COCOA, Fla. -- B.W. (Bernie) Simpkins, founder of B.W. Simpkins Oil Co., Cocoa, Fla., was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) at its eight-annual conference last week in Orlando, Fla. The award is given in recognition of a lifetime of entrepreneurial achievement that encompasses the ideals of entrepreneurial activity: education, application and giving back.
Simpkins built B.W. Simpkins Oil from a four-person startup into a $140 million business that transformed from an oil delivery firm [image-nocss] into a convenience store empire under the S&S Enterprises Inc. Step Saver convenience store name. In 1989, he sold his businesses and leased his properties to Tulsa, Okla.-based MAPCO Petroleum. Simpkins is currently engaged in residential and commercial real-estate development, according to the Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
A community activist and long-time member of the board of trustees of Brevard Community College (BCC), also located in Cocoa, Simpkins has endowed the Entrepreneurship Program at the school with a financial contribution of $1 million, and is a member of the E-ship Committee. He sponsors the annual B.W. Simpkins Business Seminar at the college, which brings successful entrepreneurs to speak at the school.
The seminars bring entrepreneurs to Brevard County to speak about their success stories through innovative ideas, and to offer insights on the opportunities found in today's economy.
Previous lecturers have included Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A; Howard "Bo" Callaway, co-founder of Callaway Gardens; Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today; Charles Clemente, former COO of Redgate Communications/America Online; Toni Jennings, then-Lieutenant Governor of Florida; Stedman Graham, chairman and CEO of S. Graham & Associates; Joe R. Lee, then-chairman of Darden Restaurants Inc.; Pat Williams, senior vice president and founder of the Orlando Magic; Wally Amos, founder of Famous Amos Cookies.; Gale Lemerand, motivational speaker and author of To Win in Business...Bet on the Jockey; Don Shula, former Miami Dolphins Coach and owner of Don Shula's Steakhouse; Mary Davis, author of The Entrepreneurial Mom: Managing for Success in Your Home & Your Business; John Herman, author of Hermanisms and founder of the Herman School of Business; Jeff Piersall, publisher of Spacecoast Business and Spacecoast Living magazines and co-founder and president of Space Coast Business LLC; Warren Brown, founder of the CakeLove bakery, author of CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch and host of the Food Network's Sugar Rush; and Cameron Johnson, philanthropist and author of You Call the Shots.
"Simpkins settled in Brevard County about the time the space program got going," Dr. Joseph P. (Pat) Fuller, the chair of entrepreneurship development at BCC, told Space Coast Business. "As he tells it, he seldom heard the word 'entrepreneurship' back then, but that's what it was. Later, in the mid-90s, he served on the board of trustees at BCC and decided to do something about this important need for students. He wanted to share his 'luck' in becoming a successful entrepreneur by giving back some opportunities for knowledge that he did not have when he started his business. 'to help fortify the chances for success,' as he puts it."
Upon the success of his seminars, Simpkins began supporting $1,000 scholarships offered to students who submit winning essays on new or existing entrepreneurship ideas.
Today, BCC's Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise offers three academic entrepreneurship programs. The first option is a one-year, 25-credit-hour program which, upon completion, will earn the student a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Operations. This program sets the framework for the second option, a two-year, 63-credit-hour program which, upon completion, will earn the student an associate's degree in entrepreneurship that is transferable to four-year universities. BCC also offers what it calls a "fast-track" program which is designed for experienced business professionals wishing to network with entrepreneurs and update their skill sets.
At the NACCE conference, the group also honored nine community college professionals and an essay contest winner for their work in entrepreneurship education.
NACCE connects community college administrators and faculty with knowledge and successful practices regarding entrepreneurial thinking, entrepreneurship education and student business incubation.
Members help make our journalism possible. Become a CSP member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.