Spotlight shines on Tacoma businesses

Women wore fancy dresses and men sported tuxedos Wednesday afternoon at the Best Western Fife Hotel & Conference Center, as local stars of the business community turned out for the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s 2004 Spotlight! on Business Awards.

Nominees basked in the limelight – okay, it was more like sunlight on a warm, spring day – at the “Academy style” awards program. Winners in three categories – all from Tacoma – took home “Oscars” to commemorate their accomplishments.

“We’re celebrating business in Tacoma,” said David Graybill, president and CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

The Spotlight! on Business Awards focus on small businesses, Graybill said, noting they are the majority employers in the community and the state.

The chamber honored Rusty George of Rusty George Designs, an advertising and graphic design company, with the Spotlight! on Business Award in the small business – one to 10 employees – category.

George was unable to attend the event because he was working. That hard work is paying off. George founded the company in 2000, and today it is a growing organization with nine employees.

Jorgenson Optical won in the medium-sized business category – 11 to 50 employees. Accepting the award was John Jorgenson, company president.
In the large-business category – 51 to 100 employees – Architects BCRA won. Accepting on the firm’s behalf was Jeff Brown, president.

Other companies nominated for awards include: small-business: SiteCrafting; The Dalenius Agency; medium-business: Brassfield’s Salon; Hammond Knoll Carpet; and Thomas Cook Reed Reinvald, PLLC Architects; large-business: Air Systems Engineering Inc.; Bucky’s Muffler; and Tapco Credit Union.

In keeping with the business theme, Brad Worthley, a motivational speaker, gave a presentation on the importance of customer service.

Businesses need to find ways to exceed customer expectations, Worthley said.

“This does not come easily, by the way,” he said. “It takes a lot of creativity.”

Worthley singled out Les Schwab Tire Centers as an example of a business that goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to customer service.

“They’re willing to do things nobody else is willing to do,” Worthley stated.

Les Schwab, perhaps best known for its free beef promotion, has endeared itself to customers, he said, with fast, friendly service – employees literally come running to meet you – and waiting customers are treated to free popcorn and coffee.

The popular tire center also offers a wide range of no-cost services such as tire repair and rotation, with Les Schwab asking only that customers mention the company to family and friends, Worthley said.

This way, he pointed out, Les Schwab has earned a favorable customer service reputation that has resulted in new and repeat business.

Businesses should practice TLC – think like a customer – Worthley quipped.
He said 93 percent of how a business is judged is based upon the people that make up that business, not their expertise or experience. “Sincerity is key to good customer service,” he said.

Award winners will have their names and faces placed on a billboard at 6th Ave. and Cushman St. “So smile, they’re going to love you,” said host Dave Senner, Abolins, Inc. president.

Officials were already excited about the 2005 event. “We look forward to seeing you next year,” Senner said.