Business Journal names winners at Top Women Owned Businesses event


Winners of the Business Journal's Top Women Owned Businesses awards are, from left, Bonnie Knopf, Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, Joyce Lovse and Linda Vos-Graham. Photo by Johnny Quirin

Women entrepreneurs were honored on Wednesday afternoon during the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s sold-out Top Women Owned Businesses awards luncheon at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

The 35 finalists were separated into four categories based on annual company revenues.

This year’s Top Women Owned Businesses award recipients are:

  • Bonnie Knopf, Intrepid Plastics Manufacturing, was selected in the $0-$1.49 million category
  • Joyce Lovse, AngelCare Home Care, was selected in the $1.5 million-$3.99 million category
  • Holly Lookabaugh Deur, Generation Care, was selected in the $4 million-$6.99 million category
  • Linda Vos-Graham, Vos Glass, was selected in the $7 million-plus category

The winners were selected by a judging panel comprised of Carol Kirkland, owner of AVE Office Supplies and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners/Michigan; Michelle Richards, president of the Michigan Center for Empowerment and Economic Development; and Eric Larson, CPA/ABV at Beene Garter.

The judges considered several factors in making their final selections, including the overall health of the business, annual growth, evidence of market leadership and business ethics. Additionally, the nominees’ employee development programs, mentoring of others, and community involvement were taken into account.

“You have been boxed in, you have been pushed back, and you have all surged ahead,” Carole Valade, editor of the Grand Rapids Business Journal, said in her introduction of the nominees. She also noted that the last couple of years have been particularly hard on the finalists compared to years past.

The award recipients also noted the challenges of this past year, which included professional as well as personal challenges that they had to overcome.

Knopf said that the last couple of years were a struggle, but that the company got through the tough times and is grateful to be where it is today.

Lovse acknowledged that the death of her daughter a year ago had made for a very challenging year, and she thanked her staff for all that they did to help her keep the company growing even as they dealt with the grief of that great loss.

In addition to the announcement of the four award recipients, keynote speaker Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of The Baby Einstein Co., gave an inspirational talk about her own business success and overcoming challenges.

Aigner-Clark began Baby Einstein in 1996, using $18,000 of her and her husband’s personal savings to start the company, and then sold the multi-million dollar company to Disney in 2001 for an undisclosed amount. She continues to show her entrepreneurial spirit with additional ventures focused on products for children, which have included books, videos and apps.

“The event was amazing,” Aigner-Clark said of the luncheon. “I think that it’s got to be the hardest job in the world to select a winner because these women are all so successful, and to make it in an economy like we have been dealing with for the last couple of years is such a feat. It was inspiring for me.”

Many of the 35 finalists are featured in videos on the Business Journal’s website.

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