The Greater Omaha Chamber 2022 Business Excellence Awards
Whether it’s setting a bold and ambitious course of action or finding solutions in the face of uncertainty, these businesses exemplified the elements of leadership and truly shined in 2021.
Tri-Faith Initiative (trifaith.org)
During the 2021 Israel/Palestine crisis, Tri-Faith facilitated a joint statement that acknowledged their belief that more than one truth can exist at the same time. The statement also represented the belief that it’s important to have complex conversations, be courageous, and listen deeply to others, particularly when you disagree.
The Tri-Faith Initiative is proactive about identifying changing community needs. As industry thought leaders in religion, race, and social justice, Tri-Faith’s leadership creates a balance between autonomy and cooperation in addition to freedom of thought and belief.
BFF Omaha (bffomaha.org)
In 2020, BFF created the GenQ & Green Team program, which provided professional development and real-life training experiences for many volunteers and participating artists. Those staff members remain with the organization today, and are continuing to elevate their positions, creating more room and opportunity for additional staff members.
As a group, the BFF collective is whole-heartedly focused on putting the ability to create space and provide opportunities for Omaha’s creatives directly in the hands of its creatives. They know the value and potential impact in the ability of the city’s creative community to actually influence the cultural voice and impact of Omaha, from the ground up.
Although BFF has enough funding to fully compensate their full-time Executive Director, they distribute funds to their part-time volunteers in order for 17 additional staff members to grow into leadership positions themselves.
Carson Wealth (carsonwealth.com)
And that difference starts by developing young leaders through a traditional mentorship program and a rotational internship program with three Nebraska universities. They’ve also cultivated partnerships with the AAAA Foundation, the nonprofit FinServ Foundation, and 19 HBCU’s to empower the next generation of financial professionals through coaching and training programs.
Carson Wealth also has an Annual Women’s Leadership Series and completed a DE&I partnership with Inclusive Communities. Employees can tap into Advanced Professional Development funds, tuition reimbursement, and student loan assistance.
Ron also created one of the most popular conferences in the financial advisor space: Excell. This annual gathering of 2,000+ attendees is filled with keynote speakers (including former presidents, athletes, and world-renowned CEOs), breakout sessions, and a community committed to bettering themselves.
In 2021, Spreetail launched a new Leadership Landscape initiative, targeting development for emerging leaders, all new managers, key talent and upcoming leaders, and those in the executive pipeline.
Those participating in the Leadership Landscape programs have shown a 3x higher average tenure and are 2x more likely for promotion than those not in programs. Out of the 104 graduates in 2021, 95% are still at Spreetail and 42 have earned internal moves.
Additionally, leadership reviews all performance and development goals set at each performance review cycle, identifies themes and aligns career and skills courses to the needs of team members.
These businesses demonstrated selfless stewardship by not only investing their own resources, but also rallying the Omaha community to support and champion underserved communities.
As a trusted resource for orthopedic injuries, OrthoNebraska providers routinely donate their time to speak at events for athletes, coaches, and parents to discuss injury prevention and safe return to play. A small group of team members has spent time at The Hope Center speaking with kids at their Employment Learning Academy about the various careers in healthcare, requirements for certain roles, and what it is like to work in the industry.
Additionally, the OrthoNebraska sports medicine team spends significant time on the sidelines of events triaging injuries to ensure athletes get the care they need when they need it the most. This ranges from high school football games and weekend soccer tournaments to community rodeos and fun runs for the weekend warriors.
Carol Joy Holling Camp, Conference and Retreat Center (caroljoyholling.org)
The camp will never turn a camper away if they cannot afford it. Annually, the year-round staff donates approximately $30,000 worth of time back to the organization. That equates to almost 70 “camperships” supported by the 36-member staff alone.
Annually, the team gathers to pick up trash along the two miles of county road leading into camp. And outside of the organized event, employees are known to come back from hikes and long walks around the site with handfuls of litter to recycle or dispose of properly.
Also, during the summer of 2020, the organization opened its 317-acre site for respite and outdoor recreation. Hundreds of people utilized this place set apart to walk, hike, fish, meditate, and take time away from the stresses of living and working in a pandemic.
i3 Bank (i3.bank)
During the pandemic, employees rallied together to support their communities through food and monetary drives and support of non-profit organizations in each market they serve.
The events of 2020 also made i3 Bank more intentional in their efforts to recognize first responders and service members including employees, immediate family members, customers and community members. They also held special ceremonies and gave out cookies and flags for customers and staff on Veterans Day.
