For the second year in a row, the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce was forced to crawl a little to unveil its annual Excellence in Business Awards program.
Both times, the COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for the trouble, although this year the chamber was able to hold the prizes at the normal time – late March – when the organization held a virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday evening to announce the winners.
In reality, those who were recognized had received their awards earlier this month, with the chamber making these presentations in person and videotaping the presentations which were then added to the online program posted on the chamber’s YouTube channel on Tuesday evening was shown.
“The Chamber congratulates all winners of our 2021 Excellence in Business Awards,” said Randy Collins, President and CEO of the Chamber. “The committee had a difficult job reviewing a large number of nominees. This group of winners represents the best of our business world. “
The winners in each category were:
• Business Longevity Award – Secure Communication. Founded in 1951, Surry Communications offered its first dial tone service to 192 members through November 1954. By 1957, three more switching centers were in operation, serving more than 1,100 members. At the beginning, the members used the party line service with four parties per line. With four exchanges covering the rural areas in Surry and Stokes counties, the company employed six people and two service cars, which are headquartered together with the electrical cooperative in Dobson. Long-distance voting was introduced in 1958, and by the end of that decade the cooperative had 1,569 members.
Seventy years later, the company has expanded to a network spanning 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable, serving more than 12,230 customers and 1,310 businesses in Surry, Stokes, and Davidson counties with Internet, phone, TV, security, and more.
• Ambassador of the Year Award – Robin Edwards. Every year the chamber elects an ambassador as ambassador of the year. “This year’s winner is a good choice. She is committed, hardworking and believes in what the chamber stands for, ”says the presentation notes with the award. “Whenever the ambassadors gather, you can find them there. A unique service that she offers as an ambassador really shows her passion. When she visits her assigned members, she often brings a bag filled with small gifts and candy. This type of service to chamber members (which she has provided herself) gives them a good sense of the organization. “
• Administrative Professional of the Year Award – Debbie Benge serving as assistant to executive vice president and general manager Greg Puckett and the board of directors of Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation.
“One of her greatest strengths is her ability to adapt to any situation and to think quickly and efficiently to solve any problem that comes her way,” read the presentation notes of her award. “She stays calm in every situation, regardless of whether it is a major breakdown, board meeting or other tasks that need to be dealt with immediately. She is always more than ready to help her employees in various departments with the fulfillment of the tasks for the cooperative. She has a very broad competence and knowledge base from the various roles that she has held … “
• Outstanding Public Service Award – Traci George. The presentation notes made extensive use of a recent Mount Airy News article about George detailing her advocacy for children and the homeless. She has done a considerable amount of work helping the local homeless and leading other projects that have included helping patients at the Brenner Children’s Hospital, setting up a mentoring program for local students, running a campaign to provide coats to those in need, and the March for babies and babies headed More.
“Community service was a part of her life from a young age. The public service is who it is, ”the notes read.
• Excellence in Tourism Award – White Sulfur Springs Wedding and Venue.
“One of the challenges in our region is limited meeting rooms and venues. That recently changed with the addition of a brand new venue with the old name, ”reads the chamber presentation. The 15-acre White Sulfur Springs Resort, whose origins date back to the 1880s, now offers a wedding and event venue.
“Just minutes from downtown Mount Airy, it offers couples and their guests a secluded place to party in the heart of North Carolina’s wine country. It offers a range of event spaces, amenities, and accommodations to create moments of magic. “
• Award for Agribusiness of the Year – Round Peak Vineyards.
“Agriculture has been a part of Surry County for many years. There are still many family and company farms in our region, ”said the chamber presentation.
“An Ohio couple moved to Charlotte in 2000 and loved their new home. Since life sometimes takes them in a different direction, the couple moved to California in 2006. While on the West Coast, they fell in love with visiting vineyards and enjoying the great California wines. They particularly liked the small, family-owned vineyards. In 2008, they had the opportunity to return to North Carolina, leave the corporate world, and purchase a local winery called Round Peak Vineyards. In addition to wine, they produce some great craft beers under the Skull Camp label. The winery hosts many events and has become a popular meeting place for locals and tourists. “
• Business and Education Partner Award – Northern Regional Hospital.
“Listed as the third largest employer in Surry County, it is no surprise that this organization is heavily involved in providing unique educational opportunities for our community’s youth,” the chamber said. “In addition to supporting professional associations and technical student organizations such as HOSA, they have long been offering job shadowing, clinical lessons, certifications, internships and pre-training courses. Health science students had direct contact with staff and administration through class visits, special events, and regional competitions. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many of these activities for now, they continue to work to nurture local talent through job opportunities and the introduction of new scholarships. “
• Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award – The Surry Sunrise Rotary Club.
This group has been involved in many projects over the years, here are just a few: feeding the hungry through school backpack programs; Funding equipment for local firefighters, police and rescue workers; Donating blood to the American Red Cross; Collect rubbish in the community; Raise money for public schools; Trick or treating family events on Halloween; Creation of a new dog park in Mount Airy; a flight for children pigeon races; and other.
• Pandemic Leadership Award – The Surry Health and Nutrition Center has been selected to be the recipient of this new award, which was added in 2021.
“It seemed that the whole country was mobilizing against COVID-19,” said the chamber. “The federal government started working with every state, and then every state started organizing local cities and counties to fight this pandemic. It became clear early on that this was a public health emergency. Federal agencies affiliated with state health ministries. From there it became clear to members that the local health departments across the country would lead the indictment. For Surry County, that meant the Surry Health and Nutrition Center.
“When the pandemic came upon us, Surry County Health and Nutrition stepped into action,” posting educational materials on the website to educate the public. Regularly inform citizens, businesses and organizations about the status of the pandemic; Coordination of personal protective equipment for all groups; Coordination of services for vulnerable populations; Management of hourly, daily and weekly updates; Coordinating a large vaccination program for thousands of citizens.
“All of this was done while the regular long list of services to citizens was being drawn up. The Surry Health and Nutrition Center performed very well and went beyond duty during a national public health emergency. “
• Award for Business of the Year – Xtreme Marketing.
“There are many elements that a business owner must have to be successful. You need to have a business plan, understand sales, finance, human resources, and more. One area that successful companies must master is marketing. Our business of the year winner knows marketing inside and out, ”said the Chamber.
Founded in 2001, Xtreme Marketing is a full service marketing agency providing design, printing, vehicle packaging, engraving, manufacturing, trade show displays, custom vehicles, logistics, branding, social media solutions and more.
The company’s owner has had a long and successful career in the military and is proud that his organization is a certified veterans company. This company has customers across the country including Jack Daniels, Korbel, Charles Schwab, Coca Cola, the PGA Tour and Dell, to name a few, ”said the Chamber.
“When the pandemic broke out in March 2020, this company was one of the first to move on to other business areas. They developed their own plastic face shield that could be used by medical staff and others to protect them from the virus. They sold many of the shields across the country, but also donated many to nonprofits and health groups in our community. The owners have a passion for their business, but also a great passion for their community. “