Garner Holt, founder of Garner Holt Productions of Redlands

The 17th annual Spirit of the Entrepreneur awards gala recognized the inland region’s top businesses and best entrepreneurs for their drive, dedication and determination.
With the theme, “Innovation is Not Enough,” the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at Cal State San Bernardino held the annual awards program recently at the Riverside Convention Center, with more than 1,000 people in attendance.
One of the event’s highlights was a surprise presentation of a special lifetime achievement award to Garner Holt, founder of Garner Holt Productions of Redlands. Holt, who founded the company 42 years ago as a teenager in his parents’ garage, has grown the company to become the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of animatronic figures and ride show and theme park attractions.
Holt was also on hand to support the Garner Holt Student Fast Pitch Competition, where five CSUSB students and future entrepreneurs each delivered 90-second pitches about their up-and-coming venture ideas to the audience and were critiqued on their overall preparation, poise and professional presentation.
Three of the students were recognized for having the top pitches at the end of the competition. Jonathan Stoneking, who pitched Halo Mouse, a new ergonomic computer mouse, took the top prize of $4,000. Second place went to Victoria Zachary for Cloud 9, an electronic inhaler-cloud to help people suffering with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); and Alexander Watkins, who took third place for Stoggo, a dog harness that prevents leashed dogs from moving vertically.
For the Spirit of the Entrepreneur awards, Bob Marcynyszyn of Avalon Shutters Inc., in Perris was named the top entrepreneur and received the Best of the Best Award. Earlier, Marcynyszyn had received the Consumer Products Manufacturing Entrepreneur award.
Ten other entrepreneurs were recognized for their achievements. They are:

  • Consulting Entrepreneur – Vikita Poindexter, Poindexter Consulting Group, Murrieta;
  • Family Business Entrepreneur – Dane Stevenson, QC Manufacturing, Temecula;
  • Food & Beverage Entrepreneur – Rod Vandenbos, buzzbox premium cocktails Inc., Indio;
  • General Entrepreneur – Jonathan Mitchell, Sunergy Construction Inc., Corona;
  • Health Care Entrepreneur – Dr. Kelly Hong, Kelly Smile Dentistry, Victorville;
  • Industrial Manufacturing Entrepreneur – Jon Armstrong, Do It American Manufacturing Company, LLC, Corona;
  • Inspirational Entrepreneur - Karen Mason, United Transmission Exchange, San Bernardino;
  • Service-Based Entrepreneur – Mickey McGuire Jr., Acorn Technology Services, Inc., Riverside;
  • Small/Emerging Enterprise – Ryan Rainbolt, Education Through Imagination, Redlands; and  
  • Social Entrepreneur – Carrie Ridgway, Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center, Riverside.

Visit the Spirit of the Entrepreneur website for more information.
About the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship
Located on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino, the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) was recently recognized as a Top 35 Global Business School for Fostering Entrepreneurship by AACSB International. IECE offers a wide range of programs and services including academic programs that lead to business degrees in entrepreneurship for undergraduate and graduate students as well as delivering experiential learning and student support programs such as the Fast Pitch Competition. In the local community, IECE offers existing and aspiring entrepreneurs a wide array of business advisory and mentoring services, student internship and consulting resources, and entrepreneurial training programs that help them achieve greater levels of success in their business ventures.

Visit the IECE website for more information.