Derrick Berry launched his business in 2000 while he was serving as a full-time police officer at Roosevelt Middle School.
On Thursday, he was honored with the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County's top prize, the Zenith Award.
"We thought there was a problem with blacks and other minorities getting access to money," said Berry, the CEO of lender Buccanneer/The Good Pirates. "We want to try to balance the scales."
Buccanneer offers commercial and home mortgages. The firm has 15 employees, and 75 percent of its customers are Black Caribbean or African American.
Berry was among the five business leaders honored with the fourth annual Ascension Awards during a lunch attended by more than 300 people at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The awards recognize professionals who have made a difference in the community as they built their business.
The Martin Luther King Coordinating Committee was named Nonprofit of the Year. The committee has been led by community activist and retired educator Edith C. Bush for more than 30 years.
"With President Obama in the White House," Bush said, "we have got to teach these children that they can do that too."
Before the awards, consultant and keynote speaker Rick Caldwell tackled generational diversity.
He outlined the four major age demographics in the workplace: Traditional, Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennials. He broke down their views on work like this:
Traditionals have the outlook of "Work first."
Baby Boomers tend to "Live to work."
Generation X says, "Work to live."
And Millennials, who are poised to be the largest age group in the workplace as Baby Boomers retire, say "Live, then work."
His advice for the best way to bridge the generational gap is to adapt The Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" into a principle he calls The Platinum Rule. "Treat others as they would like to be treated." Ascension award winners
Nonprofit of the Year -- Edith Bush, Martin Luther King Jr. Coordinating Committee
Small Business of the Year -- Bryan Boysaw & Associates, PA
Large Business of the Year -- Best Protective Services, Robert Best III, CEO
Emerging Leader -- James Taylor, Taylored Athletes Inc.
Zenith Award -- Derrick Berry, Buccaneer Mortgage
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