Giving capitalism a good name

Entrepreneur of the Year stands out by giving back

Steve Kendrick’s other customers might have wondered what in the world was going on.

After all, the owner of Kendrick Paint and Body had never made them cry. Kendrick is renowned for great customer service. But here he was last June, talking to a young woman named Cheryl Busby in his parking lot, and making her cry.

Well, they were tears of undiluted joy – after Kendrick surprised the young widowed and car-less mother with a free “recycled ride” – a repaired 2003 Ford Escape. She had been chosen among some 90 nominations.

“We felt we needed to give back to the community,” Kendrick said at the time.

Well, the community gave back to him – with the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce naming him 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year.

In accepting the award at the chamber’s Member Economic Luncheon, Kendrick credited his technicians, staff and customers. But others, in recorded testimonials, praised Kendrick as a business owner who has kept a personal touch despite growing his grandfather’s baby from its familiar downtown location to multiple locations in Martinez and Aiken, S.C., and soon Evans.

Kendrick joins a gallery of previous award recipients that reads like a Who’s Who in Augusta. And in most every case, these local business owners have weathered all manner of economic whim – particularly in the past several years, which have been the most challenging since the Great Depression.

Capitalism has been given a black eye during these difficult days, some of it justified. But entrepreneurs such as Steve Kendrick give it a good name, by giving it all they’ve got and giving customers good reason to come back.

We just observed “Small Business Saturday” two days after Thanksgiving, when consumers are urged to patronize local businesses. Wouldn’t it be great if we observed it every day?

We’re pretty certain people such as Steve Kendrick have earned it.

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon