Wilson’s Fitness wins small business of year award

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Personal trainer Jennifer Brown assists Rachelle Zbinden during her workout Thursday at Wilson’s Fitness. Wilson’s was named the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce 2010 Small Business of the Year.

All of the hard work appears to be working out for Wilson’s Fitness.

At the Small Business Award Breakfast, Wilson’s Fitness became the 21st area business to be named Small Business of the Year.

Wilson’s was one of 33 businesses that were originally in the running. The fitness center beat out the three other businesses that were finalists — Huber & Associates, Prison Brews Restaurant & Microbrewery and Summit Lake Winery.

Keri Austin, owner and general manager of Wilson’s Fitness, said that the award was a complete group effort.

“It’s an honor,” Austin said. “It feels great. I do feel extremely blessed with the staff that we have. It’s the work that they do that really makes this possible. I think they are the ones to thank and congratulate because of the hard work that they put in.”

She went on to explain that even with all of the help that she receives from her dedicated employees, bringing a business to the point where it can even be considered for such an award is a difficult and labor-intensive undertaking. But she said it is that hard work that makes the award all the sweeter.

“When you do work as hard as you do and you do try to make a difference in people’s lives, you do want to know that it is noticed,” Austin said.

She added: “It is challenging out there for any small business. For us to be able to know that we have people who love what they do and have a lot of passion and drive for what they do, that means everything.

“That we can lay our head on the pillow at night and know that everything is taken care of by these people who love what they do and are going to get up and be there for these members means everything.”

Along with being a member of the chamber, a business must employ 50 or fewer people and be up and running for at least two years in order to qualify for the award. Recent winners of the award have included Ken Otke Construction, Busch’s Florist & Greenhouse, Brown Printing and Whaley’s Pharmacy.

Exceptional Employee

The 2010 Exceptional Employee Award went to Derrick Strange of AmerenUE, where he’s worked as a customer service representative for the past six years. He helps customers with billing issues and service requests.

In his nomination, Strange said a great amount of his satisfaction is from being able to assist customers and resolve their issues. For example, he said customers recently complained about updates to Ameren’s website.

“I was able to take note of the issues, present the suggested improvements to the website team, and see these changes implemented,” he wrote. “Being a part of this process has been very rewarding to both me and the customers.”

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