In recognition of the outstanding group of nearly 200 past Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award recipients, we feature a spotlight in this year’s 20th-anniversary event to celebrate these incredible entrepreneurs with - the Legacy Entrepreneur Award!
A special panel of judges, including CSUSB’s School of Entrepreneurship faculty, convened to select 20 finalists to compete for this distinctive honor. The finalists represent the pinnacle of entrepreneurship in the Inland Empire, having demonstrated risk-taking, creativity, innovation, determination, and hard work to build successful and sustainable ventures.
At Boudreau, people and culture drive everything we do! So, the biggest accomplishment for us was not only to be named the Top Place to Work in the Inland Empire in 2016, but in 2019 we sold the business to the employees – our team are now 100% owners of the company!
Alan J. Boudreau
2014 General Entrepreneur
When we received the award, we were the largest Sizzler franchisee, operating twenty-three locations in California along with several other restaurants (Richie’s Real American Diner and a joint-venture partnership with Texas Roadhouse). Since then we have built two new ground-up locations and purchased an old, failed, closed location, and reimagined it. The most important accomplishment since 2013 is the careful, thoughtful, and intentional succession plan to bring our son, Bryce Myers, into an executive leadership position. In addition, we took advantage of our buying power and aggressively negotiated the cost of food for less than what Sizzler USA was able to, allowing us to give our guests high quality products and service beyond the rest of the system.
Gary & Sally Myers
2013 General Entrepreneurs & "Best of the Best" Award Recipients
Despite facing tremendous challenges during the past 5-years, including rising fuel prices, regulation and lack of qualified drivers, we have kept 400+ team members employed and have continued to grow our business and strengthen our company with significant investment in information technology and equipment.
2017 General Entrepreneur & "Best of the Best" Award Recipient
Since receiving the award we have had multiple accomplishments that involve funding, team building, and growth. Earlier this year we closed on an equity investment from a blue chip private equity firm to help drive StratosFuel's hydrogen growth platform. The company made great progress on developing our new hydrogen plant in Victorville, which when completed will be the largest renewable hydrogen facility in California. Lastly, over the last year we have built a world class executive team to lead the company to becoming a national player in the hydrogen market.
Jonathan Palacios - Avila
2021 General Entrepreneur
We invented a leading-edge rocket propulsion technology and used it to defeat $35 billion per year Northrop Grumman to win a $15 million Defense Advanced Research Project Agency contract to design, build, and test a rocket to deploy hypersonic projectiles over very long ranges for National defense.
Kevin Mahaffy & Eric Schmidt
2013 Technology Entrepreneurs
The business has continued to grow, with high profile projects such as an 80 MW Power Plant project with high voltage transmission line for the national grid in Sub-Saharan Africa and the largest solar installation in California. During this time, we received recognition from President Obama for the Sub-Saharan Africa project at the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
2009 Technology Entrepreneur
Aside from nearly tripling our revenues, expanding our headquarters facility again by over 30% in size (now just under 100,000 square feet), being chosen as the exclusive RTD Cocktail for the new Acrisure Arena opening in December 2022, and closing a relationship with Oak View Group to supply over 350 new venues, arenas and stadiums, I believe our greatest accomplishment has been the addition of nearly 25 new team members!
2019 Food & Beverage Entrepreneur
While it has only been three years since we were fortunate enough to win the award, we’ve had some very notable accomplishments: revenue growth, team member retention and acquisition, and delivering a significant return on shareholder investments. We thrived during the pandemic –growing our team by over 50% and experiencing more than a 65% growth in our revenue over the last 3 years. In 2022 we experienced a liquidity event, and our shareholders and every single team member shared in this prosperity.
2019 Service-Based Entrepreneur
Suffering through the pandemic was certainly a challenge. However, we survived better than most, as people with money soon realized it is a lot easier to charter a plane than deal with the airlines! The company has continued to grow, recently expanding our services to Hawaii and applying for World Wide Coverage.
