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Posted: September 01, 2009

State of the state: Awards

Ernst & Young salutes entrepreneurs

When Barry Cooper, chairman and CEO of Cooper Tea Co., made the list of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year finalists for the third year in a row, he didn’t write an acceptance speech. After being nominated twice without victory, he was doubtful he would win.

“After my first two nominations, I wrote an acceptance speech, which I thought jinxed me, so this time I didn’t write one,” Cooper said. “When my company’s name was announced, I was stunned.”

Ernst & Young held its Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Banquet for the Rocky Mountain Region in June at the Grand Hyatt Denver. Entering its 23rd year, there were seven categories ranging from communications to health care and medical equipment. The finalists were selected by an independent panel of judges.

The seven winners are eligible for the national Entrepreneur of the Year awards in November; the awards program will take place in Palm Springs, Calif. The national winners will be chosen from among more than 240 winners from 26 U.S. regions.

John Tredennick of Catalyst Repository Systems won in the technology category; the company was a finalist for ColoradoBiz’s Top Company award last year and is again this year. The company also was named Top Tech Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 by the Colorado Software and Internet Association.

“I’m going to Palm Springs to see Jay Leno,” Cooper said about his win in the consumer products category. “We’re going to the nationals with real tea to tell the world about it, and we’re really excited about that.”

Cooper Tea Co. is devoted to using real, all-natural tea in its products. The company developed a “real-tea” solution for restaurant soda fountains, just tea and water, nothing else, which is a first, Cooper said.

Cooper is excited to help create awareness about his company’s products through the Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Robert Levitt, president of Hudspeth & Associates, winner of the real estate and construction services category, said he also hopes the award will help his company build relationships.

“We will continue to do business as we always have, but working with Ernst & Young and all of the companies that were nominated gives you validation,” said Levitt. “We’re all about forming relationships and this is definitely something we can leverage for the future.”
First-time finalist Levitt founded Hudspeth & Associates in 1999 with the goal to become the “go-to” contractor of choice in the western U.S. Now the company has 140 employees and a yearly growth rate of 33 percent.

David Chernow, president and CEO of Oncure Medical Corp., said his win in the health-care and medical equipment category is inspiring.
“I think what it did personally, and for the company, is that it confirmed the importance of what we do and encourages us to continue to push hard,” Chernow said. “It inspires you to want to do things faster and better.”

A cancer survivor, Chernow took over as chief executive officer of Oncure Medical Corp. in 2007; it is a national network of cancer treatment centers. Also a first-time finalist for the award, he never thought that he would win.

“I was totally surprised, and by the screaming of my wife and some of the management team, you could tell we weren’t expecting to win,” Chernow said.

Chernow let the words of Journey and Nike explain his success in entrepreneurship in his acceptance speech.

“When I think of entrepreneurship I think of two things: the song “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey and the Nike slogan ‘Just do it,’” Chernow said. “That’s what entrepreneurs do. They don’t stop believing and just do it.”

  – PATRICIA KAOWTHUMRONG


ERNST & YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR WINNERS:

Services: Frank Backes, CEO, Braxton Technologies LLC

Technology: John Tredennick, CEO, Catalyst Repository Systems

Consumer Products: Barry W. Cooper, chairman & CEO, Cooper Tea Co.

Real Estate & Construction Services: Robert Levitt, president, Hudspeth & Associates Inc.

Healthcare and Medical Equipment: David Chernow, president and CEO, Oncure Medical Corp.

Communications: Roy Dimoff, CEO & chairman, ViaWest Inc.

Emerging: Dan Caruso, president and CEO, Zayo Group

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