Chamber hands out annual awards

By Jessica Johnson

March 27, 2014

The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce held the 2014 Awards Luncheon on Wednesday afternoon at Cross Creek Country Club, handing out eight awards to four businesses, two individuals, and one organization.

The winners were ACME Stone Company for Small Business of the Year, Jennie Lowry Caudill for Excellence in Travel and Tourism, Carolina Environmental Contracting for Green Business Award, Leonard Buildings & Truck Accessories for Business Longevity Award, Haynes Strand and Company for Green Business Small Division Award, Mount Airy Lions Club for Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award, Dr. Swanson Richards for Outstanding Public Service Award, and Wendy Byerly Wood for Chamber Ambassador of the Year.

The Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, went to ACME Stone Company and was presented by LeeAnn Stokes. ACME has been in operation in Mount Airy since 1959, operating a granite sales and service organization that has spanned three generations.

Stokes shared that despite a recent setback — a destructive fire at the business — ACME has bounced back and is still serving customers with quality products and excellent customer service. “Mark and Cathy Stevens keep pushing forward with a positive attitude.”

Cathy Stevens gave the acceptance speech, and said she was “so proud to be part of the business, and the family,” and expressed thanks to the employees, her husband Mark, and her son Christopher — who is now on board with the family business.

The Excellence in Travel and Tourism Award, sponsored by the Tourism Partnership of Surry County, was handed out to Jennie Lowry Caudill, owner of Olde Mill Music in downtown Mount Airy. Director of Tourism and Marketing for the Chamber and Visitors Center Jessica Icenhour Roberts handed out the award.

She described Caudill as “one of the most dedicated and hardworking business owners in downtown Mount Airy…a true servant to the travel and tourism industry” and added that she is “heavily involved in the community.” Tanya Jones, director of Surry Arts Council, who assisted in presenting the award, said Caudill “epitomizes genuine and giving.”

Caudill said she was honored and appreciated the opportunity to serve. “I truly believe it all comes back,” she added.

The Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award, sponsored by Duke Energy Carolinas, was given to Mount Airy Lions Club, an organization that has been in Mount Airy for 76 years. President Frank Huffman accepted the award, along with fellow Lions Jim Harbour and Bill Joe Woodruff, from presenter Jimmy Flythe.

Flythe said the Mount Airy Lions Club was founded in 1938. Their multiple projects — ranging from sales of Brunswick Stew and yard sales to selling brooms and operating an Autumn Leaves Festival hamburger booth — to raise money for projects such as serving the needs of the visually impaired, supporting Reeves Community Center, donating to hospice, and two annual scholarships to Surry Community College.

Huffman said the members of the Lions Club feel it is “truly a privilege to help those in need.”

The Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award, sponsored by Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories, was awarded to Wendy Byerly Wood, content manager/editor for the Elkin Tribune and Yadkin Ripple, and editor of The Pilot. Wood started her career as a reporter for The Mount Airy News and also worked as Stokes News editor.

The award was presented to Wood by David O’Neal, who described her as someone who is always willing to volunteer and participate whenever asked — “a team player who is full of creative ideas and has a warm and positive outlook on life.” Wood said she has “so much fun” as a Chamber Ambassador and shared that she enjoyed covering chamber events as a reporter and is now honored to serve as a Chamber Ambassador.

The Green Business Award, sponsored by First Citizens Bank, went to Carolina Environmental Contracting (CEC). Robbie Gardner of First Citizens presented the award to CEC Owner Joanne Cheatham. CEC specializes in the installation of erosion and sediment control systems, stream restoration, vegetation establishment and tree protection, wetland mitigation, and specialty construction and grading projects, with more than 20 years of experience.

Cheatham said she was thrilled to accept the award, and said she would not be in the business without her dedicated employees, including Beverly Ruth who she brought to the podium with her. She added that CEC had just finished a 30-acre wetland project with New Bern and had recently started a job in Surry County on a 20-acre site involving stream restoration.

The Business Longevity Award, sponsored by Surry Telephone Membership Corporation, was given to Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories. CEO of Surry Telephone Curtis Taylor presented the award to Leonard Buildings CEO David O’Neal. Taylor said the business was established 1963 and grew from a single store to 54 retail stores in five states with four plant manufacturing and a corporate headquarters in the Holly Springs area of Surry County.

O’Neal said they were “very proud” to be a part of the community — “Thank you all so much for supporting us through the years.”

The Green Business Small Division Award, sponsored by Scenic Motors, was awarded to Haynes Strand and Company. Dr. Leslie Stoklosa presented the award, which was accepted by Managing Member Jeff Gordon. Stoklosa said Hanynes Strand and Company has been in business for more than 26 years and operates as a paperless firm, with most of their work converted to a digital medium and excellent recycling habits.

Gordon said the business has “outstanding employees” who support their paperless initiative. “It is through technology that we are able to help the environment,” he shared.

The Outstanding Public Service Award, sponsored by Surry Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation, went to Dr. Swanson Richards, presented by Erica Johnson of Surry Yadkin Electric. Johnson described Dr. Richards as a Surry County native who served in the Army and is a “true visionary in the education field and a champion for economic development and investment.”

Richards served as a Mount Airy City Commissioner for eight years, and was the organizer and first chairman for the Surry County Economic Development Commission.

Richards said he wanted to thank the students he worked with over the years and gave advice to the crowd, demonstrating his sense of humor — “always employee someone smarter than you.”

Speaker Dr. Barnsley Brown presented networking tips prior to the awards. Brown is a motivational speaker and coach who runs Spirited Solutions in Chapel Hill. She told the crowd she spent summers in the area, with her grandparents, who were from Mount Airy and lived on N. Main St. — her grandfather ran Surry Sales and was vice president of Workmans Federal.

Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.