Small Business of the Year: Express Employment Professionals
Started in 2005, Express Employment Professionals in Fishers grew from owners Lee and Shannon Wenniger’s desire to escape the corporate world and become more involved with the community. The Wennigers set out to find a franchise opportunity. Express Employment Professionals helps companies grow and find jobs, which opened the door for the Wennigers to be a positive force in Fishers and led to their selection as the Fishers Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.
Wenniger explained that, in just six years, Express Employment Professionals has employed more than 4,000 people, and with that, added more than $25 million in payroll within Fishers.
It is because of this community involvement and its dedication to Children’s Miracle Network and Hamilton County Meals on Wheels that Express Employment Professionals received several nominations, and ultimately was selected, for the Pillar Award.
Although Express Employment Professionals has more than 550 offices in four countries, the Fishers branch has risen to one of the top 50 branches.
“In everything we do, we will have a servant heart and business mindset,” Lee said.
Entrepreneurial Spirit: Herbal Art
Starting in his laundry room on a rickety piece of plywood in 2004, Brian Paffen, owner of Herbal Art, exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit. What began as a hobby of creating soap led to Paffen’s creation of Herbal Art.
This is Paffen’s second Pillar Award. He also won the 2009 award for Emerging Growth.
Herbal Art may have found its start in a small way, but today, Paffen is creating soaps, skincare and soy candles that are redefining green art. His innovation of new skin and soap technology led to his achievement of the award.
Herbal Art is focused on using bioplastics, which are completely recyclable and biodegradable, QR codes on products for scanning on smartphones and even uses soy ink on the company’s business cards.
From these new technologies, Paffen has created original scents that are, “environmentally conscious and economically priced.”
This dedication to health and artisan soaps has catapulted Herbal Art onto the green scene. “I may be the underdog because I do not have a staff. But I am able to keep in competition with the big fish of the health and wellness industry,” Paffen said.
Employee of the Year: Jenny Bruce – Defur Voran
A paralegal for Defur Voran law firm, Jenny Bruce, has been working in estate administration and elder law for eight years. Bruce’s nomination for the Employee of the Year award came after she developed a more efficient practice that streamlined the process for families dealing with estate division.
Because of a knack for organization and ability to streamline logistics, Bruce was inclined to create new procedures to make not only Defur Voran’s job easier, but also less painful for the families involved. “I approach any problem instinctively,” Bruce said, “Things that can be done to make the work place flow faster is where I see myself growing.”
Bruce has always been involved with the law. ABallStategraduate, she has always been involved in the legal field, whether as a student clerk or working forBallState.
Her love for the field fostered her enthusiasm she asserts, which led to the Pillar Award. “When you have a lot of enthusiasm for the work you do, there is so much more you can bring to your job,” Bruce said.
Lifetime Achievement: Bert Cook (Fishers Do It Center)
Opened in 1989, the Fishers Do It Center is one of the oldest buildings in Fishers. The hardware store began as a dream for owner, Bert Cook, to open a small local hardware shop. The store includes 26 employees and facilitates to all of Fishers.
The Fishers Do It Center merits the Lifetime Achievement award, not only because of its time in Fishers, but also its involvement in building the city. Everything from local elementary schools, to what wasDeerCreekMusicCenter, has relied on the store.
The store has hardly changed since its opening 22 years ago. “I am just proud we are still going.” Cook said, “Despite the economic turmoil of these past few years, we still are and will continue to contribute to one of the best towns around: Fishers.”
Business of the Year: St. Louis De Montfort School
Nominated by a parent, St. Louis De Montfort School (SLDM) became a finalist for the Business of the Year award for 2011. Because of SLDM’s ability to adhere to an annual budget, pay expenses, employ more than 25 residents and work with customers, the school has been giving back to the community since it opened.
To set the school apart from other nominated businesses, 31 students, parents and staff members helped create a short video highlighting what they love about SLDM. This, along with a scrapbook that outlined SLDM’s specific activities and distinctions like a poetry grant, were submitted to the review committee.
In addition, the Indiana Dept. of Education has repeatedly recognized SLDM as an exemplary school. Unique to SLDM is its integration of Spanish education to students in grades one through eight, in addition to religious courses and Mass on Wednesday mornings.
This commitment to the students, and a strong focus on both religion and academics, has led to the Business of the Year award. Principal Annette Jones is excited about the award, but is first and foremost proud of her students and staff for making the school such a wonderful learning and work environment.
By Annie Brackemyre