H. Dan Hill
2013 Service-Based Entrepreneur
We built a specialized vertical market within local government and education and successfully navigated a third major shift in our technology space, leveraging new offerings to our existing base and expanded market. While achieving this market distinction, Intelesys has upheld its commitment to giving back to the community!
2012 Service-Based Entrepreneur
In 2021, we successfully converted the company to an ESOP - Employee Stock Ownership Program. We are extremely excited since everyone poured their blood, sweat and tears into the company and now everyone at the company can share in the rewards of their hard work and dedication as owners!
2012 Manufacturing Entrepreneur and "Best of the Best" Award Recipient
Aleph Group Inc. was selected by the Kentucky Health District as the best-qualified manufacturer to design and fabricate twelve mobile medical clinics that will be distributed among several health centers, to help fight the continuing COVID pandemic.
Jales A. De Mello
2021 Healthcare Entrepreneur
We hired more employees which allowed us to be present in more states, and we are preparing to go nationwide. I attribute the success to having a phenomenal team, providing superb services and the recognition of winning the award!
2019 Consulting Entrepreneur
The Brandini family (team) has grown through the addition of 50+ team members and currently includes the employment of my parents, my closest family friends, brother in law, and myself. We have survived the great recession, a pandemic, and have continued to spiral upwards for 16 years!
2010 Emerging Entrepreneur
Our business has grown exponentially! First, we were inspired by all the entrepreneurs we met during the Spirit Awards process, and this drove us to be the best version of our business. Second, we adapted and adjusted during the pandemic, putting processes, techniques and machinery into our most basic services to ensure we were able to provide a safe and clean environment for our customers. Lastly, we leveraged the relationships we built through the Spirit Awards to gain mentorship from many great entrepreneurs. This has helped us scale our business to a more lucrative and profitable enterprise!
2018 Small/Emerging Enterprise
Valew has continued its growth and secured several new patents. We now have a greater understanding of, and relationship with, our key customers. IN addition, we have been engaged in the strategic planning for business succession to take the company into the next 4th generation and beyond.
2018 Industrial Manufacturing Entrepreneur
Since winning the award in 2011, our company greatest accomplishment was reaching #290 on the Inc. 500 list in 2020. Back in 2012 we were ranked 1728 on the list. Since 2011 we have been named to the list 4 times reaching our highest rank in 2020, experiencing growth of 1552% over a 3 year period!
Laura and William Land
2011 Family Business Entrepreneur
Since receiving the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award in 2007, Miguel's Jr. has opened 16 new restaurants across Southern California, including entering the Orange County market. The Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) group has more than tripled in size and now operates 21 restaurants. Throughout this growth and expansion, Miguel's Jr. has remained family?owned and operated. In 2023, Miguel's Jr. will celebrate 50 years of business, serving Founder and Chief Recipe Officer Mary Vasquez's original home-style Mexican recipes in a welcoming and friendly environment, as a true family favorite choice.
2007 Family Business Entrepreneur
Besides staying in business through some challenging years, our biggest accomplishment is the establishment of a professional management team to help shape our future. As the business has grown, the entire team has grown with it, adapting to new methodologies and increasing customer requirements. I am extremely happy with the leadership team we have put together, and feel we are well positioned for growth going forward!
2015 Corporate Entrepreneur and "Best of the Best" Award
When I won the award, 100 Mile Club® was just beginning to grow organically, and I was a team of one! Improvements since then are countless but can mostly be condensed into: (1) Development of team, staff, culture, and organizational structure, (2) Program expansion and offerings, and (3) recognition as a leader in the field of youth school-based physical activity. A few highlights are developing a 4-tiered program for our schools – we now have participation levels and options to meet the needs of any school. Most importantly, we are recognized as the visionary organization leading the way in sustainable school-based physical activity and life skills education – a long way from initially being ridiculed and dismissed by those in education that were not open to innovation!
2010 Social Entrepreneur