Local entrepreneurs were recognized Thursday night at Glendale Gardens during the fourth annual Hardin County Entrepreneurial Awards banquet.
The event took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week and recognized several local business people for their ventures.
Jim Fugitte, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001, presented the State of Entrepreneurship. The keynote speaker was Brian Kerr, who was last year’s winner of the Dr. Robert E. Robbins Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Taking home the 2019 award named after Robbins was Charles Nall of Nall’s Specialized Hauling.
“Wow … I am very honored,” he said. “… I wouldn’t be here today without surrounding myself with people that were good people that have been there to support me and help me and guide me. I just want to say thank you.”
The Young Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Connor and Ryne Kauffeld of Kauffeld Brothers, an excavating and landscape construction company. They opened the company in fall of 2017.
“It was a surprise to me and my brother. Needless to say, we’re both very honored. It’s nice to see our hard work notarized and it is an incredible feeling at the moment,” Connor Kauffeld said.
The 2019 Startup of the Year award went to Kim Yates of Sky’s the Limit trampoline park, which opened in December 2018. Future growth plans include expansions to other locations including Bowling Green.
“It’s truly humbling to be up here right now. Excuse me for being a little emotional,” she said. “It’s a been a very long journey to get here. … We are very honored that our community has accepted us in such a loving way and that we are able to bring so much back here to Hardin County.”
The Scale-up of the Year awarded was presented to Aaron Gani of BehaVR, a competitive platform in activating healthy behaviors and positive health outcomes. He launched the company last year in Elizabethtown and within twelve months opened a second location in Nashville.
The Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year award was given to Wes Melton of the I-65 Vendor Mall.
“What an honor,” he said, noting several who assisted him in the entrepreneurial journey. “It takes a lot of different people and it does take a lot of drive.”
The Cultural Impact Entrepreneur award went to Dr. Robert E. Robbins of Robbins Enterprises.
Added to this year’s program was the Hardin County Cultural Impact Nonprofit award, which went to The Veterans Tribute Group.
“They brought honor to those who made it possible for us to even live and prosper in this community. They make our community a better place. Tonight we honor The Veterans Tribute Group. We thank you for your service to our country and for the monumental effort to bring the Vietnam Memorial Wall to Hardin County,” Lisa Boone, director of Central Region Innovation and Commercialization Center, said when announcing the group.