If the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is smart, it will try to bottle the ebullient spirit of C. Lee Cawley and send it out to prospective members.
As she began thinking about her firm’s first 10 years and what she aimed to accomplish in the next 10s, Cawley – owner of Simplify You – earlier this year opted to join the Chamber of Commerce.
“Best decision I ever made,” she said. “Everybody is eager to exchange ideas. It’s been just wonderful.”
Simplify You was honored as the 2014 Home-Based Small Business of the Year at the Chamber’s annual Best Business Awards, held May 20 at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel.
Cawley’s firm helps people organize changes in their lives. She started it when her daughter was headed to elementary school, in order to provide the scheduling flexibility that every mom needs.
And she hasn’t looked back.
“I find my clients fascinating,” she said. “They’re busy, intelligent people . . . [who] just need a little guidance.”
Business success is not the only criteria evaluated in the annual awards programs. Nominees must also be a part of the community’s daily life.
Consider the case of Fire Works American Pizzeria, which received one of two Business of the Year Awards presented this year.
The Courthouse restaurant has won numerous accolades for its food since opening in 2010, but also has been an active community participant. It has hosted events and provided food for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), and has supported regional efforts in the food industry to assist diners whose dietary needs required gluten-free foods.
Shawn Malone, the restaurant’s owner, said the combination of good food and community spirit helps Fire Works stand out in a crowded Arlington field.
“A restaurant without a lot of loyal followers is not much of a restaurant, so we thank you,” he said at the Best Business Awards, now in its 28th year.
John Vernon, who accepted the Service Small Business of the Year Award on behalf of Self Storage Plus, is another recipient who exemplifies community spirit. He is active in the Pentagon Crystal City Rotary, and recently supported an initiative to furnish apartments that were about to become home to previously homeless local residents.
Why did he become involved in the Arlington Chamber? Simple: “It’s the finest I’ve ever seen,” Vernon said.
Marie Schuler of Comcast, which served as grand sponsor of the awards program, said the wide range of quality awardees and nominees was emblematic of Arlington’s strength.
“Being nominated is an honor in a county that is becoming a premier place to do business,” she said.
Also honored at the ceremony:
• Residence Inn Arlington Ballston joined Fire Works in being named Business of the Year.
• Pavé Jewelers was honored as Retail Small Business of the Year.
• The Animal Welfare League of Arlington was honored as the 2014 Non-Profit of the Year.
• Technology Management Inc. (TMI) was honored as Green Small Business of the Year.
• Value Dot LLC was named Technology Small Business of the Year.