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MEDCO, Marshall Chamber honor best, most industrious at awards ceremony

The combined arms of Marshall Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce welcomed employers and employees throughout Harrison County for the 2017 Business & Industry Luncheon.

"Everyone in this room today is changing Marshall one job at a time," Chamber Chairman Jerry Pye said. "We still have a long way to go, but the effort is there and it is simply putting one foot in front of another and moving."

Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor agreed, stating local business and industry had taken large steps forward in recent years.

"In 2010 the unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in this county. The rate recorded at the end of 2016 was 5.4 percent. Even though we've taken a black eye in the oil and gas industry, we've made up for it in other businesses, services and industry."

MEDCO Chairman Jerry Benson said MEDCO had been part of the forward motion of Harrison County helping to create 375 jobs within the city and county, bringing an additional 230 jobs to help build area facilities, expanding existing businesses like General Cable, Republic Industries and Master Woodcraft Cabinetry and introduced around six new companies.

"Existing businesses are the stabilizing force in any community," Benson said. "MEDCO's primary function is to facilitate the creation of new primary or living wage jobs, coordinate workforce training and facilitate the recruitment of available workforce. We work to increase the business and industry tax base for a better Marshall and Harrison County."

GMCC Executive Director Stormy Nickerson gave a brief report on the chamber's push to grow relations among business members.

"It's been a busy year for our chamber of commerce," Nickerson said. "We are so proud that all of you have joined in the efforts for the future of the chamber. Last fall we began an aggressive marketing program to become an outspoken advocate for the business community. … We have completed a new website with detailed chamber member profiles, we have conducted a month-long shop local email and social media campaign and we've initiated a member of the day program."

Award recipients

Nickerson said the award winners of the annual lunch were judged by 2016 winners: Small Business of the Year owner Daren Horton of Gecko Pest Control, Matt Moore, managing partner of Marshall Ford-Lincoln, Large Business of the Year Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center and Industry of the Year Chief Executive Officer Russ Collier, Employee of the Year Rickey Clark, general manager of Patterson Toyota and Provost of Texas State Technical College and last year's Boss of the Year, Bart Day.

Lorie Minter of Bancorp South was awarded Employee of the Year.

"When it comes to customer service, she sets the standard. She delivers world-class service to every customer she encounters," Nickerson said. "She is always making herself available to our customers and demonstrates a willingness to be responsive. Her appearance and demeanor are always highly professional. Her attitude in the workplace is exceptional."

Vice President and Branch Manager of Citizens National Bank Terri Brown was selected as Boss of the Year.

"As a boss, our winner is responsible for keeping staff on task, meeting corporate goals and correcting errors along the way," Nickerson said. "The employee nomination shared that this boss 'leads their close knit team by example, sharing clear expectations, displaying a professional demeanor and enjoying a laugh or two to keep our group motivated when it is needed.'"

Richard and Melinda Gaulden, owners of Meadowbrook Funeral Home, were honored as small business of the year.

"The owners are passionate about serving our community both as volunteers and opening up their business to serve others," Nickerson said. "In the last year, they have hosted prayer groups, non-profit group meetings and grief counseling in their facility. The owners and employees are actively engaged in the community, serving Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Ambassadors, local civic organizations, Shattered Dreams program to encourage safe driving for teens, and host Mission Marshall as the location for the free produce distribution every month."

Richard Traweek, managing partner of Patterson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Marshall, was honored for Large Business of the Year.

"In February of 2017, our winner was recognized in the elite 387 of over 2,600 in their industry as they earned the Customer First Award for Excellence," Nickerson said. "By achieving this elite status, local customers are assured they will receive an exceptional sales and service experience. This business is dedicated to employee satisfaction. Employees are willing to go the extra mile for customers and co-workers to elevate their business."

Community Healthcore, East Texas Aging & Disability Resource Center was honored as non-profit of the year. Outreach Coordinator Patti Brady received the award on behalf of the organization.

"Our winner is a constant advocate for those individuals with disabilities in our community," Nickerson said. "Through a grant, this organization is charged to develop a strategic plan to improve community-based services for people with disabilities and their families in East Texas. During the last year, multiple special events, activities, ministries and support groups have been established by this group."

General Cable was chosen as 2017's industry of the year.

"Our winner works in all areas of the energy, construction, industry, specialty and communication markets. They have been an industry leader for 170 years," Nickerson said. "Locally, this industry has been in business since the 1980s and hired employees from Marshall and surrounding area for decades. They currently employ approximately 400 people in the Marshall plant."

A new award was added this year, dubbed the shade tree award in honor of advice given by Dennis Swanberg at the annual chamber banquet.

"Our speaker, Dr. Dennis Swanberg, could not have spoken truer words as he described the significant role of shade tree planters in our community," Nickerson said. "Shade tree planters are businesses and individuals who see a vision of what can be and plant a shade tree for those who will sit under it long after our planter is gone.

"Harrison County is full of people who see value in our community, but are they willing to go the extra mile to take action? Action that will endure? Do shade tree planters take action to see their name up in lights, for pats on the back, or for public gratitude? No, a shade tree planter gives freely as his or her actions give them joy and purpose."

McKool Smith was named as the first recipient of the annual Shade Tree Award.

"The leader of this business is a strong advocate for education, athletics, the City of Marshall, and Harrison County," Nickerson said of Sam Baxter. "The spring kept him busy cooking burgers at the Marshall High School boys baseball games and cheering on the Mavericks. He is a firm advocate for Marshall Independent School District, East Texas Baptist University, Wiley College, Farm City Week, the FireAnt Festival and Wonderland of Lights. He and his wife are strong supporters for the rights of abused and neglected children."

 

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