For 21 business owners and community leaders, breakfast at the Clayton Center for the Arts Thursday morning was a great start to the day.
The Blount Partnership honored 21 businesses and individuals on Sept. 15 during the 2011 Business Excellence Awards breakfast at the Clayton Center for the Arts.
Nominations and supporting information were gathered online and via mail before being presented to a selection committee that made the final choices. Nearly 300 local business leaders and government officials were on hand as emcee Bob Kesling, the voice of the Tennessee Volunteers, and Blount Partnership President and CEO Bryan Daniels honored both the winners and the sponsors that make the awards possible.
“This was a real special event as the brightest and hardest working business leaders in Blount County received a special honor,” said Daniels. “To see the support given by local businesses that sponsor the awards really speaks to what they mean to the recipients. All of the nominees are to be commended for their service to the community, and we look forward to seeing their names on the plaques next year.”
Kesling said everyone was gathered to celebrate the best in Blount County and how those companies and individuals are making Blount County a great place to live and work. “Doing business requires a lot of hard work,” he said. “Being part of the Blount community means giving back through your skills and time.”
The Large Business of the Year Award was sponsored by Charter Business and was presented by Scott Kimmelmann to Alcoa, Inc. Ken McMillan, operations manager, accepted the award and told those gathered that in 2013, Alcoa will have been in Blount County for 100 years. “Without our employees and the community and them giving us the right to operate, we wouldn’t be here. We look forward to continuing to operate here in Blount County for many more years,” he said.
The Small Business of the Year Award was sponsored by Chroma Graphics and was presented by Brenda Sellers to Blount Today. Publisher Sherri Gardner Howell said Blount Today has a small, hard-working team of six full-time employees who take their commitment to Blount County very seriously. “When we started seven years ago, we weren’t sure exactly how we were going to do what we wanted to do, but we knew exactly what we wanted to be. We have never waivered from our commitment to being a real community newspaper and offering our readers a snapshot of all the good things that happen in our county.”
The Philanthropist of the Year Award was sponsored by Alcoa, Inc., and was presented to Harold and Jean Lambert. Jean Lambert thanked the group, saying, “Obviously we love Maryville and always have and will always. We will be here, as long as the Good Lord provides.”
The Tourism Impact Award was sponsored by The Trust Company and was presented by Susan Williams to the City of Maryville for the Foothills Fall Festival. Mayor Tom Taylor accepted the award. “It’s a real honor to accept this for all the people of the City of Maryville. I want to thank the people who did the work,” he said. “This is a year-long process, and everyone is involved.”
The Award in Innovation was sponsored by BB&T and was presented by Mike Honeycutt to Hart Graphics. Brent Golden accepted the award.
The Captain Award was sponsored by First Tennessee Bank and was presented by Greg Wilson to Marriott Business Services. Jack Niethammer said Marriott’s move to Blount County was successful because the culture of the community matched that of the company beautifully. “We’re real happy to be in Blount County, and we look forward to being here a long time,” he said.
The Impact Award was sponsored by C2RL Engineers, Inc., and was presented by Chris Soro to Graphic FX. Arty Yarlett accepted the award. “I want to say thank you to those businesses who work with us and give us the opportunity to give back,” he said.
The Minority/Woman Owned Award was sponsored by StaffingSolutions and was presented by Virginia Hardwick to Lisa Brassler of Maryville Children’s Academy.
The Non-profit of the Year Award was sponsored by Denso Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc., and was presented by Bob Booker to the Helen Ross McNabb Center. Vice President of Operations Jerry Vagnier accepted the award. “On behalf of the board of directors and our 450 employees, we appreciation the recognition, and we appreciate being in Blount County,” he said.
The Outstanding Service/Civic Group Organization Award was sponsored by the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority and was presented by Greg Wilson of the Chamber Board to New Providence Church’s Welcome Table. Dr. Emily Anderson accepted the award and recalled how five years ago, when plans were being finalized to expand the church building, she challenged the congregation to use the new Westminster Hall as a venue to feed the hungry in the community. “Now the ministry serves 250 every Tuesday, and it has been expanded to a Thursday night meal at First United Methodist Church of Maryville. Our hope is to expand Welcome Table to serve a meal at a different church every night,” Anderson said.
The Over 40 Entrepreneur Award was sponsored by Ingram, Overholt & Bean, P. C. and was presented by Kim McCall to Brad Smith of Best Drivers.
“As our company has grown, I looked at moving to Nashville. It would’ve been centrally located, but now with 10 locations, it turned out staying in Blount County was the best thing,” he said.
The Extra Mile Club Award was sponsored by Vulcan Materials Company and was presented by Carl Van Hoozier to Dr. Patrick Burkhart of Blount Dermatology and was accepted by Robin Wheaton.
The Up and Comer Award was sponsored by Clayton Homes, Inc., and presented by David Jordan to Libby Rodriguez from Maryville College.
The Volunteer of the Year Award was sponsored by Walmart and was presented by Boyce Smith to Myra Hair, who has worked to raise $16,000 for Leadership Blount and also volunteers for programs in Graham, N.C. “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to volunteer,” she said.
The Young Entrepreneur Award was sponsored by Hedstrom Design, LLC, and was presented by Sara Hedstrom to Joy Carver, owner of Dandy Lions. “You don’t go out and start your own business without a great support system,” Carver said. “Without a sweet husband and a great set of parents, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
The Youth Volunteer of the Year was sponsored by Mountain National Bank and was presented by Mike Hearon to Hannah Rials. “I want to thank the people and organizations who have given me the chance to volunteer,” she said.
The top Five under Five companies are five companies under 5 years old in Blount County.
LeConte Wealth Management, LLC, sponsored one of the 5 Under 5 awards and Kevin Painter presented it to Viren Lalka of Lalka Tax Services, LLC.
Hickory Construction, Inc., sponsored one of the 5 Under 5 awards and John McMillan presented it to Stephany Sullivan of Sullivan Photography. “This is my first big award, and this means a lot to me,” Sullivan said.
Kizer & Black, Attorneys sponsored one of the 5 Under 5 awards and Matt Haralson presented it to Kathy Jenke of Gracehill Bed and Breakfast. “All of us would like to say thank you very much for this honor,” Jenke said.
Cherokee Millwright & Mechanical sponsored one of the 5 Under 5 awards and Randy Massey presented it to Karen Zorio of Something Savory Bakery and Café. “I’m real humbled and thank Blount County for supporting my business,” Zorio said. “We’re looking forward to making Maryville a little sweeter.”
The Tombras Group sponsored one of the 5 Under 5 awards and Dooley Tombras presented it to Marsheine McClurg of McClurg’s Decorating Center.
Kesling ended the morning awards breakfast by commenting on a commencement speech sports announcer Dick Enberg made at Indiana University. Kesling said Enberg made the point that none of the graduates got where they were without help. “Thank you are two words we don’t use enough. I didn’t get here myself. I had a lot of people who helped me and pushed me,” Kesling said.
Kesling encouraged the winners and the rest of those gathered to say thank you to those who make them successful. “Thank your customers and people you work with,” he said. “We’re all fortunate to be on a good team.”