The 11th Annual Philanthropy Day Luncheon honored businesses in Southern Maryland who have exhibited exemplary services to the community. This year’s inductees are defined by their excellence in philanthropy and we are honored to be able to recognize the following at our annual event: Eric Franklin of ERIMAX, Inc & Eric Franklin Entrepreneurial Acceleretor, Joseph “Bubby” Knott of Great Mills Trading Post and Keith Grasso of Island Music Company.
He is a past recipient of the prestigious Leading Edge “CEO of the Year” award. Franklin has a long history of advocating for small, women-owned, and minority businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration named him its Maryland Minority Small Business Champion of the Year. He served his community as Chair of the Southern Maryland Workforce Investment Board. He currently serves on the Boards of Calvert Memorial Hospital and Leadership Maryland. In the past, he has served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maryland, the Calvert Minority Business Alliance (Chair), The Bay Business Group and the Calvert Economic Development Commission.
He established the Eric Franklin Entrepreneurial Accelerator (EFEA) with the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to strengthen the skills of business owners in order to build an ecosystem of strong entrepreneurism in the region. EFEA also has a youth component called “Guppy Tank” which leverages the experience of local business owners to mentor local high school students through business “pitch” competitions. He is also an avid angel investor and member of the Baltimore Angels investment group. Additionally, Eric is a sought-after national public speaker on issues relating to leadership and entrepreneurism and is author of, “Peanut Butter Principles: 47 Leadership Lessons Every Parent Should Teach Their Kids.”
For Mr. Franklin’s passion for small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship are the reasons, among other things, we are proud to induct ERIMAX, Inc. into our Philanthropy Hall of Fame.
Keith Grasso has been playing guitar for 25 years and has been in the music business for over 18 years. In 2007 he and his wife, Nicki, opened Island Music Company in Solomons Island, Maryland. Since then, the business has continued to grow in size and is now located in the heart of La Plata, Maryland with thousands of items for the beginner up to the professional musician. Keith and Island Music Company’s notoriety has exponentially grown since being featured numerous times in the Music Retailer, Music Trades, Music Inc., Southern Maryland Newspaper, and named one of NAMM’s top 100 dealers in 2013 and 2014. The store’s online presence is huge. Island Music can be found on EBay, Shopatron, Buy.com, Reverb, www.IslandMusicCo.com, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
The store puts on many events throughout the year including a Holiday String Giveaway, charity events, free clinics, recitals, open mic night, Rock Band Camp, piano camp, and La Plata Summer Concert Series. Tons of big names have come out to the store such as George Lynch, Billy Sheehan, Robert Godin, Paul Reed Smith, Michael Angelo Batio, Rusty Cooley, Victor Wooten and many more. Island Music has over 225 lesson students a week and repair technicians for fretted Instruments, amp and electronics, and band and orchestra. “Keith’s progressive ideas and forward vision have changed LaPlata and Charles County, for the better”, stated the submitted nomination. “He has found the time to be a dedicated member of countless organizations and gives back through time and treasure to the Charles County Public Schools, the Town of LaPlata, the local food banks, and countless of other nonprofits.” Mr. Grasso continuously shares his gift of music and the appreciation of it to all.
We are honored to induct Island Music Company into our Philanthropy Hall of Fame.
Joseph D. Knott, aka Bubby was born in an era and time where community and family were very important. Community involvement was always a big part of the Knott family, going back to the concerts and events held at Take It Easy Ranch. Bubby started Great Mills Trading Post in 1970. He began buying and selling junk, which evolved into used equipment and cars. In 1985, the Great Mills Construction Company was founded as a separate company operating in the asphalt and concrete construction business. Then two years later the Great Mills Trading Post and Great Mills Construction Company were joined together. Great Mills Trading Post has been a major provider of construction and equipment support services to state, local, and federal governments for 35 years, including contracts for the Navy for 30 years. Today Great Mills Trading Post is comprised of four divisions: Paving Operations Division; General Construction and Excavating Division; Truck and Equipment Sales Division; and Aggregate Material Sales. Bubby counts much of his success to the community.
From the people who gave him a chance back when he started to those who call upon his service now. He is always looking for more ways to give back to the community especially the youth. Their community involvement includes but not limited to: Hosting fundraisers for local fire and rescue departments, Hospice of St. Mary’s; and contributing to Christmas In April, local sports teams, schools, churches. And Christmas is incomplete, if you haven’t waited in line to drive through Bubby Knott’s vibrant light display of blinking mermaids, reindeer jumping, and santas’ waving; or park your car and visit his horse stables, shop for unique gifts or see vintage exhibits of trucks, trains and so much more. The general community may know of or have visited this awesome Christmas light display, but didn’t know the heart that was behind it all. The Knott family give up their private farm from Thanksgiving to Christmas and invite the community to Flat Iron Farm on The Highway To Heaven Farm Drive, to give back to the community that in his words, “has been so good to me”. For these reasons and many more we are proud to induct Great Mills Trading Post into our Philanthropy Hall of Fame.