Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was guest speaker at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce 97th Annual Meeting & Gala on Thursday, May 26 at Brenau University in Pearce Auditorium. Greater Hall Chamber Chairman Rob Fowler, Chairman-Elect John Vardeman and President/CEO Kit Dunlap hosted a special night of recognition and accomplishment with the announcement of the Small Business of the Year, Family Business of the Year, Silver Shovel Winners and the President’s Award recipients. Chamber officers, Leadership Hall County participants and other outstanding volunteers were recognized as well.
A Champagne Reception followed the program in Yonah Hall and on the front lawn of Brenau University. The event was sponsored by BB&T, Georgia Power Company and Northeast Georgia Health System, Inc.
W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award: Denise Deal, Jackson EMC
The W.G. Mealor Award is presented to one who has served the community and the Greater Hall Chamber with exceptional leadership and volunteerism. The award is bestowed to one who exemplifies high ethics and morals, a person of vision – these are traits possessed by Mr. W.G. Mealor, the first Chairman of the Chamber from 1908 – 1917. This year, Chairman Rob Fowler presented the award to Denise Deal of Jackson EMC. Denise has served on the Chamber Board, the Executive Committee, and the Economic Development Council. She has chaired the Government Affairs Division, the Red Carpet Tour, the Washington Fly-in and worked on many committees including Leadership Hall County, the SPLOST Campaign, and the Legislative Reception.
Community Service Award: Woodrow Stewart, Stewart, Melvin & Frost
In 1972, W. Woodrow (Woody) Stewart served as Chairman of the Board of the Chamber. A native of Jefferson, Woody has excelled in many areas. From playing football, baseball and golf at Furman University to graduating with honors from Tulane School of Law. He served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and graduated from Emory School of Law with a Masters in Taxation. He is a partner at Stewart, Melvin and Frost and serves on the Boards of Cottrell, Inc., Regions Bank, Regions Financial Corporation, McKibbon Brothers and Gibson Dental Designs and currently chairs the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Foundation. He is a past chairman of the Gainesville City Schools Board of Education, Chamber Wastewater Treatment Task Force, Chattahoochee Country Club and the Kiwanis Club. A Leadership Georgia graduate, he has been honored as Hall County Young Man of the Year and Gainesville Rotary Club’s Man of the Year.
Small Business of the Year: Henry O’s and Whitmire Homes
Henry Ward, Jr. has owned and operated Henry O’s Restaurant for the past 25 years as sole proprietor. He caters to the professionals serving delicious lunches daily; the entertainers with karaoke; those who need a laugh with comedy and private dining; private parties; catering; and, the evening dinner crowd. Henry O’s has been a favorite of locals and many famous folks as well. It was the gathering place for National Songwriters Bruce Burch and John Jarrard (whose gold record hangs on the wall today). Bruce and John as well as many other National Songwriters performed at Henry O’, and it was the beginning of the John Jarrard Concert and Fundraiser still held each year. Henry Ward often offers his facilities for fund raising for Muscular Dystrophy, the American Red Cross and other charitable groups. Even with the influx of restaurants in the Gainesville area, Henry O’s remains a true landmark for our community.
Since 1978, Whitmire Homes has been committed to helping homeowners realize their dream of a custom designed home. Tim Whitmire, a Hall County native, is President and CEO of Whitmire Homes. Tim is a “hands-on” home builder and is personally involved in every home that’s built and has a vision for the final setting of every home right from the start. Whitmire Homes hardworking, knowledgeable staff has made the Whitmire pledge of service a reality, and their clients have learned the difference between a custom built house and a Whitmire custom home. Whitmire Homes has been recognized with numerous awards, including best in show, best architectural design, and best interior decorating. Whitmire’s office staff, subcontractors, finishing specialists and warranty representatives all work together to make sure every detail is perfect from the beginning to the very end.
Family Business of the Year: Conditioned Air Systems, Inc. and Matthews Printing Company
Conditioned Air Systems, Inc. was founded in 1983 by President/CEO and owner Doug Magnus to provide unprecedented heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems installation, service, and maintenance to Northeast Georgia. What started with eight employees has grown to more than 80 highly trained members of the Conditioned Air Systems family. Services include industrial, commercial, residential service and installation along with Design Built systems, and an on-site fabrication shop. Being involved in the community is important to the company, and they are active Greater Hall Chamber members. Baya has served as a Chamber associate director and is a Leadership Hall County graduate. Also a Leadership Hall graduate, Brooke has been a Chamber Ambassador, an Associate Director, a Director and will be on the Executive Board working with membership this year. Andy Kalinauskas is a member of the upcoming Leadership class. The company participates in United Way of Hall County, Toys for Tots and the American Red Cross and supports the Eagle Ranch, Hall County Human Society, Jaycees, Junior League, Home Builders Association, United Way, South Hall and Gainesville Rotary, and CASA.
