Thursday, June 22 , 2017, 9:37 pm | Fog/Mist 62º

 
 
 
 

South Coast Business & Technology Awards Put the Focus on Excellence

Honorees include SBIFF, Firestone Brewing, AppFolio, James Takayesu of Tecolote Research and John Petote of CIO Solutions

From left at the South Coast Business & Technology Awards, Jon Walker, CTO and founder of Company of the Year honoree AppFolio; Pioneer Award honoree John Petote of CIO Solutions; Entrepreneur of the Year honoree Adam Firestone of Firestone Brewing Co.; Lynda Weinman of Excellence in Service honoree the Santa Barbara International Film Festival; Entrepreneur of the Year honoree David Walker of Firestone Brewing Co.; and Executive of the Year honoree James Takayesu of Tecolote Research. Click to view larger
From left at the South Coast Business & Technology Awards, Jon Walker, CTO and founder of Company of the Year honoree AppFolio; Pioneer Award honoree John Petote of CIO Solutions; Entrepreneur of the Year honoree Adam Firestone of Firestone Brewing Co.; Lynda Weinman of Excellence in Service honoree the Santa Barbara International Film Festival; Entrepreneur of the Year honoree David Walker of Firestone Brewing Co.; and Executive of the Year honoree James Takayesu of Tecolote Research. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

More than 700 attendees from the local business and technology community convened at The Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort on Thursday night for the 23rd annual South Coast Business & Technology Awards benefiting the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

The highly anticipated event is the largest networking opportunity on the South Coast, gathering business leaders and innovators to honor and recognize companies and individuals with a commitment to the vibrancy of the local economy.

“We are proud to have that connection with the business and technology community,” said Candace Winkler, president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. “This year, we have six great honorees that we are going to recognize, and we are particularly excited the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara will surpass a grand total of $100 million in scholarship awards to more than 47,000 students over 54 years. It’s impactful to reach that many students.”

Candace Winkler, left, president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, with steering committee co-chairs Arnold Brier of Yardi Systems and Renee Grubb of Village Properties.
Candace Winkler, left, president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, with steering committee co-chairs Arnold Brier of Yardi Systems and Renee Grubb of Village Properties. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

Support from the Scholarship Foundation reached 3,019 Santa Barbara County students in 2016 alone, with scholarship awards totaling a record $8.76 million.

The South Coast Business & Technology Awards Scholarship Fund grants scholarships to local students studying business- and technology-related subjects at Santa Barbara City College, UC Santa Barbara, Westmont College, CSU Channel Islands, Allan Hancock College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

A volunteer steering committee led by co-chairs Arnold Brier of Yardi Systems and Renee Grubb of Village Properties helped select the distinguished honorees.

The Excellence in Service award was presented to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which isn't just a high-quality festival with films featuring high-profile celebrities. The organization also conducts extensive educational outreach with schools and youth organizations in Santa Barbara.

SBIFF education programs serve 20,000 children, families and seniors each year, many from vulnerable and underserved populations.

Excellence in Service honorees, Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Roger Durling and Lynda Weinman. Click to view larger
Excellence in Service honorees, Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Roger Durling and Lynda Weinman. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

"SBIFF is so honored by this award, especially because we support the cause of the Scholarship Foundation and believe so much in their mission,” said Lynda Weinman, president of the SBIFF board of directors. "What many people don’t realize about the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is that we are more than a two-week event, and our key focus is also education, but with a different slant. Our goal is to inspire, inform and engage through film. We have many different types of film screenings and filmmaking programs for the young, the underserved, the elderly and adult learners. It is our belief that the arts and storytelling have a way of bridging our differences, helping us all better understand each other, and bringing key human struggles into the light for discussion and action."

The programs run the gamut from a youth-oriented film camp with the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County to new efforts to get seniors involved from nearby retirement centers to benefit the underserved K-12 population, adult learners, high-schoolers, teachers and the elderly. These diverse programs include AppleBox, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, Programs for Seniors, Rosebud Program and Film Camp.

Entrepreneurs of the Year honorees Adam Firestone and David Walker of Firestone Brewing Co. Click to view larger
Entrepreneurs of the Year honorees Adam Firestone and David Walker of Firestone Brewing Co.  (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

Adam Firestone and David Walker of Firestone Brewing Co. received the Entrepreneurs of the Year award. The duo started a pursuit of the perfect beer more than 20 years ago from a converted shed on the grounds of the Firestone family vineyard. Today, they have grown the company to the 10th-largest craft brewery in the United States, with expansion in Paso Robles, the Barrelworks in Buellton and the Propagator brew house in Venice.

“Success can be as simple as a fresh-tasting beer we made pulled from a tap line in a distant town, or a humorous exchange with a longtime employee in a meeting, or making a plan and executing it,” Walker told Noozhawk. “Any and all success requires a lot of patience and tenacity — something that is easier if your destination is a longtime dream.”

