The Abilene Chamber Announces its 2024 Small Business Award Winners!


May 9, 2024
Staff Reports

2024 Salute to Small Business Award Recipients Announced

The Abilene Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 Abilene Chamber Salute to Small Business Awards. The Salute to Small Business Awards Luncheon, which took place the afternoon of May 7, is the Chamber’s annual celebration to honor the impact small business has on our local economy.


“Our small business community is truly the backbone of our economy, and we recognize the dedication and fortitude it takes to be an entrepreneur and small business owner,” said Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. “This year’s Small Business Week will be a great celebration as we take time honor those who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit, and those who serve our community with excellence.”


This year’s recipients are:

New Business of the Year, Eye Spy Escape Rooms; Small Business Community Investment Award, Fullerton & Associates, PLLC; Small Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Michaela Brandon (Golden Girls Abilene); Family-Owned Business of the Year Award, Mulligans Sports Bar and Grill.



Get to know the award winners

New Small Business of the Year Award

Eye Spy Escape Room stands as a testament to innovation, dedication, and community spirit. Founded by Krista Hale and Alex Nicolato, these two followed their passion for puzzles and created this venture, which has quickly become a beloved attraction in Abilene. Krista and Alex's commitment to community service is evident in their numerous donations and partnerships. Their tireless efforts to promote team building and family bonding have resonated deeply with locals and visitors alike, making Eye Spy Escape Room an invaluable addition to the city's entertainment landscape. With their dedication to excellence and plans for expansion, Krista and Alex epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit.


Small Business Community Investment Award

Gayla Fullerton exemplifies a steadfast commitment to service and leadership in her community. As the sole proprietor of Fullerton & Associates since 2017, Gayla's impact extends far beyond her role as a CPA. With a deep-rooted dedication to various organizations, she has left an indelible mark on Abilene and beyond. Serving as President of the Rotary Club since 2012, she has fostered positive change and community engagement. Her leadership extends to organizations like Habitat for Humanity, where she served as President from 2013 to 2019, and the Alliance for Women & Children, where she is a valued board member. Gayla's involvement spans diverse sectors, from business advocacy with the Abilene Black Chamber to educational support with the Adult Education Support Organization. Her tireless efforts and selfless contributions make her a beacon of inspiration and a true asset to the community.


Small Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

With a keen eye for opportunity and a commitment to excellence, Michaela Brandon, has founded three local businesses: Golden Girls Abilene, Heritage Insurance Agency, and Dorèe Salon. Beyond her entrepreneurial endeavors, Michaela is deeply invested in the well-being of the Abilene community, actively supporting local non-profits, and contributing to the city's economic growth. Her remarkable journey from a newcomer to a thriving business owner is a testament to her resilience, passion, and unwavering determination to succeed.


Family-Owned Small Business of the Year Award

Founded by Jack and Kyle King, a father-son duo with a vision, Mulligans has become a beloved gathering place for families and friends alike since its establishment in August 2018. What sets Mulligans apart is not just its delectable menu or vibrant atmosphere, but its unwavering commitment to giving back to the Abilene community. From hosting fundraising events for families in need to supporting local sports teams and offering free homeownership classes for Dyess Airmen, Mulligans has truly become a cornerstone of community support. Despite facing adversity, such as the passing of Jack King, Kyle and Sam King continue their father's legacy with grace and determination, ensuring that Mulligans remains a cherished establishment where everyone feels welcomed and cared for.


America’s Small Business Development Center at Texas Tech also honored small businesses at today’s luncheon with awards. Recipients include:

-          Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year; 4Sight Environmental

-          Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year; RGF Insurance Agency