BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – One of the most visible small business owners in town and an iconic Main Street business were honored by Fort Madison’s Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning.
The Chamber held its annual Small Business Breakfast Thursday morning at the Comfort Inn and Suites with a breakfast and networking hour prior to the program.
Thomas Klann State Farm was honored with the 2018 Small Business of the Year award. Klann was raised in northeast Iowa near Eldridge and worked for State Farm in Des Moines and the Quad Cities prior to coming to Fort Madison.
One of the nomination forms for the State Farm office said Klann and his staff show a sense of pride in a community that in just three years surpasses that of some who have been in town for a long time.
“It’s definitely my team,” he said. “They’ve done a lot of higher education stuff in the past year. I may show up at a lot of stuff, but I can’t imagine all the things they are involved in throughout the community. We thought it was pretty cool.”
Klann said it’s important that he, along with his staff, give back to the community to keep it viable for the future.
“Being a young business owner, I’m committed to the next 30 or 40 years and me and my team want to make sure there’s a place for us to do business for the next 40 years,” Klann said.
Dollhouse Dreams was named the Fort Madison Chamber’s Microbusiness of the Year after rebuilding from a late year thunderstorm that did extensive damage to the store front and upper floor residences. Other nominees for the Microbusiness of the Year nominees included Dawgs and Divas and Junque to Gems.
Chamber member Angela King read a portion of a Dollhouse Dreams nomination form.
This business should be honored because they make in impact as a small business and have strong ties to the community. And rebuilding after disaster strikes shows they continue to want to be in business. Their clients come from all over and contribute to the economy of our town.”
Brenda Derr, owner of Dollhouse Dreams said it was the fourth time her business had been nominated.
“This is my fourth nomination, Derr said. “The competitions have been tough and I was shocked. I’ve been in business for 4.5 years and I would say if it wasn’t for the local support, the local people in the area, and, of course the surrounding areas because they come down to my shop from all over the United States and the world and if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be there. If it wasn’t for that support and encouragement, I don’t think I would have rebuilt,” Derr said.
Bob Huffman of Huffman Welding and Manufacturing, who was one of the premier sponsors of the event, told attendees that small businesses are the backbone of the community and Fort Madison should be proud of what is offered here.
“It is very eye opening at times the things people see when they come through here – the river, the parks, the rodeo – countless things we take for granted that we should be proud of,” he said. “We’re very proud to be a small business in town and be a small business with all of you.”