By Steve Jagler Special to Published Jun 09, 2010 at 9:07 AM
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.

This week, I have a suggestion for anyone who makes decisions at their business or nonprofit organization: You should call an audible and treat yourself by attending the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce Top 10 Small Businesses of the Year Awards Luncheon on Thursday, June 10.

I promise you it will be worth your time.

That's because, unlike your garden variety awards program, this one provides great takeaways. If you attend, you will hear about the best practices from some of the region's most dynamic small businesses.

I guarantee you will learn about some ideas that you will want to replicate in your organization. I know, because that happens every year in this program. I've pre-interviewed the top executives of the winning companies, and they are brimming with great ideas, the kind of stuff you normally would have to pay a consultant to provide.

Some of the bright ideas to be shared at the luncheon: how to overcome a disaster; how to create a unique customer experience; how to launch an effective employee cash bonus incentive program; how to be more flexible and truly listen to customer feedback; how to create a strong company brand; how to land contracts with large corporations; how to get your employees to think like owners and entrepreneurs, rather than just task-oriented workers; how to become a green company; how to avoid commoditization of your products or services and compete on quality; and how to keep and motivate your best and brightest talent.

The executives of the following companies will accept their awards and share the best practices that are propelling their businesses:

  • Advanced Waste Services, West Allis, an environmental services firm specializing in chemical and liquid waste removal.
  • AmeriSign & Graphics, Pewaukee, a provider of signs, commercial printing and graphic services.
  • Central Office Systems, Waukesha, a provider of digital copies, printers and related service, support and supplies.
  • Custom Service Hardware Inc., Cedarburg, a wholesale distributor of kitchen cabinet and furniture hardware.
  • Ellenbecker Investment Group Inc., Pewaukee, a provider of financial planning, estate planning and investment services.
  • Enviro-Safe Consulting LLC, Brookfield, a provider of environmental, safety and resource recovery services to manufacturers throughout the country.
  • Lakeland Supply Inc., Waukesha, a distributor of packaging, paper and janitorial products.
  • Tim O'Brien Homes, Waukesha, a semi-custom single family home builder focused on affordable green and energy efficient projects.
  • Triad Construction Inc., West Allis, a construction management and general contracting company.
  • Zero Zone Inc., North Prairie, a manufacturer of refrigerated display cases and refrigeration systems for the food industry.

The Small Business of the Year also will be announced at the awards event. The event will take place at the Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee. You can register to attend at or at the door.

Steve Jagler Special to

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at