Four of the most dynamic remodelers in the country, including second-time nominee Iris Harrell, have been selected as finalists for the 2009 Fred Case Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the third annual program named for (and endowed by) the founder and CEO of Case Design/Remodeling.
The four finalists were announced at the Remodeling Leadership Conference earlier this month. Each received a cash award of $2,500. The winner will receive an additional $10,000 and will be announced at the 2009 Remodeling Show in Indianapolis this fall, as well as featured in REMODELING magazine.
"Our finalists have blazed a trail of leadership and innovation throughout their careers, setting the benchmark for other remodeling professionals to follow," said Mark Richardson, the co-chairman of Case Design/Remodeling, upon announcing the finalists. Here's a bit about the four:
Chris Edelen, president and CEO, Leafguard by Beldon, San Antonio "Chris truly exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit in our industry," Richardson said. Since Edelen took the reins at Leafguard by Beldon, the roofing and gutter protection company has become a $40 million business whose core values include "legendary service" for customers and growth opportunities for employees. Edelen's recent accomplishments include developing a relationship that has led to LG's gutters being sold in more than 100 Costco stores. "Chris' ambitious and forward-thinking mindset translates to his entire team and company culture," Richardson said.
Asked to comment on being a nominee, Edelen says, "I am truly humbled by this honor. My selection as a finalist is a reflection on our organization as a whole that I am privileged to represent and lead. The culture and spirit of entrepreneurism that we strive for every day in our company is truly the driving force behind our success."
Iris Harrell, founder and CEO, Harrell Remodeling, Mountain View, Calif. "Iris started Harrell Remodeling in 1985 as a woman in a male-dominated industry, with a determination to learn the construction, design, and business skills needed to create a multimillion dollar business," Richardson said. "She not only accomplished this goal but has also helped to elevate the standards of professionalism for remodelers all over the country." He cited in particular Harrell's creation of "a true ownership culture," with all 36 employees at the $10-plus million company being either owners or on the path to ownership, as well as her focus on universal design and green remodeling.
Harrell, who was also a finalist for the Fred Case award in 2007, says that she values the award because of her deep respect for Fred Case, as well as her belief that "it's entrepreneurs who have made this country what it is. And secretly, I know that many entrepreneurs are unemployable - but we can make it happen. That's our weakness and our strength."
Todd Jackson, president and CEO, Jackson Design and Remodeling, San Diego A true remodeling entrepreneur, Todd Jackson started his company when he was 20. "He built Jackson Design and Remodeling based upon the core values of a strong work ethic, a sense of urgency, strong fiscal health, a phenomenal experience for the client, and a sense of fairness for all involved," said Richardson at the Leadership Conference. With $6.5 million in revenue, Jackson Design and Remodeling is one of San Diego's fastest-growing private companies, has an 8,000-square-foot design center, and embodies Jackson's drive for quality and efficiency, including an award-winning portfolio of projects and a design/build process that baffles Jackson's peers with its speed.
"I am humbled in receiving this much sought-after nomination," Jackson says.
"As the remodeling industry continues to grow and change, it is truly an honor to be recognized by Fred Case as a leader and forward-thinker."
Tom Kelly, president, Neil Kelly Co., Portland, Ore. "With a passion for environmental sustainability, Tom has built his business around his wish of leaving the planet a better place for his children and grandchildren," Richardson said. He called Kelly an "innovative spirit," and noted that the company Kelly's father started 62 years ago has consistently incorporated design ideas, processes, and products to move toward a more sustainable future - along with $28 million in revenue, including its nationally known green cabinet company.
Among Neil Kelly Co.'s recent accomplishments under Tom Kelly: builder of the first LEED-certified commercial building west of the Mississippi (one of the company's showrooms); builder of the first LEED-certified residence, a zero-net energy home, in the west (2006); and the launch of a successful home performance/energy audit division in 2007. The company also has a long history of employing women as carpenters, cabinetmakers, project managers, and in other traditionally male positions.
"I doubt there are many bigger fans of Fred Case than me," Kelly says. "It is a great honor to be named as a finalist."