CONCORD -- Enterprising spirits of 14 small business entrepreneurs were honored at the 13th annual Contra Costa Small Business Award Luncheon where event host Contra Costa Council marked 2013 as a year when retro trades and high-tech industries came together.

At the Concord Hilton, government officials like guest speaker Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, mingled with a shoe repairman, workers of a longtime family meat and deli business, community paper publishers and the event's keynote speaker, 3-D printing guru and FATHOM principal Rich Stump.

Combined, the businesses supply Contra Costa County residents with tools for life: from a doctor's latest technology in Brentwood, to practicing Pilates in Concord, having shoes repaired in Martinez, and filling insurance needs in Danville.

Each honored recipient was a tidy package and nestled in their "thank yous" was a shared story of resilience.

"It started out as a passion," said East Bay Karato-Do's John Felipe of Pittsburg. "Since 1994, being a location where kids can hang out; it has been an honor."

Paula Kinder's get-back-to-basics explanation for the success of Kinder's Meat Deli BBQ's nine franchises and eight family-operated stores was this: "We're not used to receiving recognition -- we just work."

Miller referred to "two big events" (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's expansion into Richmond and completion of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Open Campus) saying, "We've tried austerity ... Hopefully, we will grow the economy and that will benefit small businesses."


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Master of Ceremonies and ABC7 News co-anchor Dan Ashley closed the awards with the same message he'd offered in opening remarks. To paraphrase, a small business is all about staying, and benefiting the community and in the process, forming the backbone of America's made-of-many-parts economy.

Small Business Awards honorees
East County-based winners include:
  • Nicholas Welzenbach, managing partner of Higgins Chapel Funeral Directors & Oak View Memorial Park, a funeral home and cemetery that supports community organizations and hosts a community garden for homeless and needy families. (www.higginsmortuary.com)
  • Jeff Cohen, founder and CEO of Halt Medical, a developer and manufacturer of a breakthrough medical device (sold under the name of Acessa ) to treat symptomatic uterine fibroids (www.haltmedical.com).
  • John Felipe, owner of East Bay Karate-Do, is a seventh degree Black-Belt karate master instructor and three-time national grand champion. He offers family-oriented martial arts experiences to students of all ages. (www.eastbaykarate-do.com).