Lakeshore chamber names Small Business Person of the Year
The chairman of an electronics maker that's lighting up with business is the Small Business Person of the Year at the lakeshore.
The Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce, which represents nearly 1,400 businesses in the Holland-Zeeland area, named Pat LeBlanc, chairman of EBW Electronics in Holland, the 2014 Small Business Person of the Year this month at the Hope College Haworth Inn & Conference Center.
Picking a winner
Each year, the Michigan West Coast Chamber invites members to nominate people who exemplify “the best of a small business” in the community, are a member of the chamber and have been in business for at least five years. Nominations were received through email announcements, an online survey and social media.
After selecting four finalists, the Small Business Person of the Year Award Committee interviewed each finalist and reviewed nominations based on a record of success and efforts to provide employment in the area.
Liz Hoffswell, a spokesperson for the Michigan West Coast Chamber, said LeBlank has an amazing background, and EBW has diversified its consumer base, continues to grow and gives back to the community.
“It is a company I think we are going to be hearing a lot from in the coming years,” Hoffswell said.
She added that LeBlanc is “definitely a very, very deserving recipient.”
The award was presented during the chamber’s Early Bird Breakfast Series, which gives the winner the opportunity for them to tell their story in front of a live audience, according to Hoffswell.
With roughly 80 percent of its member companies considered a small business, Hoffswell said supporting small businesses is very important to the Michigan West Coast Chamber.
“Even large businesses were small at one time, so we feel it is really important to recognize and honor ones that are doing great things — good stewards and bringing jobs to the community,” Hoffswell said.
Recipients of the Small Business Person of the Year award are then submitted as a nominee for the Michigan Small Business Person of the Year award.
LeBlanc was previously the owner of EBW Electronics and served as a board member from 1992 through 2012. He’s now the chairman of EBW.
EBW specializes in LED lighting and electronic circuit boards that are often used in automotive panels.
EBW reported sales of $3.4 million in 2009 with 35 employees, according to the chamber. By 2013, EBW employed more than 150 employees and recorded sales of $27.2 million.
The company is in the process of constructing a 36,000-square-foot addition to its plant, which will add space for needed automated assembly lines and two lab areas.
EBW was recognized in 2013 and 2014 by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private manufacturing companies in the Midwest.