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Great Plains Communications, Eric Fisher Academy win Small Business Awards

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at 2:15 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, May 2, 2013, at 9:44 a.m.

The finalists

Tier 1 finalists in the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award competition were Advocate Care Services, CIG Insurance, Group Benefit Specialists, Next Element Consulting and Great Plains Communications, which won the top award.

In Tier 2, the finalists were Alltite, Account Recovery Specialists, Cybertron International, Mid-America Orthopedics and Eric Fisher Academy, the winner.

Great Plains Communications and Eric Fisher Academy were named the winners Wednesday of the 2013 Small Business Awards.

Sponsored by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, the contest uses such criteria as leadership and performance, employee relations, diversity and community involvement.

The 10 finalists in the competition were featured at a luncheon Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Wichita, where the winners were announced.

Great Plains won in Tier 1, which includes businesses with one to 25 full-time equivalent positions, and Eric Fisher Academy won in Tier 2, which encompasses businesses with between 26 and 100 staff members.

Jim Bevilacqua, Great Plains president and founder, struggled for words to describe what it meant for his firm to win the award.

“It’s just a great honor to be in this group of finalists, just to be recognized among them,” he said. “And that’s what it’s all about.”

He also recognized his employees, lauding their dedication and skills.

Great Plains, 1809 S. West St., is a 30-year-old firm that provides telecommunications systems to businesses as well as managing and servicing their information technology networks. It employs 22 people.

Eric Fisher Academy was started in 2007 at 6727 W. Central by hairstylist and salon owner Eric Fisher. The academy trains 200 students annually to be stylists and salon owners.

Laurie Mason, director of the academy since its founding, and Mary Fisher, Eric’s wife, accepted the award. Mason said the award would not have been possible without the efforts of the academy’s staff.

Officials from the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce said 330 people attended the event, in its ninth year; the keynote speaker was hotel developer and operator Jim Korroch.

Korroch told the audience that what has helped him be successful is to keep what happened in the past in the past, to recognize personal barriers and overcome them and to find ways to be grateful each day.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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