Kelly Rossman-McKinney, left, Rhonda Kallman and Valencia Agnew stand together for a shot after the 2017 Top Women Owned Businesses luncheon. Photo by Johnny Quirin
On a day when the Business Journal honored West Michigan women business owners, there was nary a dry eye in the house.
“I’m such a crier,” said Valencia Agnew, owner of Adolescent & Family Behavioral Health Services and winner of the Top Owned Women Businesses award in the $1.49 million and below category, during her emotional acceptance speech.
Agnew related the difficulties female business owners face when starting and growing their firms and thanked God, family, friends and employees for sticking with her during the tumultuous process. She also stressed the importance of “not being embarrassed” by mental health issues and urged the more than 400 guests in attendance at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to get mental health care “out in the open,” where healthy discussion can produce favorable results for the community.
Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO and principal of Truscott Rossman and the winner in the $1.5 million and above category, told attendees to stand their ground in the business world and fight for everything. She drew laughter when revealing her mantra, “Boys, I’m taking charge here,” when explaining how to deal with a male-dominated industry.
“You get the acronym…,” she said.
Rhonda Kallman, co-founder of The Boston Beer Co. and founder and CEO of Boston Harbor Distillery, gave the keynote address and capped the event by sharing her trials and tribulations as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“People ask me what it’s like being a woman in this industry,” she said. “I always tell them it’s an advantage.”