National Association for the Self-Employed Foundation Logo
Follow Us |  Twitter Facebook YouTube
Tessie and Matt Wallace
Wallace Metal Works
2012 Achievement Award Winners

Entrepreneurs create new jobs and form the backbone of our economy

Small-business owners provide the majority of jobs in the U.S., yet their needs and their impact are often overlooked. Since 1981, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has supported independent business owners and advocated on behalf of the micro-business community. Thanks to the NASE, entrepreneurs are not alone. But starting one’s own business can be daunting, with many bumps along the way. From business management skills to filing taxes, to raising capital or securing health coverage, the self-employed need support.

NASE Foundation Supports Entrepreneurs

Scholarships, Awards and Grants

  • Future Entrepreneur Award: college scholarship of up to $24,000 awarded to promising young buiness owners
  • Achievement Award: prize to an outstanding entrepreneur
  • Succeed Scholarships®: scholarships for business education and training
  • Growth Grants®: funding for business investment

Business Skills Education

  • Seminars and webinars on topics that help entrepreneurs grow and manage their business

Micro-Business Research

  • Educating policymakers and media on the self-employed

The NASE Presents $20,000 Achievement Award To Member

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Gymnastics Center Receives Fourth Annual Award

By Molly Nelson


The flying flips of athletes on the high bar are common sights at Springers Gymnastics Center in Ellsworth, Maine. A rarer sight for owner Doug Springer is the $20,000 check he received from the NASE as this year’s Achievement Award recipient.

After receiving a $4,193 NASE Business Development Grant in June 2009, Springer purchased more equipment specifically for male gymnasts. His goal was to introduce the sport to more boys in his community and increase his enrollment of male students.

Using the grant funds, Springer added a second set of hanging rings, a miniature pommel horse, another high bar and training aids to his 6,400 square-foot facility. Just a few months later, Springers Gymnastics saw the largest September enrollment in its five-year history and increased its enrollment of male gymnasts by 10 percent.

Recognizing the tremendous impact Springer made with his grant, along with his excellent small-business practices and contribution to local youth, health and community development, the NASE awarded him the $20,000 Achievement Award.

Building His Business

Gymnastics has been a part of Springer’s life for many years. He was a competitive gymnast and has been coaching for 25 years.

Springer had not been coaching competitive teams for very long when he began to dream of owning his own gym. After serving a five-year tour with the Marine Corps, Springer volunteered to teach gymnastics at the local YMCA in Bar Harbor, Maine. Working with his wife, Kristel, Springer soon took over the program. In 2003, Springer was re-activated in the Marines. When he returned from active duty, Springer and Kristel planned, designed and opened Springers Gymnastics Center in May 2005.

Offering recreational classes for boys and girls from 2 years old through high school, Springer also works with special needs students and coaches the gym’s competitive teams, aiming to encourage health and fitness for all kids.

Seeing that other gyms in Maine were abandoning their men’s gymnastics programs, Springer applied for a grant from the NASE to increase his boys program. The grant Springer received was part of more than $450,000 in grants given by the NASE since 2006.

Putting The Achievement Award To Work

At a ceremony in his gym, Springer accepted the $20,000 NASE Achievement Award check with the
help of his daughters, Elena, 6, and Kiera and Kaela, 4.

NASE Executive Director of Communications Maureen Petron presented the check to Springer.

“Doug is sharing his love of gymnastics with his students and in the process teaching them important life lessons about sportsmanship and health,” Petron said at the ceremony. “We’re thrilled to recognize his achievement and invest in his future growth.”

In addition to purchasing training aids and equipment, Springer plans to use the achievement award money to add a new facet to his business. He’s investing in a set of mobile gymnastics equipment. Other gyms that host gymnastic meets will be able to rent the equipment from Springer and hire him to set it up. The arrangement will create another revenue stream for Springer. The equipment will also allow Springer to take his competitive teams to schools and other venues for performances.

“The further along we go, the more grateful I am for this honor,” Springer says of his achievement award. “At first, I thought it was just money, but the help, and more importantly, the new focus on my business and new motivation to make it even better is a gift you have given us that we could never repay.”


Molly Nelson is assistant editor of Self-Employed. After the award ceremony, she particularly enjoyed jumping into the gymnastics center’s foam pit.

How can you help?

  • Sponsor a scholarship that gives young entrepreneurs a leg up on higher education costs so they don’t have to give up on either their business or college dreams.
  • Recognize a business owner poised for success with a grant or financial award that allows them to make investments needed for growth.
  • Support webinars that provide a budding entrepeneur with the business know-how needed to succeed during the first three years of their start-up (the most crucial stage for success).
  • Partner with the NASE to help Americans understand the tremendous financial impact that one-to-two person businesses have on the economy.