David Jones, founder of Peak 10 Technologies, considers a competitive spirit as being crucial for success in business.

Wednesday night, that drive helped him earn the “Trailblazer Award” from the Metrolina Entrepreneurial Council.

“My advice to you is: play to win,” Jones told the crowd of more than 150 people at MEC’s annual awards banquet at the Omni Hotel.

Jones knows what is needed to compete, especially in hard times. A competitive runner who has competed in some 27 marathons, Jones started Peak 10, a data center services provider in 1999. Despite the implosion of the “dot com” world and the overall economic downturn, Peak 10 has opened centers in Charlotte and Research Triangle Park as well as two in Florida. The company also recently announced its 200th customer.

Calling on his marathon experience and also pointing to the importance of teamwork, Jones said he and the company needed “endurance” to find success in a challenging climate.

“One thing I learned very quickly is that I’m not a short-distance guy,” he said. “My strength is endurance.

“I feel like we are at the 20-mile mark in this economy,” he added, noting the end is in site — recovery as opposed to a marathon finish — and that Peak 10’s perseverance is paying off. “One word describes what we have — momentum.”

“There are two reasons for surviving in a tough economy — vision and passion,” Jones said. “A third is the people we have. Their commitment to go farther than we could ever hope to ask is a major reason for our success.

“I believe we have a winning team. They play to win, and they also play to help other players on the team to improve.”

The MEC gave its most prestigious award to Jones over two other finalists, Stuart Levinson of Venetica Software and Jonathan Christenbury of Christenbury Eye Center.

MEC: www.mec.org