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Chamber's Business Award Finalists Honored Today

By Mary Thurwachter

Special to The Palm Beach Post

Successful business leaders adapt to the ups and downs of the economy and the changing needs of customers. Three companies whose leaders have done just that are being spotlighted today as the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches honors finalists for this year’s small businessperson of the year award.

A publishing and media firm, a security business and a radio enterprise will take center stage at the Palm Beach Convention Center for the Chamber Business Awards Breakfast.

“The 2013 Business Award finalists represent the best companies and individuals of Palm Beach County,” said Chamber CEO Dennis Grady. “The businesses we showcase today reflect excellent management and employ the best practices that all companies should try and emulate.”

Angela Barnard

Audio Video Systems

Angela Barnard did not grow up dreaming of becoming vice president of Audio Video Systems Inc., which provides security and alarm systems in West Palm Beach. The business was founded by her dad, Robert Ingui, in 1981 as a place to repair closed-circuit video surveillance equipment.

But when Ingui fell ill in 2001 and the business neared financial ruin, Barnard took charge. It wasn’t easy. Barnard, who had worked previously as an information technology analyst, had a new baby to care for, didn’t take a salary for a while and even had to lay off a faithful employee to pay for the remaining two.

“The day after my father’s funeral, our largest supplier called and requested immediate payment of all outstanding invoices,” she said. “I cried and then called the bank.”

Her business had to adapt as custumers found it easier and less expensive to buy new equipment rather than repair the old.

She expanded the company’s role from just fixing equipment to selling new gear, too, like alarm systems and monitoring. As the company’s capabilities expanded, so did its customer base. In the past few years, several employees have been added.

“We recognize that our team members are our most valuable asset and we strive to employ a team of highly-trained, technologically skilled, polite employees,” she said.

Customers today range from organic grocery stores to government agencies.

Robert Kirschner

Passport Publications & Media

Robert Kirschner hatched Passport Publications & Media Corporation in 1989 as a student at the University of Miami.

“I just wanted to order a pizza,” Kirschner, president and publisher, recalled. But he couldn’t easily find the flier with the phone number.

When he finally found the number, he jotted it on his desk pad along with many other frequently dialed business and campus numbers. Then he asked himself this question: “How much is Pizza D’Roma paying me to write down their number on my desk blotter?”

He didn’t like the answer and pulled out his calculator, ruler and several sheets of paper as ideas flowed. His goal was to get the telephone number for Pizza D’Roma in all 3,000 dorm rooms. Before he knew it, he had created the Miami Football Schedule Desk Calendar, which earned him a cool $5,400 profit.

Today Passport has produced more than 600 publications and media underwritten by advertising and sponsorship money. Its media industries include consumer, equestrian, destination marketing, security, the arts and culture, golf, interior design and charities.

Among its award winning publications are Profile magazine for the Business Development Board and art&culture magazine for the Cultural Arts Council of Palm Beach County. Passport has also produced the Guide to the Palm Beaches for the Chamber for 20 years.

“We find creative solutions to marketing and communication challenges,” Kirschner said. “Our solutions are realistic, practical and dynamic.”

In 2009, as media dollars migrated to the Internet and print media became replaced with digital notebooks, Passport identified industries that were holding strong and focused on healthcare, equestrian sports, relocation and tourism. Eight of its 20 publications were eliminated and new services were added, including an Internet presence, additional distribution of the media, and strategic use of Facebook to extend the company’s reach.

Looking to grow nationwide, Passport added G4S Secure Solutions (formerly Wackenhut Corp.) to its client list. G4S’s quarterly publication goes to 55,000 employees and more than 3,000 clients across the U.S.

Steve Politziner

ESPN West Palm

Good Karma Broadcasting acquired 760 AM in 2003 to serve West Palm Beach — the largest market in the country without a sports radio station. General manager and co-owner Steve Politziner took up the challenge with on-air talent led by Evan Cohen along with ESPN’s national names.

Ten years later, it is now known as ESPN West Palm on the heels of the recent acquisition of 106.3 FM, giving listeners the opportunity to hear them louder and clearer on FM.

“The acquisition of 106.3 FM opens up many possibilities for us as new fans will be able to experience us,” Politziner said. For now, ESPN West Palm is simulcasting, but later this summer the company will announce “exciting plans for 760 AM,” Politziner said.

Good Karma’s ESPN West Palm has also taken the business beyond radio as they have morphed into a full sports marketing entity whose assets include radio, TV, digital, social media, events and high school sports. ESPN West Palm operates the sports department for two local TV stations, WPTV NewsChannel 5 and WFLX Fox 29.

It is also the flagship home for FAU football and basketball, as well as the market’s home for the Miami Heat, Florida Panthers, the NFL and the Super Bowl, Major League Baseball, the World Series and high school sports.

“Our goal is to provide solutions for our marketing partners utilizing our assets, while providing compelling content across the ever-changing sports landscape,” Politziner said.


If you go:

What: The Chamber of the Palm Beaches 2013 Business Awards. The Community Leader of the Year is Dr. Donald Warren, co-founder of Palm Beach Atlantic University and founder of the Community Foundation. Awards will be given to the small businessperson of the year, the business of the year, health and science professional of the year, non-profit arts and culture business of the year, and non-profit health and human services business of the year.

When: 7:45 a.m. 9 a.m. today.

Where: Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Blvd. West Palm Beach.

Cost: Tickets: $30-$40. www. palmbeaches.org.

Contact: Kelley Burke (561) 833-3711 ext. 231.

 

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