During the 2012 awards luncheon for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce at Cross Creek Country Club on Thursday, Trio restaurant was named the Small Business of the Year.
Trio’s Chef and Owner Chris Wishart accepted the award that was sponsored by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership. Todd Tucker, president of the partnership, presented the award to Wishart.
“This business is one of the first to use technology in the way that orders, for their product, are placed. This business is very involved with the chamber. It’s located downtown and it’s just a great place. I personally enjoy going there as often as I can,” said Tucker.
Wishart said he was “humbled” and “honored.” He thanked each member of his staff by name.
During the beginning of the program, Dennis Lowe, chairman of the chamber board, introduced Mike Fenley, a field representative with Sen. Richard Burr’s office, who came to read a congratulatory letter from Burr. Each of the winners at Thursday’s event will receive a personalized copy of that letter from Burr’s office.
“The senator is a big supporter of business, especially small entrepreneurial business and I am pleased to represent him today,” said Fenley.
Benny Lisk, a chamber board member, gave out the Business Longevity Award.
“In addition to being one of Surry County’s oldest businesses, it is also one of the largest employers with 900 employees. They also contract with 117 growers with over 7.4 million square feet of housing. All combined, this company has a $234 million economic impact to the area,” said Lisk.
Wayne Farms Complex Manager Paul Nordin accepted the award.
“We thank you very much for this award. Wayne Farms is very proud to be a part of this community and we diligently try to be a responsible citizen of this community and we will continue to do that,” said Nordin.
Lowe presented the Green Business Award.
“The winner of the Green Business Award is a manufacturer who has provided meaningful employment to thousands of local citizens over a period of 85 years. It has worked hard to use natural resources and to implement resources designed or to reduce or eliminate waste. The company regularly monitors paper, plastics, cloth, metals and wood that might be used in the manufacturing or distribution process and diligently strives to keep them out of the landfill,” said Lowe. “The company recycles 25 items on a daily basis.”
The award went to Renfro Corporation with Dave Green accepting the award.
Doug Norman, chamber board member, presented the Green Business Small Division Award to O2 Energies.
“The Maybery Solar project alone provides local clean energy equal to the annual usage of more than 150 average homes and offsets the burning of over 1.3 million pounds of coal in traditional power plants each year. O2 Energies focuses on developing solar projects that provide the lowest levelized cost of electricity at no added cost to ratepayers, creating the greatest positive impact on the local environment and economy. O2 Energies is developing a second solar farm in Mount Airy that is scheduled to be complete in September, which will total 4.4 megawatts — almost four times the size of Mayberry Solar,” said Norman.
Joel Olsen, managing director of the company, accepted the award.
“We are honored to be taken into Mount Airy. We have had some financial hurdles, but we have added a million dollars to the tax base,” said Olsen.
He said when the project that is expected to be completed in September is in place, 80 percent of the energy in Mount Airy will be offset by solar power.
Greg Perkins, chairman of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority, presented the award for Excellence in Travel & Tourism.
“Freddie has two downtown businesses and when I had some friend visiting from Buffalo, (NY) they wanted to go to Opie’s Candy store, but when we got there, it was closed. So, I walked across the street to his other business, Uncorked, to ask if he might open the store for them. He asked someone to watch the store while he went across the street to open up the candy store. They were astounded at the authenticity of her Mayberry experience. She has now become a walking, talking billboard for us in her home state. Freddie truly understands the value, both real and potential, of our visitors and demonstrates it daily,” said Perkins.
David O’Neal, chairman of the membership division for the chamber, presented the Outstanding Public Service Award to Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson.
“This award recognizes an employee of the city, county or state who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for the citizens of the area. This year’s recipient needs no introduction. He’s frequently in the news informing us of his organization’s efforts to make our city safer. His determination to fight prescription drug abuse is evident by the number of programs throughout the area supporting this cause. He organized a drug abuse task force. It has further evolved into a proactive community program known as Project Lazarus. The group’s objective is to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse and to aid in its prevention,” said O’Neal. “In his high profile position, he brings dignity to the job and to the department.”
Watson said the award was unexpected, but he was honored to receive the recognition.
“This has been an issue that has faced our whole community. I don’t think I deserve any accolades for what I did. I did what needed to be done because I truly believe in the community that I serve. You have a group of dedicated servants here that feel the same way. I’m one of many who saw a need and took the initiate to do what needed to be done,” said Watson.
Tyler Morgan, chairman of the chamber’s Ambassador League, presented the Ambassador of the Year award to Bob Meinecke.
“Our 2011 Ambassador of the Year participated in Business After Hours, ribbon cuttings, pop-ins and many other networking events. This ambassador was always positive, supporting the community with business growth in mind. Not only was this person very involved in the chamber, this ambassador was also involved in many organizations within the community,” said Morgan.
He said most people would probably remember the ambassador for when he danced around in swim trunks with a float around his waist at the annual Administrative Luncheon put on by the chamber. Morgan then pulled out a picture of Meinecke from that day as he announced that he was the winner.
“This community, which I moved to 11 years ago, is easy to embrace. It’s exciting to live here. One of the things that I do as the elder statesman for the ambassadors, is to remind people that just because you’ve been here for 30 or 40 years doesn’t mean that everybody knows you. If you are not putting a face on your business, you are just missing out on something great. We have such a such a cohesive group of chamber members and economic development partnerships working with the city and county officials. It’s a group that is making a difference. Thank you for the picture,” said Meinecke.
Jimmy Flythe, chamber board member, gave out the Duke Energy Citizenship & Service award to Surry Community College.
“Surry Community College has been an agent for positive change in Surry and surrounding counties for well over 40 years. During that time, thousands of individuals in our community have, with college assistance, reached personal goals and attained improved standards of living through meaningful employment and entrepreneurial efforts,” said Flythe.
SCC President Dr. David Shockley accepted the award.
“I’m the luckiest president in the United States. I accept this award first and foremost for the students because that’s what we are about, without them, we are nothing. But then, I want to thank the faculty and staff for all the hard work they put in day in and day out. This award would not be possible without the support of the community. The heart of a community college is the community. We are here to serve you and we are here to make our community better,” said Shockley.
A surprise award called Friend of Business was given to Mount Airy Commissioner Dean Brown by Lowe. He said the chamber wanted to give a special award to a member of local government who has had a positive influence on the business community.
“He is always willing to take time to meet with visiting entrepreneurs to our area who are considering Mount Airy as a business destination,” said Lowe. “He has worked to reduce unemployment in our area through a new prison construction initiative.”
Brown thanked the chamber for the award and said he is going to Raleigh next week to try to get a prison in Surry County if anybody wants to come along, they are welcome.
Reach Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.