25th KOSBE Awards feature Carmack, Royston, Hillhouse and Kontos


The Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE) held the 25th Annual KOSBE Awards Dec. 5 at the MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center. More than 300 business leaders and entrepreneurs showed up for the awards gala, including all of Pal’s Sudden Service operators. The Pal’s organization was on hand to witness an honored guest, Hal Carmack. Carmack was presented with a special Hidden Gem Award, for his significant but quiet contributions including designing and building 26 of Pal’s distinctive hot-dog-shaped restaurants.

Don Royston received the 2019 IMPACT Award. Royston is well-known for his role as Santa Claus aboard the Santa Train. Royston was one of the original founding fathers who helped create KOSBE. Royston was also recently recognized with the prestigious Lifetime Member Award during the State of the Kingsport Chamber Holiday Breakfast.

Taylor’s Martial Arts Academy received a $1,000 cash prize for their efforts and results while participating in KOSBE’s new Propel Mentor/Protégé Program. The Propel program is a one-of-its-kind opportunity designed for woman-, veteran-, and minority-owned small businesses and disadvantaged businesses including rural, economic, or social disadvantage. The program provides business owners with one-on-one assistance to help them grow their business, and teams them up with a mentor (an established community business leader) and exclusive mastermind group.

“The award winners represent the best of the best small businesses in the region,” said Dustin Mohr, KOSBE Chair-Elect and Chief Operating Officer at Martin Dentistry. “In an environment that is increasingly competitive, we have recognized the leading businesses and individuals that have impacted the small business community, the city of Kingsport, and beyond.”

The nominations, representing 46 businesses and eight individuals, were judged by an independent jury of industry experts. The complete list of honorees includes:

• 2019 Construction Business Excellence – Patterson Homes
• 2019 Food Business Excellence – The Main Street Pizza Company
• 2019 Gazelle Business Excellence – Mycroft Signs
• 2019 Innovation Business Excellence – ActionVFX
• 2019 Manufacturing Business Excellence – GSM Filtration
• 2019 Marketing Business Excellence – Beyond Engagement
• 2019 New Business Excellence – The Salt Oasis Kingsport
• 2019 Pillar of Excellence – Hunter, Smith & Davis
• 2019 Retail Business Excellence – Duke & Fox
• 2019 Service Business Excellence – Appalachian Maid Services
• 2019 Woman-Owned Business Excellence – Flight Athletic Academy
• 2019 Young Entrepreneur Business Excellence – ARO Creative
• 2019 Veteran-Owned Business Excellence – Rowan Tree Care
• 2019 Hidden Gem Award – Hal Carmack
• 2019 IMPACT Award – Don Royston
• 2019 Propel Mentor/Protégé Prize – Taylor Martial Arts Academy

In addition to the awards presentations, the 25th Annual KOSBEs also featured Hillhouse Creative President Jane Hillhouse and Vice President and Creative Director Jenny Kontos taking part in a fireside chat regarding succession planning for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

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