Iris Harrell is the third winner of the Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year Award, established and endowed by the founder of Case Design/Remodeling, one of the largest full-service remodeling companies in the U.S. The award includes a prize of $12,500 ($10,000 plus $2,500 for each of the four finalists, including Harrell).

Three judges evaluated nominees based on three principal criteria: business acumen/company’s financial strength, community and industry involvement, and entrepreneurial spirit.

“Iris has always been very innovative and ahead of the curve, not just on things that she is passionate about, like green building and universal design, but also about leaving her team and her clients with a healthy company,” says Mark Richardson, president of Case Design/Remodeling and a judge for the award.

Case, who was not involved in the judging process, is “tickled” by Harrell’s selection this year. “Iris really represents the true spirit of entrepreneurism. She is generous with her clients, employees, and the industry, and a very good manager.”

Harrell says she is deeply honored by the award because of her great respect for Fred Case. It also encapsulates her pride in being an entrepreneur in an industry she loves, regardless of gender. “I think one of the best and most patriotic things anyone can do is create jobs,” she says.

What should be remodelers’ takeaway from Harrell’s selection for the award? “This is an industry that needs more Irises,” Richardson says. “When 98% of remodelers don’t even have a written business plan, and nine out of 10 will be out of business in 10 years, it’s clear that this industry needs to include the best of the best from different walks of life.” —Leah Thayer

Click here to read about previous winners and nominees of the Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year Award.