SCORE Southwest Florida honored volunteer business experts who offer free mentoring to local small business owners and entrepreneurs making an impact. The following experts (listed below) were honored during SCORE Southwest Florida’s Annual Awards Luncheon on Monday, March 18.
Entrepreneur of the Year – Jeff Becker – Can Do U – Jeff Becker was struggling, “trapped in my own head,” before working with SCORE mentor Trevor Pedler. Together they worked on branding, marketing
“Most importantly, he makes me feel like I’m not alone, which is priceless,” said Becker, a Lee County public school teacher who created Can Do U in 2017 to provide motivational programs to high school students and administrators. The company has been engaged throughout Florida and six other states including Alaska and has earned recognition in national media and various educational publications, is profitable and debt-free.
Veteran Owned Business of the Year – Charles Gilbert, C.W. Gilbert Construction Company – Following 17 years working in construction, Gilbert established C.W. Gilbert Construction Company in Fort Myers in 2018. He worked with SCORE mentor Frank Costello, a retired industry expert in construction and government contracting.
Costello helped Gilbert streamline his payroll process so Gilbert can focus on the quality of his company’s work, safety protocols, material purchasing and bidding new projects. Gilbert and Costello plan to continue working together on pursuing private and government contracts in South Florida.
“Our business would not be the caliber it is today without the mentorship we received from SCORE,” said Kroll. SCORE mentor Pat Loftus “encourages us to think outside the box and keeps us accountable for the business goals we set in order to grow our business.” The sisters have worked with SCORE since 2016, and plan to continue working with Loftus to set new goals, launch new services and apply non-owner resources for some business functions.
- Volunteer of the Year -Bill Boehmer
- Mentor of the Year – Dave Hamblett
Volunteer Service Awards – Mentoring, Service to SCORE Southwest Florida and the Community
- Bill Boehmer – 10 years
- Bryan Hays – 10 years
- Dave Hamblett – 5 years
The luncheon keynote speaker was technology entrepreneur, angel investor, and startup mentor Michael O’Donnell. He mentors for StartupNOW, a business accelerator program run by Broward College, and for Startup FAST, a new accelerator launched by the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center in Fort Myers.
O’Donnell shared his own SCORE success story from his first venture as an entrepreneur and credited his SCORE mentor with helping him to raise $3 million for an electronic printing business in just six months. He said that a startup without an advisor is much like trying to find a destination without a map. “The startup community is like GPS for entrepreneurs,” he said. O’Donnell recognized the many complementary organizations showing support at the luncheon and noted that it’s vital to work together to create a corridor of support for small business.
Other speakers included: Mike Love, Director, Southwest Florida Enterprise Center; U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) District Director Victoria Guerrero and SBA South Florida Lead Economic Development Specialist Althea Harris; Event Sponsor IBERIA BANK’s Sean Friend; and SCORE Southwest Florida District and Chapter executive members and mentors Ralph Warmack, Eileen Buchanan, Pat Loftus, Trevor Pedler and Frank Costello; and Mary Landry, vice chair, SCORE Association Board of Directors.
ABOUT SCORE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
SCORE Southwest Florida is a local chapter of SCORE. More than 35 volunteer business experts provide free, confidential business mentoring and no/low-cost business education services for local businesses and startups. SCORE Southwest Florida is rated in the top three percent of all Chapters in client satisfaction for 2017 and 2018. SCORE, America’s premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs and small businesses, is a nonprofit resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For more information: www.southwestflorida.score.org.