Y-12 honors companies, advocates for small-business success

Posted: July 18, 2012 - 3:48pm

The Y‑12 National Security Complex honored six small businesses for their exceptional contributions to Y‑12’s missions during Fiscal Year 2011 at the annual Socioeconomic Programs Awards reception held Thursday, July 12.

Two Y‑12 employees also were acknowledged for their role as small-business advocates.

Honored as Y‑12 2012 Small Businesses of the Year were:

Small Business: SCI Consulting Services, Inc.
Small Disadvantaged Business: GEM Technologies, Inc.
Woman-Owned Small Business: G&S Construction Company, Inc.
HUBZone Small Business: Oldenburg Group Incorporated
Veteran-Owned Small Business: Advantage Electronics, Inc.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business: A1 Tactical and Safety
Y‑12 employees honored as Small-Business Advocates of the Year: Kealan Huckabee and Floyd Smith.

Two companies also signed Mentor-Protégé agreements with Y‑12 as part of the ceremony. CG Services Corporation and MCH Corporation signed agreements, while four companies (DCS Electronics, Inc., Fisk University, Spectra Tech, Inc. and Visionary Solutions, LLC) were recognized as recent graduates of Y‑12’s Mentor-Protégé program.

In his opening remarks, Tom Vereb, assistant manager for Business and Contract Management in Y‑12’s NNSA Production Office, highlighted the valuable role small businesses and entrepreneurs play in Y‑12’s transformation from the nation’s 20th century Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise.

Darrel Kohlhorst, president and general manager of B&W Y‑12, at right, and Gary Johnson, president of CG Services Corporation, sign a Mentor-Protégé agreement as his wife and CG Services Corporation Vice President Cindy Johnson looks on at the annual Socioeconomic Programs Awards ceremony held at Y‑12’s New Hope Center.

“Forty-eight percent of our subcontracts went to small business last year — that’s $161 million of Y‑12’s $346 million expenditures,” Vereb told the audience of about 100 representatives of the small-business community, area leaders and Y‑12 employees at the reception at Y‑12’s New Hope Center.

Among the highlights:

Out of Y‑12’s 1,500 subcontracting partners, nearly 1,000 of them are small businesses.
More than half of the expenditures for the last 10 years have gone to small businesses, equaling some $1.5 billion.
Darrel Kohlhorst, president and general manager of B&W Y‑12, echoed Vereb’s remarks in thanking small businesses for “helping Y‑12 meet America’s critical nuclear security missions.” Kohlhorst introduced keynote speaker Eddie Mannis, president and founder of Prestige Cleaners and now Chief Operations Officer and Deputy to the Mayor of Knoxville.

Mannis founded Prestige Cleaners in 1985 with three employees and today has 12 locations, including a newly opened facility in Nashville that deals strictly with fire-damaged articles. Mannis said he hopes to be able to open publicly available locations in Nashville soon.

Mannis shared his entrepreneurial story and discussed his company’s values, which focus on customer service and employee satisfaction and lead to a strong relationship with the community. By “always finding a way to say ’yes’” and valuing customers and employees, Mannis says he found the community quickly responded to his business. When it comes to giving back, Mannis offered this piece of advice: “What you do for the community should reflect what the area has given to you.”

Some of Mannis’ philanthropic projects are Project Classroom, which has given more than $35,000 to local education; Coats for the Cold, which has cleaned and provided more than 120,000 coats to those in need; and HonorAir, which has taken some 1,400 former service men and women to Washington, D.C., to view the monuments honoring WWII and Korean veterans.

As for his new role in Knoxville government, Mannis said he is honored that Mayor Rogero tapped him to help her bring customer service to the forefront. As for the recent change from a private small businessman who often worked 17–18 hours a day to a public servant, he said he could only describe it right now as “challenging and very interesting.”

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