By ANDREW B. ADLER
For the Journal-Constitution
Pete Quinones, who founded Cobb-based MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service in 2001, was honored that his company was selected among the Top 25 Small Businesses in the county this year.
Still, the award presented Monday during the Cobb Chamber of Commerce's annual ceremony surprised him.
"I came here not knowing what to expect," Quinones said during the breakfast meeting, held at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest and sponsored by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I just know that somebody nominated us and I filled out a questionnaire for the chamber."
Once he received his Top 25 plaque, the soft-spoken Quinones took a seat before a head table occupied by Lydia Jones, director of the small business development center at Kennesaw State University; Kessel Stelling, president and COO of Bank of North Georgia and chairman of the chamber; and Mike Knowles, 2006 business services chairman for the Cobb Chamber.
Quinones listened to all their congratulatory remarks about Cobb's top small businesses before getting one more jolt.
Knowles announced that MetroAtlanta Ambulance Services was the Chamber's 2006 Small Business of the Year.
"It's a great honor to be recognized this way," Quinones said. "But this award goes to all our employees who made this award possible."
In five years MetroAtlanta has grown from a two-man operation to a 147-person team that since day one has provided 911 ambulance response and pre-hospital care for Cobb and other metro communities.
Last year, MetroAtlanta was charged with managing and coordinating ambulatory medical services for the 1,300 Hurricane Katrina victims who were evacuated from New Orleans
and brought to Dobbins Air Reserve Base.
"Any time a company like MetroAtlanta receives such an honor, it makes you want to work even harder to be No. 1," said Michael Dresdner, owner of Handicapped Driver Services, a Top 25 nominee that supplies personal, accessible transportation for people of all ages with disabilities.
MetroAtlanta will represent Cobb County at the State of Georgia Small Business Awards dinner to be held at year's end.