Family Business Award accepting nominations

Patrick (above) builds a castle while at Focus Behavioral Associates, one of the 2016 winners of the Texas Family Business of the Year Award, helps enhance the lives of children with disabilities. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

Family business owners get the opportunity each year to have their hard work recognized by the Baylor Institute for Family Business‘ Texas Family Business of the Year Award, which is now currently accepting nominations.

“Successful businesses are not all about money- a lot of times it’s about a whole lot more,” said Linda Ramirez, program coordinator for the Baugh Center at the Baylor Institute for Family Business.

This is the 28th year that the awards will be given out, and over the years the award has grown, Ramirez said. The first award was given to Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1990. The awards have grown to be handed out in multiple categories, and many awards now have special characteristics.

Winners are chosen in three general size categories — large, medium and small — and in eight special award categories in which size is not a determining factor, according to the website. These eight awards are the Family Values Award, the Well-Managed Family Business Award, the Community Commitment Award, the Fastest-Growing Family Business Award, the Founder’s Award, the Heritage Award, the Stewardship Award and the New/Young Family Business Award.

“What we’re really looking for is businesses who are family owned with either multiple family members or multiple generations of the family working in the business,” Ramirez said. “Or our favorite businesses are those that have transition and that have survived succession through several generations and thrived. We look for a commitment to the community, a commitment to their employees and, of course, a commitment to the family.”

One of the 2016 winners, Focus Behavioral Associates, exemplifies these characteristics. Focus is a business that provides applied behavior analysis techniques to help enhance the lives of children with disabilities or some kind of behavioral diagnosis. Focus works with clients with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and others, according to its website.

“As an overall aspect, whether or not they’re blood relatives, we actually call this a Focus family,” said Lisa Fuentes, executive director and owner of Focus. “Everyone here very much takes care of each other both from a professional and personal standpoint.”

Fuentes has a daughter and a cousin who are both therapists, her husband helps from the administrative side, her other two children help in the receptionist’s office and her mother works for the insurance side.

Focus therapists have a background in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy, which studies how and why behavior happens. Clients are taught skills that can help with anything from eating different textured foods to learning job skills. Focus has partnered with Baylor through offering internships for students and has hired 10 Baylor graduates. This is the third location for Focus, and it is currently under construction as they expand. Focus won the new business award in 2015 and the fastest-growing business award in 2016.

“The first award that we got was exciting,” Fuentes said. “It was exciting that what they saw in our business they felt that had to recognize. Then to turn around this year and get the fastest growing award definitely was looking beyond ‘you’re a new business’ to ‘you’re actually establishing yourself.'”

Nomination forms can be found online. Once a business is nominated, they are contacted by the Baylor Institute for Family Business and informed that they have been nominated. It is then up to the business to submit an application for the award. In order to be nominated, a business must be headquartered in Texas, be owned and operated by different generations of a family, hold the potential to be handed down to a younger generation, have multiple family members with active employment in the business and/or be a family holding company which is currently operating a business. Application information can also be found online.

Nominations run until April 28, and awards will be presented Nov. 3 at a banquet at the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. The awards banquet begins with a reception, followed by a dinner and the presentation of the awards.

“The award event is so touching,” Ramirez said. “You’re often surprised by how much the award means to them. You’re also surprised by how eager family and friends are to wish them well and congratulate them. I think that it’s confirmation that they’ve been doing very good work over the years, sometimes you get down in the weeds and don’t realize you’re building a great business. It’s nice to have somebody say you’ve done a great job.”