Imagine a major Boston thoroughfare, Newbury or Boylston, Commonwealth or Columbus Ave, without J.P. Licks, Boloco, Finagle a Bagel, or any one of these businesses dotting your vision. The landscape is hard to envision (and pretty stark).
The feat is nearly as daunting as keeping a piñata intact around David Ortiz, because Boston’s business story is a story of small business success, enterprises which firmly planted their roots in Greater Boston, and grew into the industry titans which they are today. All of the businesses listed above are Greater Boston-born and previous winners of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s annual Small Business of the Year (SBOY) Awards.
The Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Awards recognize the achievements of Greater Boston’s smaller for-profit companies, with annual gross revenues of more than $1 million. Winners include businesses who display strong financial performance, achievement in management, workplace excellence, product innovation, and community and social responsibility.
And this year – our 32nd year of the SBOY Awards – the Chamber is proud to announce a new and talented crop of SBOY honorees, highlighted by our 2016 top honoree, JP Fuji Group of Quincy, MA.
JP Fuji Group began as the idea of two 19-year old best friends, and has grown to become the largest operating Pan-Asian restaurant group in the northeast, with 10 distinct and authentic venues in the Greater Boston Area. Founders Jimmy Liang and Peter Tse’s first location, Fuji Restaurant, opened in 1998 in Wollaston, and less than two decades later, the duo continues to oversee their rapidly expanding enterprise, operating by their motto “leave a place better than you found it.”
A bit more on each of the year’s additional nine honorees:
- Applied BioMath, LLC is a biotech company based in Lincoln, MA. Founded by Dr. John Burke, Dr. Joshua Apgar, and Andrew Sutherland, the company aims to “help transform both the quality and economics of drug invention.”
- CTP (Conover Tuttle Pace) is a marketing agency in Boston’s North End. Founded in 1996, the company’s 20th year was highlighted by an Emmy win for their 2015 campaign for the Boston Red Sox, #MyFenway.
- Fancypants Baking Co. is a bakery in Walpole, MAf. The decade-old bakery was conceived by husband and wife duo Maura Duggan and Justin Housman while they were living in “a cramped Boston apartment” in 2004.
- Gillian’s Foods Inc. is a food products supplier in Salem, MA. The 22-year-old business was founded out of Susan and Bob Otolo’s home in Revere. They created their business after their daughter Jillian was diagnosed with Celiac disease at the age of six, and the company now produces a product line of over 35 gluten free products, and has recently partnered with Cumberland Farms in launching the chain’s first Gluten Free Program to its 800+ locations.
- Jana is an internet service based in Downtown Boston. Nathan Eagle founded “txteagle” in 2009, but in 2011 renamed the company, Jana, meaning “people” in Sanskrit. The company aims to provide "free, unrestricted access to the internet" for the developing world.
- Lovepop is a greeting card company based in Downtown Boston. Founded by Wombi Rose and John Wise in 2014 out of the Harvard Innovation Lab, the duo used their engineering backgrounds to replicate on a mass scale the three dimensional cards they encountered when on a school project in Vietnam. In 2015, Lovepop won a $300K investment on ABC’s Shark Tank.
- OOFOS is a shoe company out of Cohasset, MA. Founded in 2011 by former Reebok executives Paul Brown and Lou Panaccione, the shoes are “Biomechanically engineered to alleviate the foot stress and soreness caused by your daily grind.” In 5 years, the company has expanded distribution across the nation and internationally, stretching as far as Thailand, Australia, and the UK.
- Pharmalogics Recruiting is a recruiter in Quincy, MA. The company was named a finalist for the Stevie Awards, included on Inc’s 5000 list and named to BostInno’s 50 on fire.
- Winslow Technology Group is a software company based in Waltham, MA. In their words the company’s “core principles are to select the right technology partner, provide unparalleled technical expertise, and have an unyielding commitment to customer satisfaction.” Previous awards include: 2016 Boston Business Journals Fastest Growing Private Companies, 2009, 2010, 2012 & 2015 CRN Fast Growth 100 Companies, and 2010, 2011 & 2012 Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Company.
We will be recognizing all of the outstanding honorees at the second annual “Nailed It: A Conversation with Successful Small Business Leaders,” program. “Nailed It” will take place on October 9, 2016 from 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at District Hall in the South Boston Waterfront, and will feature interactive power talk panels with representatives from the winning companies. The panels will cover their keys to success, including taking risks, overcoming obstacles, and growing and innovating their businesses.