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Local innovators honored during Masters series event
10 entrepreneurs recognized during program
Derrick and Danielle Case tell the story of their business, Dress Up, Wednesday morning to audience members at the Whalen Auditorium at Brenau East in Gainesville. The couple, along with eight other entrepreneurs were honored at the Masters on Innovation program.

Maria McLaurin Nutt

Business: McLaurin Interior
Quote: “You have to know how to work with people to know what they want. That sounds simple, but it’s true. You have got to find a good way to work with people.”

Harold Jordan

Business: Meadowbrook Machine and Tool
Quote: “You’ve got to believe in yourself and have the confidence that you can pull through. There’s lots of support out there … people who will help if you need it. You just have to be willing to ask for it.”

Danielle and Derrick Case

Business: Dress Up
Quote from Derrick: “You’ve got to be willing to work your tail off day in, day out. Some people are willing to do that, and others aren’t.”

Jimmy and Drew Echols

Business: Jaemor Farms
Quote from Drew: I tell people my granddad was local-grown before it was cool … and we’ve been blessed with a great location. As (our family) saw traffic coming to and from the mountains, we decided to give customers an on-farm experience. And, it worked.”

Al Trembley

Business: WSI Digital Rainmakers
Quote: “I want to truly understand our clients. So, we study them, and we use as many tools as we can to understand what works and what doesn’t (for them).”

Randy and Kevin Redd

Business: Redd Machining and Manufacturing – Concept One
Quote from Kevin: “It’s easy as a business owner to get so focused on the thing you’ve got to do, looking at that bottom line, but truthfully I want to be successful in life in general. If we can touch somebody’s life and make this world a little better along the way, that’s great.”

Counte Cooley

Business: Electronic Sales Company Inc.
Quote: “Everybody has an idea … my challenge to you is write it down before you forget it. We’ve all forgotten million dollar ideas because we couldn’t write it down and record it before it was gone forever.”

The 10 entrepreneurs honored Wednesday at Featherbone Communiversity may have come from different backgrounds. The products and services they offer may vary — from interior design to produce to auto parts.

But they all got one thing in common, said Carroll Turner, director of the Manufacturing Development Center at Lanier Technical College: “They don’t understand the words ‘I can’t.’”

Among those honored as Masters of Innovation at the morning ceremony were individuals who, according to Suzanne Erickson, Brenau University’s College of Business & Mass Communication dean, “have had a vision and were able to execute on that vision.”

The awards sought to showcase the industry and promote to young people and the community the importance of local innovators, while recognizing individuals for their contributions.

Prior to announcing award recipients, Turner recognized Janelle Whalen for her late husband’s contributions to the Masters Series.

Gus Whalen was founder of the Featherbone Communiversity, the former CEO of Warren Featherbone Co., an author and speaker. His death in June left many friends and colleagues shocked and saddened.

Those in attendance got to listen to the insights of some of Gainesville’s most innovative minds.

Among the audience were Bethany Halverson, 14, and Ingrid Andrade, 11, who said they were impressed by what they heard.

Both girls were members of Young Entrepreneurs Succeed, a program for at-risk children from local public housing.

Gainesville Housing Authority Special Projects Coordinator Jim Chapman said having children attend Wednesday’s event was an opportunity for them to “brush shoulders with a bigger world and help them realize people are out there doing what they might dare to dream.”