Morrison Center to present entrepreneurship awards tomorrow

The John M. Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business Schulze School of Entrepreneurship will host its 18th annual Entrepreneurs Award Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Schulze Grand Atrium of the UST School of Law.

This year’s winners are Rodney Burwell of Burwell Enterprises, Inc.; Steve, Dave and Mark Dalsin of Dalsin Industries; and Michael Sarafolean of Orion Corp. of Minnesota.

Here’s a look at the awards and the entrepreneurs who won them:

John F. Cade Entrepreneurial Award – The Cade award honors an individual who possesses outstanding entrepreneurial attributes, capitalizes on entrepreneurial opportunities, contributes to the community and has high standards and integrity.

This year’s recipient, Rodney Burwell, chairman and CEO of Burwell Enterprises Inc., takes a special interest in undervalued companies with strong growth potential. He counts ski-resort hotels, a bottled-water company and Mall of America’s UnderWater World among his diverse portfolio of businesses and investments.

The Cade award is given in memory of John F. Cade, a 1970 St. Thomas graduate and founder of Cade Industries who died in a 1986 airplane accident.

Family Business of the Year Award – Presented by St. Thomas’ Center for Family Enterprise, the award recognizes business leadership, participation of multiple generations, community involvement, support of family-business education and involvement with St. Thomas.

This year’s co-recipients are siblings Steve, Dave and Mark Dalsin of Dalsin Industries. Founded in 1945 and managed by second-generation family members, the company provides high-quality, low-cost products and services in sheet-metal fabrication and metal stamping. A high degree of family-member engagement, commitment to continuing education and a carefully planned succession strategy have contributed to Dalsin’s growth – 50 percent last year – and success.

Entrepreneurship Alumnus of the Year Award – This award honors a St. Thomas alumnus who best exemplifies the values, practices and theories that the school instills in its students. This year’s winner is Michael Sarafolean, president and managing partner of Orion Corp. of Minnesota and an adjunct instructor in the business school’s Department of Entrepreneurship. With more than 30 years experience investing in for-profit and nonprofit start-up ventures, Sarafolean was instrumental in founding Orion in 1987, a company that provides residential services and support to children and adults with disabilities.

A liaison between academic and lifelong learning initiatives, the Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship provides specialized research, consultation services and continuing education to professional entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses.

“This year’s award winners embody the work ethic, perseverance and entrepreneurial drive that distinguish the Opus College of Business as a nationally renowned institution,” said Christopher Puto, dean of the college and emcee for the evening’s events. “Whether in the context of a family business or a fast-growth company, these success stories serve as invaluable models for entrepreneurs young and old to follow, and we are honored to consider them part of our university’s continued excellence in entrepreneurship.”