It was yet another honor for the owner of Paragus Strategic IT, who was named BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur for 2014. For the Continued Excellence Award, which will be awarded annually to a former 40 Under Forty honoree who has continued to expand his or her business accomplishments and community impact, Bean was among about 40 individuals nominated by their peers and judged by an independent panel (nomination form is HERE).
“Nothing I have done has not been without the help of at least 100 other people,” Bean said to more than 650 attendees of the 40 Under Forty event at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. He cited, as one example, the 24 high-school students who graduated this week from Tech Foundry, a nonprofit he started to provide IT workforce training and job skills to young people.
A member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2008 when he was just 21, Bean has since seen Paragus grow 450% and earn status as one of Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing companies on several occasions, and recently earn the Top Employer of Choice Award from the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. He’s also started a second business venture, Waterdog Technologies, a technology-distribution company.
Meanwhile, within the community, he has been active with Valley Venture Mentors, River Valley Investors, and DevelopSpringfield; is a board member for Up Academy Springfield; and serves as a board member for the Mass. Department of Elementary & Secondary Education’s Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Panel.
In his short acceptance speech last night, Bean put the focus not on himself, but on the promise of the Pioneer Valley.
“I’m just one of many people who helped me get to where I am,” he said. “I’m so incredibly grateful to be here, to be part of the Valley. And you know what? I think there’s so much more we can do. I really, really think this Valley has a huge story ahead of it. I’m excited to be a part of that, and I hope you guys will join me. And, with that challenge, let’s see what’s next.”
The other four finalists for the Continued Excellence Award were Kamari Collins (40 Under Forty class of 2009), dean of Academic Advising and Student Success at Springfield Technical Community College; Jeff Fialky (class of 2008), partner at Bacon Wilson, P.C.; Cinda Jones (class of 2007), president of Cowls Lumber Co.; and Kristin Leutz (class of 2010), vice president of Philanthropic Services for the Community Foundation of Western Mass.
The judges for the inaugural award were Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors; Eric Gouvin, dean of the Western New England School of Law; and Kirk Smith, former director of the YMCA of Greater Springfield.