Tom Waters took a minute to talk about entrepreneurs and about the journey of building his own business, Corporate Copy Print, starting almost 20 years ago.
Then he turned to two of several winners at Thursday’s Independence Business Awards luncheon, Darrell Tindal and Andrea Schnetzler, who own the Berry Nutty Farm and Hippie Chow.
“It has been absolutely fun to watch these two grow and achieve their goals. ... And I want to say I’m really proud of them,” Waters said.
Schnetzler and Tindal were named the entreprenuers of the year at the luncheon. They operate both businesses at the Ennovation Center, a business incubator in Independence. Hippie Chow makes high-end granola, and the Berry Nutty Farm makes a variety of jams and jellies. They have said both businesses are growing well.
“The joy is in having products that people just love,” Schnetzler said in a video that was part of the ceremony.
Altogether, the awards went to “over 50 companies that have made a difference in economic development in Independence,” said Jack Figg of ATK, the company that operates the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. Figg also is chair of the board for the Independence Economic Development Council, which, along with the Independence Chamber of Commerce, presented the awards.
The other winners:
• Non-profit of the year, the Community Services League.
“This group will soon be celebrating their 100th birthday, and wouldn’t Bess Truman be proud,” said Bonnie Gorman of ATK in presenting the award. The first lady had a key role in initially organizing the group when she was a young woman.
• The People’s Choice award was for companies with a strong social-media presence. Eight companies were nominated “and we let their fans duke it out over Facebook,” said Doug Cowan of the Rethink Independence program. The winner is Frankie Frank's Coffee Cakes, which is in the Ennovation Center.
• Manufacturer of the year, Legendary Stone, which makes and installs granite and quartz countertops.
• Major Employer of the year, GEHA, which provides health and dental insurance for federal employees and retirees and their families, covering more than 1 million people. It has 1,220 employees.
• Technology business of the year, Comcast, which drew the judges’ attention with its Comcast Cares volunteer efforts.
• Hospitality business of the year, Vivilore, a business in Englewood that has a restaurant, art gallery, gift shop and courtyard.
• Small Business of the year, Nature’s Pantry, which recently added a deli and a dining area.
“They’ll (customers) be able to come and eat healthy and meet with friends and take a break,” co-owner Don Richards said in the video.
EDC President Tom Lesnak said the competition was most fierce in the small-business category. More than 90 percent of the businesses in Independence have 50 or fewer employees, he said.
Also, dozens of companies were given the annual iNpact award. That’s for adding at least two employees or making a capital investment of at least $25,000 in 2013. Together, those companies added more than 500 jobs and make roughly $70 million in investments.
In addition to those companies that also won in some of the other categories – Frankie Frank's, the Community Services League, Comcast, Hippie Chow and the Berry Nutty Farm – those winners are:
• Culver’s, which opened an Independence location last year.
• Realty Executives.
• Famous Dave’s, the barbecue restaurant chain that opened an Independence location last summer.
• Cable Dahmer, the auto dealership company.
• Bennett Packaging.
• Burlington Coat Factory, which opened an Independence store last fall.
• Truman Medical Center Lakewood.
• Superfit Muffins.
• Twin Peaks, the sports bar-and-grill chain that opened in Independence a few weeks ago.
• Pizza Ranch, soon to open in Independence.
• The Lake City Business Center.
• The Freedom Chef.
• Ronson Manufacturing.
• Midwest Foster Care & Adoption.
• Cargo Largo.
• Wyatt Violin Shop.
• Corporate CopyPrint.
• Green Lantern Car Wash, which opened an Independence location last year.
• Boost Physical Performance.
• Swope Health.
• Centerpoint Medical Center.
• Cornell Roofing & Sheet Metal.
• Red Force Fire & Security.
• Bradlech Construction.
• Continental Manufacturing.
• Continental Siding Supply.
• Staybridge Suites.
• Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity.
• MAST Technologies.
• MC Power.
• Elite Cuisine.
• M&R Insulation.
• Church of the Four Corners.
• Music Gear.