Matthews Printing Company was founded by W. E. “Eph” Matthews in 1948. Mr. Matthews purchased commercial printing equipment from Charles Smithgall of The Gainesville Eagle (which later became The Times). Bill Lipscomb began his career in the printing business in 1956 under the direction of Mr. Matthews and with Curtis Pethel purchased the business in 1967. In 1984, Mr. Lipscomb became the sole owner, and his daughter, Anne Davenport, joined the family business. Matthews Printing has grown to 26 employees and more than 15,000 square feet. Employees say, “Bill and Anne care about more than just getting the job done and keeping customers happy, they care about employee well being, families, and are always ready to help in any way, they are just plain good to us.” Bill and Anne are very active in the community and contribute greatly to Gainesville and Hall County. Bill is a long time member of the Gainesville Rotary Club and Past Exalted Ruler of the Gainesville Elks Lodge. Anne is a member of the Gainesville Rotary Club, a sustainer member of the Gainesville-Hall County Junior League, and is is a past Greater Hall Chamber Board member.
Silver Shovel Award Winners:
Benny Bagwell, Jackson EMC
There is always one who stands out in a group – one that is the “go to” person that gets it done. Benny is that person, and he always gets it done in a quiet, professional manner. Benny has served our Chamber in so many ways – a past Chairman of the Board, the Economic Development Council and membership recruitment, to name a few. Benny and Jackson EMC are always sponsoring events and are daily assisting your Chamber and our community in moving ahead with business.
Paul Chambers, BellSouth
A champion for business and education, Paul has served on the Chamber Board and will Co-Chair the new HALLmark program next year. Paul is a partner in economic development programs and always providing the latest in telecommunication service and strategies. Paul works on a state level as well as locally, to better our education systems and support our teachers and schools.
Dr. Jack Chapman, Gainesville Eye Associates
Healthcare is on everyone’s mind as a top community issue. Jack serves on the Chamber Board and the Healthcare Committee providing needed knowledge and advice on federal, state and local healthcare issues. He was a champion for healthcare tort reform this year and inspired us to take a strong stand in favor and get behind the successful tort reform effort in the State Legislature.
Kristin Daniel, Carroll Daniel Construction
Kristin is the Chamber’s inspiration for beautification and protecting and enhancing our community’s natural resources. For the past two years, Kristin has chaired the Beautification Committee and served on the Arbor Day and Adopt A Park Committees. She has served as an Associate Director on our Board and is a member of 2004 Leadership Hall County.
Becky Johnson, The Times
For many years, Becky Johnson has provided our Chamber with steadfast advertising and marketing support. Always professional and eager to assist, Becky serves as The Times’ liaison with the Chamber and coordinates advertising campaigns, special promotional projects, the Business Link newsletter, Business EXPO and various other marketing efforts.
Allen Nivens, Hamilton State Bank
Leadership Hall County has received the benefit of Allen’s work for the past four years. He is a member of 2001 Leadership Hall and since then has served as chairman, served on the selection committee and last year served on the Hall Leadership Council to gather ideas to further develop our community’s leadership efforts. Allen has also served as an Associate Director of the Chamber.
Greg Rehberg, Overhead Door Company
Greg moved to the community in 2004, opened a new business and immediately joined and began to work for the Chamber. He serves on the Ambassadors Council and helps with membership recruitment. He serves as co-chair of the Gainesville Leads Group, one of our most successful new programs.
Rhonda Samples, Hall County Schools
Rhonda believes in connecting young people – Hall County students – with businesses. Through her efforts, the apprentice program was recharged, and this year there were over 75 Hall County students working in local businesses. These students are learning job skills that will assist them in developing successful careers. She also assisted the Chamber in developing the new Youth Leadership Program.
Ferrell Singleton, Lakeview Academy
As headmaster and leader of Lakeview Academy for the past 27 years, Ferrell has been a strong leader and passionate educator. Ferrell has served on the Chamber Board of Directors for several years and made Lakeview Academy an integral part of our community’s first-class education system.
J. C. Smith, University of Georgia Small Business Center
Small Business is the backbone of American business and makes up 90 percent of all businesses in our community. For many years, J. C. Smith has been a local leader for small business. J. C. has served on the Chamber’s Small Business Council and was chairman this year, providing monthly small business programs for businesses.
Steve Syfan, Turbo Logistics
As chairman, Steve led the Partners in Education program to new heights. Steve and his company, Turbo Logistics, have been the inspiration for businesses to partner with schools in our community and establishing a real relationship that connects school children with the business world. He is a leader who is willing to work to make things better for the children in our community and our future workforce.
Andrea Tjepkema, ETCON
Andrea and ETCON have been one of the constant supporters of the Chamber and our community for many years. She has helped with our Business EXPO for several years, serving as Chairman in 2005. The EXPO brings many people into downtown Gainesville to learn about our area businesses and non-profits and participate in this annual business networking opportunity.
R. K. Whitehead, Whitehead Die Casting.
Our community’s economic development activities have been led by R. K. Whitehead for the last two years. He has served as Chairman of the Gainesville & Hall County Economic Development Council. This organization locates new companies to our community and works with our existing companies to expand their jobs and facilities. R. K. has been at the helm of this community organization working with professional staff and volunteers to add positively to our tax base with industrial, office, retail, and small business jobs. Our economy is strong and diverse, and we thank R. K. Whitehead for lending his expertise to our community.