“What once was a luncheon is now a dinner,” said Adam Martin, board chair of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce at the organization’s 2018 Excellence in Business Awards at Cross Creek Country Club on Thursday night.
Moving the event from a midday time slot doubled attendance, said Randy Collins, Chamber president. The evening event also allowed guests an opportunity to sample the wares of Gold Level Sponsor, Thirsty Souls Community Brewing, and Food and Beverage Sponsor, Surry Cellars.
Dr. Jan Kriska, proprietor of Thirsty Souls, was scheduled to be a guest speaker, but a missed plane after the 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail event stranded him in Anchorage, Alaska. Collins read Kriska’s speech in his stead.
Maddie Gardner, a news anchor for WFMY News 2 in Greensboro and a Mount Airy native, gave the keynote address.
Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award
A standing ovation greeted Mary Boyles as she went up to accept the Duke Energy Service Award from Jimmy Flythe, Duke Energy spokesperson, on behalf of The Shepherd’s House.
Boyles, director of The Shepherd’s House, said, “I am never at a loss for words when I talk about The Shepherd’s House.”
“Little did I know my journey would bring me right back to where I started,” she added, before launching into an impassioned speech about the plight of Mount Airy’s homeless and the community’s efforts to help them.
“We are united in so many things,” she said.
“The Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award is a tribute to a non-profit organization that positively impacts the community through skilled use of time, talents, and compassion,” said Flythe. “Recipients of the award help foster a culture of citizenship and service, acting as a catalyst for others to become involved in civic and social activities.”
2017 Administrative Professional of the Year
Linda Vernon, representing Ridgecrest, presented the administrative professional award to to Ann Vaughn with Surrey Bank and Trust, who was astonished to receive the award.
“I am speechless,” said Vaughn.
”Our award winner today did not set out to be an administrative assistant when she started her career,” said Vernon. “In fact, she completed a college degree, a master’s degree and even a PhD. Her career has taken her down many paths. This person is professional, dedicated, hardworking and loves her community. She has run a local nonprofit and even ran the Mount Airy Visitors Center for 11 years.”
2017 Agri-Business of the Year Award
New to the chamber’s list of awards this year is an Agri-Business Award.
“It’s time for us to step up and recognize the ag industry,” said Collins, introducing Adam Martin, of Surry-Yadkin Electrical Membership Corporation, to present the award.
Presenting the award with Martin was Bryan Cave, NC Cooperative Extension director for Surry, who said, “Agriculture is an industry that goes unnoticed, even though they take care of us at least three times a day.”
The award went to Wayne Farms, Dobson, a 61-year player in the Surry County economy.
Ambassador of the Year Award
The Ambassador Award was presented by Sandra Hurley, publisher of The Mount Airy News, to Jobeth Liddle, with State Employees Credit Union. Hurley described chamber ambassadors as “a group of volunteers from the business community who help the organization connect with our members. They assist at ribbon cuttings, open houses, mixers, events and more.”
“This lady is sincere in her efforts to serve the credit union membership. She embodies the credit union philosophies of ‘People Helping People’ and ‘Do the Right Thing.’ She has worked hard for the Ambassadors and has attended almost every Chamber event in 2017.”
“Mind you, many times on crutches,” added Cristie Andrews, chamber membership director, who assisted Hurley with the presentation.
Business Longevity Award
Curtis Taylor, CEO of Surry Communications, presented the Business Longevity Award for 2017 to RidgeCrest Retirement LLC.
“As the premier retirement community in the area, this company has been part of the Mount Airy for over 20 years,” said Taylor. “Getting older is a part of life. It is good to know that there are companies like this in our community who take great care of our seniors.”
“I hope we’ll be part of Mount Airy for many more years to come,” said Linda Vernon, accepting for RidgeCrest.
Outstanding Public Service Award
Javier Lara, with Cibirix, presented the public service award to Peter Lydens, who was the first paid city manager for Mount Airy, taking on the job 58 years ago in 1961.
“I only had five years experience prior to coming here,” said Lydens.
Since then he has served in public administration roles for other cities including: city manger for Thomasville, Gastonia, and Suffolk, VA; town manager for Cornelius and Lake Lure. After retirement, he returned to Mount Airy to live.
“One project that he has taken on is The Mount Airy Compendium of Businesses,” said Lara. “This is an up-to-date database of every business in Mount Airy. He keeps track of the new businesses that come in, and others that leave. This project has been of great use to the Chamber, especially in a state that has no business license list.”
Lara added that several former city managers of Mount Airy have moved back to the community and some of them were in attendance to honor Lydens. Lara asked Jerry Cox, Ron Niland and Don Brookshire to stand and be recognized.
Excellence in Tourism Award
Jessica Roberts, Mount Airy Tourism Authority director, presented the Tourism award to Mayberry Spirits.
“Trip Advisor shows this business with a coveted 5-star rating, one of the few in the entire state. Yelp, Facebook and Groupon also show very high ratings for this tourism attraction,” said Roberts.
Vann McCoy, accepting the award for Mayberry Spirits, said tourism had been part of the business plan from the beginning, noting that his mother, Bertie McCoy, had operated the original Mount Airy Visitor’s Center from the unheated ticket booth of the Earle Theatre, until Ann Vaughn took her to The Blue House.
Small Business of the Year Award
The Small Business Award was saved for last, as “it’s the top award,” said Collins.
Todd Tucker, Surry County Economic Development Partnership, presented the award to Gates Pharmacy, saying healthcare plays an important role in the community, and a community pharmacy is a big part of that.
“Gates Pharmacy has served the area well for 32 years and has won the Mountie Award in their category two years in a row,” said Tucker before reciting a long list of their community service, which included staff serving on the Board of Directors for Surry Medical Ministries, The Shepherd’s House, The Salvation Army and The City of Mount Airy Board of Adjustments, providing free children’s vitamins for all of their patients, as well as every child that goes through Helping Hands Foundation.
They are the only pharmacy that provides a pharmacist for every Thursday morning clinic at Surry Medical Ministries and rotates with other pharmacists to cover their Tuesday night clinic, said Tucker.
They provide all of the antibiotics for Dr. Gravette’s “Dentistry from the Heart” event every year. They provide free delivery and have been known to drive 45 minutes down back roads to deliver much-needed medication to a patient who was bed bound and had no other way of getting their prescription. They also have a program that allows their patients to pick up their medications once a month, rather than making multiple trips to the pharmacy.
Neil Edlin, accepting the award for Gates Pharmacy, said “I’m sharing this with our staff. I put a lot on them, and this will be great to share with them.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.