A large crowd filled the biggest meeting room of the John Pope Center at South Georgia Technical College Thursday night for the 94th annual meeting of the Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce.
Angela Westra, director of Chamber development, welcomed everyone.
“It has been an extremely busy year with a great deal of change, but we remain upbeat as we recap this past year and see all that was accomplished.” she said/ “The Chamber not only moved forward, but moved up as offices were relocated upstairs in the Rees Park Economic Development Center.”
Westra reported that in 2013, “the Chamber welcomed 39 new members, cut 15 ribbons, held 14 Business After Hours and two open house events, sponsored three Quarterly Membership Luncheons and a Legislative Luncheon, hosted a series of technology workshops, implemented the member-to-member discount program affectionately known as the Red Card and a number of other division initiatives that we will talk about a little later in the program.”
Lewis Webb, outgoing chairman of the board, recognized the 2013 Executive Committee: Dr. Wallace Mays - past chairman, Tracy Law - chairman –elect, Sandhya Muljibhai - secretary, Rhett Simmons - treasurer, William Bailey - assistant treasurer, Jeff Joiner – vice president of Agriculture, Erica Johnson - vice president of community development, Faith Pinnell - vice President of health & wellness, Cindy Pryor -vice president of membership; directors Jackie Bryce, Ben Dupree, Vic Patel, William Rambo, Jay Roberts, Johnny Shiver, Dave Tucker and Mike Yerby.
Webb then recognized the Platinum Trustees, referring to them as
“a group of businesses in Sumter County that go above and beyond their support of the Chamber when it comes to financial contributions, volunteers, time and support. In addition to paying their regular monthly dues, our Platinum Trustees extend financial support which allows the Chamber to provide additional services to its members.”
They are Accelerated Physical Therapy, After Hours Care of Americus, Americus-Sumter County Payroll Development Authority. Americus Times-Recorder, AT &T Georgia. Barnett Computers, Citizens Bank of Americus. City of Americus. Clinic Drug Store. Georgia Power Company, Georgia Southwestern State University, Habitat for Humanity, Heart of Georgia Railroad, Magnolia Manor. MedSpa of Americus. Mulcoa/C-E Minerals. Parker’s Heating & Air, PetCareRX, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Rotary Club of Americus, South Georgia Technical College, The Staffing People, SB&T, Star Racing. Sumter County Board of Commissioners, Sumter Electric Membership Corp., Williams Office Equipment.
Webb said that everything the Chamber does is about the people, “and the people in this room are the ones we really want to thank tonight for making this community what it is ... celebrating the accomplishments, what you’ve achieved and whatyour businesses have achieve, the Chamber and the effect is has on the community and where it’s going to go forward.”
Webb recognized Westra, Ivy Oliver, program assistant, and Barbara Grogan, executive director.
Oliver and Westra gave recaps of Chamber activities such as special programs, membership luncheons, conferences, ribbons cuttings, after hour gatherings, cash mobs, etc.
Westra also rolled out a new app for smartphones called Mychamber which provides a directory for all Chamber members along with phone numbers and addresses.
Webb then passed the gavel ceremoniously to the new chairman of the board, Tracy Law.
Law recognized the Executive Committee for 2014: Lewis Webb, past chairman; Jay Roberts, chairman-elect; Rhett Simmons, treasurer; William Bailey, assistant treasurer; Sandhya Muljibhai, vice president of Workforce Development; Cindy Pryor, vice president of Membership ; Faith Pinnell, vice president of Health & Wellness; Jeff Joiner, vice president of Agricultural Initiatives; Directors Jackie Bryce, Terence Duncan, Ben Dupree, Paul Farr, Chad, Ledger, Danny Minick, William Rambo, Tony Smith, Dave Tucker.
A highlight of the evening was the awards portion. Mike Donnelly, chairman 2000-2001, presented the Platinum Cup, as winner of the annual Chamber golf tournament, to Accelerated Physical Therapy for the second consecutive year.
Ginger Starlin, 1997 chair, presented the Servant Leadership Award to Dan Berman of PharmaCentra.
“ ... he is a philanthropist as well as a champion of health and wellness. He has been a cheerleader for Sumter County since locating his call center here and has been instrumental in attracting other businesses to consider relocating to our community ...” she said.
Ted McMillan, 1995 chairman, presented the award for Community Enhancement to Custom Performance Automotive.
“In 2012, the Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce developed the Community Enhancement Award which recognizes a Sumter County business or organization that has made a recent investment in operations to notably improve the appearance of property, facilities and services provided,” he said. “This business, through its expansion which added several new businesses to the community, has nearly single-handedly revitalized numerous properties along the Highway 19 corridor.”
Sherrill House, Board chairman for 2007-2009, presented the award for Customer Service to Anthony and Kendall Dragoin of Roman Oven Pizzeria.
“Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business,” she said. “It is important to provide customers with quality and excellence in service and to do so with a good attitude that values the customer and encourages loyal patronage. And in a community our size, it is imperative that the customers feel valued and they will not only return, but encourage others to do so as well. This year’s award goes to a business that efficiently feeds the multitudes, whether toddlers or seniors or anyone in between. Football Friday nights see this local establishment packed with athletic teams and parents, all lined up at the buffet to partake the ‘baked on brick’ pizza and more! This local business is family-owned, home grown and delizioso!”
Lewis Webb presented the Agribusiness of the Year Award to Sumter County Farm Bureau.
“This organization has a long, standing history with Sumter County,” he said. “They pride themselves on supporting the largest industry in our community, agriculture. In recent years, they have provided representation for the Chamber’s Agriculture Division, assisting with an Estate Planning workshop for farmers and with our Ag Day for Students and Harvest Festival. It began as a grassroots organization and continues to strive to be the “voice of the farmer.”
Rick Whaley, 2004 chairman presented the Manufacturer of the Year Award to Triwood Inc.
“In its Americus facility since 1999, this manufacturer services the manufactured housing, furniture, and laminate flooring markets in the United States, specializing in profile wrapping printed papers, laminates and veneers to MDF, Particle Board or natural wood surfaces,” Whaley said, “In 2008, the company was acquired by Depro Profiles of Belgium. This manufacturer has recently announced that new jobs will be added to the Sumter County community and anticipates continued growth with additional jobs throughout the next few years as they work to respond to ever changing market needs with quality products and services.”
This was one of the largest crowds recorded at an annual meeting of the local Chamber in many years.