Additionally, i3 Bank has been recognized by the Small Business Administration through their Heartbeat program for contributions to their customers, community, and industry. There are currently over 50 other organizations that have also received monetary donations from i3 in the last year.
In 2020 and 2021, the combined funds raised during OPPD’s Month of Giving totaled more than $500,000 for United Way of the Midlands and their Energy Assistance Program. OPPD also worked with Habitat for Humanity, sponsoring five neighborhood cleanup events throughout north Omaha in 2021.
OPPD partnered with Metropolitan Utilities District in the annual Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth raising funds for the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). More than 500 runners and walkers participated virtually and brought in more than $100,000 for utility assistance in the community.
Fontenelle Forest (fontenelleforest.org)
Within the last three years, Fontenelle Forest has introduced community-focused efforts like: Library Pass Program; Summer Camp Access Partnership; and Blue Star Museum.
The Library Pass Program allows any public library cardholder to check out a Fontenelle Forest day pass in the same manner as checking out a book. The program has allowed more than 9,000 individuals to visit the Forest at no cost and experience the outdoors.
Summer Camp Access Partnership distributes camp scholarships to youth-focused nonprofits to increase forest accessibility while maximizing the mission impact of both Fontenelle Forest and partner organizations.
Blue Star Museum is a nationwide program offering free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families. In 2021, Fontenelle Forest provided free admission to more than 2,000 military personnel and their families.
Casting aside conventional wisdom, these businesses found new and creative ways to grow their business and inspire their team members.
Hawkins Construction Company (hawkins1.com)
Hawkins Construction Company has built, managed, and nurtured a culture of continuous improvement and problem-solving.
This focus on innovation inspired Hawkins to create an app that helped streamline their planning, make communication more transparent, and adjust instantaneously to changes. Thanks to the app, Hawkins paved over 4 million square feet of roadway in 2021, hitting their scheduled pour times at a 95% rate (and 100% overall project deadlines met) and over 300 equipment moves made on time, safely, while still allowing proper inspections and maintenance.
Additionally, management time dedicated to scheduling and adjustments for changes decreased by over 60%.
Omaha Conservatory of Music (omahacm.org)
Using that innovative spirit as a spring board, the Omaha Conservatory of Music created String Sprouts, a groundbreaking and one-of-a-kind program in the country that provides an instrument at no charge for children ages 3 through 8. It’s also only one of four programs in Nebraska to be recognized and supported by the National Endowment of the Arts.
Recent studies have shown the positive impact String Sprouts has made on these aspiring young musicians. Iowa West Foundation showed that children in the String Sprouts program outperformed their peers in grades by a full grade point.
In addition, they had 30% fewer absences and had no disciplinary interventions (district average 7%). These numbers are significant because they are in direct contrast to national numbers for underserved children who typically average a full grade point behind their peers and have disciplinary interventions exceeding the class average.
Omaha Children’s Museum (ocm.org)
To live up to that vision, the museum established programs like the Welcome Fund, the Partner School Program, and the Museum Without Walls initiative.
The Museum Without Walls (MWoW) initiative was launched in March 2020 with virtual programs and interactive virtual field trips over Zoom, and creating STEM kits to distribute to 1,000 local students. It grew to include in-person programs and nearly all programming has been free for families and community organizers.
The program served 8,840 individuals at neighborhood festivals and cultural events in 2021.
In 2021 and 2022, the museum partnered with Varsity Tutors to transform science shows into free virtual opportunities that served thousands of kids online. This year, the museum will partner with UNO, allowing them to research informal learning and STEM in early childhood.
Boys Town (boystown.org)
Boys Town’s unique approach of blending research and clinical care continues to generate new and better ways to improve and transform lives.
In 2021, they opened the Boys Town Institute for Human Neuroscience, one of the most advanced neuroscience research facilities in the nation. It’s also the only site in the world to have two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems, the most powerful and accurate brain mapping technique available.
This 15,000 square foot facility is where research and clinical care come together. Currently, there are seven research labs conducting studies on healthy brain development, developmental disabilities, pediatric psychiatric disorders, trauma exposure, healthy and pathological aging, cognitive decline, substance abuse, and other neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions.
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center (childrensomaha.org)
In March of 2020, Children’s quickly expanded virtual visit capabilities. By that summer, their virtual care team of 250+ providers had conducted 20,000 virtual visits in 20+ pediatric specialties. Children’s launched two educational vaccination campaigns in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education, Fruitful, and Max the Vax, to keep kids protected and in school.
Additionally, the Hubbard Center for Children offers some of the latest, most innovative equipment in state-of-the-art surgical suites.
