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Leading Edge Awards presented to business leaders

Waldorf, MD - For one night, the spotlight highlighted local businesses helping to foster economic development at the Leading Edge Awards, hosted by College of Southern Maryland at the Waldorf Jaycees Hall Wednesday, June 10.

Highlighted as CEO/Businessman of the Year was Don Smolinski, owner of All-American Harley-Davidson in Hughesville.

“This night is about Don Smolinski, to honor my friend and neighbor,” said Maryland Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer, who made a special trip to Waldorf from Capital Hill for the event. “He does business on my side of the river, upstate, downstate, all over; promoting economic opportunities and across the tri-county region.

“Don Smolinski is one of the best representatives I know of somebody who had a lot of talent and applied that in various ways,” Hoyer added. “I’m very proud to honor a representative of what America is all about, taking character and ability and applying it to the needs of our country, a man of character who reaches out and helps others.”
Maryland State Senate President Mike Miller told a humorous story about the beneficiary.

“There are thieves in the world,” Miller joked. “Don Smolinski stole my girlfriend. I had known her in high school. We lived on the same street. Don came along and the rest is history.”

“Mike Miller keeps complaining that I stole his girlfriend,” Smolinski quipped. “All he had was a bicycle. I had a motorcycle.”

SMECO CEO Joe Slater Jr. won the award in 2014 and said it was even a greater honor to introduce Don Smolinski. He called Smolinski a hard-working individual who successfully balanced the role of college student and father, working as an electrician making only $2.20 an hour. He began hauling scrap metal up the road to make money.

“He developed a passion for motorcycles and took the money he made from selling scrap metal and invested in a warehouse,” Slater noted. “A few years later, he owned a Harley-Davidson dealership in Oxon Hill. He later opened All-American Harley Davidson dealership, a 44,000 square-foot dealership. In that building is a mural painted in 1890 of the Grand Army of the Republic, including Mike Miller,” he joked. “It’s called the March of Time. It’s 12 feet high, 21 feet wide, greeting you as you enter the Harley-Davidson showroom. He now owns 10 diverse companies including Star 98.3, Harley-Davidson dealerships and he also owns longest pier in Calvert County, 320-feet-long that it took five-and-a-half years to get permitted.”

“Thank you for this very prestigious honor,” Smolinski said.

The 2015 Leading Edge Technology Company of the Year award went to Connie Fuksa Blink Solutions LLC.

Fuska said she was, “Honored beyond words.”

“As some of you may know, Blink Solutions is a web-based communication software to help clients remember previous customers and to stay in touch with them throughout the year,” she added. “It started out for my own business, but it quickly became evident that it was great for small businesses throughout the region.

“Thank you to all of you for being a community that supports its small business and all we do,” Fuska stated.

Booz Allen Hamilton, the College of Southern Maryland’s Partnership in Education award winner, was represented by Mike Morgan, who said he was a lifelong resident of St. Mary’s County.

“It is an honor to be nominated for this award,” Morgan stated. “Booz Allen Hamilton has found a tremendous partner in CSM. The Navy needs more cyber-security professional and CSM has been critical in meeting that need.”

Aeolus Energy Servicing Inc., Small Business of the Year, was represented by owner Josie Cazares.

“We built this company based on a passion for green energy,” she said. “It is rewarding when we get congratulations for working so hard and customer satisfaction, which gets us invited back to do the work.”