Wednesday, July 16, 2008
One of Gardner's business associates nominated him for the prestigious competition. Soon after, Gardner received mail notification of his status as a potential recipient. "I was extremely honored," he said.
Then it was on to the next step: completing the award process. Nominees were required to submit an application, detailing why they should be chosen to receive the honor. In the final round, nominees presented themselves to a panel of judges for an oral review. "I was pretty impressed with their process," said Julianne Gordon, NAB's Director of Underwriting.
The regional winners were announced at black-tie galas in 26 cities across the United States. Gardner attended the recognition ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dearborn, Mich., with his wife and executive team. Ernst & Young pulled out all the stops for this occasion, according to Gardner. "My wife referred to it as the Midwestern Academy Awards," he said.
The firm compiled a video biography of each finalist. "They made it extremely special and memorable – something I'll never forget," he said.
Gordon, who was also in attendance, echoed Gardner's sentiment. "It was really well done and very tasteful," she said.
When the award was presented to him, Gardner said he was "just happy to be among such an esteemed group of entrepreneurs."
Gardner was given a trophy and a picture-plaque to place in his office. But for now, they are on display at Gardner's home, so his children can enjoy the honor bestowed upon their father, he said. Gardner plans to bring the prizes to the workplace soon.
All regional winners will vie for the national Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 award and will be further acknowledged this autumn at a black-tie gala hosted by Jay Leno in Palm Springs, Calif.
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