The Metro South Chamber of Commerce recently held the 2014 Small Business Awards Breakfast & Expo at the Shaw’s Center in Brockton. Awards for Small Business of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Bank of America, were presented to businesses that have displayed employment/staying power, growth, innovation, and social responsibilities.
The Small Business of the Year Award was presented to J.M. Pet Resort in Brockton, and JJ’s Caffe in Brockton was named Entrepreneur of the Year. Finalists for the awards also included FUN Enteprises, Inc. in Stoughton, Just Desserts Bakery & Cafe in Bridgewater, On Deck Sports in Brockton, P.A. Narsasian Landscaping in South Easton, and Simpson Spring Company in Easton.
About the Entrepreneur of the Year Award Recipient: Chef JJ Fernandes moved to the US from Cape Verde in 1981 and began work as a dishwasher at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. He quickly moved through the culinary ranks, and in 1996 was appointed as the Executive Chef at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Here, he cooked for such dignitaries as Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. In 2013, Chef JJ opened his own restaurant, JJ’s Caffe in Brockton, serving gourmet breakfast and lunch. JJ’s uses the freshest ingredients and products to offer quality meals and the exceptional service you’d find at a luxury hotel. Since opening, they have relied solely on social media, word-of-mouth, online contests and menu naming options to market their business. Their ingenuity has paid off; a year into their opening they now employ 7 people, have grown from 50 to 700 customers per week, and have experienced a 75% increase in revenue. JJ’s has been recognized by the Enterprise as “The Cheers of Brockton” and is currently the only 5-star rated restaurant on Yelp in the Greater Brockton Area. In the community, General Manager Nelson Fernandes serves on the Montello Business Association Board of Directors. They have also donated to the Massachusetts Hospital School, Criolas Contra Cancer, Ajudar a Ajudar, have sponsored shows, and are in the process of working with the Charity Guild on a cooking class. Goals for the future include offering corporate catering, outside seating, and interior renovations.
About the Small Business of the Year Award Recipient: In 1999, Jeni Mather opened J.M. K-9 as a sole proprietor, renting a 2,000 sq ft building on West Chestnut Street in Brockton for dog training and obedience classes. In 2001, she added an additional 2,000 square feet, allowing for more capacity and a dedicated retail area, as well as a quarter acre of outside space for dog daycare. By 2009, J.M. K-9 had outgrown their location and needed to relocate. They invested $1 million in the 10,000 sq ft, 1.5 acre Pearl Street location, employing 27 people and renaming the business J.M. Pet Resort. Three years later, they launched new services such as In Home Day Training, Pet Sitting and Pet Taxi. Since then, they have launched an online retail shopping program and are in the process of expanding their existing location to incorporate a second level. The expansion will more than double the current space and allow for 50% more play space and boarding capacity, as well as increased retail and office space. J.M. Pet Resort currently has 49 employees, boards 24,000 dogs per year, and welcomes an average of 33,000 dogs per year to doggie daycare. They also recently received a registered Trademark for their behavioral PLAY train Daycare model. In 1999, Jeni founded the Blue Dog Shelter, rescuing over 1500 orphaned dogs, training them, and successfully placing 92% of the dogs into new and loving homes. The Blue Dog Shelter works with KINDNESS Day, the DARE program, Brockton Area Arc, and Heritage House. They have also created Sakari’s Kids, an educational program that has extended into schools, clubs and community based programs, promoting anti-bullying, compassion and responsibility.
Visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/metrosouthchamber to view photos from the 2014 Small Business Awards Breakfast.