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Chamber, EDC honor local businesses, people
Several businesses were honored Tuesday at the annual Business Appreciation Luncheon, held at Bassett Country Club and sponsored by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the EDC. Above are Chamber of Commerce officers and award winners: (from left) Guy Stanley, Martinsville Henry County Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board; Al Flora and Gregg Weinschreider of SleepSafe Beds; Dean Randall and Jason Wood of Casting Logos; Jeb Bassett; Katie Croft; Will Pearson and Mike Pashley of Wild Magnolia; and Joe Keiper, Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce vice chairman. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Many celebrities have received “Emmy” and “Tony” awards for outstanding entertainment performances. Now, there is a “Benny” award to honor outstanding performances by local business leaders in Henry County and Martinsville.
Richard Hall, managing partner of Orion Capital and a member of the board of directors of Commonwealth Laminating & Coating, was presented the first Gardner-Summerlin Ambassador’s Award from the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) on Tuesday.
The award — simply known as the Ambassador’s Award in previous years — was one of nine presented during the annual Business Appreciation Luncheon, held at Bassett Country Club and sponsored by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the EDC.
It was renamed in honor of the late local attorney Ben Gardner and the late county administrator Benny Summerlin, who were extensively involved with the EDC before they died in recent years, hence the “Benny” nickname, according to EDC Recruiting and Marketing Director Lisa Lyle.
In the past year, Hall has grown his business, helped the EDC recruit new businesses and advocated for the community at the state level, Lyle said.
She said, however, that Hall has been most proud of negotiating the deal with Summerlin that led to Commonwealth Laminating acquiring the area’s newest shell building at the Patriot Centre for a company expansion.
The EDC presented its Keystone Award, given to the company that created the most jobs in the past year, to Faneuil Inc. Dawn Hundley, the company’s human resources manager, accepted the award.
In April 2010, Faneuil opened a call center at the Clock Tower Building near Liberty Fair Mall to serve Dominion Virginia Power customers. Early this year, the company announced a $1 million expansion that would create 100 jobs, Lyle recalled. That would bring its total number of local jobs to roughly 250, company officials said at the time.
“We appreciate your faith in our community and our people, and ... we look forward to working with Faneuil on your future growth,” Lyle told Hundley.
Mollie’s Originals received the EDC’s Small & Minority Business Award for outstanding performance. The firm’s co-owners, Sharon Sleeper and Hope Johnson, accepted it.
Lyle recalled that Mollie’s began a little more than two years ago as a hobby in which scarves were made for a pet. The hobby grew to include other sewn items, from tote bags to stethoscope covers, which can be customized with embroidery or screen printing, she said.
Mollie’s recently contracted 12 area residents to help fulfill a 3,000-piece, time-sensitive order, Lyle noted.
“No matter the size or timing of the project,” she said, Mollie’s “produces consistent quality products that we can proudly say were ‘Made in America’ and also ‘Made in Martinsville-Henry County.’”
The EDC’s Tourism Achievement Award went to Roger Adams, director of the Henry County Parks & Recreation Department.
Under Adam’s leadership, the department maintains its 26 recreational facilities impeccably, helping give visitors a positive impression of the community, according to EDC Tourism Director Jennifer Doss.
The chamber presented five awards.
The Small Business of the Year Award for Service was presented to Casting Logos. It was accepted by the firm’s principals, Dean Randall and Jason Wood.
In business for three years, Casting Logos offers services such as engraving, embroidery and screenprinting. Chamber board member Joe Keiper said the firm has tripled its business and number of employees since it opened.
Exact figures were not provided.
Keiper, executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, added that not only has the tough economy not hindered Casting Logos’ business, but it also has not stopped the firm from sponsoring numerous community events and making many donations to the community.
Wild Magnolia, a restaurant at Patrick Henry Mall, took the Small Business of the Year Award for Retail. Owners Will Pearson and Mike Pashley accepted.
In the past year, Wild Magnolia has seen a 10 percent increase in sales and 15 percent increase in employees, Keiper said. The owners also are active in the community and support many events and organizations, he said.
Sleep Safe Beds was presented the Small Business of the Year Award for Manufacturing. Company officials Al Flora and Greg Weinschreider accepted it.
Chamber board Chairman Guy Stanley said Sleep Safe has increased its sales by 25 percent and its number of employees by 50 percent in the past year.
Company officials “believe that a strong measure of their success is the result of (having) an excellent workforce,” he said.
Stanley said the company supports many charities, especially ones serving children and adults with special needs.
Katie Croft, experiential learning coordinator for the New College Institute (NCI), received the Young Professional of the Year Award, given to a local business person who is no older than 35 years of age and shows integrity, leadership and strong ties to the community through involvement.
In four years, Croft has been promoted from administrative assistant to her current position, in which she has taken NCI’s internship program “to a whole new level” by doubling its capacity and extending it to include internships for young people all year — not just in the summer, Stanley said.
Croft also volunteers with many local organizations, he added.
Jeb Bassett, senior vice president of wood, operations and logistics for Bassett Furniture Industries, was honored as Business Person of the Year, largely for his involvement in the annual July 4 celebration at Martinsville Speedway.
When Bassett became chairman and chief fundraiser for the celebration in 2009, the event was in jeopardy due to economic factors, Stanley recalled.
He said, though, that Bassett was able to recruit new donors and convince previous donors to keep contributing to the celebration, resulting in more than $500,000 being raised during the past five years.
“Many thousands of individuals have been able to enjoy quality family fun ... because of the conscientious effort” that Bassett put forth, Stanley said.
Award recipients did not comment after they were recognized.