Chamber members and guests gathered at the Ramada Conference Center on Thursday, January 24 for the 125th Annual Meeting and Awards program —The Chamber’s largest event of the year.
The Annual Meeting featured The Chamber Awards program, emceed by Chamber Board Chair Mary LaFontaine of the Lewiston Career Center. Those being recognized include: The Chamber’s new members in 2012; past and present Chamber leaders; and the distinguished community members who will receive The Chamber’s highest awards.
New this year, The Young Professionals of the Lewiston Auburn area presented their annual awards at The Chamber annual meeting. The first will be presented to Travis Dow, who is most notably recognized as the head of sales for Uncle Andy’s Digest. In the past two years Travis has launched two new businesses “The Maine Home Show” and “MenusinLA.com.” Both of these ventures were enormous undertakings that were launched for the principal purpose of helping promote local small businesses.
The second YPLAA award was presented to Cam Luu, the owner and operator of Wei Li Chinese restaurant. Cam started his successful restaurant over 10 years ago, but was nominated for the award because of his “generosity of spirit.” He has supported musicians at ELHS, the folk dance programs at Lewiston Public Library and Franco American Heritage Center, just to name a few. And he gives that support “under the radar”—not seeking recognition, but rather looking to support the cultural development of his adopted home communities.
Chamber Awards Honor Community Leaders
Annually, The Chamber honors a number of organizations and individuals for their significant contributions to our communities.
The Business Leadership Award for a larger company was presented to Carbonite. Less than two years ago Carbonite chose Lewiston as the new home for their customer service center, bringing back to the United States jobs that once had been done in India. The operation in Lewiston has grown steadily since.
There will be two Business Leadership Awards for smaller companies. The first was presented to Next Level Business Coaching and Kurk Lalemand. Kurk has been widely acclaimed by his clients as one of the key reasons for their business growth. They cite him as a major force in their success.
The second Business Leadership award for a smaller company went to Katahdin Furniture and John Stass. Since 1997, Katahdin Furniture has crafted music room furniture for some of America’s best-known musicians and celebrities. One third of all their orders are from repeat customers. In the past year, John expanded his operation to a new line of furniture called Zen Harbor Living.
The prestigious Ray Geiger Award was presented to Larry Raymond of the law firm of Isaacson and Raymond. Larry has been a stalwart supporter of The Chamber since the 1960s. Larry served as chair of The Chamber Board from 1967-1969. But that wasn’t enough, and he came back to the board to serve three more terms from 1999-2005. Following that service, he continued to serve as a member of the Regional Image Committee.
Two Community Service Leadership Awards will be presented. The first was given to Rita Dube for her extraordinary efforts to establish the Franco American Heritage Center as a premiere performance venue in Lewiston-Auburn and as a great place for functions of all kinds.
The second Community Service Award was presented to Tree Street Youth and founders Julia Sleeper and Kim Pelletier. A program which began as a homework help program in 2005 has grown geometrically into a comprehensive center for downtown young people to get help with their studies, apply for post-secondary schools, and generally maintain a nurturing environment.
The Poland Business Award was presented to Jones Associates. For more than 20 years, Jones Associates has worked with commercial and individual landowners as well as government sectors (federal, state and municipal) to provide advice and assistance with project planning, permitting and compliance. Their success is built on balancing clients’ needs and the environment by developing comprehensive interdisciplinary solutions to development challenges.
The Lisbon Business Award was presented to Benoit’s Bakery and Wine Cellar. With one stop, you can find the freshest produce, amazing pastries, artisan breads, mouth watering fudge, cheese and, of course, a huge wine selection and gift baskets to make the most of any party or event. From the complimentary samples on the counter to the friendly, helpful staff, Benoit’s Bakery is an experience that is designed to delight.
The Turner Business Award was presented to Ricker Hill Orchards, which has been growing apples for over eight generations. On the farm they grow everything from crisp red apples and sourly sweet cranberries to North American Ginseng and the occasional pigmy goat. Their family’s true passion in life is apples and they have been growing them since 1803.
The Education Award was presented to Russ Barlow. As the principal of the Auburn’s alternative education school, Russ has aggressively worked with local business leaders to place his students in work-study programs throughout the community. He tirelessly works with the students in his school to help them climb out of the myriad of challenges these special students have to overcome.
Three years ago The Chamber introduced a new award, “Cool Chamber Award,” which is presented to an organization that has made a significant difference in reducing energy usage and preserving resources. The 2013 award was presented to Procter and Gamble-Tambrands for achieving what most organizations strive for: sending zero waste to a landfill.
The Ken Additon Small Business Advocate Award was presented to Dick Roy of Mechanics Savings Bank for an illustrious 30-year career of helping businesses in the Lewiston-Auburn community.
The 2013 New Member of the Year award went to Revelation Massage for their incredible support of The Chamber and their strategic use of The Chamber to build a new business in the area.
There were two winners of the prestigious President’s Award. The first was awarded to The Vault and owner Susan Hall. In a little more than one year The Vault has become an institution in Downtown Lewiston and in the L-A area. Owner Susan Hall has used wine tastings and other events to not only boost her growing business but also support important non-profit organizations in the community.
The second award went to Emil Clavet and Kevin Dean. Two years ago they started Electricity Maine—a way that consumers and small businesses could save money on their electricity bills. This year they are expanding to New Hampshire and are planning several other states. But that is not the only story of these two entrepreneurs. Over two decades they have started over 20 businesses; they are being honored for their true entrepreneurial spirit.