Entrepreneurs receive awards Thursday
A young online marketing company, Galaxy Ninja, with a focus on social engagement tactics, search engine optimization, digital advertising and web design was recognized as Fairfield’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Thursday.
Fairfield First! awarded Meghan Dowd with its annual recognition for contributions to local living and the community.
Tim Britton, musician, recording artist, audio engineer and craftsman of uillean pipes was recognized as Entertainer of the Year.
Tom Brown received the Volunteer of the Year award, and Fairfield Volunteer Center also recognized one of its own, Richard Thompson, with a certificate of appreciation.
Artist and museum curator Mark Shafer unveiled his portrait of James Falconer Wilson, last year’s inductee into Fairfield’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
Cambridge Investment Research, Hawthorne Direct, LISCO and Bovard Studio Inc. sponsored this year’s annual awards event with Burt Chojnowski, emcee.
“This marks the 24th anniversary of the entrepreneurs association,” said Chojnowski. “We are planning a great anniversary for next year, a quarter-century.”
Jeffrey Hedquist introduced the Fairfield First! recipient.
A 1997 Fairfield High School graduate, Dowd is owner of Open Space Studio above the Orpheum Theater and owns and runs a family business of making, bottling and distributing Kombucha soda-type drinks and organic root beer.
“She is a Renaissance Woman, a writer, a yoga instructor, a business owner, and brought hot yoga and spin classes to Fairfield,” said Hedquist. “She’s a graduate of Dartmouth College where she was a rower on the rowing team.”
Dowd said she left Fairfield for college and lived in Los Angeles, where she “fell in love” with hot yoga and spinning.
“I returned home for a visit, and was surprised to see places such as Café Paradiso, and the convention center had been built,” she said. “As I have discovered, Fairfield is a fun place to play around and start a business. In a larger city, this would not have been possible.”
The 2012 Fairfield Entertainer of the Year, Werner Elmker, said Britton is a friend, a world-class instrument maker and a big contributor to the Fairfield music scene.
“I wish there was a $10,000 check to give with this plaque [award],” he said.
Britton, who was hired to provide flute music during the social time of dessert sampling, said he was completely surprised by the recognition.
“I feel I am a wealthy man,” he said. “I get to do everyday what I love to do. It’s my choice, and while that has both positive and negative consequences, there are more positives. I’m wealthy in my heart and feel very blessed.”
He played his flute again onstage at Chojnowski’s request.
Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy introduced Brown.
“Congratulations to all of the award recipients,” Malloy said. “This evening weaves together a reflection of the past with the spirit of today and inspires us for tomorrow.
“I imagine in a community like ours, it is difficult to choose recipients because there are so many possibilities. But tonight’s choice for Volunteer of the Year stands out. There’s no question, this is the right choice for 2013.”
Malloy said Brown retired from a 29-year career in the Iowa Department of Agriculture and is a World War II military veteran. And 29 years ago, right after retirement in 1984, Brown began volunteering at Jefferson County’s food pantry, The Lord’s Cupboard.
“His contribution has been significant,” said Malloy. “He’s worked 200-plus hours a year; he’s packed 26,000 boxes of food and faithfully volunteered for the Christmas boxes packing event. He’s had to slow down some this year, but has already contributed more than 175 hours in 2013.
“Tom is known for his good jokes. He and his wife, Violet have been married for 75 years.”
In accepting the plaque, Brown, said about the recognition, “This is news to me.”
Brown also encouraged others to volunteer and be involved.
Fairfield City Council member and community volunteer Michael Halley told the crowd the Volunteer center wanted to recognize another person.
“This isn’t to take anything away from Tom Brown,” said Halley. “One of our volunteers, Richard Thompson, is ‘on call’ for helping the volunteer center. He’s always willing.
“He helped with the library’s book sale and contributed good ideas for organization as well as helping move boxes of books, showing he uses brawn and brains.
“He’s been recording photos of headstones in area cemeteries, contributing about 24,000 so far to Find a Grave.”
Thompson said he was surprised by the recognition.
“I’d like to mention Carol Boggs, a long-time volunteer who has devoted many hours to the volunteer center,” said Thompson. “She came here this afternoon with us to help decorate for tonight and it took a lot out of her, so she’s not here tonight.”
Asked to explain about Find A Grave, Thompson said his father was from Amarillo, Texas, and Thompson has never been there. He looked up his father’s gravesite online and discovered a project, Find A Grave, which has documented millions of cemetery records around the world.
Thompson has added photos and records of area cemeteries.
Sudevi Mosse, the newest board member on Fairfield Entrepreneur Association, introduced that board’s annual award recipient.
“Galaxy Ninja was started by five Maharishi University of Management graduates and a couple of laptops,” she said. “It’s been successful and is off and running, developing numerous profitable projects and websites.
“Staff at Galaxy Ninja are Tegen Perry, green goddess and money mogul, Asher Fergusson, mad internet scientist, Joey Delre, marketing baron and sarcasm genius, David Jung, web designer and Dutch dork, Rosalie van den Bos, kick ass graphics pro and Eric Carter, social mastermind and Twitter god.”
A surprised Delre accepted the award, with the disclaimer he didn’t write the company’s profile/introduction.
“We’re an integrated Internet marketing company,” he said. “We help other companies do better on the Internet.
“We first met as students, traveling around and had this idea,” said Delre. “So many people have helped us get started and shared about starting a business. It’s been a very supportive community.”
Randy West, artistic director for Way Off Broadway in Fairfield, gave a brief, entertaining history of the Stewart brothers who formed Universal Producing Company in 1926 in Fairfield, this year’s inductee into the Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame.
The grand finale of the evening was Shafer’s PowerPoint about composing his annual portrait of the previous year’s hall of fame inductee, Wilson.