Thank You, West Virginia!

Posted on May 5, 2016

Made in Germany wins big during National Small Business Week

As part of National Small Business Week, on Wednesday, May 4th, 2016, the United States Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office awarded their 2016 Small Business Awards to ten outstanding business leaders at Robert H. Mollohan Research Center.

I was fortunate to be recognized as part of this exquisite group, and was awarded the SBA 2016 West Virginia Small Business Champion of the Year. With commendations from the governor, two senators and two congressmen of West Virginia, this award means a lot to me as an individual, as an immigrant, and as a citizen of West Virginia. I addressed the audience yesterday with the following words:

The 2016 Small Business Champion of the Year Award definitely represents a milestone in my 30-year career as a Marketing and Advertising Professional, because I receive this honor for a decade of dedication to small business in the Mountain State. It serves as fuel for the road ahead, and echoes a moment in time – ten years ago – when West Virginia chose me – as Colleen Anderson’s song so eloquently expresses.

I want to thank my parents and grandparents for my upbringing, and for the values they have imbued in me. Dedication, tenacity, optimism, and a firm belief that what comes around, goes around. My father, whom I lost in 2008, was a major influence in helping me understand audiences, a skill still valued by my clients today. My Grandfather, who taught me that just showing up was not enough, and that leadership is a service unto others and does not come with the promise of reward, but as a privilege.

I want to thank my mentors, teachers, friends, and cheerleaders; those who did believe in me when I struggled to believe in myself – first and foremost my wife Marianna, her support and example as an experienced educator have helped me set goals and achieve them. And I want to thank those who challenged my thoughts, ideas, and dreams – overcoming their resistance has shown me what I was able to, and called to do.

Through the SBDC, the SBA has helped me to transpose the business mind, knowledge and experience from twenty years of work in the European advertising, marketing, and technology industries to the small business and non-profit organizations in West Virginia. The one-on-one mentoring that I received in accounting, sales, and evaluation strategies, has helped me perform better for my clients. And the opportunity to present my workshop series on Digital Communications Etiquette to a national audience in webinars has enabled me to share my thoughts and insights with small businesses all over the country, helping them to communicate better.

As a West Virginia small business, we have to outperform not only our direct competitors, but also the economic and structural challenges of our region. I have learned that West Virginia in time will give you all, if you are willing to give her your best. They say that if you make it in New York, you’ll make it anywhere – that is even more true for West Virginia. Business can still be made with a handshake, here. You might not get rich beyond your wildest dreams, but you will make friends for life. For all five seasons – Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Football.

I’m glad my business is a West Virginia business, y’all.

I am glad that I was given the opportunity to give my best, give my all, and give back to the Mountain State. I look forward to the road ahead, and hope to travel many miles under the blue West Virginia sky, still. Thank you for making me one of yours.

– Jens K. Kiel


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