Thank you Rhonda Whitaker, and thank you to the CBC Board Chair Eric Summe, Roger Peterman, the entire CBC Board of Directors, and of course, thanks Pat Frew who just celebrated 9 years at the CBC. What an amazing job he’s done.Pat is my LNK Classmate from 2005, and believe me, none of our classmates thought we’d amount to anything!
I’d like to say thanks to my family, friends, and co-workers that are here tonight, some of whom drove quite a ways to be here. They are also just as shocked that I’m up here. The folks at these tables are my board of advisors, my cheerleaders, the group that says, “See, I told you that would never work.”
My Mom gave me seed money when I started the business, my Mom and sister sat through seminar presentations which we did early on at the E-Zone, (which I’ll mention in a minute). Both my Mom & Jerry, my Dad and Jackie, have sat through sometimes weekly calls on what I’m thinking, how the business is doing, lamenting about cash flow, etc. They’ve listened to the fear, sometimes tears on the other end of the line, and they’ve always been there for words of wisdom, or a pat on the back.
My brother Tony … has done nothing to help C-Forward! But he’s always been there for me if I ever needed him. He’s an EMT and a firefighter and a great guy and I’m honored that he and his new bride Melissa drove up here tonight. My sister Amy and her daughter, my niece Katie, are here tonight. Katie brought her boyfriend with her. Bravo! That’s his last name, bravo.
I’ve always said I have three kids. My oldest Daughter Sydney. My youngest daughter Emma, and C-Forward.All of my kids are a part of me. They are a part of who I am. And yet it occurs to me that all of them wouldn’t be who they are today, without the help of others. The family and community support system has been amazing. In the case of my girls it’s their Mom, their teachers, their coaches, their church, their community and their friends.
In C-Forward’s case, any success we’ve had has been little to do with me, and more from our management team, (Brian Ruschman, Mike Grout, Dale Silver, and Kevin Stiverson), One of our Supervisors is here tonight, Ben Virost, who we hired as a Co-Op 13 years ago from NKU! Our success is because of them, our employees past and present, our partners, our amazingly loyal customers,and the support of our community.Don’t get me wrong, I’m amazing! But C-Forward’s success has truly been a team effort.
We wouldn’t be in Covington if it weren’t for the E-Zone, which is now the NKY Innovation Network. Tier1, which is another amazing success story, got it’s start through the E-Zone. Shout out to Tom Prewitt, Chad Bilz and the late Colonel De Stewart, and people like Chuck Scheper, for having the wisdom and passion to support startups. Sometimes startups and small businesses turn into long standing community institutions!
The connections that we made because of organizations like the CBC and our NKY Chamber were key to our growth. So here we are, celebrating 20 years in business tomorrow afternoon! I can’t believe it.
As part of the celebration, we commissioned a new mural at our location at 5th and Madison. When you see it, think about what it signifies. The girl on the mural is my daughter Emma wearing a fabulous fur. That’s the ascent in the cloud we’re all working under. The NKU guy is drinking a Braxton brew. My oldest daughter Sydney is working on a Gateway laptop. There’s a red bike and the hotel Covington logo. It’s our way of recognizing Covington’s successes since C-Forward came into existence. Look, If you don’t like the mural, I understand, all we ask is that you keep it to yourself!
I want to thank our neighbors. Guys like Bill Butler and Tom Banta, Garren Colvin and the folks at St. E’s, Guy Van Rooyen and the Salyers Group – especially Donna Salyers, Tony Milburn, Tony Kreuzjans, the Catalytic fund, MeetNKY, Tri-ED, the NKADD, Horizon Funds, Southbank. We wouldn’t be who we are as a community without these leaders and institutions.
And I want to thank the City of Covington and Kenton County for all they do. I especially want to recognize our three Judges Executive, Gary Moore, Steve Pendery and Kris Knochelmann, for their collaborative and regional approach to governing.
Part of why we pushed to do our Kentucky’s Edge bourbon conference on Oct. 4-5, was we wanted to showcase our great community. This isn’t an event in a remote field somewhere. We want folks going into our bars and restaurants, walking past our institutions and seeing first hand what we have to offer. We want to showcase NKY’s part of the Kentucky bourbon trail. Our B-Line is something special, we want people to experience it. If they do, we know they’ll come back or choose to stay.
That’s part of what tonight is all about. It’s a celebration of businesses, both large and small, that have made this city, and our region what it is.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the support, and for helping us make it all work together.