BIZ AWARDS NIGHT GALA HONORS FOUR
Businessman of the Year award went to Basil Ake, the general manager of McConnell Dowell American Samoa while the Businesswoman of the Year award went to Merilee May, owner of a local accounting firm, which has been in business since 2008.
These were the top two awards given out Friday night during the 2013 Business Awards banquet co-hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Business and Professional Women of Pago Pago.
While in past years there were six or more award categories, this year there were only four and this is based on the voting and nominations received by the organizing committee, according to an explanation provided to the audience by Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr., who was master of ceremonies. Click to link to story about Tapumanaia's MC stint.
In his remarks after accepting the award, Ake thanked the Chamber for recognizing McConnell Dowell, which has been part of the local business community for many years and a major contractor handling road projects. He also thanked his hard working crew — some of whom where in the audience.
He pointed out that a “relationship is… about… trust” and thanked the government and the community for the trust in the company.
Merilee May, who was ASG's first female comptroller, gave brief remarks saying that she was honored to get the award and very proud. She credited her staff for her company’s success. May, who came to territory in 1995, owns May Associates Inc., a certified public accounting firm.
The third award category, “Young Business Person” award was presented to Laufai Fanene of ‘Cupcake kisses by Rayne’.
Tapumanaia told the audience that this category has become one of the favorites and this “because it deals with our young entrepreneurs. And it is a category that we have seen some of the past winners... become very successful in what they are trying to do by striving for success and excellence.”
Fanene thanked her mother, “as my business started in her kitchen and it's still there.” She “dedicated” her award to the youth of American Samoa “because I hope this inspires them to progress and excel and do better for themselves. Not only for themselves, but also within their own community.”
She shared with the audience that two-years ago - before she became an entrepreneur - “I really had a hard time looking for a job.”
The fourth award category was the “Community Support” award, which is given to a company that that has contributed to the community in various ways such as in youth, sports and overall community events. The award went to G.H.C Reid & Company, a long time locally owned company.
Rep. Taotasi Archie Soliai, who is also a company official, accepted the award on behalf of GHC Reid’s president and board of directors. He said Abraham Lincoln once said, “To be recognized is not the main issue, but striving to be worthy of the recognition that is the main issue."
“I know that just like other businesses, we do the work in our small community to benefit the community and to help our people,” he said. “And we don’t do it to get recognition, we just do it for the community.”
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