Catoctin Creek Distillery was formally recognized in three categories at the Loudoun Chamber’s Small Business Awards on Friday, Nov. 13, following a year that saw the Purcellville company expand its market overseas into the UK while pivoting to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic at home.
The distillery, founded by Scott and Becky Harris, took home three awards at the chamber’s virtual ceremony: Main Street Business of the Year, the People’s Choice Award, and the evening’s highest award, Small Business of the Year.
The first award, the People’s Choice Award, caught the Harrises off guard, with Becky rushing to get back into frame in front of their computer at home—“Becky was upstairs putting away dinner when we got that, so we truly did not expect that,” Scott said.
It was only the start of a big night for the business—even if they, and all the other finalists and winners, took part from home or small watch parties.
“We are so, so humbled to be receiving this award in this crazy year of 2020,” Scott Harris said after the Small Business of the Year Award was announced. “There were so many amazing businesses this year in all of these categories, and so many people working so hard to help others out there, and we’re just truly humbled to be honored. Honestly, I have no words.”
“It is always such a pleasure to hear the stories of all the other entrepreneurs that we get to meet tonight, and to see that amazing work that they’re doing in our community,” said Becky Harris. “We really appreciate and can’t be prouder to be part of such an amazing and vibrant business community.”
Pre-pandemic, the year for Catoctin Creek began with its perennially highly-regarded whiskies once again scoring highly on the national stage. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the distillery quickly adapted to produce sanitizing alcohol and hand sanitizer, distributing it for free to those in need like first responders and hospitals. Some relief came afterward as the Virginia Alcoholic Beverages Commission sought to adapt to the pandemic, allowing distillers to ship directly to homes. And in October, the distillery announced it had struck a deal to distribute their craft beverages throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Loudoun Chamber President and CEO Tony Howard said the year’s unusual, online event, streamed on the Chamber’s Facebook page, provided “the opportunity to reflect on what these awards are truly about.”
“Put aside all the glitz, all the glamor, all the loud fun an fellowship … What you have left is the true essence of the Loudoun Small Business Awards: an opportunity to honor the fortitude and fearless commitment of all small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout our community by telling the stories of our finalists and our ultimate winners of this year’s awards,” Howard said. “And while COVID may have kept us from coming together this evening to honor our small business community, it cannot keep us from celebrating these outstanding organizations an individuals who make Loudoun County world class.”
Catoctin Creek and the Harrises were not the only businesses or people honored for their work.
Text P2P was named Virtual Business of the Year. Founder and owner Greg Armfield said over the past year is company has helped restaurants and shops communicate with their customers, and helped nonprofits fundraise over text.
“I’m very surprised and excited to win this award, and I just want to thank the Chamber of Commerce for providing this platform to bring small businesses together where we can network and we can learn from each other,” Armfield said.
The Conche restaurant was named Destination Business of the Year.
“Really special thanks to the Chamber for this award, and an enormous salute to all of this year’s nominees, each of whom here made incredible contributions to Loudoun County,” said founder and chef Santosh Tiptur. “In my view, you all are winners.”
Crossroad Jobs, Inc. was named Nonprofit of the Year.
“We believe that a job provides dignity and hope, and that all capable job seekers should have an opportunity to secure and keep an appropriate marketplace job,” said Executive Director Carol Smith. “Each person who comes through our doors is an individual with a separate story, unique skills and a desire to work, and at Crossroads Jobs we believe there is a job for everyone.”
37 Media and Marketing Group won Superior Service Business of the Year.
“The greatest thing about being able to be home and have this event as virtual is being able to share it with my whole family, so I just want thank you all so much,” said founder and owner Allison Shannon. “It’s been such an honor to be able to serve Loudoun County small businesses.”
National Sports Medicine Institute was named Health and Wellness Business of the Year.
“I specifically want to thank our staff,” said founder Dr. Timothy Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon, assistant professor of Sports Medicine, Shoulder and Elbow Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and team physician for the Baltimore Orioles. “A lot of the services that we provide are essential services that we have to remain open, and we have to care for people who have gotten hurt. And our staff has been very dedicated, not only providing us with excellent service to our clients, but to come in every day and put themselves at risk in this environment when they really don’t have to.”
And Ford’s Fish Shack founder Tony Stafford was named Entrepreneur of the Year.
“I would not choose another county to open my restaurants in,” Stafford said. “And the last year’s been tough for all of us as entrepreneurs, and every day I still get up and enjoy going to my restaurants and running my restaurants, and that’s because of every resident, other small businesses, and other entrepreneurs in Loudoun County make it great.”