Five gutsy companies win Resilience Awards at U.Va.
Five businesses that overcame adversity to grow and create jobs have been named winners of the 2013 Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards.
The winning companies range from a farmer’s cooperative to a government contractor that changed course in the face of federal budget cutbacks. The awards were presented on Oct. 15 at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Darden’s Institute for Business in Society sponsors the annual competition, which began in 2010.
There were 13 finalists for this year’s awards. Businesses must show growth, a dogged entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community in areas facing high unemployment and poverty.
The winners and their categories are:
Blue Ridge Optics, Bedford (Manufacturing/Wholesale)
Blue Ridge Optics is a manufacturer and supplier of optics and thin-film coatings for advanced laser systems. Until last year, 90 percent of its sales came from the U.S. military. In the face of looming defense cuts, the company restructured its operations. It targeted the commercial and medical laser optics industries, shifting its marketing and investing in automated manufacturing equipment. The commercial and medical sectors now represent 28 percent of sales. Overall sales are projected to rise 20 percent this year.
Roberts Awning and Sign, Petersburg (Manufacturing/Wholesale)
Roberts Awning and Sign has built and installed awnings for Petersburg residents and businesses for more than a century. Owner Bobby Goodwin has set his sights on regional growth since starting an awning business in 2005. He acquired the Roberts name in 2011 and also purchased the assets of Norvell, a regional awning company, earlier this year. Using a new business model that focuses on authorized dealers, Roberts Awning and Sign has been able to produce greater sales than at any other time in its history.
Culpeper Farmers’ Cooperative Inc., Culpeper (Agriculture)
This farmers’ cooperative was started during the Great Depression as a way to help struggling farmers save money on seeds, machinery and other supplies. Today, it sells feed, pet-care products and clothing.
SHINE Systems & Technologies, Charlottesville (Services)
SHINE Systems & Technologies specializes in identity intelligence, technology integration, intelligence analytics and consulting services. Its clients include the federal government and private businesses. Because of federal budget cuts, SHINE turned its focus to state contracts. This year, SHINE was recognized as one of 500 fastest growing private businesses by Inc. magazine.
Container First Services, Petersburg (Chairman’s Award)
Container First Services partnered with the City of Petersburg to provide an innovative and cost-effective solution to the area’s solid waste disposal needs. The company offers Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified recycling services through the Tri-Cities Recycling Center. The company recently purchased the Lunenburg County landfill and is opening its second operation.