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Small Business Council honors two business people of the year

The founder of a small marketing and communications company and a former banker who bought a construction company 18 years ago are the winners of the 2019 Small Business Council of Rochester’s Business Person of the Year Award.

Nicole Mahoney, who launched Break The Ice Media in 2009, won in the category for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. And Greg Vangellow, owner and CEO of RW Dake Construction, won for businesses with more than 50 employees.

The awards were the highlight of a luncheon drawing more than 700 businesspeople, supporters and family members to the Joseph A. Floreano Convention Center Thursday.

Nicole Mahoney

Nicole Mahoney

Both Mahoney and Vangellow said after the luncheon that the honors they won validate the hard work they’ve put into their businesses.

“It can be lonely, owning your own business,” Mahoney noted. She employs nine people.

In her acceptance speech, Mahoney urged everyone to use “cathedral thinking,” a term acknowledging the vision and dedication of people who designed and started construction of the great cathedrals, knowing they wouldn’t live long enough to see their projects completed many years later.

“We are cathedral builders, laying foundations for our children,” Mahoney said. “I challenge all of us to keep thinking these big visions… even if we know we won’t be around to see the long-term gain.”

Greg Vangellow

Greg Vangellow

Vangellow was a commercial banker before he bought Dake, and credited the many relationships he has with family members, his employees, vendors and advisors with helping his business succeed. Dake employs more than 200 people in seven regional offices.

“My parents provided what I call the kitchen-table MBA,” Vangellow said, describing how they’d talk about their own businesses and his uncle’s around the kitchen table. “It really does take a village.” He noted that all the business people in the room have similar support systems, too.

Vangellow also used his time at the podium to plug the Small Business Council’s  SBC Cares program, which collects food to provide Thanksgiving dinners to more than 3,000 families a year. The drive will begin in a few weeks for this year.

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