Excellence in business needs to be celebrated

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Business First of Louisville - http://louisville.bizjournals.com

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Included in this issue of Business First is a special publication profiling some dynamic companies, not-for-profit organizations and individuals who have accomplished great things this year.

The nine companies, three nonprofits and six people featured are the finalists and winners in the second annual Business First Business of the Year Awards. They are shining examples of what makes this community great.

Amazing accomplishments have been achieved by this group. Although they represent various types of businesses, they share many common traits.

The large, small and emerging businesses honored are blessed with creative leaders who are not afraid of taking chances.

These growing companies not only are creating jobs that benefit our local economy, but they also give back to the community.

This year United Parcel Service Inc., winner of the Large Company of the Year Award, announced a $1 billion expansion of its Worldport air hub that will add 5,000 jobs to the more than 18,000 already here.

The UPS Foundation also contributed $6 million in charitable grants last year, and UPS employees volunteered nearly 130,000 hours to not-for-profit agencies.

All of the companies honored -- both large and small -- share the same commitment and undying perseverance to growing their businesses and giving back to the community.

Consider the achievements of Persimmon Ridge Golf Course Inc., winner of the Small Company of the Year Award. The company has battled through setbacks and disappointments to become a thriving, successful, growing enterprise.

Persimmon Ridge president and CEO Lawren Just took time this year to serve as chairwoman of an American Heart Association event that raised $438,000.

Those kinds of fund-raising efforts make the Louisville area a better place to live. And that type of community improvement is the full-time mission of the three nonprofits honored.

Goodwill Industries, winner of the Not-For-Profit Organization of the Year Award, is setting records in its efforts to employ people with disabilities or other disadvantages.

Success requires strong leadership, which also is exemplified by the finalists in the Large Company Business Leader of the Year and the Small Company Business Leader of the Year categories.

They are risk takers who share a passion for their businesses and an ability to overcome the obstacles they encounter.

For instance, consider this comment by Bob Lekites, winner of the Large Company Business Leader of the Year Award: "I always say, I've got the best job in UPS. It's by far the most exciting, strenuous, overpowering, overwhelming job I could've ever imagined. It's 24 by seven. It never stops, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

And Jonathan Blue, winner of the Small Company Business Leader of the Year Award, pretty much summed up the attitude of the outstanding business leaders recognized when he said, "I love what I do. Not that many people get to wake up in the morning and their work is what they love."

We believe it is important to recognize and celebrate excellence in business. That's why we created the Business of the Year Awards.

There are many lessons to be learned from the Business of the Year winners and finalists.

All of them should be congratulated and thanked for what they do for their businesses and for this community.