Fresno Chamber of Commerce honors entrepreneurs
A pair of young entrepreneurs just launching their careers joined some old pros Tuesday as recipients of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
College freshman Dayna Kumpe, who started Trinity Revival recycled clothing when she was a student at Clovis North High, was recognized with the High School Entrepreneur award at the Valley Business Awards luncheon. Laura Facciani, a senior at Fresno State, earned the College Entrepreneur Award for her business, Facciani Photography.
The chamber also honored longtime Fresno restaurateur David Fansler with its Rising Star Entrepreneur Award for his Yosemite Ranch steakhouse, established six years ago.
The Rising Star award recognizes businesses less than seven years old.
And Darius Assemi, head of Granville Homes, was presented with the Harold Zinkin Entrepreneur of the Year award honoring businesses that are more than seven years old.
John Horstmann, who with his wife Lollie founded Horstmann Financial and Insurance Services more than 50 years ago, received the Chamber’s highest honor, the Leon S. Peters Award recognizing a lifetime of business success and philanthropy to the community.
Kumpe, a freshman at the Willow International college center, said her enterprise began when she was a sophomore in high school. “I needed new clothes and I couldn’t afford them, so I went to the thrift store,” she said. “I decided that if I could take a piece of clothing that nobody wanted and change it a little bit, it would be perfect for what I wanted.”
Kumpe’s handiwork soon attracted compliments from friends who wanted to buy things from her. “I figured it was something that I could do not just for myself, but for other people as well,” she said.
Kumpe finds jeans at thrift stores and cuts them into shorts, bleaching and dying them and then customizing them with sparkles, studs and other decorations, and then sells them.
Most of her work is sold on eBay. “It just recently became something where I could sell online, not just to people I know but all around the country,” she said.
Facciani, the College Entrepreneur winner, developed a passion for photography after a photo class at Hoover High School. “I went into college knowing that I wanted to own a photography business, but I was naive enough to actually pursue it,” said Facciani, who will graduate in May with a bachelor of arts degree in art.
She said she started taking photography seriously in 2010, and was attracted to an introduction to entrepreneurship class at Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship. Now, she said, most of her time is spent in her 120-square-foot office in a business “hatchery” at the Lyles Center.
Facciani specializes in family and children’s photography, usually in outdoor environmental settings.
“The competition is so crazy out there,” she said. “But the Lyles Center has pushed me to believe in myself. I’ve learned some great skills and techniques for bringing in income.”
She said business “has really taken off recently, and just in December it became my primary source of income.”
Fansler, who launched the Steak and Anchor restaurant at the former Piccadilly Inn Airport hotel in 1980 and later developed Williker’s, Tahoe Joe’s, Yosemite Ranch and Pismo’s Coastal Grill, said he was “stunned” when Chamber President Al Smith notified him that he had been chosen for the Rising Star award. “Rising Star? I thought, ‘I’ve got to be the oldest loaf of bread in town.’ ”
Fansler added that he was gratified by the award. “People kind of judge a town by its restaurants; that’s one of the things people think about when friends come into town,” he said. “I consider it a big responsibility to represent Fresno with the restaurants we build.”
Assemi and Granville Homes were recognized for their history of homebuilding success and contributions to the community. The company developed the Copper River Ranch neighborhood, a self-contained community of homes and businesses in northeast Fresno, and has built hundreds of residential lofts in downtown Fresno. In addition, each year Granville builds and donates a Home of Hope as a fundraising project for nonprofit organizations.
“Our mission, both here in our own backyard and across the world, is to serve the well-being of the underprivileged,” Assemi said. “We just happen to be homebuilders and infill developers.”
“The Fresno community has been responsible for our success,” he added. “With that success comes a sense of responsibility and we don’t take that lightly.”
By Tim Sheehan