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Honoring Local Small Business

June 22, 2017

On June 7, the Chamber celebrated local business as it bestowed a number of Small Business Awards to local companies and organizations. Each year, we honor and recognize distinguished local small businesses and nonprofits for their entrepreneurial spirit, success and commitment to the community. This year’s recipients include the following: 

Garavel Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Subaru
Small Business of the Year Award

 Garaval Auto Group was founded by Paul Garaval, who purchased his first Jeep dealership, Georgetown Jeep/Eagle, in 1992. He expanded in 1997 with the establishment of Subaru of Wilton. Today, both dealerships now bear the Garavel name: Garavel Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Garavel Subaru. In 2012 and 2014, both stores were recognized as Connecticut’s #1 Chrysler Group Store and Dealer Rater Dealer of the Year. The Chamber recognizes the Garavel Auto Group for being a business that shares its success within our communities. The Garavel Auto Group is committed to a range of causes that impact our community — from breast cancer research to fighting poverty.

Commerce Packaging Corporation
Manufacturer Award

Commerce Packaging has been a family-owned and operated business for three generations, since 1954, a rarity. The company was founded by Stanley Alexander; his son Mickey has been with the business for 50 years. The third generation is represented by Jeffrey, who started in 2010. Commerce Packaging started by providing packaging for the military. The company is now a full-service packaging company specializing in manufacturing custom wood crates and corrugated boxes. They even supply the packaging materials you see in many of the UPS stores in the area. Commerce Packaging has successfully developed a culture that extends beyond just the Alexander family as a number of employees, who have been with the business for over 30 years, have family members working within the company as well.

Luis & Kristen Solis (Don Carmelo’s & Norwalk Pizza & Pasta)
Restaurateur of the Year Award

Luis Solis has worked in restaurants since he was 15 years old. All through high school, he worked at Rowayton Pizza. There he learned the ropes of how to run a business, interact with customers, and cook food the “right way” – always with fresh ingredients. The experience and training he received from years of working in food service inspired Solis to make his first venture as an entrepreneur. In 1996, he bought the shop at 236 East Avenue that would become Norwalk Pizza and Pasta. He then opened Don Carmelo’s Mexican Grill in 2012, bringing authentic Mexican cuisine to the area. Solis and his wife, Kristen, who works with him in the businesses, support multiple local organizations, such as Courage To Speak Foundation, Norwalk Little League, STAR Inc., Norwalk Seaport Association, and many, many others. 

Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Arts & Culture Award

 The Norwalk Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is one of the oldest arts non-profits in Fairfield County – established in 1939 and presenting concerts every year since. There have been only 7 conductors since the organization’s beginning including, Quinto Maganini, Dennis Russell Davies, Jesse Levine, Diane Wittry, and, currently, Jonathan Yates. Now, world famous soloists, including Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Midori, and others perform with the Norwalk Symphony. Most of NSO soloists have international reputations and vary from season to season. The NSO has become a true gem of the arts in the area with about 2,500 to 3,000 audience members enjoying their concert performances at the Norwalk Concert Hall each season. Prior to each performance, an educational program, (Not) Just for Kids, is held at three or four local libraries and community centers as a way to introduce young children to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Jimmy Booth, Booth Financial Associates
Giving Back Award

Booth Financial Associates is a financial services and consulting firm founded by Jimmy Booth, Sr. in 1992. Jimmy Booth, Jr. is a financial associate at the firm and, as a leader in the company, he demonstrates his commitment to giving back to his community by doing something he loves: running marathons. Last year, he ran his fifth annual Run in the Pub marathon on a treadmill at O’Neill’s Irish Pub, raising $1,300 for Homes for the Brave, which provides housing and services for homeless military. This year, Booth will be running at O’Neill’s on July 22nd to benefit the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of Southern CT, Inc. In addition to the Run in the Pub events, Booth serves as president-elect for the Norwalk Exchange Club, Rector for the Emmaus Retreat Ministry, and 4th Degree Member at the Knight of Columbus Council at St. Matthew Parish.

Workforce Partners
Community Award

Workforce Partners is a real estate private equity firm founded by managing partner, Edward Gormbley, that focuses on value-added investments to achieve meaningful positive social impact that delivers a “double bottom line” return. The business was established in 2012, five years after Mr. Gormbley purchased his first residential rental property in Norwalk. Since that time, the company has come to own $50MM in real estate including 10 buildings containing 180 apartments and two hotels. The company concentrates on investing in disadvantaged neighborhoods to improve the standard of living for the members of the community. In addition to providing better housing opportunities to underprivileged people, the company also provides scholarship money to needy students. Mr. Gormbley is on the Board of Governors of Fairfield Prep, and he mentors college and high school students. In 2015, Gormbley won the Chamber’s 40 and under 40 award.

This year’s keynote speaker was entrepreneur Jim Cain of President of Cain Management. Cain owns 60 Dunkin Donuts-Baskin & Robbins stores throughout the greater Fairfield County and Queens, NY areas. Title Sponsor of the event was TD Bank and Rick’s main Roofing was supporting sponsor.

Click here to see more pictures from the event!