The pandemic could not stop the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber from continuing the long-held tradition of honoring business and community leaders at their annual awards ceremony.
The annual awards celebration sponsored by First Commerce Credit Union was held on February 25 at Rainwater Conference Center. To ensure the safety of participants, the event was held in a hybrid format with individuals attending socially distanced in person and virtually through a live stream from Event Point.
The first award of the evening was brand-new and will only be presented one time. Georgia Power teamed up with the Chamber to create the Industry Innovation Award recognizing businesses who pivoted to find success in the midst of the pandemic.
Event Point, Jessie’s Restaurant and Catering and Kona Ice of Lowndes were named finalists and applauded for their admirable success and commitment to client safety.
Georgia Power’s Joe Brownlee announced Event Point as the winner. Chris Shelton, Project Manager, accepted the award.
“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,” said Shelton.
Anthony Lentini, District Sales Coordinator for Aflac was presented with the 2021 Ambassador of the Year awarded by Beth Kirk with BPC Plasma, Inc.
The Ambassador of the Year Award is presented to the person who exemplifies exceptional volunteer support for Chamber members and donates countless 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,” expressed Lentini.
Runners-up for Ambassador of the Year award included Dr. Elaine Lewis with UNO-United as One and Deanna Smith with The Investment Centre at CBC Bank.
The next award presentation got the entire Chamber membership involved. The Members’ Choice Award is earned by a business who showcases exemplary customer service and is voted on by their fellow members.
After more than one hundred nominations and nearly 1,000 votes, Platinum Roofing was named the honoree and was presented with the award by Miller Hardware’s Johnathan Miller.
Zack Marcus, COO of Platinum Roofing, gratefully accepted the award. “We strive to give our customers the best experience,” he shared. “A house is someone’s greatest investment, and it all starts with a roof.”
Renasant Bank and Watson's Pool and Patio's Inc. also received an impressive number of votes, making them runners up.
Rachel Thrasher with Valdosta Main Street was announced as the 2021 Most Valuable Employee by Teamtemps Personnel Staffing’s Sean Panizzi. In addition to the award, Thrasher received a $1,500 check courtesy of Teamtemps.
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. Main Street Director, Ellen Hill, felt that this perfectly described her employee, Rachel.
“It is always nice to be recognized for the hard work you put in each day,” said Thrasher. “I am forever grateful for my boss, Ellen Hill, for not only nominating me but for allowing me the creative freedom it takes to do this job well.”
The finalists are selected after an extensive interview process, which included Senovia Bryant and Latrell Williams, both with CJB Industries, Inc.
Brownlee (Georgia Power) entered the stage again to present 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.
“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,” she stated.
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 Have, Battered Women's Shelter.
Next up, T3 Outdoors was presented with the 2021 Small Business of the year award by Heath Dawson from First Commerce Credit Union.
The Small Business of the Year Award recognizes an innovative business with 35 or fewer employees demonstrating growth and stability in the business community.
T3 Outdoors Owner, Jud Tanner, was proud to accept 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 expressed.
Runners-up for the 2021 Small Business of the Year included Danny's Music and FilmStory.
Greater Valdosta United Way, Inc. was presented with the 2021 Nonprofit of the Year award by Clinton and Jeana Beeland of CJB Industries Inc. In addition to the award, they received a $1,500 check courtesy of CJB.
The Nonprofit of the Year Award highlights Chamber members who have shown excellence in serving their organization's mission and the community.
Michael Smith, CEO, was flattered 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 2021 The BIG Thinker awarded by Daryn Russell, Board Chairman for the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.
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 took the stage to accept the honor.
“We are so grateful to join the great list of other companies who have received this award in the past,” he said. Carroll was proud to also introduce his staff that were present.
New Chamber President Christie Moore was the last presenter to take the stage. Before presenting the A.L. Girardin Award, the only award selected by the Chamber Staff, she took a few minutes to introduce herself and reiterate the Chamber’s commitment to their 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 shared with attendees.
Moore presented the final award of the night to Commercial Cleaning Industries.
She stated that, “Commercial Cleaning Industries continually goes above and beyond ensuring the Chamber and the businesses they serve are operating in a clean environment. 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.”
Carol Copeland, owner of Commercial Cleaning Industries, joined Moore on stage to accept the award.
“When we started the business, it was a whole different ball game than what it is today,” he shared. “With COVID, we feel more needed now than ever and we are happy to be of service.”
The evening concluded with remarks from the Chamber’s 2021 Board Chairman, Daryn Russell of CBC Bank. His remarks focused on the Chamber’s commitment to continualy improving the value the organization offers their members and community.
