Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about entrepreneurship, workforce readiness and financial literacy through volunteer-delivered, hands-on programs. The Junior Achievement of the Space Coast’s (JASC) Business Hall of Fame was established in 1986 to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to free enterprise and society.
Nationally, Laureates have included the likes of Warren Buffet, Henry Heinz, Conrad Hilton and Mary Kay Ash. Along the Space Coast the inductees have been the most notable and influential business and community leaders the area has produced. This year is no exception as Junior Achievement inducts Carol Craig and Mahesh “Mike” Shah.
Her expertise in engineering and computer software, professional background in the military, and fierce competitive nature for government/military contracts sets Carol Craig apart from the typical mold for the president and CEO of a company. Possessing all the classic ingredients of being a strategic planner, highly motivated executive and the ability to balance engineering skills with business acumen, it is perhaps her commitment to a “built to last” philosophy that has made her company, Craig Technologies, successful since its inception in 1999.
Unique to Craig’s entrepreneurial story is the fact that she was once a JA student herself, gleaning knowledge that is still used today. She commented, “Did I want to start a business right out of high school because of JA? No. But JA gave me the tools and confidence I needed to successfully navigate my career and the business world once I did decide to become an entrepreneur. I see how students change when ‘the light goes on’ during the classroom programs.”
Craig Technologies officially added “Community” as one of its core company values in 2010 after hearing from employees all over the country that their commitment to community service was a common thread that connected people, no matter where they lived.
“There are many people like me who give generously – and who are even more committed – to help provide a stable future for our community. To me, it’s really about staying connected so I know what is going on where I live and identifying the areas of greatest need where I might be able to pool resources and help make a tangible difference. In the end, it’s about showing up when and where you are needed to help others reach their fullest potential.” – Carol Craig
Mahesh “Mike” Shah
Mahesh “Mike” Shah, founder and president of Southeast Petro Distributors, is a grassroots-type of businessman who prefers to have personal relationships with his employees and customers. It’s quite a down-to-earth attitude coming from a man who lives in a 12,000-square-foot mansion – a residence he opens to the public to host community fundraisers for causes near and dear to his heart.
“I was born in a small village in India, and to come to America and to be named a Laureate now means a lot. I am very humbled and honored to see myself on the same level with leaders such as Dr. Maxwell King, Mr. Bernie Simpkins, Mr. Fred Gay, Malcom R. Kirschenbaum, Tom Wasdin and many more great personalities. I am very happy that my family and I are part of the community and are proud to be Brevard citizens,” he commented.
Shah is extremely generous in his support of the community he believes helped get him to where he is today, as well as his Indian heritage and childhood hometowns that helped form his character and values. He donates time and money to local organizations such as Junior Achievement of the Space Coast, The Scott Center for Autism Research, Brevard Schools Foundation, Crosswinds Youth Services, United Way of Brevard, Cocoa Village Playhouse, IndiaFest, Project Hunger and Florida Institute of Technology, to name just a few.
“As a business owner, I often wonder, ‘Am I making a difference in my community which has given me everything and more?’ I have decided to do something about it. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing you are making a difference in your community.” – Mike Shah
Junior Achievement of the Space Coast’s Business Hall of Fame