2015-2016 Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Awards
Small Business of the Year: AB Aviation
Small Business of the Year: North Georgia Canopy Tours
Family Business of the Year: Clipper Petroleum
Family Business of the Year: Chestnut Mountain Egg Farms
W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award: Tony Paramore, Gainesville Paint
Community Service Award: Jackson EMC Foundation’s Operation Round Up
Distinguished Citizen Award: Rep. Carl Rogers
The “who’s who” of Gainesville and Hall County’s business community filled the halls of the Chattahoochee Country Club Thursday evening, spilling out onto the patio and lawn.
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce presented its Annual Business Awards at the 108th Annual Meeting and Gala, with some 500 chamber members and guests in attendance.
The evening’s honorees including Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, who was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by Chamber Chairman Brian Daniel.
Rogers is retiring from the District 29 seat this year.
“Carl says he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and becoming normal again,” Daniel said. “Carl, we’re not sure you’ll ever be normal again. But he has a true servant’s heart and has provided outstanding representation for our community.”
Rogers said “it really feels good” to be honored by the chamber in his hometown.
“It’s been an honor to serve Gainesville-Hall County in the state of Georgia,” he said.
Daniel also awarded the W.G. Mealor Chairman’s Award to Tony Paramore, manager and co-owner of Gainesville Paint, in the Gainesville Design Center.
The W.G. Mealor award is named for the chamber’s first chairman, who served nine years, from 1908-1917. It is given by the current chairman to a volunteer who has gone “above and beyond,” Daniel said.
“He’s been a champion for small business,” Daniel said. “He has worked with our staff and encouraged other chamber members to get involved …. His enthusiasm and leadership have helped make the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce a champion for business.”
Additional awards included the Community Service Award, presented to Jackson EMC Foundation for its “Operation Round Up.”
“Almost 90 percent of Jackson EMC’s total membership have their monthly bill rounded up to the next dollar amount through Operation Round Up,” Daniel said. “The program is set up so no member can contribute more than $11.88 per year, and the average annual contribution per member is $6. But together, they contribute more than $90,000 each month for charitable initiatives.”
Two local businesses were awarded Small Business of the Year awards, and two more were awarded Family Business of the Year awards, but Chamber Chair-Elect Lee Hemmer.
Winners of Small Business of the Year were AB Aviation, owned by Aaron Burkhart and Lillian Todd, and North Georgia Canopy Tours, owned by Leah and Kirk Watkins.
In late 2003, Burkhart and Todd opened AB Aviation at the Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville with three employees. Now with 11 employees, AB Aviation provides full-service aircraft maintenance, repair and avionics installation services for all makes and models of general aviation aircraft.
Hemmer said the company was founded on the motto of “Service with Integrity,” which they strive to provide daily to customers.
Meanwhile, North Georgia Canopy Tours has worked to be an environmentally sustainable member of the community since opening in 2010. The zipline tours provide guests with an educational experience about the ecology, geography, culture, wildlife and history of the area, according to Hemmer.
The two winners of the Family Business of the Year awards were Clipper Petroleum, represented by president Tom Bower, and Chestnut Mountain Egg Farms, represented by president Tom Oliver.
Chestnut Mountain Egg Farms was founded by W.N. Oliver, Jr. in 1963. More than 50 years later, the company is three generations strong, according to Hemmer.
Clipper Petroleum is recognized as one of the Southeast’s largest petroleum distributors. Last year, the company’s Clipper Petroleum Foundation awarded over $88,000 in grants to 40 organizations and schools.