For more information on the Chamber Annual Awards, contact the Chamber’s Events Director, Chloe Wade at 229-247-8100 ext 229.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Ace of Fades Barbershop, Phase II with a ribbon-cutting on January 4, 2021 to celebrate the grand opening of their brand-new facility.
Ace of Fades Barbershop, Phase II is a barbershop for gentlemen looking to unwind while experiencing top notch grooming.
Although this location may be new, customers can rest assured that they are in good, qualified hands as owner and operator, Arthur Lee Weatherspoon, III has been doing business for over 30 years, half of which being at the original Ace of Fades location on West Hill Avenue.
According to Weatherspoon, having an established location gives him the advantage over first time barbershops that may not have the connections in the community.
Weatherspoon stated, “Although women are welcomed, Ace of Fades Barbershop, Phase II is a modern barbershop that offers today’s gentlemen a setting where they can sit back, relax, and experience the new age style of male grooming services.”
Weatherspoon is optimistic about the future of this location and plans to introduce skin care someday.
”I want to introduce our clients to therapy of skin healing. We want to provide more than just a hair here at this location,” said Weatherspoon.
Ace of Fades Barbershop, Phase II recently joined the Valdosta Chamber and is excited to continue reaping the benefits of being a Chamber member.
“The Chamber has given me the opportunity to network with other business owners who are impacting the community in ways I tend to and those who can also provide the essential tools needed to thrive in our community,” said Weatherspoon.
For more information about Ace of Fades Barbershop, Phase II visit 1835 Norman Drive or call 229-232-2863.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Wright’s Heating and Air as the Leading Business of the Week for December 14, 2020.
A family-owned and operated business and recognized as one of Valdosta’s most respected HVAC contractors, Wright’s Heating and Air has provided service for more than two decades.
Owner Michael Wright stated, “Wright’s Heating and Air started from scratch, the ground up to one the areas major HVAC service providers.”
Wright’s Heating and Air is passionate about the services they provide to the Valdosta area and is grateful for the community’s unwavering commitment.
According to Wright, most of their business stems from referrals from satisfied customers. He stated, “We owe our reputation to quality workmanship, reliability, and the kind words from our customers.”
When asked how the Chamber has impacted his business, Wright said, “The Chamber has provided endless opportunities to network with businesses and potential prospects.”
For more information about Wright’s Heating and Air, visit www.hvacdonewright.com or call 229-241-1066.
The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber and First Commerce Credit Union proudly named Platinum Roofing a Small Business of the Month award winner.
Platinum Roofing operates with a goal of preserving the wellbeing of everything under your roof, whether that be your family, cherished possessions or employees. They offer premium roof installations, replacements and repairs of all kinds for both residential and commercial clients.
Customers can trust that work done by Platinum will be done right. The business is a member of the Georgia Roofing Contractors Association and the Home Builders Association of South Georgia.
“Neither of these memberships are required for us to be in the roofing industry, but we would not practice without such authority,” Cody Perkins, Owner, expressed.
Though the business is only nearing their three-year mark, Platinum Roofing jumped into the community with two feet.
“We are proud that our name and logo has become so well recognized,” said Perkins.
They sponsor events each year that benefit the community and both school systems.
Platinum Roofing’s marketing efforts and community involvement have made them recognizable, but their customer service and integrity have defined their brand.
“We make sure our customers are taken care of no matter the amount of work it takes on our end,” Perkins added.
Platinum roofing offers 24-hour emergency service, lifetime workmanship warranties and is happy to help their customers along they way in any way they can.
“We do a lot of insurance restoration work and are happy to help alleviate the headache of payment by helping with the paperwork and the process.”
Visit Platinum Roofing at 1515 North Ashley street Suite C or give them a call at 229-561-3107.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Law’s Furniture as the Leading Business of the Week for November 9, 2020.
Established 62 years ago, Law’s Furniture is a family-owned full-service retail furniture provider in Valdosta.
Known as the “Easy Credit Guys,” Law’s continues striving to offer a variety of unique choices at a price that fits every budget.
Law’s furniture continues its tradition of offering in-store credit financing to its valuable customers.
Law’s has been a proud member of the Valdosta Chamber for the past 62 years, making them the third oldest member.
Visit Law’s Furniture at 129 West Central Avenue or call (229) 242-7965.
The Leading Business of the Week Program is sponsored by Marcotek Digital Office Solutions.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Chamber Ambassadors named Law’s Furniture Leading Business of the Week
The Valdosta Chamber Board and Staff safely gathered on Tuesday, December 8th to celebrate the successful career of outgoing President of 23 years, Myrna Ballard.
Ballard took on the title of Chamber President in February of 1997 and has overseen the implementation of countless successful programs in her time, most notably, the SEEDS Business Resource Center which has helped many of our small, local businesses begin and grow.