Operations can now be performed with minimally invasive techniques, using small cameras and instruments placed through incisions less than 5mm, and the DaVinci Xi surgical robot, the first in Omaha to be used in a pediatric setting.
Refusing to allow challenges or unforeseen roadblocks to impede their growth, these businesses once again distinguished themselves in 2021 as industry examples of continued success and excellence throughout their operations.
Project Harmony (projectharmony.com)
Project Harmony is one out of seven child advocacy centers (CACs) in the state of Nebraska and one out of 924 nationally accredited CACs – serving a collective 338,475 children each year. Currently, they provide training for employees of the state’s largest school district to help employees learn how to be resilient not only for themselves but for the students they serve.
The Omaha Public Schools asked Project Harmony to train its staff (over 9,000 individuals) on how to manage one’s personal resilience when working with children. The training is for everyone from the janitor to the school counselor.
In the training sessions, OPS staff are asked to reflect on personal impacts of the last year and are given tools and coping skills so they can show up for the next student walking into the classroom.
QLI is now the nation’s largest and most specialized post-hospital resource for brain and spinal cord injury survivors. QLI provides its powerhouse rehabilitation program alongside nationally lauded long-term care and assisted living services.
Leading by example to motivate their employees to look outside their roles for ways to help, QLI’s leaders stepped up to the challenge.
Over the past few months, a visitor to QLI’s campus might find the Vice President of Human Resources doing a client’s laundry on a Saturday morning, the Marketing Director clearing his afternoon to clean windows, or the Events Coordinator, an Occupational Therapist by training, working side-by-side with the CNA team to deliver direct care.
Their leadership is constantly focused on building up new leaders and maximizing skill sets regardless of title. They cultivate a culture of belonging and curiosity, encouraging an inclusive, flat, and open system where everyone is encouraged to be part of the conversation.
Small Business of the Year
Casting aside conventional wisdom, these businesses found new and creative ways to grow their business and inspire their team members.
Stable Gray (stablegray.com)
Stable Gray, Inc. is a creative agency founded in 2015 by CharDale Barnes and Theardis “Teddy” Young. They strive to blur the lines between large companies with unlimited marketing budgets, and budget-conscious small businesses.
Barnes sees his agency as a brand translator for their clients, using passion and empathy to build strong consumer relationships. Because when they’re able to maintain a high level of customer service, it inevitably leads to a much more effective outcome for their clients.
“No matter what business you’re in, you have to deliver,” said Barnes. “Your customer is spending money with you to solve a problem and if that problem isn’t solved, they leave disappointed. Always deliver what brings them closer to their solution.”
Equally important, though, is Stable Gray’s connection to the North Omaha community. Each year, Barnes and Young donate to Abide and Bridge Church in an effort to push forward the mission to eliminate the inner city.
Milestones matter, and anniversaries of 25, 50, 75, 100, 125 or 150 years in business mark the dedication of organizational stakeholders, as well as the commitment of customers to the business or nonprofit.
- A-Relief Services, Inc.
- Amur Equipment Finance
- Constellation West
- Fast-Trac Freight Services, Inc.
- First Star Recycling
- Forest Green Lawn & Landscaping, LLC
- Heartland Properties, Inc.
- Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites at Ameristar
- Lastime Roofing
- Lovely Skin
- Magnum Development
- Markel Specialty
- Mercedes-Benz of Omaha
- Midlands Choice
- Nebraska Medicine
- Notre Dame Housing, Inc.
- OMNE Partners
- Payroll Maxx LLC
- Slate Architecture, Inc.
- Smith, Slusky, Pohren & Rogers, LLP
- Stortz Financial Group
- Student Transportation of America Inc.
- Suiter Swantz Intellectual Property
- The Alliance Group
- Access Elevator and Lifts, Inc.
- Charles Schwab
- Combined Health Agencies Drive (CHAD)
- Data Axle
- DC Centre
- Grandmother’s Inc. dba Don & Millies
- Hyatt Hotel Reservation Center
- International Nutrition
- Masimore, Magnuson & Associates P.C.
- Millard Manufacturing Corp.
- Palco Industrial Marking and Labeling, Inc.
- Santa Monica House
- Special Olympics Nebraska
- Edward J. Heck & Sons Co.
- Fisher Fixture
- Mitchell & Associates
- Nebraska Iowa Supply Co., Inc.
- Sadoff Iron & Metal Company
- T.O. Haas Tire
- Westside Community Schools
- Edward Jones Investments
- Salem Baptist Church
- Highline Warren
- Omaha Musicians Association
- Doane University
- Northwestern Mutual of Nebraska