Leading Edge Awards Recognize Region's Hottest Businesses, Entrepreneurs

LA PLATA, Md. (April 25, 2008)—Several southern Maryland businesses and executives will be honored at the eighth Leading Edge Awards ceremony to be held on June 18. The annual event brings together local government leaders, corporate executives, business owners, and technology experts to celebrate individuals and businesses that spur economic growth within the region.

The Leading Edge Awards are spearheaded by the Corporate Center at the College of Southern Maryland.

Event officials say this year's honorees will be celebrated for qualities that are synonymous with business success: performance excellence, innovation, and an unwavering dedication to customers and staff.

"We have an exceptional slate of winners among this year's Leading Edge Award recipients who exemplify the excellence of Southern Maryland's business community," said Alan Kutz, vice president of the Corporate and Community Training Institute at CSM.

Co-hosting this year's awards with CSM are the Calvert County Department of Economic and Community Development, the Charles County Technology Council, the Patuxent Partnership, and the Small Business Development Center for the Southern Region of Maryland (SBDC).

Kimberly Oliver of American Electronics, Inc (Amelex) will be recognized as CEO of the Year, presented by CSM's Corporate Center. A graduate of University of Maryland Baltimore County with a master's degree from the Florida Institute of Technology, Oliver first learned customer service working in the family grocery store. In 2003 Oliver and Dawn Rich purchased Amelex. Since then they have established a company with four core products: engineering services, program management, information technology and facilities management. In just five years, they have doubled the company's revenue and increased the workforce to more than 100 people.

Zahniser's Yachting Center will be recognized as the Calvert County Technology Company of the Year, presented by the Calvert County Department of Economic Development. Skip and Ellen Zahniser and their staff operate an industrial and recreational facility known for its community involvement and high levels of customer service. Begun as a repair yard for mostly commercial boats in 1960, Zahniser's has evolved into an acclaimed yachting center with expertise in electronics, diesel engines, rigging, air conditioning, refrigeration, refinishing, carpentry and fiberglass repair. It is designation as a "Maryland Clean Marina" which signifies a commitment to clean air and water. Last year the American Boat Builder and Repairer's Association presented Zahniser's with the Award for Excellence in Customer Care, and they are traditionally listed as "Best of the Bay" by Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

PC Wireless, Inc. will be recognized as Charles County Technology Company of the Year, presented by the Charles County Technology Council. Owned by Guillermo Olaizola, PC Wireless was founded in 1988 with the Charles County site managed by Stacey Roof. As a member of the council since 2005, PCW contributes to the organization through its sponsorship of the Lunch and Learn meetings and its involvement in charitable and other learning events. As a Sprint Nextel dealer, it has exceeded its goals for sales, customer support, service and repair, and revenue, with its success and growth achieved by focusing on the basic principle of personal customer relationships. PCW has been involved in community activities through cell phone technology days, membership in the Charles County Chamber of Commerce and by assisting Sprint in implementing a better network within the emergency services facility of Charles County.

Sierra Management and Technologies, Inc. will be recognized as the Patuxent Partnership Member Firm of the Year, presented by the Patuxent Partnership. Founded by Edward Sierra, the small business prides itself on delivering responsive, innovative and high-quality engineering, technical, and programmatic solutions for its DOD clientele. Sierra began the business with the tenets of exceptional service to the customer, taking care of employees, and integrity in every company dealing. Institutionalizing these goals by measuring and periodically reviewing customer satisfaction and how the company supports and grows its employees, Sierra consistently maintains over a 95 percent customer satisfaction rating. The company and its employees participate in business, civic and social organizations to assist those who are less fortunate, to build a stronger business environment, and to assist the community and local government to architect future growth.

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) will be recognized with the Partnership in Education Award, presented by CSM. Initially serving 400 families in 1938, SMECO now serves nearly 150,000 homes and businesses and has become one of the 10 largest electric cooperatives in the United States. SMECO has established several educational programs for its workforce, with the Electric Power Technician Degree offered through CSM considered a model for the energy industry. SMECO also utilizes CSM to provide extensive supervisory training. SMECO's Culture of Excellence Program and Community Educational Program sponsorships and scholarships demonstrate its commitment to meeting current and future management and technical challenges. SMECO and its leaders have a long-standing partnership with CSM through the donation of useful equipment and financial support to the CSM Foundation.

Mike Moses and Dawn Tucker will be recognized as Small Business Persons of the Year, presented by the Small Business Development Center. Moses, chair of the Charles County Minority Business Advocacy Council (MBAC), and Tucker, president of the Calvert County Minority Business Alliance (CCMBA), have promoted and nurtured many successful small businesses. Individually and with many partners in Southern Maryland, they have raised the community awareness of the role of minority business. They are working with the region's county commissioners to increase minority participation in government procurement. They have set up many educational seminars to help area businesses reach the next level as well as workshops to strengthen business basics. Their most important goal is to help minority businesses in the region build capacity.

The Leading Edge Awards program will include a reception and banquet, 6 to 9:30 p.m., June 18 at the Jaycees Hall in Waldorf. Keynote speaker will be Thomas E. Perez, secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

For information about sponsorship opportunities or tickets, call 301-934-7585 or 301-870-2309, Ext. 7585 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7585 for St. Mary's County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7585 for Calvert County or visit www.corporatecenter.csmd.edu.

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