SpotLight! On Business awards stress quality service

Stressing quality service as the key to success, local business leaders and entrepreneurs gathered yesterday at the Sheraton in downtown Tacoma for the 17th annual SpotLight! On Business Awards.

Nominated businesses – 16 in all this year – are grouped according to the number of employees.

Melanie Dressel, 2002 chair of the Board of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, explained the criteria for the day’s awards: staying power, growth in employees, an increase in sales and/or unit volume, evidence of contributions to community oriented projects, innovativeness of product or service and response to adversity.

This year’s nominations:

– C.J. and Jimmie Johnson of the Baker-Johnson Agency, a bail bonds agency.

– Kathy Martin of The Martin Firm, a public relations, marketing and advertising firm.

– Callie Allison of Select Staff, Ltd., a temporary and temp-to-hire staffing agency for clerical and light industrial skills.

– Dave Raglin of Total Logistics Services, Inc. and Service By Air, a freight forwarder specializing in brokering with airlines to find the most competitive rates.

– Bob Crane of Crane’s Creations, a family run floral shop with three area locations.

– Pat Feutz of Gene Pankey Motor Company, an auto dealership on South Tacoma Way that gets more than 50 percent of its business from repeats and referrals.

– Kim and Ken Grassi of Grassi’s Flowers & Gifts, offering a product and service mix that includes fresh flowers, unique gifts and collectibles, cards, books, gourmet chocolates and novelty balloons, as well as a cafe serving breakfast and lunch.

– Kathy and Jim Endres of Mail Boxes Etc., a business needs store with three locations in the South Sound and 19 employees.

– Sally Smith, Dan Brassfield and Sharon Dee Brassfield of Brassfield’s & Savi Salon & Day Spa, a combination of two businesses that has grown to include 28 stylists and salon support members and 29 therapists and spa support members.

– Joe Zelazny of the Commonwealth Title Company, a title and trust service that first opened its doors in Tacoma in 1883.

– Pat Nagle of the Harmon Brewery & Restaurant, a restaurant located in the historic Harmon Building in Tacoma’s revitalized downtown.

– Kathleen and Erik Carlson of Aqua Quip, which provides swimming pools, hot tubs, barbeques, patio furniture and other backyard accessories.

– Tom, John and Rick Tebbs of Fred Tebb and Sons, Inc., a lumber manufacturing company that produces special high-grade lumber products.

– James P. Coleman, president of General Mechanical, Inc., a mechanical and general contractor.

– Bill Frame, branch manager and senior vice president of Insignia Kidder Mathews, the largest full service commercial real estate firm in the Puget Sound region.

– Randy Rushforth of Rushforth Construction, specializing in building custom homes and small commercial projects.

This year’s winners:

– Kathy Martin of The Martin Firm, in the category for the company with 10 or less employees. Established in 1987, The Martin Firm is responsible for the contagious “Reach Out and Touch Someone” long distance phone campaign. The firm’s credo is: “Our clients might be just around the corner…or halfway around the world.”

– Pat Feutz of Gene Pankey Motor Company, in the category of businesses with 11-40 employees. The company was established in 1978, with seven employees and annual unit sales of 350. Today, there are now 15 employees, with expected sales of 2,200 units this year.

Gene Pankey is well-known around the region for good business ethics, professionalism and community service.

“We’ve built our whole business on customer service,” Feutz said, crediting the dealership’s employees for the company’s success.

– Pat Nagle of Harmon Brewery & Restaurant, in the category for the company with 41-75 employees. The restaurant opened in 1997, and features seven different ales that are produced on-site, two of which have won national recognition. Benjamin Franklin is the source of Harmon’s credo: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

– Randy Rushforth of Rushforth Construction, for the business with 76 or more employees. Randy Rushforth has been running the 50-plus-year-old company since 1978. The company has done more historical renovation than any other general contractor in Pierce County.

The likenesses of the SpotLight! On Bussines winners can be seen on a billboard at the corner of Pacific Avenue and South Tacoma Way.

Prior to the awards being handed out, keynote speaker Patrick J. Swanick, president and chief executive officer of Key Electronic Service, addressed the topic of e-commerce and the Internet, saying business should embrace the technology to attract new customers.

“Clearly, the Internet is changing the way we work and go about business. So the Internet is affecting everybody,” he said.

“It’s Tacoma’s time, and you’re leading the charge.”