AppFolio was the recipient of the Company of the Year honor. It was founded in 2006 by Klaus Schauser and Jon Walker with a goal to revolutionize how small and medium-size businesses grow and compete using vertical cloud-based software solutions to automate, modernize and grow businesses.

The Executive of the Year award was presented to James Takayesu, who after leaving the Air Force joined Tecolote Research, where in just seven years he was named senior vice president for operations.

“Serving in the military definitely had an influence on me and contributed to any success I have had at Tecolote Research,” Takayesu said. “Tecolote provides professional services that touch all branches of the Department of Defense, and I constantly run into colleagues and friends who served as I did in the military, and who are always willing to help with the mission of national security.” 

Executive of the Year honoree James Takayesu, with Pioneer Award honoree John Petote Click to view larger
Executive of the Year honoree James Takayesu, with Pioneer Award honoree John Petote (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

Tecolote has a staff of more than 500, and during Takayesu’s tenure the value of a share within Tecolote’s ESOP plan increased more than 1,100 percent and annual revenues rose from $23 million to $114 million. Takayesu’s guidance also has ensured that the Tecolote families are well provided for with 100 percent company-funded health and welfare benefits. Tecolote also has one of the highest retention rates in the industry, consistently at more than 90 percent.

“Tecolote Research is a 100 percent employee-owned company that has been in business for 44 years providing consulting services in support of the national defense of our nation,” Takayesu said. “The company has enabled our staff to enjoy a productive lifetime career, raise families and accumulate enough financial resources to successfully retire. The success of our staff has been the company’s success and vice-versa.”

John Petote, co-founder of CIO Solutions, received the Pioneer Award. In the past 30 years, Petote was instrumental in building CIO Solutions into a multimillion-dollar, high-tech company supporting many Santa Barbara County businesses with customized information technology and voice communications solutions.

“I am pretty sure I am receiving this award as a result of having invested in 77 startup companies over the past 20 years, and also being a very active mentor to the companies I invested in,” Petote said. “I give great thanks to those past CIO Solutions employees who stuck it out during the hard times and were very loyal.”

One of the companies Petote has invested in received the Company of the Year award, AppFolio, as he strongly believes the local community is a vibrant and dynamic location to start a business.

“As an investor, it never hurts to give an edge to entrepreneurial leaders who have had highly successful outcomes in the past,” Petote said. “Incredibly smart and motivated leaders and employees greatly increase the odds for success with a mix of doing the necessary homework to uncover niches that are not being properly addressed in the marketplace. I believe this is a key ingredient responsible for building the foundation of success for AppFolio.”

The Excellence in Service award goes to a company providing strong customer and community service, while the Entrepreneur of the Year honor is presented to an individual with a successful career of entrepreneurial endeavors. The Company of the Year is a market leader that demonstrates profitability and strong growth. Additionally, the Executive of the Year is for a senior executive who has increased company profitability with strengthened market presence and a vigorous passion for the local community. Finally, an individual with a long history of outstanding leadership or innovations in business or technology on the South Coast receives the Pioneer Award.

Also included this year were award sponsors Pricewaterhouse Cooper, Company of the Year award sponsor; Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP, Executive of the Year award sponsor; Cox Business, Entrepreneurs of the Year award sponsor; and Montecito Bank & Trust, Excellence in Service award sponsor.

Michael Franco, speaker and past scholarship recipient, with daughter Mia, art scholarship recipient from San Marcos High School.
Michael Franco, speaker and past scholarship recipient, with daughter Mia, art scholarship recipient from San Marcos High School. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

“The year I received my financial aid, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara gave away a grand total of $86,000. This year, they are slated to give away over $8 million, and a little chunk of that money will show my two daughters that their college dreams matter,” said speaker and past scholarship recipient Michael Franco, co-founder and CEO of Riptide. “The Scholarship Foundation has shown our family that if you can dream it, and if you are willing to put in the work, they will help you to make that dream a reality. As a parent, that is truly the greatest gift I could ever receive.”

The Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation also will stage the Annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony on May 24, as hundreds of students and their families gather at the Sunken Gardens to celebrate student award recipients from Santa Barbara’s South County area.

SCB&T Awards are made possible through community support from businesses and individuals, and the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara does not charge an administrative fee, with 100 percent of contributions to support scholarships going directly to deserving students. Click here for more information.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

From left, Christie Good of Pricewaterhouse Cooper, Company of the Year award sponsor; Danna McGrew of Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP, Executive of the Year award sponsor; and Kirsten McLaughlin of Cox Business, Entrepreneurs of the Year award sponsor. Click to view larger
From left, Christie Good of Pricewaterhouse Cooper, Company of the Year award sponsor; Danna McGrew of Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP, Executive of the Year award sponsor; and Kirsten McLaughlin of Cox Business, Entrepreneurs of the Year award sponsor. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)
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