Founders of Year

Jim Barfield and Rich Hall, of Luke Associates, were named the 2019 Founders of the Year in a ceremony on Aug. 27.

BREVARD COUNTY — When communities work together, goals become easier to be accomplished and everyone can reap from the benefits.

The 2019 Founder of the Year Awards celebrated four nominees who have made a difference in society through volunteerism and its involvement with the community.

The awards were hosted by the Founders Forum, a nonprofit organization made up of board members who seek to provide mentorship opportunities for entrepreneurs and support for start-up enterprises and expanding businesses.

On Aug. 27, Jim Barfield and Rich Hall, of Luke and Associates, were named the 2019 Founder of the Year. The three finalists included Pete McChrystal, of Accent Technologies; the Thompson Family, of Dixie Crossroads; and Tom Kirk and Laura Chiesman, of First Wave Financial.

“We’ve been doing this for 35 years as an organization,” said Brenda Plocharczyk, chairwoman on the Founders Forum board of directors. “From an awards perspective, it’s one of the most prestigious here in Brevard County, from the nominees to the winners themselves.

“My focus for the event itself was not just on the winner, but the finalists as a group,” Mrs. Plocharczyk continued. “It was an honor for me to recognize four amazing companies with very different stories on how they got started, how they became successful, and how they endured and are still viable businesses today. The mutual respect and camaraderie that they showed to one another during the event... it was truly humbling.”

The criteria that members of the Founders Forum look at for nominations includes giving back to the community, volunteerism and company involvement within the community.

“The winner was Jim and Rich, so I think for both of them, one of things I think is key as a true founder and community supporter is, you don’t always go out there and toot your own horn,” Mrs. Plocharczyk said.

Members of the Founders Forum board of directors are comprised of local business owners and community leaders.

As a hands-on board of directors, Mrs. Plocharczyk said everything is done on a volunteer basis, from organizing, staffing and executing events to marketing and getting its name out there.

“I think the overall feeling of the support for one another is very unique to Brevard County,” Mrs. Plocharczyk said. “It is not something you usually see in other places, you still have that hometown feel. You know that everybody is rooting for everybody else.”

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Associate Managing Editor

I have been a Viera resident for 14 years and a writer my whole life. I love to travel when the opportunity presents itself, as well as try new things.

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