chance to tell the community she’s not stopping yet.

“It’s always nice to receive recognition when you’re alive,” she said. “So tomorrow, I will start on my second lifetime achievement award.”

Winners from the 14th Annual Small Business of the Year Awards

  • Lifetime Achievement - Bev Patterson Frier
  • Excellence in Business - Lillian's
  • Excellence in Business - Jersey Mike's Subs
  • Excellence in Business - Nyberg & Cassioppi
  • Not-For-Profit - Samarian Interfaith Counseling Center
  • Business to Business - Beaird Group
  • Business to Consumer - Chef by Request Catering
  • Professional - Sherman Oaks Dental
  • Retail - Braconi's Restaurant & Pizzeria
  • Small Business of the Year - Chef by Request Catering 

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