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Darden Announces Finalists in Fourth Annual Resilience Awards Competition

Some have been run by families for generations; others are startups founded with a dream. All have endured downturns exacerbated by fire, bankruptcy, illness or steadfast competition. They display unwavering will, bridge cultural divides, support local charities and bring economic hope to areas of Virginia from which industry has fled. Above all, these businesses are resilient.

These are the stories of the 13 finalists who embody the spirit of the Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards, announced Saturday. The finalists will compete for five winning spots in the fourth annual competition, sponsored by the Institute for Business in Society, or IBiS, at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards honor the most resilient businesses in Virginia – those which display growth, a dogged entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community in areas facing high unemployment, high poverty and low entrepreneurial activity.

“The Resilience Awards recognize small businesses that do things the right way,” said Darden professor and IBiS Academic Director Greg Fairchild, a nationally known expert on entrepreneurship. “These companies foster innovation, strengthen communities and create jobs. Over the past few years I’ve been amazed at the dedication and perseverance that these business owners demonstrate.”

The following finalists, listed alphabetically, were chosen from dozens of Virginia businesses:

  • Blue Ridge Bank, Luray. Opened as the only bank in Page County in 1894, Blue Ridge Bank offers comprehensive banking services, from investment advice to personal checking accounts and business banking.
  • Blue Ridge Optics, Bedford. A manufacturer and supplier of state-of-the-art optics and thin film coatings for advanced laser systems, Blue Ridge Optics values  customer satisfaction as it strives to meet all requirements and specifications with great precision.
  • Care Advantage Inc., Richmond. Assisting elderly patients with skilled home health care and personal care services, Care Advantage Inc. helps them get around their homes and manage their well-being.
  • Container First Services, Petersburg. Partnering with the Petersburg city government to provide an innovative and cost-effective solution to the area’s solid waste disposal needs, Container First Services offers Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified recycling services through the Tri-Cities Recycling Center.
  • Culpeper Farmers’ Cooperative Inc., Culpeper. Launched as a way for struggling farmers to save money on seeds, machinery and other vital supplies during the Great Depression, Culpeper Farmer’s Cooperative has expanded as a leading provider of feed, pet care products and clothing.
  • Hungate Business Services Inc., Marion. A leading provider of technology services in Southwest Virginia, Hungate Business Services specializes in information technology services, telephone systems, scanning systems and print management solutions.
  • Interactive Achievement, Roanoke. Known for its innovative software onTRAC and TRACbook, Interactive Achievement develops tools to assist educators in understanding students’ progress.
  • R.M. Felts Packing Co., Ivor. The largest privately owned country-ham-curing operation in Virginia, R.M. Felts Packing Co. has served customers since 1958.
  • Roberts Awning and Sign, Petersburg. Founded in 1912, the company has a strong history in building and installing awnings for residential and commercial customers. Roberts Awning and Sign builds its products in-house, and its employees perform all installations, guaranteeing quality and comprehensive service.
  • SHINE Systems & Technologies, Charlottesville. A HUBZone company that specializes in identity intelligence, technology integration, intelligence analytics and consulting services, SHINE serves clients ranging from federal and local governments to private businesses in a number of industries.
  • The Brambles, Mathews. Housing intellectually disabled adults, The Brambles provides  custom-built living, activities and personal care.
  • Top Guard Inc., Hampton. Its employees serve as uniformed unarmed and armed private security officers, providing quality patrol for the Virginia peninsula.
  • Vailes Brothers Inc., Fishersville. Offering home improvement services for more than 25 years, Vailes Brothers provides remodeling, heating and air conditioning and plumbing throughout the Fisherville area.

Finalists will join state and local officials, economic development and business leaders, and Darden School representatives Oct. 15 at Darden’s Abbott Center to announce the Resilience Award winners at a special dinner, reception and awards ceremony.

Through ongoing media coverage, opportunities to engage key business and government leaders and enrollment in a weeklong Executive Education program at Darden, Resilience Award winners will gain visibility and resources to help their company and community continue to grow and succeed.

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards are presented in part by sponsorship from Virginia Business magazine. To learn more about the awards ceremony, visit the Resilience Awards website or e-mail Resilience@Darden.virginia.edu.

by Bruce Vlk

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