The brainchild of serial entrepreneur and radio talk show host Mitch Schlimer (Let's Talk Business), the EHOF, as it will now be known, debuted its first live ceremony Saturday night, Dec. 1st at The Estate in Atlanta. The venue was lovely--but more unbelievable the inductees were the who's who of the business world. And only one as tenacious and dedicated as Mitch Schlimer could have pulled this off with about 30 days to prepare. And gotten these important people to show up!
The long and short of it, according to Schlimer, a Long Island resident who spends much of his time in Atlanta doing his radio show, "you can find a Hall of Fame for quilting but nowhere is there a Hall of Fame, a standing site included, for Entrepreneurs."
The standing site is currently located at what is called the EPICenter in Atlanta but Mitch thinks in a year or so he will have to find a bigger space. More about this center in another blog.
Inductees in this ceremony Saturday shared their amazing stories with a crowd of 170. The evening went long but no one seemed to mind because each speaker was so fascinating. Dina Dwyer-Owens, CEO of the Dwyer Group was first up to accept an award for her Dad, the late Don Dwyer, the founder of Vetfran, a program dedicated to help vets get into franchising. I saw her eyes glistening with tears before she even hit the podium. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-Awas accompanied by his son Dan Cathy who now runs the ocmpany. Truett referred to Dan as "his assistant". The gorgeous Sara Blakely, the 41 year old billionaire founder of Spanx was a delight, and so beautiful up close I gasped. Ray Margiano, founder of Foot Solutions and Heel-Quik got the veteran's award for all his programs--the legendary Fred DeLuca, he who created Subway, told the delightful story about his partner Dr. Peter Buck and called him the smartest businessman in the world. "He comes in 4 times a year, asks me what we are doing, then says great, and then goes home. And he owns half the company". The crowd roared because everyone in business knows that the greatest ROI story of all time was Dr. Peter Buck suggesting to a 17 year old Fred that he sell submarine sandwiches-then gave him $1000 to start the business!
Harris Rosen, founder of Rosen Resorts, told an equally hilarious story of his beginnings. And the most touching of all had to be Dave Anderson of Famous Dave's, a Native American who helps people in that community start businesses of their own. Awesome. As a proud member of the induction committee for this event, I can't wait to see what next year holds. If you know someone you believe belongs in the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame--email Mitch.Schlimer@gmail.com
Photo above from left: Fred DeLuca, Harris Rosen, Ray Margiano, Famous Dave Anderson