Betty Mullen’s search for a cosmetic product for her sensitive and dry skin 37 years ago led her to become a finalist for the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance’s small business of the year.
Mullen, of Mt. Pleasant, who is an independent sales director with Mary Kay, is the first home-based business to be nominated for small business of the year. She was nominated by one of her customers.
“Someone thought I was worthy to be nominated and my customers felt that my business offered something to the community,” Mullen said.
Mullen is one of five finalists for small business of the year. The other finalists are Paul Revere’s Pizza, Becker’s Jewelers Inc., STAATS Awards and TEAM Staffing Solutions Inc.
Kristi Ray, executive vice president of the Chamber, said that Small Business Week is always rewarding because the businesses recognized are so different.
“This year, there were glowing applications sent in,” Ray said. “There are two companies that are newer; even though they may feel like it’s been a lot of hard years, they’re relatively newer companies. They have made an impact and are now hitting their stride.”
Other businesses like STAATS and Beckers that have been in Mt. Pleasant for a long time “seem to rise to the top and have withstood the years,” Ray said.
When choosing small business of the year and the top five finalists, the Chamber considers all 250 small businesses in Mt. Pleasant, which is any business with 25 or fewer employees. They also accept nominations for small business from the business or their clients. Ray said this helps the Chamber solidify the idea that these are good companies that people think well of.
Judges who are not a part of the community select the top five finalists and small business of the year. Ray said the judges learn about the companies from getting online and reading applications.
“You never know what the judges are going to look for,” Ray said.
Small Business Week kicks off with a celebration at the Chamber’s platinum sponsor Pilot Grove Savings Bank on Monday, April 29, at 8 a.m. at 410 South Grand Avenue in Mt. Pleasant.
Eric Rawson, with Pilot Grove Savings Bank, said small businesses are a big part of Mt. Pleasant’s economy.
“Small businesses account for around 1,200 jobs in the Mt. Pleasant area alone,” Rawson said. “We definitely want to recognize those small-business owners during Small Business Week.”
Paul Revere’s Pizza will have a ribbon cutting on Monday, April 29, at 3 p.m. at 112 West Washington Street.
On Tuesday, April 30, at 4:30 p.m., Betty Mullen will have a ribbon cutting as an independent sales director with Mary Kay. It will be at American Family Insurance at 100 South Main Street.
Mullen said she will have a few products on display, talk about the history of the company, serve some snacks and have a drawing for prizes during her ribbon cutting.
On Wednesday, May 1, Becker’s Jewelers will have a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. at 123 West Monroe Street. Small Business Week celebrations will continue with Alive After Five at Henry County Heritage Trust Museum at 203 North White Street at 5 p.m.
On Thursday, May 2, there will be a ribbon cutting at STAATS Awards at 206 North Iris Street at 2 p.m., followed by a ribbon cutting at TEAM Staffing Solutions at 114 East Monroe Street at 4:30 p.m.
Krystal Bass, with STAATS, said the employees are “pretty excited” about being a finalist for small business of the year.
“We’re doing things around the office to get prepared for the ribbon cutting and everyone is pretty jazzed,” Bass said.
Bass began at STAATS on Nov. 1, 2018, and said she loves the community interaction they have at the company.
“We have a lot of fun here,” Bass said. “Everything we do is a celebration. (Small Business Week) is not about winning, it’s about enjoying the events throughout the week and helping those businesses get recognized throughout the community.”
Blake Radel, with TEAM Staffing Solutions, said they are honored to be considered for small business of the year.
“It was a suprise to be a finalist,” Radel said, who has owned the Mt. Pleasant branch of TEAM Staffing for 10 years. “The most satisfying part of our job is helping individuals find employment and better their lives.”
Small Business Week concludes with a luncheon at the Mt. Pleasant Golf and Country Club on Friday, May 3, at 11:30 a.m. The deadline to purchase tickets has already passed.
Anyone is welcome to stop by ribbon cuttings throughout the week to congratulate finalists and learn more about their business.