Search past winners/finalists

Breaking Ground Contracting

How to EnterCompany: Breaking Ground Contracting, Jacksonville, FL
Entry Submitted By: ISIS Institute
Company Description: Breaking Ground Contracting represents excellence in construction, guided by president Mary Tappouni and her dynamic female staff. In 1997, her dream began with two people, and is now an award winning company recognized as visionary in its field.
Nomination Category: Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Entrepreneur – Service Businesses - Up to 100 Employees

Nomination Title: Mary Tappouni, President/Owner, Breaking Ground Contracting Company

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated entrepreneur during the eligibility period (up to 500 words):

Activities and Accomplishments
Crowning a year that cemented Breaking Ground Contracting as a leader in LEED,
green building and education, the president of Breaking Ground met the President
of the United States. Mary was in Washington D.C. to receive the Small Business
Administration award for 2009 State of Florida Small Business Person of the Year.
This comes in the same year where Mary was named as the Best Entrepreneur by
the Women in Business Awards and follows a year where her firm was ranked in
the Jacksonville Business Journal as #9 of the area’s 50 Fastest Growing
Companies. She was also the 2009 recipient of the Sustainable Florida Best
Practice Leadership Award.

Breaking Ground’s Education Division is now headed by an educator and former
construction officer, further strengthening its credibility in the industry.
They have expanded services from OSHA and NCCER training to LEED and green building
and are publishing a book for children titled “Me & Green”. At Breaking Ground the
face of construction continues to be redefined, combining a stable business model
with compassion and education geared toward a sustainable planet. Breaking
Ground’s profits have increased each of the past 4 years by more than 56% on

Breaking Ground has established a reputation for quality and integrity. The
company is being recommended on select bid lists by entities as diverse as local
municipalities to Montessori Schools. However, at its core, Breaking Ground
believes in community. Mary was selected by the Mayor to serve on the
Jacksonville Small and Emerging Business Oversight Committee and uses her
position to promote small business in the region. Her vision is embodied in her
passion for sustainable/green living from her home to the office kitchen to
educational modules to employee involvement and incentives.

A LEED accredited professional herself,  Mary created a module in her education
division to supply LEED and green training to employees, subcontractors and
other contractors—even her competition. Today, 70% of her employees have their
LEED accreditation, with materials, time and classes paid for by the company.
The Woman Build Project Breaking Ground sponsored in 2008 with Habitat for
Humanity was the local affiliate’s first LEED project. Mary is current president of
the Child Guidance Center board and serves as Second Vice-Chair of the
Associated Builders and Contractors. Her employees are encouraged to
participate in community activities of their choosing, including time off with
pay to do so. This outreach has benefited Junior Achievement’s JA Girls program, Child
Guidance Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, St. John’s Riverkeeper, the U.S. Green
Building Council and many more. Breaking Ground is an example of the
connection process—never seeing things as “us vs. them” but opening to all
possibilities for a company to be an instrument for good in the community.

List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that you would like the judges to see that support your nomination. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, []:  (company web site)  (company blog to share sustainable information)   (Company’s Education Services Blog)   

Provide a brief biography of the nominated entrepreneur (up to 100 words):

Mary Tappouni founded Breaking Ground Contracting in 1997 after graduating from
the University of North Florida with degrees in both Construction Management and
Finance. Her passion for the environment guides her choices, including serving on
the Advocacy Committee of the US Green Building Council, which was integral in
passing Jacksonville’s Sustainable Building Ordinance. In her company’s 12th
year, she is able to indulge her love of old buildings by restoring homes to their
former beauty in Jacksonville’s historic neighborhoods. She is often invited to by
radio, television and print media to discuss