As has been the case several times this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with another local tradition – the annual Business Excellence Awards sponsored by the Grand Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.
But the pandemic didn’t stop the rewards, simply delayed the event and changed the way businesses and individuals were recognized.
“We started working on this seven months ago,” Randy Collins, chamber president and CEO, told people gathered for the awards on Friday. “These prices are very important to us. … We truly believe these are the best of the best.
The ceremony, originally scheduled for March, just as the ban on public gatherings began to spread statewide, took place virtually via the online teleconferencing program Zoom. Almost 100 locations connected to the event, although many of those connections represented multiple people.
“We’ve had a lot of nominations for awards this year,” said James Etringer, chairman of the chamber board. “The chamber, like many organizations, had to adapt this year; This has not been easy. We could not have done this without the support of the chamber’s sponsors.
Changing the business excellence awards from the typical lunchtime ceremony to an online event is one way the chamber has adapted, handing out nine awards during the event.
Surry Medical Ministries has been recognized for its long-standing work in the community with the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.
In his comments to the Zoom audience, Jimmy Flythe of Duke Energy said the ministry was founded almost 30 years ago to help people in the area have access to something basic and necessary for all: Healthcare. In 1992, he said there were 16,000 county residents without health insurance, a major impetus for the creation of the ministry a year later. In 1995 a pharmacy was added, and he said that by 2005 the clinic had doubled in size.
“Going to the doctor is something that many of us take for granted. We know there are so many who cannot afford the services of a doctor, ”said Flythe. “This organization is helping to fill this gap. … Nancy and Doctor Dixon work endless hours leading Surry’s medical ministries to meet the medical needs of those in need.
Another of the awards went to the longtime community service of Alan Freeman, who retired as captain of the Mount Airy Police Department in May.
“He is a true public servant, professional, kind and represents his department with great integrity,” Carport Central’s Jeffrey Trenter said during the virtual presentation. “The town of Mount Airy is a better place thanks to people like Captain Alan Freeman.
“A very well-deserved honor,” said city police chief Dale Watson of the recognition from his longtime colleague. “His entire career has been dedicated to this community, serving this community, leaving this department much better than he found it. I am simply grateful for his service.
Other local residents and businesses recognized at the event include:
• Becky Parries of Mount Airy City Schools, who was named Administrative Professional of the Year.
“She serves as an administrative assistant for five departments, each with their own regulations and titles, with great responsibility and great discretion,” said Connie Hamlin, of Ridgecrest, announcing the Parries award.
“With a smile on her face, she answers the main line, greets and directs clients, processes professional development requests, purchase orders and invoices for her services. … She is frequently found returning to work, answering emails and making phone calls on the days she is “off”.
“We cannot accomplish the many complex tasks of our job without his unwavering help,” Hamlin said, citing the person (s) who nominated Parries.
“Thank you, I am honored,” Parries said of the award. “I work for a great group of people who make me look great.”
• Miss Angel’s U Pick Farm and Orchard, with Angela and Randy Shur, named Agribusiness of the Year.
“In an area that appears to be surrounded by farms, a business owner noticed something was missing,” said Matthew Wooten of Wayne Farms. “This business owner is known in the community for her pastries and pies. A few years ago, she discovered that there were very few places in our area where people could pick their own fruit or vegetables. … Open from June to October, this business is the first picking peach and pumpkin farm in Surry County. “
As important as the farm is to the local business community, Wooten said the Shurs are even better known for their charitable work.
“The owners support many charitable causes in our community. Most recently, they hosted a farm dinner to honor healthcare workers during the 2020 pandemic. ”
• Sydney Whitaker, Chamber Ambassador of the Year award.
“The Chamber of Commerce, like any other community organization, relies on the help of volunteers,” Mount Airy News editor Sandy Hurley said at the award ceremony. “Our ambassadors are a vital group of volunteers. This group serves as our customer service. They reach out to chamber members, answer questions, invite them to events, and provide chamber help where it is needed.
“This year’s winner is an excellent choice. This person served for many years as an Ambassador. She is dedicated, hardworking and believes in what the bedroom is all about. “
• Johnson Granite received the Business and Education Award.
“The company and owners are advocating for collaboration with school systems and community colleges,” said Wendy Wood of Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Cooperation. “They attend school career fairs, Construction Day, sponsor events and host interns for Surry County schools and Mount Airy City schools. The company and its leadership are true educational partners. “
The company, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, is a family-owned organization that has grown from a company with three employees to “a leading supplier of finely crafted counter surfaces,” said Wood.
Brian Johnson said his company views its relationship with school systems as vital to local society. He said that with so many businesses in the community “struggling to find qualified employees,” it is important for local businesses to work with schools, help students develop marketable skills and show them that there are opportunities here in Surry County.
• Simmons Nissan received the Business Longevity Award.
“Most business communities have one or more car dealerships. Selling new and used cars is a very competitive business. The auto industry has seen its ups and downs. A local car dealership has survived very well, ”said Richie Parker of Surry Communications.
“This car dealership is the oldest Nissan dealership in North Carolina. … They help customers get into the right vehicle with a no-pressure approach… whether it’s new or used Nissans or other branded vehicles. This company started in 1972 and is still a family business some 48 years later.
• Phil Marsh received the Tourism Excellence Award.
“Anyone who follows what’s going on in downtown Mount Airy, you’ll know this person,” said Jessica Roberts of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Association. “He is a long-time member of the Downtown Business Association and a supporter of Mount Airy Downtown. In fact, this person was honored in 2019 as the Main Street Champion by the North Carolina State organization Main Street.
“Someone who knows our winner said, ‘If you know him, you know he’s always on the move and usually on his way to help someone else. He stops by my office almost every day to ask if there is anything he can do to help me. ”
Marsh started and still coordinates the annual Mayberry Cool Cars & Rods Cruise-In series and hosts the Independence Day and Christmas Day parades.
“Our winner understands tourism and what it means for our community,” said Roberts.
• The Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Company, which was named Small Business of the Year, was the most comprehensive of the winners.
“Community service is part of their daily work life as they always sponsor charities and nonprofits or organize fundraisers for events like March of Dimes,” said Todd Tucker, president of Surry County Economic Development Partnership.
“Their members are participating in Operation Round Up, using the currency added to their bills to support community nonprofits and fire victims on a monthly basis and fund medical needs. A community projects committee made up of employees coordinates various charitable projects throughout the year, including a golf tournament, welcoming kids from the Children’s Center to Thanksgiving and sponsoring families for Christmas, ”he said. stated, listing some of the many charitable efforts of employees and members of the co-op.