2023 Shelby County Businesses of the Year discuss the secrets to their success

Published 4:40 pm Thursday, July 20, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

Five local businesses received Shelby County Business of the Year recently, and at The Shelby County Chamber Community Luncheon on Wednesday, July 19, each shared that pouring into the community was a key piece in their success.

The awards were presented in five categories based on the size of the company and how long it has been in business.

-The first category was for a company with one to five employees that has been open for one year or more.

-The second category was given to a business with six to ten employees.

-The third category was awarded to a company with 11 to 20 employees.

-The fourth category was given to a business with more than 21 employees.

-The fifth and final category was awarded to a company open for less than one year as of March 2023.

The companies awarded for each category were:

-First category: The Yak Shak, a kayak pro shop based in Pelham. Owner Jessica Norris accepted the award.

-Second category: T. Fox SalonSpa, a hair salon and spa based out of Hoover. Owner Traci Fox accepted the award.

-Third category: Freedom Therapies, a group based out of Alabaster that applies behavioral analysis therapy and works with children who present with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The CEO and founder, Kimberlee Rider, accepted the award.

-Fourth category: Specification Rubber Products, a molded rubber manufacturer based out of Alabaster, has been around since 1968. The company’s president Steven Smith accepted the award.

-Fifth category: Christy Hayes Counseling, a therapy group based in Birmingham. Founder and namesake Christy Hayes accepted the award.

As each award was accepted, the recipients took a moment to share the trials and tribulations they had gone through and offer words of advice to any aspiring businesses in Shelby County.

The Yak Shak’s Norris talked about what it was like to open the kayak company during the global pandemic and what strategies they had to employ to survive. Norris also advised on how important it is for a business to give back to the community.

“We’d love to give those dollars back to our community and say ‘thank you for helping us get through the pandemic and survive the crazy retail world that it is,’” Norris said.

Fox discussed the losses in her life and how those losses led her to pursue a career as a hairdresser. Fox stressed the importance of continuing education and honing in on efficiency as necessary to continue a business.

“I’m a strong believer that continuing education is mandatory,” Fox said.

 Rider then spoke on what it was like to work with children experiencing intellectual and physical disabilities. Rider also discussed the importance of setting boundaries.

“When we are going constantly, we burn out, are quick to anger and slow to have compassion for those around us,” Rider said.

Smith of Specification Rubber Products discussed the 55-year history of his company and advised business owners to value their employees as individuals.

“We constantly encourage and provide continuous personal training and development,” Smith said. “The better we are as individuals, the better the company is.”

Hayes talked about her journey to becoming a counselor. She discussed what led her to shift into private practice after spending years flying around the country for corporate counseling work. She ended her acceptance by advising that a business needs a community to thrive.

“We are not meant to journey alone,” Hayes said.