CHARLOTTE – Rob and Kim McClintock planned on going to a national conference in Orlando, Florida, but they canceled their trip after learning about a workforce development event scheduled for the same day at Ardrey Kell High School.
The couple saw a greater opportunity to share with students and school staff the many benefits to working in the trades, particularly ones they specialize in at McClintock Heating & Cooling in Matthews.
Their focus on the community is one of the many reasons why the couple received Charlotte Media Group’s 2019 Small Business Person of the Year Award on Jan. 16 at the Hampton Inn & Suites SouthPark @ Phillips Place.
“One thing that stood out to us about this couple and their business is they were very committed to providing education resources to their staff, so much so that they have created an apprenticeship program to help showcase that trade schools are a viable option,” said Adrian Garson, publisher of Charlotte Media Group.
Education is a cornerstone of the business. It helped Rob McClintock transition from an HVAC expert to a business owner, just as training allows their technicians to understand emerging technology and develop customer service skills.
McClintock Heating & Cooling serves Mecklenburg, Union and Cabarrus counties, but Rob McClintock also serves as president of the North Carolina Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contracting Association.
One of the biggest challenges in their industry is the lack of a trained workforce. It’s why events like the one at Ardrey Kell High School are given greater priority over national conferences.
“They understood from the beginning that having quality professional employees would set them apart from the competition,” Garson said.
Charlotte Media Group’s weekly newspapers began accepting nominations from readers in fall 2019 for Small Business Person of the Year. Newspaper staff and community partners evaluated nominees based on criteria that included the successful operation of the business, leadership and community contributions.
Charlotte Media Group recognized several other business leaders during the Jan. 16 event.
“This has been hard because there were so many reader nominations, it was difficult to delve into all of them and decide who should be our ultimate winner,” Garson said. “We had to come up with different awards because there were so many others that were deserving of recognition.”
Dr. Susan Bonilla, Nikki Bourgeault and Laura Budd won Rising Star awards. Each opened a new business in recent years.
Nominations described Dr. Bonilla, of Passionate Paws Animal Hospital in Waxhaw, as compassionate, caring and kind.
She thanked her parents and husband, Stephen, who serves as hospital administrator.
“When we first opened the hospital, I wanted all my ducks in a row,” Bonilla said. “My husband was like the ducks are in a pond. The ducks don’t have to be in a row. Because of him, we wouldn’t have the practice that we have today.”
Bourgeault opened Brush’d Salon in fall 2019 within the Reafield shopping center in Waxhaw after years of doing hair and makeup, including New York Fashion Week shows. Her new venture helps charities that support cystic fibrosis research.
Bourgeault held back tears as she credited her husband for his encouragement.
“If you are starting your own business, the biggest thing I would say is to have patience,” she said. “ I have learned that along the way.”
Weaver | Budd Law formed in 2017 in Matthews. Outside of being the managing partner for the firm, Budd serves on the board of directors for Matthews Athletic & Recreation Association, where she’s also coached.
“This local firecracker moderated our Town of Matthews candidate forum back in October of 2019,” Garson said. “She managed to balance assertiveness and grace better than anyone I have ever seen.”
Kimberly Gossage, of Garrity and Gossage in Matthews, received the Community Impact Award for her work helping older adults navigate the legal system, as well as her involvement in organizations like the Matthews HELP Center.
“It’s such a tremendous honor,” Gossage said. “I’m so impressed by the folks in this room and I’m just so honored to have a chance to even stand up here at all, so thank you for the honor
Gossage not only took over as president of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, but the attorney also won the chamber’s businessperson of the year award.
Dr. Michael Smith, of Carolinas Natural Health Center in Matthews, was recognized for having the most nominations. Readers described him as a thoughtful, kind and charismatic leader that educates patients on wellness.
Smith thanked his team while accepting the award.
“They are the ones that really make the business run,” Smith said. “They make it a delightful place to work and a true experience for our members and the people we help.”
Barry Steiger, of Mario’s Italian Restaurant, received the Man About Town Award. He’s active in the community through groups like the Matthews Rotary Club, Greater Matthews Habitat for Humanity and Matthews Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m here to help my restaurant do all that it can and help everybody to connect with each other,” Steiger said. “I think it’s important we all support each other in business.”
Julie Fox, of Fox’s Alley Bowling Bar & Grill in Monroe, was recognized as Miss Congeniality.
“When I read the nominations for this person, I felt like they all had a common thread,” Garson said. “They all spoke about how well-loved she is in the Monroe community. They detailed her kind, magnetic personality.”