Annual Award Recipients

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce 2010-11 Business Awards were presented at the 103rd Annual Meeting & Gala on May 12 at the Chattahoochee Country Club. Award recipients included:

Small Business of the Year: Rushton & Company, CPAs

Rushton & Company, a Commerce Club Member and Chamber supporter for over 25 years, has grown into one of Northeast Georgia’s largest and most respected accounting firms. Initially a one-man company, the agency was founded by Barclay Rushton in 1981 and housed in a tiny office on Green Street in Gainesville. It grew steadily through those early years, then began to take off in 2005 with an aggressive growth strategy.

The recent recession has impacted Rushton & Company, just as it has many of its clients and the local business community. The firm has been especially sensitive to focusing its talents and expertise toward helping local and regional businesses navigate through the troubled economy in areas ranging from business planning to debt restructuring. While putting clients first and helping them through difficult times, the company has witnessed increased demand for its business counseling and accounting services while helping scores of area companies survive and even prosper in the face of adversity. Consequently, Rushton & Company has been rewarded with its own success – growing to 29 employees with an average annual growth rate of 12 percent over the last six years. Rushton & Company celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Firm partners Barclay Rushton, Chris Hollifield and Perry Barnett lead and set an example for community service that is followed by their staff. The firm holds special in-house seminars designed to teach employees to be better community service citizens and exposes them to opportunities to get more involved in civic service. From local schools, churches and civic clubs to youth sports and non-profit agencies, the Rushton firm’s community spirit and involvement have made a tremendous positive impact. The Rushton firm also serves as a Partner in Education with two Hall County schools: Sardis Elementary School and Wauka Mountain Elementary School.

Family Business of the Year: Milton Martin Toyota

Milton Martin began a used car dealership in 1961 in Downtown Gainesville on the corner of Green and Spring Streets. He founded his business on customer trust and began building relationships that would last generations with his “Satisfaction Guarantee” creed, a guarantee that became the backbone of his long-standing, community-oriented family business. In 1970, during a time when imported vehicles were not readily accepted, Milton followed his business instinct and purchased the Toyota franchise. Within two years, the dealership was relocated to Browns Bridge Road to accommodate growth and today is the oldest family-owned and operated Toyota dealership in Georgia, now celebrating it’s 50th anniversary.

The cornerstone of Milton’s success is continued through his sons and grandchildren. Brothers Mike and Ricky now own and operate the business and continue Milton’s principles of honesty, integrity and customer satisfaction. The company remains a Christ-centered business with a focus on commitment to excellence and dedication to the community. Milton Martin Toyota is a business partner with the Gainesville Police Department and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office sponsoring the Teen Driver Program free of charge to local teens and a camp for youth to promote Internet safety and the consequences of drug abuse. The family played an important part in the mission of Eagle Ranch, providing seed money to purchase the land and ongoing operational support in later years. Milton Martin Toyota is a legacy of service and encouragement to others and remains a vital community partner serving the children and youth of Gainesville-Hall County and those abroad with support of organizations like Helping Hands Foreign Missions. The Martin team continues its mission and seeks to “not look at our own interests first, but to the interests of others with a humble attitude and always a word of encouragement.”

Community Service Award: Riverside Military Academy

Chartered in 1906, by Brenau College professors A.W. Van Hoose and H.J. Pearce, Riverside Military Academy has a long history of success. Today, as one of the few remaining all-boys college preparatory military schools, Riverside serves an enrollment of about 350 boarding and day students from 25 states and 15 different countries. The school offers superb educational opportunities, provides our area with a tremendous economic impact and gives unselfishly back to the community.

One of the most satisfying aspects of cadet life at Riverside is the community service that staff and cadets do on behalf of others. Through the academy’s community service opportunities, hundreds of cadets and dozens of instructors log thousands of volunteer hours.

Riverside and the Greater Hall Chamber have been partners for decades and the Get Fit Stay Fit 5K Corporate Challenge, now in it’s fourth year, would not be a success without the support of Riverside. The cadets and instructors provide team building programs for Leadership Hall and Youth Leadership Hall and open their doors and facilities to numerous others in the community.

W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award: Russell Vandiver, President, Lanier Technical College

W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award recipient Russell Vandiver, President, Lanier Technical College was presented by Chairman Darrell Synder. The award, named for the first President of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce (W.G. Mealor, President, 1908-1917) has a long tradition of recognizing outstanding citizens in our community and was chosen by Chamber Chairman Darrell Snyder.

Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award: Governor Nathan Deal

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who has been a member of the chamber for more than 30 years, was presented with the Distinguished Citizen award.  Darrell Snyder, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, touted Deal’s lifelong commitment to public service and civic engagement first as an attorney and now as Georgia’s 82nd governor.

“Although he represents more than Hall County, he never forgot about the place that he and his wife Sandra have called home for more than 30 years,” Snyder said.

Deal described the award as both a “surprise” and a “great honor.”

“As I went all over the state last year campaigning, people always asked what was so special about Hall County,” Deal said. “If those people who asked that question could see the awards that are being given out tonight, recognizing what people are doing in this community, they would know why Hall is so special.”

Silver Shovel Award Recipients:
Brian Cantel, Cantel Wealth Management
Lee Hemmer, The Simpson Company
Deborah Mack, Community Volunteer
Chris Wade-Curry, Gainesville High School
Brian Daniel, Carroll Daniel Construction Company
Wolfgang Harter, Community Volunteer
Megan Martin, American Security Shredding
Chris McCall, Keller Williams Realty
Mandy Reece, Community Volunteer
Melissa Tymchuk, Northeast Geogia Medical Center