The presentation came during an annual Chamber luncheon at the Museum Center at Five Points.
The Bedwell Award was named in honor of the contributions made by the late Mel Bedwell, who also was a staunch supporter of the Small Business Committee of the local Chamber. Additional information about the award recipient will be published in Wednesday’s edition.
Specific criteria that need to be met to receive this award include: staying power, growth in the number of employees, increase in sales or unit volume; innovativeness of product of services offered; response to adversity; and contribution to help in community-oriented projects.
Hal Roe, last year’s Bedwell Award winner and owner of Bradley Rental, made the official announcement at the luncheon.
Jacobs is the 13th person to receive the award after it was renamed as the Mel Bedwell Award and the 18th to receive it since this recognition program was started.
“I am totally humbled. Hard work does pay off,” Jacobs said. But Jacobs always likes to make sure people know how important he thinks his co-workers are in his success. People don’t work for him, he corrects others. “People work with me.”
Ed Jacobs & Associates has been managing employee benefit plants, providing insurance, employee benefits and financial planning services for 15 years. Starting with just one employee, the company has now grown to 14. Revenue growth averaged up to 35 percent in the first seven years of the company, up to 30 percent between 2004 and 2006, and up to 10 percent since 2007.
“Through (Jacobs’) leadership, our agency strives to provide good, old-fashioned customer service,” said Andy Figlestahler, partner at Ed Jacobs & Associates and nominator of Jacobs for the award.
Jacobs also serves on various community organizations including United Way of Bradley County, MainStreet Cleveland, the Chamber of Commerce, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland and Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region, among others.
A few previous award winners include Dan Cooke, Cooke’s Food Stores; Kay Jenkins-Cowan, Jenkins Deli; Ross Tarver, Tarver Distributing; and Jim Workman, Bender Realty.
Other notable business people from the community also spoke at the luncheon.
Brenda Sheehy, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State Community College, spoke of the progress the center has made in the Cleveland and Bradley County area since October 2010. A total of 275 clients have been helped, totaling 1,200 hours, and a total of 23 new businesses have been created hiring 150 new workers, with 287 jobs in the area retained rather than lost. And, she anticipates even more progress this year.
She also announced that loans are also available through the SBDC to assist homeowners, big and small businesses, as well as nonprofits.
“We’re here to help you all,” Sheehy said.
Tennessee Congressman Chuck Fleischmann also spoke at the luncheon, assuring those who attended about his support of small business, so much so that he is serving on the Small Business Committee in Congress.
And small businesses are extremely important to the Cleveland area with 90 percent of the estimated 1,800 businesses considered to be small businesses, according to prior research from others found by Dr. Dewayne Thompson, chair of the Department of Business at Lee University. These businesses will be needing the Gen Y workers — starting now, he said.
According to information gathered from the U.S. Department of Labor and other researchers, Thompson spoke about “Generation Y” and how they are influencing the current workforce. It is estimated 47 percent of the workforce will be from this era by 2014. This statistic is entirely believable when you consider that 64 million baby boomers will probably be retired by 2020, he added.
“Generation Y” men and women are said by some researchers to have been born between 1981 and 2001. Generation Xers are born roughly between 1961 and 1981. Baby Boomers, Thompson reminded the audience, raised the Generation Xers and Yers. Boomers are generally considered to have been born between 1943 and 1960.
Currently, there are 78.5 million baby boomer workers and 79.8 million GenY workers. But, because of the different world in which these Gen Yers grew up, there are many differences, he said.
According to research by Thompson, this future Gen Y workforce is reported to be technologically savvy, optimistic, gregarious, smart and multi-taskers. However, they are also reported to be spoiled, intolerant of the slow pace of change, arrogant, disrespectful of the chain of authority, have a sense of entitlement, are self-absorbed, loud and have short attention spans, he said.
“Before we become too critical of this generation,” Thompson said, “we must admit that we are the parents of these 20-somethings.”
Thompson believes knowing how to deal with this change is critical to the way in which owners and managers need to change themselves and their management styles to meet the needs of the quickly changing workforce.
For example, the expectation of company loyalty is not high on the list of Generation Y workers, according to Thompson’s research.
“They are extremely close to their families, where their first allegiance is placed,” Thompson said. “I’m not suggesting this is bad. Families must come first. (But) the 20-somethings carry this to an extreme ... they just aren’t that into work.”
So, Thompson gave a list, assembled from many sources, of some practical new management techniques of the future:
— Provide gym memberships as part of the employment package.
— Make work interesting.
— Allow work from home as much as possible.
— Don’t assume you’re right. Be willing to learn from them.
— Be prepared to encourage, be sympathetic, be warm and friendly.
— Be a good leader. Gen Yers won’t tolerate bad leadership.
— Play to their short attention spans.
— All types of social media are important.
— If long hours are expected, provide three-day weekends or other breaks at non-peak times.
— Flexibility in scheduling for work/life balance.
As a final note, Thompson had the following advice.
“Let’s not discourage these differences between the generations, but celebrate them,” Thompson said. “It is in our best interest to harness this talent and not alienate them. The future is bright, and it’s because of, not in spite of, this generation.”