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Awards honor people, firms for achievements
Amanda Witt (from left), president of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, stands with chamber award winners, including Jennifer Doss, Young Professional of the Year; Blake Shumate with American Global Logistics, Small Business of the Year for Service; Bill Martin of Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Small Business of the Year for Manufacturing; Del. Charles Poindexter; Barry Nelson, Business Person of the Year; and Sandi and Nick Loganadan with Anglers Choice Inc., Small Business of the Year for Retail. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
A local business that resolved internal troubles and became a top-selling boat dealer with sales worldwide was honored Tuesday by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce.
Angler’s Choice Marine received the chamber’s Small Business of the Year Award in Retail, one of eight awards presented during the annual Business Appreciation Luncheon co-sponsored by the chamber and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC).
Other recipients of chamber awards were Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Small Business of the Year for Manufacturing; American Global Logistics, Small Business of the Year Award for Service; Jennifer Doss, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.’s (EDC) tourism director, received the chamber’s Young Professional of the Year Award; and Barry Nelson, who received the Business Person of the Year Award.
The EDC presented its Keystone Award to Eastman Chemical Co.; the Gardner-Summerlin Ambassador’s Award to Allyson Rothrock; and the Tourism Achievement Award to Cari Zimmer.
In presenting the awards, chamber President Amanda Witt said Angler’s Choice Marine discovered in a 2010 audit that two of its employees had embezzled money and parts.
The firm revamped its staff, policies and procedures, Witt said. Since then, she said, it has increased its staff by 18 percent and sales by 25 percent.
Ranger Boats recognized Angler’s Choice for being its top-selling dealer in the nation for 2013, Witt said, adding that the local firm has local, national and international customers.
“If this doesn’t show a true testament to serving their customers and overcoming adversity, I don’t know what does,” she said.
Nick and Sandi Loganadan of Angler’s Choice, which is in its 20th year of business, accepted the award.
In presenting the manufacturing award to Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Witt said the company has increased its staff by 8.6 percent in the past year and despite increased competition in its industry, is ahead of its sales projections for 2014.
Blue Ridge produces and sells tilapia and shrimp. Witt said Blue Ridge has expanded its line to include “a 10-legged crustacean ... still in the research and development stage” and is working to get it into production.
She did not elaborate.
“So much work has gone on over the last 20-plus years to make sure the genetics of their product were pure and that their strenuous growth process produced viable eggs which hatched into a winning venture,” Witt said.
Bill Martin, the company’s president, accepted the award.
General Manager Blake Shumate accepted the service award for American Global Logistics.
The company deals in imports and exports of containerized shipments by sea and air. In the past year, Witt said, its work force has increased by 43 percent and its sales have risen by 25 percent.
American Global also has opened offices nationwide. However, “Martinsville operates as the nervous system to their business anatomy,” Witt said.
Nelson, vice president of the Nelson Automotive Family, “is a staple in this community,” Witt said, “for his growth and success of his family’s business and the enormous amount of support he pumps into this community.”
As an example, she mentioned Nelson’s donations to the Grace Network, of which he also is a board member.
At the luncheon, Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, presented Nelson a copy of a joint resolution that the General Assembly adopted to honor him.
In January, Nelson received the 2013 Jack Dalton Community Service Award given by the Henry County Board of Supervisors. Poindexter indicated that, at least in part, spurred him to sponsor House Joint Resolution 331.
Nelson was the only award recipient who speak during the luncheon, held at the Bassett Country Club. He noted that his wife likes to turn over items to see if they are made in the United States.
“Turn me over,” he said, and see that “I’m made in Henry County.”
Witt said Doss, the Young Professional Award recipient, is devoted to helping the community attract more tourists to help boost its economy.
Doss is like “a walking billboard for all that Martinsville-Henry County has to offer,” such as by frequently discussing purchases she has made locally, such as T-shirts and vegetables produced here, Witt said.
“She eats, sleeps and breathes our community and is always making sure that she represents us every day, whether on the job or not,” Witt said.
Doss has nearly 12 years of experience in the recreation tourism field, Witt added.
The EDC honored Eastman Chemical Co. in recognition of its efforts to create jobs locally.
Last September, Eastman announced that it planned to invest $40 million in its local facilities, as well as hire 25 new employees, over three years.
EDC President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Heath noted that last year, Eastman ranked seventh on the Bloomberg Businessweek list of the Top 50 companies with the best recent performances and outlooks for the future.
Eastman also participates in the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing with Commonwealth Laminating & Coating Inc., which it has announced plans to acquire, and Patrick Henry Community College, Heath mentioned.
He said the EDC is “up to the challenge” of helping Eastman meet its workforce needs.
In presenting Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation, with the Gardner-Summerlin Ambassador’s Award, Heath noted: “She works tirelessly for our community. There are no boundaries between her personal and her work life.”
When her involvement in economic development efforts is sought and she is out of town, she answers her phone, even at the beach, he said.
Rothrock has more passion for the community and its amenities that make it a good place to work and live “than anyone I know,” he added.
The award is named after the late local lawyer and civic leader Ben Gardner and the late Henry County administrator Benny Summerlin.
Zimmer, program director for Activate Martinsville Henry County, received the Tourism Achievement Award for, among other things, being involved in activities that help draw tourists to the community, such as 5K and other races and bicycles for people using the Dick & Willie Passage, Doss said.
Zimmer has done “an outstanding job” of “making our community shine,” Doss said.
Tourists are “excited about coming to our community and when they leave, they want to tell” people about their positive experiences here, she said.