Small Business Awards finalists include Issaquah entrepreneurs

September 27, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Issaquah companies specializing in iconic root beer floats and pan-Pacific shipping earned spots as finalists in the inaugural King County Executive’s Small Business Awards.

Trans-NET Inc., a shipping company focused on Far East ports in Russia, is nominated in the Exporting Small Business of the Year category. Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in is up for Minority Small Business of the Year.

“Those are two very diverse businesses,” Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matthew Bott said. “One does niche shipping to Russia and one does burgers and fries and nostalgia. It shows that we have some really unique stories behind our local businesses.”

Trans-NET created a niche in the global shipping industry by focusing on Russia’s remote areas along the Pacific Ocean.

If you go

King County Executive’s Small Business Awards ceremony

“The mousetrap that we have created is that we specialize in cargo from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia — really any world origin points — into the Russian Far East,” company President Peter Moe Jr. said. “That’s a much different place than Western Russia or even the old Caucasus states — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.”

Moe’s father established the company in Issaquah in 1996. The location enables the 15 or so employees in Issaquah to reach clients and other employees in Asia and Europe before the workday concludes in other time zones. Trans-NET employs 35 people worldwide.

“It’s a highly niche-based operation,” Moe said. “There isn’t that much cargo that goes into that part of the world by global measurement standards.”

The nomination for a countywide award is the latest honor for Triple XXX.

Longtime proprietor José Enciso Sr. received dual accolades in May, including Business Person of the Year, at the Issaquah Community Awards Luncheon. The city also inducted Enciso into the Issaquah Hall of Fame, the community’s highest honor.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, corporations and nonprofit organizations announced the Small Business Awards finalists Aug. 29. Organizers received more than 125 nominations from 30 award partners — including the Issaquah chamber and other chambers of commerce, cities and business organizations across the county.

Officials expect more than 250 people to attend the Oct. 12 awards ceremony at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

“My priority is to build prosperity and get people back to work, and small businesses will lead the way as they create the majority of new jobs in our economy,” Constantine said in a statement. “I am pleased to honor small businesses by recognizing the best of them, and celebrating the entrepreneurs who are achieving excellence and putting people back to work.”

Organizers intend for the awards program to become a yearly event.

Bott and city Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble reached out to local businesses and encouraged owners to enter the awards program. Bott said the chamber intends to encourage more businesses to submit applications next year.

“We’ve got innovative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs here who are focused on business success,” he said. “It’s really great to see the King County executive recognizing them.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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