Winners of the 15th Annual Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards Announced at Gala

21 Nov 2017

Riverside, CA – Winners were announced at the 15th Annual Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards, presented by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at California State University, San Bernardino on November 15th, 2017.  From a pool of 197 nominees, 27 finalists were invited to the packed black-tie gala to be honored for their entrepreneurial work.

“The Spirit of the Entrepreneur is one the region’s top events for our business community and this year’s gala surpassed all our expectations, said Michael Stull, founder of the event, director of the IECE and a professor of entrepreneurship at Cal State San Bernardino, where the center is housed. “This year’s winners reflect the outstanding and innovative abilities of the region’s businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Michael Fox, of Fox Transportation in Rancho Cucamonga, was named the top entrepreneur and received the Best of the Best Award. Fox had been honored earlier with the general entrepreneur award.

Amid an evening of networking and incredible entertainment with world-renowned performance art painter Gregory Adamson, an audience of 900 business and community leaders attended the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards at the Riverside Convention Center to celebrate and honor Inland Empire entrepreneurs.

The Best of the Best Award

The Best of the Best Award, given by Best Best & Krieger, went to Michael Fox, of Fox Transportation in Rancho Cucamonga. Fox Transportation provides 10,000 deliveries a day to pharmacies, hospitals, distribution centers and retailers. Michael Fox shared the Best of the Best Award with his mother, with whom he has worked to build a prosperous company over the past 30 years.

Winners were in eight categories, and represent the best the Inland Empire has, demonstrating risk taking, creativity, innovation, determination and hard work to build successful business ventures.

Eco-Entrepreneur Winner

Roy Dann, of Cal Micro Recycling – Cal Micro Recycling has been operating since 2002 as a business-to-business recycler, with three processing facilities in Ontario.  They provide cost-effective e-waste recycling and destruction solutions to help clients keep hazardous electronic waste from landfills.

Find out more about Cal Micro Recycling at

Family Business Entrepreneur Winner

Janet Steiner, Thoro Packaging – Thoro packaging is a third-generation business in Corona California. Thoro has become an industry leader in packaging solutions.  They help customers by creating high-quality folding cartons that complement their clients’ brand goals.

Find out more about Thoro Packaging at

General Entrepreneur

Michael Fox, Fox Transportation – Starting out of a garage with one truck, in the past 30 years Fox Transportation has grown to 10,000 deliveries a day.  The logistics and transportation company is located in Rancho Cucamonga.

Find out more about Fox Transportation at

Healthcare Entrepreneur

Michael Rappaport, Marketplace Physical Therapy & Wellness Center – One of the first rehabilitation companies in the US to fuse fitness and physical therapy together, Marketplace Physical Therapy & Wellness Center has 40 employees, has treated over 25,000 patients and has 6,000 gym members.

Find out more about Marketplace Physical Therapy & Wellness Center at

Manufacturing Entrepreneur

Loren Hanson & Dave Haffter, Fusion Sign and Design – Founded in 2006, Fusion Signs and Design in Riverside has grown to six locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Utah.  They provide architects, builders, contractors and global brands with expert crafted, high quality signs.

Find out more about Fusion Sign and Design at

Service-Based Entrepreneur

Chet Hitt, Sunset Hills Family of Mortuaries – Founded in 1995 in Apple, Sunset Hills has grown from a small patch of land to the largest privately heal funeral and cemetery provider in San Bernardino County with 1,200 funeral services a year and six mortuary locations.

Find out more about Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary at

Small/Emerging Enterprise

Brad Treevithick, The Goat & Vine, Inc. – Brad and his wife Alicia opened The Goat & Vine restaurant in Temecula in 2015. The restaurant specializes in gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, craft beer and wine and has experienced tremendous growth in their two years.

Find out more about The Goat & Vine at

Social Entrepreneur

Dr. Frederick Axelrod, LifeStream Blood Bank – Based in San Bernardino, LifeStream provides blood and medical services to more than 80 hospitals in six Southern California counties. With 33 hospitals served in 2004, Lifestream now employees more than 400 at five locations in Southern California.

Find out more about LifeStream Blood Bank at

Honorary StarMaker Award

To close out the night, in celebration of 15 years and the continued success and growing notoriety, the IECE surprised on Dr. Mike Stull with an honorary award called “The Michael G. Stull StarMaker” award. CSUSB President Tomas Morales, Dean Lawrence Rose of the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, and Stacey Allis, assistant director of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) pulled a surprise on Dr. Stull with the honorary award. The custom designed award was generously produced, with a touch of Garner Holt‘s very own creative genius invested and his brilliant creative technical team, at Garner Holt productions.

Check back over the next few weeks as we spotlight some of this year’s winners.

You can ‘earn more about CSUSB, the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship and the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards.



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