The Chamber celebrated last year’s achievements at the 2022 Excellence in Business Awards. Sponsored for the second year in a row by Simmons Bank, the prestigious event returned to the Hilton Memphis. With a record number of Gold Sponsors (The Bank of Collierville, Campbell Clinic, IMC Companies, MLGW, Orgill, OrthoSouth, Southern Security Federal Credit Union), premium sponsors (TN State Representatives Ron Gant and Kevin Vaughan), and attendees (over 400), support for this year’s event was high. Before kicking things off inside the ballroom, guests enjoyed themselves at the pre-event reception by Alston Construction.
To start the event off, Pastor Sam Nichols of Collierville First Baptist Church delivered the innovation, followed by Mayor Stan Joyner who officially welcomed everyone and introduced the Collierville Police Department’s Honor Guard who presented the flags for the evening, and Ellen Mitchell, University of Memphis Doctoral Student, who performed the Star-Spangled Banner. After a brief pause to serve dinner, Chad Lindsay, Vice President and General Manager of Alston Construction resumed the festivities. He reminded everyone that drinks were on him as his company was the reception sponsor of this year’s event, which preceded the awards show. At his conclusion, Chad welcomed Mollie Walker, Vice President, Manager of Business Development for Simmons Bank, to the stage. She explained how honored Simmons Bank was to sponsor such a large event for the Collierville community and the importance of the Chamber to local business success.
Before Mollie left the stage, Andrew Douglas of Action News 5 was introduced to the crowd. The host of the evening was warmly received and spoke highly of the Chamber and its accomplishments in Collierville and the entire metro area. Known as “the fastest growing chamber in the region,” Andrew followed up his remarks by presenting a highlight video of the Chamber’s 2022 success. This video featured key moments from the past year. At the conclusion of the video, Andrew welcomed Representative Kevin Vaughan to the stage. He introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Ermal Faulkner, Director of Blue Oval City and EV Sites for Ford Motor Company, who braved a torn Achilles tendon to address the audience. To start off the presentation, a video highlighting Ford’s commitment to Electric Vehicles. As a result, the area is a key component of Ford’s future in the electric vehicle market. A full and thorough recap of Mr. Faulkner’s remarks can be found at The Daily Memphian by Abigail Warren.
After Mr. Faulkner’s presentation, Mark Heuberger, President of the Chamber, took the stage for the first time to give remarks. He thanked Simmons Bank and the Gold Sponsors for their generous support of this event. He also thanked Representatives Kevin Vaughan and Ron Gant for their special support of the evening. He acknowledged two notable groups in the audience: the Shelby County Chamber Alliance (of which the Collierville Chamber is a member) and the Shelby County Commission. David Bradford, who represents this area, took a moment to thank the Chamber for being there and introduce his Commissioner colleagues. After these formalities, the passing of the gavel took place. An annual tradition at the Business Awards, this moment marks the official transition from one Board Chairman to another. This year, outgoing chair Kevin Baltier of Edward Jones handed off the position to Jimmy Turner of Christian Brothers Automotive- Collierville. Jimmy was humbled and honored by his new responsibilities. He looks forward to helping the Chamber continue its unprecedented success with the board of directors.
Next, Cal Overman of Simmons Bank and Jennifer Douglas of New Day Children’s Theatre presented a special Ambassador of the Year Award to a Chamber volunteer who goes above and beyond throughout the year helping with events and lunches with their own time. The motto “volunteer for a cause, not applause” is printed on the award plaque and is a great way to summarize the winner. Melissa Reed of Berkshire Hathaway was this year’s recipient for her dedicated work as a Chamber Ambassador.
Then, Andrew Douglas returned to the stage to explain the nomination and winner process for the business awards. They are chosen through a rigorous process with the Chamber’s board of directors and their committees for the awards. The nominees and winners for all categories were presented by the respective award’s committee chair and a gold sponsor. And each winner was announced by a highlight video provided by NLA Projects.
