Three Rio Rancho businesses won awards last week at the EXHIB-IT! B2B Awards, which award a top winner in both the commercial and nonprofit category to showcase the brand’s efforts and impact in New Mexico.

M’tucci’s Restaurants, one of the largest locally owned and operated restaurant groups in New Mexico, received the top honor at the in the category of Best Local Commercial Brand. Presented at Expo at Isleta Resort on April 18, entries for best brands were judged by the New Mexico American Marketing Association and were considered based on community impact and brand presence in New Mexico.

M’tucci’s will receive $9,000 in advertising to showcase the brand’s efforts and impact in the state.

M’Tucci’s has four locations in New Mexico, including M’Tucci’s Moderno in Rio Rancho.

“It was pretty cool; we had a lot of our peers, there was a lot of restaurants there,” Robin Dibble, operating partner and general manager at M’tucci’s Moderno, said. “I think for us, obviously, the benefit was that we got a whole bunch of free marketing and free credits for various things, but I think just overall it was kind of cool to see the response just amongst our fans that are so loyal.”

Dibble said M’Tucci’s has set out to focus on its brand and image. He credited Howie Kaibel for a lot of that success.

Kaibel’s title is brand manager and minister of culture, which is a position created specifically for him. Kaibel worked for Yelp as head of client relations, which led to him making connections with numerous people.

“Basically, he’s our brand. Our team was like he’s a way better help with our overall approach towards our image,” Dibble said. “He’s been really, really helpful. Having somebody like Howie here, he’s so well connected with the community and just having somebody who is just focused on looking at what we do and how we do things. From kind of an outside perspective, has been really, really huge for us.”

The first B2B Event took place in 2018 with more than 900 in attendance. It grew into New Mexico’s largest strategic networking event and business-to-business expo until the pandemic in 2020. B2B’s return from the pandemic had a distinct Rio Rancho feel.

In addition to M’Tucci’s winning, Fundaxi was second in the Best Local Commercial Brand. Fundaxi moved its headquarters to Rio Rancho on April 12. The Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce placed third in the nonprofit category.