Maryland Capital Enterprises's annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award is named in honor of one of our very own local businessman that has that great entrepreneurial spirit Palmer Gillis! Palmer Gillis, a Salisbury native, has spent the last 37 years building his construction company into the one of the largest general contracting firms on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Along the way, he continues to give back through public service, including as an elected member of the Salisbury City Council, and as a board member for numerous charitable causes and foundations. He has been a leading voice in trying to make his community a better place.

The winner of MCE's Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be someone who has taken the risk of starting their own business, has created jobs, and has a business plan for the future. They have that fighting spirit that refuses to give up. They are sleep deprived and worn down, but ready to take on the world. The business owner must reside in one of the following counties: Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot or Dorchester counties of the Eastern Shore. Nominations are open to the public.

How You Can Help

In recognizing this free spirit, MCE's Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award will come with a monetary prize. The one thing all entrepreneurs need is capital. Our goal is to grow this award fund over time and reward our annual honorees with a substantial monetary prize. A panel of community leaders will oversee the distribution of the funds, and the selection of the award winners based on a set of established criteria. Encouraging, nurturing and inspiring entrepreneurs is what MCE does best. Now it's time to publicly honor and reward the best of the best, in hopes that we inspire the next generation of great entrepreneurs.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Nominees must be a small business owner or majority partner involved in day-to-day operations of the business
  • Business must be located in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset, Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot, or Dorchester counties
  • The company must employ 100 employees or less
  • The business must have been established locally for at least two (2) years
  • Must be a for-profit business
  • Business must be in the good standing with the state of Maryland

The award will come with a monetary prize and the winner will be announced at MCE's Annual Awards Banquet!

"We are so grateful to Palmer Gillis and to a team of local business professionals who are helping us make this award a meaningful and important honor," said Joe Morse, President & CEO of MCE. "Encouraging, nurturing and inspiring entrepreneurs is what MCE does best."

To nominate a worthy candidate, please fill out the Nomination Form online or download the Word document located at the bottom of the page. Business owners can nominate themselves by filling out the Application Form. You can fill out the form online or download the Word document at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to attend the banquet or make a donation, please fill out the Table Sponsorship form by clicking the orange button below or download the document at the bottom of the page.

Nomination deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, October 16, 2020. Number of nominations not a factor.

Please let your candidates know that representatives from MCE will be contacting them to get more information about their business.

If you have any questions or if you want to learn more about the award, please contact Jennifer Currie at 410-546-1900 ext 107 or jcurrie@marylandcapital.org.

Entrepreneur of The Year Winners

2020 Entrepreneur of the Year

2019 Entrepreneur of the year winner

2020 EOY Winner-Anthony Darby, Chief Executive Officer of Coastal Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning.

2019 Entrepreneur of the year finalist

2020 EOY Finalist-Dr. Amy Hegar Owner of The Night Watch Childcare Center. Not pictured: Galen Gardner, Owner of Peninsula Wellness/Peninsula Alternative Health

Maryland Capital Enterprises and the Women's Business Center is pleased to announce that Anthony Darby, Chief Executive Officer of Peninsula Wellness/Peninsula Alternative Health in Salisbury, Maryland, is the recipient of the 2020 MCE Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Runners up include Galen Gardner, Owner of Trident Furnishings, Inc. in Ocean City, Maryland, and Dr. Amy Heger, Chief Executive Officer of The Night Watch Childcare Center in Salisbury, Maryland.

Peninsula Wellness/Peninsula Alternative Health, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Darby

Doing business for four years, Peninsula Wellness/Peninsula Alternative Health moved into their beautiful new campus located at 1003 Mt. Hermon Road in Salisbury, MD, in September 2020. With their tagline, "Your Home for Holistic Empowerment" their goals are to create a holistic patient model in which they lead their industry in patient-focused research and development projects, bring innovative products to market, and broaden their scope of services to continually improve the quality of service they offer to their patients. According to their website, www.wellness.peninsulamd.com, their Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Darby states, that "Wellness to (me) is a philosophy and a way of living where you're constantly bettering your mind, body and spirit". Mr. Darby also believes that the "best leaders and businesses set out to serve". He currently participates in the Greater Salisbury Committee, the Chamber of Commerce's Education Committee, and supports many local nonprofits and City of Salisbury initiatives. Congratulations Anthony Darby and the entire Peninsula Wellness/Peninsula Alternative Health Team!

