Several-hundred people gathered at the Straz Center in Tampa on September 12 for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s annual Small Business of the Year Awards. Atlas Professional Services was one of four finalists in the 21-50 Employees category, and the members of the team sat in the audience, anxiously awaiting the results.
In true Academy-Awards style, videos about each of the finalists in the category played while the emcee held the envelope with the winning company’s name. When he opened it and joked that someone needed to get the winner in this category a tie, our team was out of their seats before he even announced “Atlas Professional Services.”
“Anyone who knows me knows a tie isn’t happening, so that was a funny way to find out we won,” said Atlas President and CEO Greg Zolkos. “We were really proud to be among three other great companies in our category. To be named the winner was really exciting and humbling.”
The 2019 Small Business of the Year Awards process began in March, with the chamber accepting nominations. Next was a lengthy application process. Nominees selected to continue then participated in leadership interviews with the judges. Lastly, semi-finalists who made it past the interview stage hosted the judges for onsite visits.
“It’s been a fun journey and an easier process than you might think to go through,” Zolkos said. “It’s very enlightening for your company. It was fun, we peeled back a lot of layers and got everyone involved in the process. You can learn a lot.”
Companies were evaluated on financial success, community involvement and ethical business practices. Small Business Awards were presented in three categories based on the number of employees, and a fourth business category honored a startup company. An award was also presented to the Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year.
“They didn’t let me pick my walk-on music when we went onstage to accept the award, but what they do let me pick is who we work with,” said Zolkos. “And we are truly a team, a family, and we have a ton of fun.”
Watch the acceptance speech on Facebook.