Holding back tears as he thanked his family and the New Braunfels community, JP Kesselring was honored as the 2019 Small Business Person of the Year by the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night.
JP Kesselring, owner of JP Kesselring Farmers Insurance, was named the 2019 Small Business Person of the Year earlier this month by the chamber during its annual Small Business Week. A reception to formally honor Kesselring and present him with a commemorative plaque was held at Honors Hall at the chamber Tuesday evening, where his friends, family and members of the community gathered to recognize Kesselring.
It was a completely humbling experience to be named the 2019 Small Business Person of the Year, Kesselring said.
“I've been blessed to win many company awards over the years, but something of this magnitude from the chamber of the community I love is really special,” he said.
Kesselring was told he’d been named the small business person of the year during Small Business Week on May 5-11, with a surprise reception by his friends.
“We had a Rotary meeting at Rockin’ R the Wednesday before The Hill Country Craft Beer Festival, and my staff told me that I had a new client appointment at 2 p.m. so I rushed back to the office,” Kesselring said. “When I walked into the front office to meet who I was expecting to be a new client, it was actually about 12 or so of my friends with the chamber holding the banner.”
Kesselring said he was completely shocked and speechless.
“Some of them were even at the Rotary meeting just before that so they really kept it a secret,” Kesselring said.
Chair of the Board for the chamber Shane Wolf opened the program by introducing several community members present, and thanking Randolph Credit Union for their sponsorship of the reception.
“Now I’d like to tell you a little bit about the chamber’s business committee,” Wolf said. “In 1990 the chamber added a small business council to its plan of action, one of the projects developed was the importance of recognizing small businesses.”
Wolf congratulated Kesselring before introducing him to the approximately 30 people present in the room.
“In 2002, with a 3- and a 1-year-old son at home to support, you left the corporate world with a healthy salary and a company card to pursue your dream of building your own insurance business,” Wolf said. “You’ve always said the motto, ‘Through adversity comes success.’”
Some of Kesselring’s great attributes are that he is committed to his clients, and believes in a greater purpose for everyone, Wolf said.
“We can achieve far more in individual successes when we’re turned into helping one another to be better at our profession and with life in general,” Wolf said. “You have a personal purpose statement that reads my purpose is to be an intentional leader for my family, my team, my community by giving my very best everyday, and by doing so I encourage others to live out their very best life.”
Kesselring has been a member of the chamber since 2007, has served as a chamber board member, a Blue Coat, and is the president of the New Braunfels Rotary Club, Wolf said.
“You’re a board member who’s served outdoors and nonprofits since 2015 to present, and a musician with music ministry with our church, Gruene United Methodist church, and you’ve also served as a Klein Opa for the Wurstfest Association from 2015 to present,” Wolf said.
Wolf said New Braunfels is lucky to have Kesselring and his business in town.
“I did okay at the proclamations but I’m having a hard time keeping it together for this one because it really does mean a lot to me,” Kesselring said, taking the microphone. “First off, thank you so much to the chamber and to the small business committee for this incredible honor. It’s something I’ll cherish and never forget for sure.”
Kesselring said he loves the New Braunfels community and feels lucky to be involved in multiple organizations throughout it.
“Our town is fun to be involved in, we do have a pretty good time here, and how blessed are we to call this home?” Kesselring said.
After thanking his team and coworkers, Kesselring turned to his family.
“My two sons, Ben and Hayden, and my beautiful wife, Dawn. As Shane said a minute ago, 17 years ago I left a cushy situation with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old — I know she thought I was crazy,” Kesselring said. “But she’s my rock and she’s supported me with an unwavering amount of support back then and she’s never wavered since, so I love you babe.”
Kesselring wrapped up his speech by thanking everyone for coming out.
“Couldn’t be a better person to receive the award this year, no question at all,” Wolf said.