The first business award of the night, Spirit of Collierville, celebrates those companies that leave a lasting mark on the community through their stewardship and community involvement. Newly minted chairman Jimmy Turner and Katie George Hooser of IMC Companies did the honors. The nominees for this category were: Alston Construction, Collierville Funeral Home, Southern Security Federal Credit Union, and State Farm- Joe Sarrio. All of these companies are key components of Collierville’s success and worthy of this award, Jimmy mentioned. The construction company took home the prize this year. Its work around the community over the past year, and in particular the Collierville Balloon Festival, stood out. Chad Lindsay accepted the award for Alston, who was surprised and ecstatic about the award. He was very complimentary of his team and the community for supporting Alston’s business and philanthropic efforts.
Next up was the award for nonprofit of the year. This year provided a strong group of nominees, the only category with five: Collierville Balloon Festival, Collierville Citizen’s Police Association, Kemmons Wilson Center for Good Grief, New Day Children’s Theatre, and Page Robbins Adult Day Center. Bill Samisch First National Bank and Trust and Doug McGowen of Memphis Light, Gas, & Water, presented this award. Bill Samisch explained that this year was the closest decision ever for the award. That’s just how deserving all the nominees were. The winner, Kemmons Wilson Center for Good Grief, a previous recipient of the Health Care Provider of the Year award, showed much humbleness with this honor. Angela Hambeln Kelly, Adminstrator of the Good Grief campus in Collierville, was thrilled by the recognition. She explained what it meant to be recognized side-by-side with other amazing nonprofits and how the community of Collierville has been instrumental in Good Grief’s success.
The third business award of the night, Health Care Provider of the Year, was presented by the night’s ‘Laurel and Hardy:’ Wright Cox of BankTennessee and McCall Wilson of The Bank of Fayette County. This award celebrates incredible leaders and innovators in the health care field and their impact on the community. Wright gave much praise to his committee, “the hardest working one”, for putting in their time and homework when choosing their respective honorees. The nominees were: Eye Specialty Group, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, OrthoSouth, and The University of Tennessee Health Science Foundation. In the end, UTHSC was decided as the winner. Dr. Peter Buckley, 11th Chancellor of UTHSC, enthusiastically accepted the award for the college.
The Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented by Maureen Yarborough of Sign Matters, Inc. and Irina Ollar. Maureen spoke highly of the excellent group of nominees: Hamby Auto Concierge, Hook Point Brewing, Lost Pizza Co.- Collierville, and Simply Done Catering, and her inspiration from them as a small business owner herself. The difficult decision the committee made spoke to the outstanding group of nominees. In the end, Hamby Auto Concierge took home this award. Mike and Denise Hamby accepted the award. Mike spoke for both and explained their excitement and joy in this honor.
Terry Dean of the Collierville Arts Council and Dawn Graeter of Southern Security Federal Credit Union presented the distinguished Person of the Year Award. A brief video, including Chad Lindsay, Alderman and Vice Mayor Maureen Fraser, Dr. Gary Lilly of Collierville Schools, and State Representative Kevin Vaughan, helped announce Don Kitchens of Landers Ford as the 2022 honoree. Don is an unbelievable asset to his car dealership and the Town of Collierville. Don was shocked but humbled by the award and thankful to his team at Landers and the Collierville community.
The final award of the evening, the Bridging the Gap award, honors a company or organization that goes above and beyond to ‘bridge needed gaps’ in the community. Brandon Cooper of Simmons Bank and Kim Jenkins of OrthoSouth presented this award to the Collierville Education Foundation. A video highlighted the incredible work CEF does to help fill in the spaces where the school system cannot help through direct grants to teachers. It’s an important organization for the school system, says Dr. Lilly. Terri Furlong, managing director of CEF, and Chuck Lessnick, past president, accepted the award. Terri recounted her extensive experience in the education field and the amazing work CEF does for surrounding schools. They accepted the award on John Green’s behalf, who was not in attendance due to surgery.
Each winner receives an advertisement prize package, which includes a 30-second spot on Action News 5 and an ad in multiple print publications. A few examples were shown. Mark Heuberger returned to the stage one final time to give concluding remarks about his staff and the night’s sponsors. Andrew Douglas thanked everyone for attending such a nice event and officially ended the evening. This was one of the Chamber’s largest and most successful events and was a great start to 2023.