The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Michael Cote, president and CEO of Look's Gourmet Food Co. Inc. in Whiting, as its 2012 Small Business Person of the Year award for Maine.
Cote and his partner, Cynthia Fisher, bought the struggling Look's Gourmet, formerly the A.M. Look Canning Co., in 2003 and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to revamp the cannery. The company produces specialty seafood and related products, including clam juice, lobster, New England clam chowder and gourmet baked beans under a handful of brands, including Bar Harbor Foods. Since 2003, Look's has grown to 28 employees, according to a press release from the SBA. Cote will be honored at an SBA event on May 17 at the Augusta Civic Center.
Mainebiz named Cote one of its 2010 Business Leaders of the Year. The company was also one of 11 Maine operations that made Inc. magazine's 2011 list of the fastest-growing companies in the country. Look's Gourmet was at No. 2,692 for its 84% three-year growth and annual revenue of $4.6 million.
The SBA also gave out the following awards and distinctions: Harold Clossey, executive director of the Sunrise County Economic Council, was named Financial Services Champion of the Year for Maine and New England; R. Scott Robinett, manager of computer and information technology at the Maine Small Business Development Centers, was named Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year; Howell Laboratories/Shively Labs in Bridgton was named Small Business Exporter of the Year; Black Dinah Chocolatiers in Isle au Haut was named Home-based Business Champion of the Year; Patricia Rice, chair of the Bangor SCORE chapter, was named Minority Small Business Champion of the Year; and Sherry Brown, Susan Pope, Jane Harmon and Bonnie Pothier of KeyBank were named Women in Business Champions of the Year.