Her success has not only been recognized in Valdosta, but by the state-wide and nationally. She has earned awards from The Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, an organization in which she has also held leadership positions.
Ballard has also continuously earned her Chamber a spot in the top 1% of all Chambers nationally with their 5-star accreditation.
In a tribute presented by Chamber Board member, Thressea Boyd, Ballard was recognized as a “mentor to many.”
John Page, also a Chamber Board member, dedicated a plaque to Ballard that recognized her contributions to the Chamber and community. Page read three words on the plaque that he felt described her work the best, “Advocate, build and connect.”
The awards presentation also honored select Chamber Board and Staff members.
Paul Nichols, Treasurer, was thanked for his 3-year term on the Chamber Board.
Lee McArthur, Chairman of the Board graciously accepted a shadow box as a tribute to his two-year term as Chairman of the Board.
Staff members Karil Brockington and Betty Morgan were also awarded for their long-term dedication to the Chamber.
Brockington celebrates her 20-year anniversary and Morgan celebrates her 10th.
After the awards commenced, McArthur invited everyone into the parlor of the Barber House to unveil the star of the evening: a portrait of Ballard to forever hang in the Chamber.
“It only seems right to have Myrna’s portrait in the Barber House. If anyone deserves to be here forever, it is her!” shared Karil Brockington.
The portrait was hand-painted by Fay Bridges Hyatt, owner of Kaleidescope Gallery & Emporium.
“Our artist exceeded our expectations. It is amazing how she truly captured Myrna’s spirit,” expressed Betty Morgan.
Ameris Bank, CBC Bank, CCB Tech Group and Langdale Vallotton LLP sponsored it’s completed and presented it to the honoree, Myrna Ballard.
Other event sponsors include: Anchored Media Marketing, CBC Bank, CCB Tech Group, Colony Bank, Comfort Keepers, Elliott, Blackburn & Gooding, P.C., Enay Coaching, Farmers Home Furniture Company, IDP Properties, LP, Page Insurance and Financial Services, Paul Nichols, Real Living Realty Advisors, THBoyd Communications, US Press, Valdosta Chiropractic & Rehab and Valenti, Rackley & Associates, LLC.
The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber and First Commerce Credit Union presented Tall Tree Apartments with the Small Business of the Month Award.
Located only minutes from Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta State University, downtown Valdosta, and the Valdosta Mall, Tall Tree Apartments offers an experience filled with southern hospitality.
“Tall Tree apartments is located in the heart of Valdosta!” Nestled between the tall Georgia pines. Our spacious, bright apartments are the perfect place to call home,” said Kyle Webb, Leasing Manager.
An independently owned and operated establishment, Tall Tree has provided Valdosta residents a place to live for more than 45 years.
Tall Tree Apartments value each resident who chooses to live on its property. According to Tall Tree, each resident and their family are a priority, and their happiness is not just assumed but guaranteed.
“We love creating a sense of family for our residents,” said Webb. “From ice cream nights, to paint parties, to virtual bingo. Tall Tree gives you that “back home” feel to apartment living.”
For more information about Tall Tree Apartments, call 229-244-9632 or visit the leasing office at 420 Connell Road.
PHOTO CAPTION: First Commerce Credit Union and the Chamber Named Tall Tree Apartments Small Business of the Month.
The Valdosta Young Professionals continued their virtual webinar series, Coffee & Connections, with Daniel Bayman, one of the entrepreneurs behind downtown Valdosta’s GUD Coffee Company, and special guest Hope Brown-Franklin, the Georgia Associate Broker and Florida Broker of Legacy Realtors.
Valdosta Young Professionals is a product of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce and is made possible by the support of its title sponsor, Georgia Power. Coffee & Connections is presented by VYP and hosted by GUD Coffee Company.
VYP was established in March as a platform for young professionals to connect with other like-minded individuals who live, work or do business in Valdosta. The program is open to anyone between the ages of 21 and 40 and members are provided with social, networking and educational opportunities. Membership is free.
Due to COVID-19, VYP is not able to host in-person events, so they have partnered with GUD Coffee Company to continue learning and gathering with members through a new virtual series. Each month, this live-streamed event will feature an expert on a topic beneficial for today’s young business professionals.
This month’s presentation was on first time home buying and selling.
Hope has been in the real estate business for over 10 years, beginning her career as a real estate paralegal. Her passion for real estate prompted her to obtain her real estate license and now she currently works in Valdosta for Legacy Realtors.
Daniel began the presentation by stating that the home buying and selling process can be unchartered waters for some, so he then asked Hope for her advice on the best place to start.
“Contact a mortgage lender. They will get you pre-approved for a home loan, evaluate your assets and financials, debt to income ratio, and credit scores. The specific score that they prefer is a 620 or higher,” Hope answered.
