TOPEKA – A-S-K Associates, a consulting firm in Lawrence, KS, has earned the Woman Owned Professional Service Firm of the Year Award for this year’s Kansas Minority Enterprise Development Week.
Sheila Martinez, CEO of A-S-K, founded the company with her husband, Ken, in 1979. Due to Ken suffering from health problems, Sheila is the sole leader of the company.
“It’s a challenge,” Martinez said. “Because of his illness, I take care of him at the same time.”
Even with all of this on her plate, Martinez has maintained a thriving and successful business for nearly four decades. A-S-K has two major divisions: Information Technology Group (ITG) and Conference Management Group (CMG). Both divisions, according to the company’s website, “…embrace the Company’s mission to provide effective solutions for our clients’ business needs while maintaining the flexibility to respond to new priorities as their needs develop and change.”
Judging from the numerous awards on display at the A-S-K offices, that mission has been a success. There are dozens of awards and certificates strewn about the office, including awards from the U.S. Small Business Association, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and Meeting Professionals International, Inc.
When it comes to their newest award, Woman Owned Professional Service Firm of the Year, Martinez is just as thrilled.
“It’s recognition,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to get that kind of recognition, and then to be able to tell that to our customers. We’re having success and being recognized for it.”
As a woman, a wife, a mother, and a CEO, Martinez said that living with this balancing act wasn’t always easy. However, she did have some advice for anyone who wants to find the same success she has in owning a business.
“Base everything in your integrity, in building your reputation, and your people, because, as far as I’m concerned, our people are A-S-K.”
The award is part of the overall effort of the Office of Minority and Women Business Development to provide assistance in business development, identifying resources for financing and establishing contacts in the public and private sectors. The office is responsible for certifying minority and women-owned businesses as small disadvantaged businesses for procurement and subcontracting opportunities.
The Minority Enterprise Development Luncheon is the main event of Minority Enterprise Development Week. The luncheon takes place this Thursday at the Capital Plaza Hotel, with doors opening at 11:30am.