Chamber presents annual awards
The annual Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce awards celebration sponsored by First Commerce Credit Union was held at Rainwater Conference Center. The event took both a hybrid format with individuals attending socially distanced in person and virtually through a live stream from Event Point.
The first award presented was the Industry Innovation award which recognized businesses who pivoted to find success during the pandemic.
Event Point, Jessie’s Restaurant and Catering, and Kona Ice were finalists for the award, with Event Point being the overall winner.
“It feels great to have this recognition but mostly to know that we have been able to continue to serve people during these unprecedented times,” Shelton said.
Anthony Lentini, district sales coordinator for Aflac, was presented with the 2021 Ambassador of the Year awarded. His runners-up were Dr. Elaine Lewis with UNO-United as One and Deanna Smith with The Investment Centre at CBC Bank.
The Ambassador of the Year Award is presented to the person who exemplifies exceptional volunteer support for chamber members and donates hours to assist with chamber initiatives.
“The Chamber Ambassadors have a heart for service, and I am so grateful to be a part of a group that truly cares for the community,” Lentini said.
The next award presented was The Members’ Choice Award. This award is earned by a business that showcases exemplary customer service and is voted on by their fellow members. Platinum Roofing, Renasant Bank and Watson’s Pool and Patio’s Inc. were all up for the award.
Platinum Roofing was named the honoree and was presented with the award.
“We strive to give our customers the best experience,” Zack Marcus, COO of Platinum Roofing, said. “A house is someone’s greatest investment and it all starts with a roof.”
Rachel Thrasher with Valdosta Main Street was announced as the 2021 Most Valuable Employee. In addition to the award, Thrasher received a $1,500 check courtesy of Teamtemps. Her runners-up were Senovia Bryant and Latrell Williams, both with CJB Industries.
Most Valuable Employee candidates are nominated by local employers who believe their employee illustrates remarkable work ethic, job knowledge and an overall tremendous workplace effort.
The Young Professional of the Year Award which recognizes a young professional who positively impacts his or her employment and community place through civic engagement.
Dr. Jamie Foster-Hill, special education teacher at Pine Grove Middle School, was named the winner. Runners-up for the 2021 Young Professional of the Year included Nick Perry with Ella’s Top Corral, Robin Salisbury with Langdale Place and Taylor Strickland with The Haven, Battered Women’s Shelter.
“I have dedicated a lot of my life to being involved in the community and it feels amazing to know that it has been rewarded,” Foster- Hill stated.
The 2021 Small Business of the Year Award recognizes an innovative business with 35 or fewer employees demonstrating growth and stability in the business community.
Jud Tanner, T3 Outdoors owner, proudly accepted the award.
“I am incredibly grateful for my team who works hard six days a week. Them along with our customers make it possible to do what we do,” he said.
Runners-up for the 2021 Small Business of the Year included Danny’s Music and FilmStory.
Greater Valdosta United Way was presented with the 2021 Nonprofit of the Year award. In addition to the award, the United Way received a $1,500 check courtesy of CJB.
The Nonprofit of the Year Award highlights chamber members who have shown excellence in serving the organization’s mission and the community.
Michael Smith, United Way chief executive officer, said he was grateful to receive the award.
“It is an honor to help so many nonprofits in our area,” he said. “Our goal is to help people grow in South Georgia and we look forward to helping people live united.”
Runners-up for the 2021 Nonprofit of the Year Award included Second Harvest of South Georgia and The Salvation Army.
Sunset Farm Foods was presented with the 2021 The BIG Thinker award. The BIG Thinker is awarded to self-made, visionary and successful entrepreneurs who give back to their community.
Sunset Farm Foods is a fourth-generation, family-owned business that has withstood the test of time for 103 years.
Tom Carroll accepted the award.
“We are so grateful to join the great list of other companies who have received this award in the past,” he said. Carroll said he was proud to also introduce his staff.
New Chamber President, Christie Moore, was the last presenter of the night. Before presenting the A.L. Girardin Award, the only award selected by the chamber staff, she took a few minutes to introduce herself and speak on the chamber’s commitment to its members and the community.
“We recognize that one size does not fit all and that you all need something different from your chamber and we are excited to work together to help provide creative solutions and opportunities to ensure a prosperous future for our community,” Moore said.
Moore presented the final award of the night to Commercial Cleaning Industries.
“Commercial Cleaning Industries continually goes above and beyond ensuring the chamber and the businesses they serve are operating in a clean environment,” she said. “A special thanks to Commercial Cleaning Industries for taking additional steps to ensure the chamber building, and many others, were safe, especially during the time of a pandemic.”
Carl Copeland, owner of Commercial Cleaning Industries, joined Moore to accept the award.
“When we started the business, it was a whole different ball game than what it is today,” he said. “With COVID, we feel more needed now than ever and we are happy to be of service.”