Each year, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce recognizes five outstanding small businesses and the people behind them.
Eighty-hour weeks. Missed vacations. Worries about making the payroll. When it comes to having a small business, it takes lots of hard work and dedication, especially in the beginning. As any entrepreneur will tell you, it”s not easy but it”s so worth it.
From software developers to financial planners, it seems as if the entrepreneurial spirit in Gwinnett keeps growing, as more small companies gain recognition for their successes and efforts. And it”s that spirit that the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce seeks to recognize through the Small Business Person of the Year Award.
Each year they choose five finalists out of hundreds of nominations; businesses that are outstanding for a number of reasons, from their success to community involvement.
Once again, we”d like to say congratulations to this year”s Small Business Person of the Year Award winner Bob Williamson of Horizon Software International as well as the runners-up: Bruce Arnett of Carnett”s Car Washes; Al Karnitz of Ace Truck Body & Trailer Repair; Brian Perdue of Salon 124 and Roger Green of Green Financial Resources.
What can you learn from them?
Horizon Software International
Owner(s): Bob Williamson and three partners
Year founded: 1992
Brief description: Supply chain management company specializing in food service technologies – tools that enable large organizations to manage inventory control, order processing, procurement, menu planning, nutritional analysis and other tasks.
What prompted start of the company? "I had been working as a plant manager at a paint company after working my way up from menial jobs there. When we went from a manual system to computer processes, I helped develop the software for the company. Later on, I invented a paint technology that was a breakthrough and I needed software for my own company. Back then, you couldn”t just buy software off the shelf. I hired programmers and we wrote our own. Then we started designing software for other companies as well and ended up creating a total of seven companies. I sold all the others after one of our sales reps calling on K through 12 schools said no other vendor had back office support for schools. We started focusing on schools, then expanded into higher education, the military and other areas."
Number of employees: 140
Annual revenues: $20 million
Mentors/people who have made a big impact on your life or your company: "I would have to say it”s my family more than anything. My boys came into the company and they”re doing an excellent job. My wife is a big help. But I didn”t really have mentors. "
Keys to company”s success: "The main thing is a strong work ethic and to work smart. I surround myself with really good employees with good character. I”ve been fair to them and I appreciate what they”ve done. We have a low turnover rate – 30 percent of our employees have been here more than five years, which is unusual in the tech industry."
Carnett”s Car Washes
Owner (s): Bruce Arnett
Year founded: 1987
Brief description: Provides variety of car washing services and supplies.
What prompted start of the company? "I had been involved with multiples businesses – IBM, turkey farms, restaurants, leasing companies and others. I made friends with a lot of people, including a guy from Argentina in the late 19