Being selected as a finalist in a rookie of the year competition - in sports or anywhere else - is a great honor. But it may be doubly so if you're a finalist who opened for business on the very day that one of the world's largest banking companies filed for bankruptcy.

That's what happened to a Holbrook company run by Larry Vetter. Vetter Environmental Sciences Inc. was one of three finalists in the small business category picked as rookie of the year by the Hauppauge Industrial Association-Long Island. The winner will be chosen by Aug. 5, said HIA president Terri Alessi-Miceli.

He opened for business Sept. 15, 2008, the day the powerful Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.

"I was wondering, did I pick the wrong time or what," Vetter said earlier this week. But, he explained, he had incorporated his business a few months before, and a new client needed him to work that day. He was already at work when he heard the grim news about Lehman.

"But," said Vetter, "I'm in the environmental industry, I solve problems for people who have had bad things happen to them," such as oil spills on their property. Vetter has two employees and hopes one day to have at least 10.

The two other companies selected in the small business category are Campolo, Middletown & McCormick, a law firm in Bohemia, and Transparent Health Network, of Westbury.