Hope recommends lenders Clay Hadsock with Ameris Bank, Nikki Rodgers at Commercial Banking Company, Cedric Johnson located in Atlanta with Homestar, and John Willis at On Q Financial in Atlanta.
Daniel continued by asking what other qualifications beside credit scores are reviewed when buying a home.
“All buyers should obtain a pre-approval letter. A lot of buyers go online and fill out an application for a pre-qualification letter, and that is just information that you are submitting on behalf of yourself. Lenders look at bottom-line monthly income, which could change pre-approval,” she said.
“I recommend reaching out to a qualified lender and obtaining the information from them so you can provide them with further documentation in order to make sure that you can qualify for a home loan.”
Hope also suggests for future buyers to contact a mortgage lender first and obtain a pre-approval letter before interviewing real estate agents.
“You want to find the agent that is right for you,” she stated. “Some specialize in price points, and as for myself, I serve all price points. I treat all my clients the same.”
Hope explained that behind the scenes, realtors study all contracts and do research on the home to make sure that they negotiate the best deal possible for buyers. “A lot of buyers are scared to contact an agent in fear of large fees. I make all my buyers aware that my real estate commission is covered by the seller, so I represent all my buyers for free.”
The discussion then moved to tips for selling a home.
“Should I sell my house right now?” Daniel asked. “When is the best time to sell a home?”
In a typical pre-COVID year, Hope stated that the best time to try to sell is in the spring. “It gives a lot of people time to obtain their income taxes, and a lot of people like to move around in a time when kids are getting out of school,” she said. “Due to COVID-19, interest rates and inventory are extremely low. If you are in the market to sell a home, now is definitely the time.”
To sell a home, Hope specified that there are certain factors that come into play for how long it will take to sell—condition, location and price point.
For those that may have further questions, Hope can be reached at (404) 989-4898, or firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also on social media on Instagram (@hopetherealtor) and on Facebook. Hope would love to assist any potential buyer or seller in Georgia or Florida.
For more information on VYP or Coffee & Connections, call the Valdosta chamber, (229) 247-8100, ext. 231.
Photo Caption: Daniel Bayman of GUD Coffee hosts Hope Brown-Franklin of Legacy Realtors on Coffee & Connections.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Big Nick's as the Leading Business of the Week for November 16, 2020.
For years, feeding the people of Valdosta has been a passion for Owner Nick Harden. In 2015, Harden established Big Nick's. Since opening in 2015, Big Nick's has become a favorite for Valdosta's citizens and visitors.
Harden takes pride in providing a welcoming and exciting environment to join two things people love, food, and music.
Harden stated, "It's a melting pot. All walks of life come through our door with one common goal, to get some good food while listening to their favorite old school music."
According to Harden, Big Nick's is in the process of completing a new drive-thru to allow for a more convenient pick up for their customers while remaining in their vehicles. Big Nick's has added the option to order catering on their website.
Big Nick's has been a proud member of the Valdosta Chamber since 2016.
"The Chamber has been good at spotlighting our growing business," said Harden. "The after-hour events that we have attended have been beneficial when it comes to networking."
Harden described the Chamber as a significant incubator for the city of Valdosta.
"It is good to know that you have people in the community that have your back when it comes to business," said Harden. "We have to stick together to keep a small business thriving, and the chamber is a major incubator for many here in Valdosta."
Visit Big Nick's at 904 Baytree Road or call (229) 469-6905.
The Leading Business of the Week program is sponsored by Marcotek Digital Office Solutions
The Chamber Ambassadors honored State Farm Insurance-Travis Pate as the Leading Business of the Week for November 30, 2020.
Established in 2002, State Farm Insurance-Travis Pate has provided Valdosta citizens with quality insurance for individuals, families, and businesses.
Despite the challenges of this year, State Farm is continuing to provide outstanding service to its customers.
Agent Travis Pate stated, “We continue to look for new ways to give customers a superior customer service experience with our office. COVID-19 has made this very challenging.”
The State Farm staff is passionate about the products they offer and the people they have the opportunity to meet.
“State Farm is a wonderful company with great products,” said Pate. “I love meeting with people and helping them with their insurance and financial needs.”
State Farm Insurance-Travis Pate joined the Valdosta Chamber nearly 20 years ago.
According to Pate, the Chamber is very supportive of small businesses and continuously reaches out and highlights businesses in ways that will help.
For more information, visit www.travispate.com or call (229) 242-6789.
The Leading Business of the Week Program is proudly Sponsored by Marcotek Digital Office Solutions.
PHOTO CAPTION: State Farm Insurance – Travis Pate was named Leading Business of the Week by the Valdosta Chamber Ambassadors.