NORWICH – Commerce Chenango will present its Small Business of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Manufacturer of the Year, and Small Business Gem Awards to area businesses at the Chamber’s Annual Salute to Small Business Dinner at the Canasawacta Country Club on Nov. 30. The recipients are nominated and chosen by their colleagues, employees, and/or chamber members.
The Small Business of the Year award will be presented to the Blueox Corporation. In the 1950s and through the 1960s, Thompson Fuel Service supplied the local area with fuel oil, kerosene and coal. In 1965, David L. Emerson bought Thompson Fuel and later gave his son David B. a portion of the ownership. At this time the company began to supply gas stations in the area. In 1979, Neil Bartle bought into the business and began a new era. Through the 1980s and 90s Thompson Fuel became Blueox Corporation, and began to open Nice & Easy Convenience stores, as well as offering service and installation in the plumbing and heating industry. As Neil became the President of Blueox in 1995, the company was becoming known as a leader in the service and installation business. Today, they have over eleven convenience stores and 150 employees.
The Entrepreneur of the Year award (The Sam Golden Award – sponsored by Golden Artist Colors, New Berlin) will be presented to Jim Fowler, owner, Sherburne Big M Supermarket. Jim was just 14 when he began working in the Sherburne store his parents, Roger and Gloria Fowler, owned and operated under the name Big M in 1973. They later turned the Sherburne store over to Jim. After years of operating at the former South Main Street location, Jim decided that an expansion was necessary to meet the needs of his customers. In 2008, when the building they are currently in became available, Jim knew it was the perfect location to expand the business in. The move not only had increased space, but the store has tripled their product selection, and Jim has continued to find innovative and creative ways to meet his customer’s needs. The Big M is known for its homemade baked goods, lunchtime food, and the exemplary customer service. But, most of all Jim believes in his team, and is quick to credit them with the success they are today.