Trident Furnishings, Owner Galen Gardner

With several locations throughout Maryland's Eastern Shore and Delaware, Trident Furnishing's Owner, Galen Gardner, states that his employees are what differentiates his company from his competitors. Referring to his team as family, he says he wants the same people working for his 10 years from now so customers can come back and work with the same person year after year. Their website is www.bethanyresortfurnishings.com. Congratulations to Galen Gardner and his entire crew!

The Night Watch Childcare Center, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Amy Heger

Located at 547 Riverside Drive in Salisbury, Maryland, The Night Watch Childcare Center is Maryland's only childcare center to exclusively offer overnight childcare. Dr. Heger states that her "business is about creating a resource for families who work nontraditional hours". She also states that the "success of her business is measured by the quality of life of her staff". Dr. Heger is involved in the Sustainability Advisory Committee for the City of Salisbury educating the community and other local businesses about green practices and the environment. Their website is www.thenightwatchchildcare.com. Congratulations to Dr. Heger and her staff!

Maryland Capital Enterprises would also like to thank our generous sponsors, which include The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World of Dorchester County, Gillis Gilkerson, PNC Bank, Baltimore Community Lending, The Bank of Delmarva, The City of Salisbury, Delmarva Power, The First Shore Federal, Salisbury University's Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, Hebron Savings Bank, iHeart Media, M&T Bank, Elks of Salisbury, Capital One, Business Finance Group, Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development, and Farmers Bank of Willards.

2019 Entrepreneur of the Year

2019 Entrepreneur of the year winner

2019 EOY Winner-Lacey Coleman, Owner of Coastal Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning.

2019 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

Eric Clough, finalist and owner of eShore Sports, Lori McAllister, finalist and owner of The Daily Brew Coffee House, the Mayor of Snow Hill Gary Weber, Lacey Coleman, Winner and Owner of Coastal Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, Palmer Gillis and Maurice Ames, Executive Director of MCE, Inc.

2018 Entrepreneur of the Year

2018 Entrepreneur of the year winner

Jeremy Norton, Owner of Roadie Joe's Bar & Grill receives the "Entrepreneur of the Year" award for 2018 from Palmer Gillis Co-Owner Gillis Gilkerson.

2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

Pictured from left to right,finalists Kenneth Shockley, Owner of Unique Styles Custom Home Builders in Delmar, MD. and Christine Braughler, Owner of Acorn Market in Salisbury, MD.; Entrepreneur of the Year Winner Jeremy Norton, Owner of Roadie Joe�s Bar & Grill, Maurice Ames, Palmer Gillis.

2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and elected officials

Entrepreneur of the Year finalists with local elected officials.


2017 Entrepreneur of the Year

2017 Entrepreneur of the year winner

Palmer Gillis Co-Owner Gillis Gilkerson, Jaime Windon winner & Owner of Lyon Distilling in St. Michaels, MD, George Koste-Executive Director MCE, Inc.

2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

Palmer, Kim Scott, Owner of Great Gourmet in Federalsburg, George.

2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

Palmer Gillis, Kelly Jackson Owner of Emily's Produce in Cambridge, MD, George Koste.


2016 Entrepreneur of the Year

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year

Johnny Shockley of Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company was named this year's winner of the 2016 Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Pictured l-r: George Koste, Johnny Shockley, Palmer Gillis.

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Runner Ups

Finalists Bob Hammond Jr. of Atlantic Physical Therapy, Susan Purnell of Kuhn's Jewelers, and Johnny Shockley of Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company.


2015 Award Winner

2015 Entrepreneur of the Year

Chris Eccleston of Delmarva Veteran Builders was named this year's winner of the 2015 Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Chris Eccleston started Delmarva Veteran Builders just three years ago and its growth has exploded.

2014 Award Winner

2014 Enterpreneur of the Year

Kerry Palakanis, a nurse practitioner who opened a health care clinic in Crisfield two years ago, was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Maryland Capital Enterprises at a dinner celebration at Salisbury University.

2013 Award Winner

2013 Enterpreneur of the Year Winners

Ryan Miller, Owner of: The Deli Restaurant; Last Call Liquors; Cafe Perdue & Perdue Pantry; R. Miller Properties; and Warehouse Bar

2012 Award Winner

2012 Enterpreneur of the Year Winners

Pete Roskovich (middle), Owner of: Black Diamond Lodge


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