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Fort Worth Chamber launches the Forte Awards for Small Business

Fort Worth Chamber launches the Forte Awards for Small Business

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has named 12 category finalists for the inaugural Forte Awards, the new name for the long-standing Small Business of the Year competition. The new Forte Awards will celebrate the fortes (best practices and strong suits) of Fort Worth’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Category winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at a snappy casual awards event at the 4 Eleven on the Near Southside. The award program is presented by Bank of Texas. Register for the Forte Awards Night at under Calendar of Events, or call 817-338-3331.

Consumer / Retail Category Finalists

Tribe Alive

Carly Burson, Founder and CEO

Carly Burson is the founder and CEO of Tribe Alive, an ethical fashion brand focused on moving the industry toward a more sustainable approach, while educating and meaningfully employing artisan men and women. Tribe Alive’s story began when Burson and her husband finalized the adoption of their daughter, Elie. Although adoption presents an opportunity to support an individual child, Burson was struck by the desire to address the core issue of child relinquishment on a global scale: namely, the economic insecurity facing women in the developing world. Tribe Alive was born from Burson’s decision to use her years of experience in the fashion industry as a platform to alleviate poverty. In four years, Tribe Alive has grown from employing 4 female makers in Honduras to supporting 8 artisan design cooperatives in five countries, where more than 150 people are sustainably employed.

Klapprodt Pools

Jeremy Klapprodt, President

Klapprodt Pools celebrates 31 years since the founder, Fred Klapprodt, began building pools. Since 1987, the name Klapprodt has become synonymous with quality and customer satisfaction in the swimming pool industry. Klapprodt Pools has experienced steady growth and has expanded through the creation of a service department in 2002. It was voted Living Magazine’s best pool company of Keller/Haslet 2013-2015, 2017-2018. It was also voted Keller’s best pool company 2009-2018 by readers of The Keller Citizen, was Elite Pool Company runner up for Indulge Magazine’s 2016 Posh Awards and was voted Tops in Tarrant County 2018-2019. It has had an A+ rating with BBB since 2010.

Alchemy Pops

Carolyn Phillips, Owner and Chief Alchemist

Alchemy Pops creates handcrafted gourmet frozen treats that make you feel as great as they taste. Using fresh and all natural ingredients, we make every pop in-house and offer our customers the option to pop by (visit our shop), pop drop (deliveries), and events that pop (our turnkey catering). The word “alchemy” means the magical process of combination and creation, exemplified through our creative flavors and local collaborations. Started as a mobile catering service with just one pop cart in 2015, Alchemy Pops now consists of five mobile units and a Pop Shop located on South Main Street.

Emerging Businesses Finalists

Signature Cuffs LLC

Cynthia Sadler, Owner

Signature Cuffs stands out as a new concept in women’s accessories. An add-on, faux-French cuff for women designed to expand and enhance their wardrobes, cuffs can be worn with any long-sleeved blouse, dress, sweater or jacket. It was founded in 2017 by Cynthia Sadler, who leads a creative team of talented, joyful, seriously dedicated professionals in building a viable, successful business. They have met many challenges and made great strides in 18 months — from prototype to manufacturing and packaging, opening and staffing an office, launching a website and developing a marketing strategy for sales.

6th Ave Homes

Jamey Ice and Jimmy Williams, Founders

6th Ave Homes knows clients value originality and deserve the perfect house, a home that feels like them. In order to do that, they need to buy the right house and also renovate and design it to make it their own. The problem is that the traditional model couldn’t get it all done. Most people waste time and money trying to find an agent, a design agency and a contractor to bring their vision to life. That’s why 6th Ave Homes was created, Dallas-Fort Worth’s only one-stop-shop for buying, selling, design and renovation. The founders put together a team of agents, guides, designers and contractors to make the process simple, easy and fun. The 6th Ave Homes mission is “Creating Homes. Building Community. Real Estate with Soul.”

Locavore LLC

Cortney Gumbleton, Founder and Co-owner

Carlo Capua, Co-owner

Locavore is an all-inclusive resource for food entrepreneurs who wish for low-risk, affordable access to a commercial kitchen and event venue. Its mission is to provide foodie trailblazers with a home by offering a dedicated community and resources for food entrepreneurs to thrive. In four months, it has created breakthrough opportunities for new entrepreneur chefs. Building this momentum and synergy for small businesses has resulted in a supportive community to help clients launch and grow while avoiding the common pitfalls that cause the notoriously high failure rate in the food industry.

Manufacturing / Distribution Category Finalists

Silver Creek Materials

Robert Dow, Owner

What started in 1983 as a sand and gravel quarry has led to an expansion of product lines and services. Everything that enters Silver Creek Materials’ gates is recycled in some manner. The company diverts thousands of tons of compostable products away from landfills annually and is immersed in several organizations throughout Fort Worth.

Sellmark Corporation

James and Dianna Sellers, President and CEO

Sellmark Corporation produces a diversity of outdoor lifestyle products that are known for high quality and value and are featured in top-tier retailers and more than 50 countries. Sellmark’s number one priority is to bring people together to make precious memories and exciting experiences, while promoting a healthy and active way of living. Sellmark is a repeat winner of the Inc. 500/5000, is a BBB accredited company, and is ISO 9001:2008 certified. Sellmark Corporation was a finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award and has been named one of the fastest growing private companies in Dallas and Tarrant counties.

M-Pak Inc.

Debbie Cooley, President

In 1999, the owner of M-Pak Inc. began packaging distribution using her garage as a warehouse. Debbie Cooley started the business with $10,000 in savings; sales that year were $133,000. Projections for 2018 are $12 million. Diversifying and expanding markets in 2012, the company opened a tactical clothing/uniform store. The pride in and the success of M-Pak is its people. They answer the phone (really) and are glad you called. M-Pak provides the most innovative and dependable solutions from packaging products to protecting people.

Professional Services Category Finalists

Affairs Afloat Balloons

Tammera Hollerich, CEO

Affairs Afloat Balloons’ mission is to creatively impact 500,000 or more talk-of-the-town, one-of-a-kind “WOW” events throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Its team of caring, engaged balloon professionals create colorful, unique designs with detail that infuse any space with feelings of joy and excitement. Since 2003, Affairs Afloat Balloons has been providing “wow” effects for special occasions that can’t be created anywhere else. Its creations range from small gift bouquets to large-scale tradeshow displays. All its balloon artists are ABA or CBA certified. The company has thrived because of this philosophy: Do it with excellence, or learn more.

Elements of Architecture Inc.

Debbie Fulwiler, President

Elements of Architecture Inc. is a full-service commercial architectural firm formed in 1996. Elements’ origins arose from the need of architectural services in the telecommunications/data center industry. Due to an unwavering focus on client service and ability to quickly respond to clients’ various needs, Elements has expanded its client base to include higher education, municipal, retail and industrial sectors. Elements has received multiple awards for being one of Tarrant County’s largest women-owned business and one of Tarrant County’s largest architectural firms. However, its most treasured award is the trust it has earned from its clients.

SporTherapy LLC

Steve and Cassie Lackey, Business Director and CEO/Founder

SporTherapy is an outpatient physical therapy provider specializing in the treatment of orthopedic, sports and work-related injuries. Six locations in Tarrant and Parker counties (with plans to add two locations in 2019) provide more than 64,000 physical therapy visits annually. It is family-owned and -operated and promote a professional, one-on-one approach to services offered. SporTherapy is one of the largest private practice physical therapy groups in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with more than 29 years of experience providing physical therapy services.

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