Chamber names 5 Small Business of the Year winners

PELHAM – Thirty-three of Shelby County’s top small businesses were honored at The Shelby County Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Community Luncheon on Wednesday, May 22, at the Pelham Civic Complex.

At the luncheon, which was co-hosted by the Montevallo and Shelby County chambers, Small Business of the Year awards were given in five categories:

-Category 1 for companies with one to five employees, open one year or more.
-Category 2 for companies with six to 10 employees, open one year or more.
-Category 3 for companies with 11 to 20 employees, open one year or more.
-Category 4 for companies with 21-plus employees, open one year or more.
-Category 5 for new small businesses with less than 25 employees and open less than a year.

Each nominee submitted an information packet to the chamber for judging. An independent panel of judges reviewed and evaluated the nominees based on the following criteria: staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales and/or volume, response to adversity and evidence of contributions to the community.

But before the winners were announced keynote speaker Drew Ann Long, founder of Caroline’s Cart, shared her experiences as an entrepreneur with the audience. Although she experienced hard times, she believed in the product so much that she was willing to take any risks necessary.

As the winners were announced, they each received a plaque as Shelby County Chamber President Kirk Mancer shared some information about the business.

The Category 1 winner was Brittani Morris – State Farm Insurance Agency, which opened in 2016 in Alabaster. Morris began her career as the youngest State Farm agent in the country and has since grown both her sales volume and number of employees. Morris is involved in various community projects including Habitat for Humanity. She attributes her success to her team of five employees.

In Category 2, Vinehouse Nursery, owned by Khiari McAlpin, was announced the winner. The nursery opened in 2017 in Alabaster offering childcare to the community. Under the leadership of McAlpin, the nursery has grown from two to eight full time employees and has increased clientele from 15 to 32 over the past year. McAlpin’s team has been involved with multiple community service projects and has received numerous regional and state accolades.

This year marked McAlpin’s second year in a row winning a Small Business of the Year award. In 2018, she won in Category 5 for businesses with less than 25 employees and open less than a year.

“I didn’t think I would win two times in a row, so this is very exciting,” she said. “I’m ready and excited to keep growing.”

McAlpin has big plans for the future. In September, she intends to add more classrooms, children and programs.

Category 3 was won by KAT’s Delivery, owned by Maurice Mercer. KAT’s Delivery opened in 2014 as a prepared food, on-demand and catering delivery service for the greater Birmingham area. KAT’s Delivery partners with several area restaurants and caterers to offer the quality delivery of products to the people in Shelby County and beyond. The company’s on-demand delivery services span from Riverchase all the way down U.S. 31 to Calera. He intends to add Montevallo and Hoover to his coverage area in the fall. The company is involved in community organizations such as Arc of Shelby County and Shelby County RSVP.

“It still feels surreal,” Mercer said after the luncheon. “I was very shocked and honored to be selected as the winner. This business started as the legacy of my mother and it’s great to see the things that are happening four-and-a-half years later.”

KAT’s has invested in some major technological upgrades to compete with larger delivery services, Mercer said. A new website is set to go live on Wednesday, May 29, and Mercer is also in the process of developing an app that users can download.

“We’re improving functionality for our customers to help level the playing field with bigger companies,” he said.

The 280 Animal Medical Center, owned by Dr. Jay Crisman, was the winner for Category 4. The practice is another two-time winner having won in a different category in 2017. The practice began in 1982 and was purchased in 2006 by Crisman. The medical center is a full-service companion vet practice dedicated to caring for people through their pets, so that they enrich the quality of life for both.

Located in Westover, the practice now has 21 employees and serves patients across the region. Crisman and his team are involved with both community projects and local schools such as Chelsea High School and the Career Technical Educational Center in Columbiana.

Shiloh Clays was announced as the Category 5 winner. The business was started by Butch and Kim Phillips in October 2018. A skeet and clay range located in southern Shelby County, Shiloh Clays offers multiple shooting opportunities including an 18-station clay range and a pavilion for events. Although it’s only been open for seven months, business has increased each month and the Phillips family said they look forward to serving the people of Shelby County for years to come.