Leo and Lillie Millan walked into an event hosted this week by Austin Peay State University's Small Business Development Center, unaware they were the guests of honor.
The local entrepreneurs were flushed with emotion when they realized they were being presented the organization's Rising Star Award.
“There is no way we could have done any of this without our team," said Leo Millan, who then called out his team members by name.
“This has been an incredible journey and it's just the beginning. We're going to help a lot of young business people who are struggling.”
His wife, Lillie, followed, offering appreciation to everyone involved in their success over more than two decades.
And what a real estate run it has been.
The Millans founded Millan Enterprises in 1999, quickly elevating it to a successful residential and commercial real estate company in Clarksville.
The Rising Star Award has not been presented in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Director Lorneth Peters said factors considered for the award include working relationship with the local Tennessee SBDC, community involvement, economic impact, jobs created and jobs retained.
Wednesday's surprise ceremony was a first.
Peters talked about SBDC and the Millans before the presentation ceremony began:
“The Millans are all about community involvement and innovation, which is how The Press came about," Peters said. "They're also about making sure that money stays in the community. The economic impact they are making is second to none."
Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts offered his congratulations and talked about the secret of their success.
“It's no secret at all, really, it's about three things; faith, family and the future,” Pitts said. “What they are doing is building a future for their family, but also, for families across this community, so thank you.
“When the history of our city is written, in coming years, there will be names that we're all very familiar with, but there will also be Leo and Lillie Millan, and the Millan Enterprises family. People will point to their accomplishments and say, they changed our community."
This article originally appeared on Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: Small Business Development Center: The Millans receive Rising Star Award