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2018 Small Business Award winners announced

The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce recognized the 2018 Entrepreneur and Small Business of the Year Awards Tuesday, March 20 at the Sea Ranch Resort in Kill Devil Hills.

The 2018 winners are:

—Silver Bonsai Gallery for the Small Business of the Year (10 employees or less)

—Wild Horse Adventure Tours for the Small Business of the Year (11-50 employees)

The annual awards recognize businesses for achievements and community involvement.

“The ESBY applications were reviewed and judged by a panel of judges from around the country,” said Bob Peele, Chamber board chair, before presenting the awards. “Chamber executives from other states, business consultants with our some of our partners including Small Business Technology Development Center and the Small Business Center were included as judges for this year’s awards. It is quite an honor for these businesses to receive such recognition.”

Entering its 20th year, Silver Bonsai Gallery in Manteo is excited for the journey they have created and the one that lies ahead. It’s a place where creativity meets and helps raise awareness of American made fine arts and crafts by showing some of the unique and talented artisans in the Outer Banks community.

Owners Ben and Kathryn Stewart describe their business as a “small but mighty ship.” Accompanied by two employees, the foursome accomplishes amazing things from jewelry making to the art of bonsai. Part of their mission is simply to support the artists, the clients and all the arts of the Outer Banks.

THE 2018 Small Business of the Year (11-50 employees) is Wild Horse Adventure Tours of Corolla. At the awards ceremony are, from left, keynote speaker and Hatteras storyteller Danny Couch, Wild Horse Adventure Tours owners Sam Wise and Wanda Wise and Bob Peele, Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman. (Chamber photo)

Rated the #1 Tour Company in the US by Trip Advisor, Wild Horse Adventure Tours does much more than tours. It advocates, inspires, and gives back to the community it loves. Ten years strong with dedicated employees and awesome vehicles, Wild Horse Adventure Tours serves as a top local attraction and as a steward to the endangered wild Spanish Colonial Mustangs of the Outer Banks.

Born from the owner’s vision of seeing a more eco-conscious, employee-focused operation, the formula to their business is a happy customer plus an empowered employee equals a successful business. The business has 31 employees.

“The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce is proud of our member businesses for all they do in this community,” added Peele. “The Outer Banks area would not be the special place that it is without their attention to detail, outstanding customer service, the willingness to take a risk and provide jobs and services for our community. We are proud to celebrate these companies with the ESBY program.”

Corporate sponsor for the awards presentation is BB&T. Event sponsors include College of the Albemarle’s Small Business Center, Hilton Garden Inn, Small Business and Technology Development Center at Elizabeth City State University, and Outer Banks Insurance Agency.