Iowa Small Business Person of the Year – Mary Connell of Air Control

Iowa Small Business Person of the Year – Mary Connell of Air Control

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Mary Connell, President and CEO of Air Control Inc., in Clinton, Iowa as its 2014 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year.

In recognition of the small business community’s contributions to the American economy and society, the President of the United States designates one week each year as National Small Business Week. Scheduled for the week of May 11th of this year, Small Business Week 2014 will honor the more than 27 million small businesses in America. Since its establishment in 1963, the highlight of this annual tradition is the presentation of awards which focus on the outstanding contributions of small business persons at the district, state and national levels.

Air Control Inc. (ACI) of Clinton, Iowa, is a family-owned business started by Mary’s father, Vern Witt, in 1956. Mary began working for her father at ACI in 1979, following high school and shortly thereafter sought the help of the Iowa Small Business Development Centers, (SBDCs) to write the company’s first business plan and seek their advice and assistance after the loss of its biggest customer threatened its extinction.

The company specializes in heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) work for residential, commercial and industrial sectors, and operates two metal fabrication shops. ACI designs and creates specifications for a variety of industrial systems and installs dust collection systems. ACI is especially active in manufacturing tanks, transfer duct, and numerous items for the food and grain industry and also builds and installs steel fabrications and handling equipment for a wide variety of industries.

A second generation, comprised of Mary and her brother Joe Witt, formally acquired ACI in the early 1980s. Mary’s son Sean joined the ownership team in 2011 making it a third generation business. Under Mary’s leadership, the business has moved well beyond the $1 million in yearly sales the company was making when she first took over as President and CEO upon her father’s retirement in 1989. Today, despite the recent economic downturn, the company grosses more than $8 million in sales and has expanded its product line into five major divisions run by 40 full-time employees.

Mary has focused her time, energy, and resources on building and expanding the business and often returns to the SBDC for assistance with strategic planning. One avenue she has expanded is government contracting, where successful bids have been won to supply fabricated products to several Air Forces bases.

Mary’s many community contributions include board member of the Eastern Iowa SBDC’s local advisory board, current board of Directors for Citizens First Bank, past President of Mercy Medical Center, Rotarian, and Stewardship Committee of Prince of Peace Catholic Church. She is a past board member of Prince of Peace College Preparatory School, YWCA, YMCA of Clinton, Gateway United Way, Gateway Chamber of Commerce, and Clinton Junior Baseball.

As the 2014 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year, Mary will represent Iowa at National Small Business Week ceremonies in Washington, D.C. May 15-16, 2014 where she will compete for the National Award.

Mary was nominated for this award by Melissa Pittman – Director of Sales and Marketing at Air Control, Inc.

Visit the SBA site for more information on Small Business Week 2014.

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