Chamber recognizes its own at end of 2008 season
It was a time for celebration on Friday, Sept. 26, as members of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce gathered for their annual member and awards dinner — this year transformed into a cocktail party at Cripple Creek Country Club, with music and mingling to join the traditional awards and look back at the year past.
Kicking off the event by accepting a ceremonial gavel plaque, outgoing Chamber President Patti Grimes — vice president of outreach and programming for the Freeman Foundation — described 2008 “as year of change” for the Chamber, “and a year of progress as well.”
Grimes noted the Chamber’s efforts to promote economic development in the area, during a “down market,” as well as the Chamber board’s efforts at enhancing the group’s governance and best practices, with updated bylaws and work to continue the local Chamber’s record as an award-winner among Chamber groups nationwide.
Grimes also praised the Chamber’s staff, noting that it had organized and promoted 10 major events in 2008, such as the annual Taste of Coastal Delaware, in addition to events focused on Chamber members themselves, such as the new Chamber Academy that offers workshops to Chamber member businesses.
In 2008, the Chamber also crossed the 850-member threshold, Grimes noted, while maintaining a 90 percent retention rate. Grimes particularly recognized Chamber Membership Director Carrie Subity, who she said had kept Chamber members apprised with “upfront communication” and kept them involved with new features, such as the Chamber’s online store.
Grimes also thanked the Chamber’s board of directors for their support, “to enable us to move forward and run like the wind.”
“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Grimes said. “I’ve been honored to be able to serve you.”
Grimes then introduced incoming Chamber President Jim Smith of Delmarva Power, who in accepting the president’s gavel referred to a legacy from the Chamber’s past.
“We had some great founding fathers and mothers,” he said. “And we have a great staff,” he added, also thanking Grimes for her service. “She is a true professional, and I have some big shoes to fill.”
Also introduced and sworn in last Friday were the Chamber’s new slate of directors for 2008-2009: returning directors Jeff Baxter of Prosperity Mortgage; Barbara Carlson, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage; Kathy Castrovillo of PNC Bank — Fenwick Island; and Quinn Lydic of Kaylor Kent Mortgage Associates; as well as new directors Aubré Duncan of The Gallery on Central Avenue; Tim Haley of The Blue Crab of Bethany Beach; Susan Lyons of the Coastal Point; Amy Norgate of Tanger Outlet Center; Jennifer Pavik of Vernon Sales Promotions; and Shawn Vojacsek of Delshores Remodeling.
Chamber Executive Committee members for 2008-2009 are Immediate Past President Grimes, Smith, President-Elect Steve Morgan of A. Anderson Scott Mortgage Group, Vice President Kevin Brady of Comcast Spotlight and Secretary/Treasurer David Nilsson of David S. Nilsson – CPA.
Top community, Chamber contributors receive awards
Throughout Friday evening, winners of the Chamber’s annual awards were announced.
First up was the Quality First Award, given to a Chamber member business or organization that “provides high quality customer service above and beyond industry standards.”
Winners of the award are chosen through a voting process by visitors to the Chamber’s visitor’s center. Those visitors submit recommendations for the winners, complete with comments on how their nominated businesses went above and beyond. And, in 2008, two local businesses did just that and then some, netting a tie and awards for two of them.
The first of those businesses was the Selbyville Public Library, which garnered praise during the voting process with comments such as, “The staff is always courteous, patient and helpful,” “We often forget our library card and they are always so gracious in looking up [our] information so that our children don’t have to go home empty-handed,” and “All their programs are always so well run and very organized.”
Library Director Tanya Shelton-Council and Library Board Member Suzanne “Sue” Nilsson were on hand to receive the award on behalf of the library.
Also recognized with the Quality First Award on Sept. 26 was Warren’s Station – the second time the family-run Fenwick Island restaurant has earned the honor, having previously been a Quality First Award-winner in 2004. Comments noted the quality of the “home-cooked food,” and the Chamber also recognized them for being a place to which both employees and customers return year after year. Jeff Mumford accepted the award for Warren’s Station.
David Nilsson then presented the Chamber’s Business Partner of the Year Award, which goes to the Chamber member business that does the most to aid the Chamber in its mission. For 2008, the winning business was noted not only for its work for the Chamber but also to the community at large — donating significant sums to a number of area non-profit organizations. The Banks family gathered to receive the award for Banks Wines & Spirits.
The Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year — an award for Chamber Ambassador Committee members who go out of their way to promote the Chamber and bring in new members — was Sue Nilsson of David Nilsson CPA. Sue Nilsson was described as having made “huge efforts bring members” into the Chamber in the past year.
The 2008 Member of the Year for the Chamber is also among those serving on the Ambassador Committee and has been named Ambassador of the Year in the past, as well. Pavik of Vernon Sales Promotions received the award, with high praise for having “gone above and beyond” for the Chamber in 2008.
Finally, in closing out the 2008 awards and member event last Friday, Lydic took to the podium to present the highlight award for the Chamber – the annual Lighthouse Award, which is presented for lifetime achievement to the Chamber and the community as a whole. He was joined by Dale Bellinger of Bellinger Jewelers, who each year presents the Lighthouse Award winner with a handcrafted lighthouse pin.
Lydic’s presentation came from the heart, describing a man who had served as president of the Chamber during a period of growth – one in which the Chamber welcomed its 500th member and originated the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation, which has since become a separate entity.
The 2008 winner also helped found the annual Exercise Like the Eskimos event with local legend Leo Brady. He is the president of the FACES (Freeman Assists Communities with Extra Support) Grants Program and serves on the Sussex County Economic Development Committee, as well as the economic development committees of the Chamber and the town of Georgetown.
To many people, he’s a familiar voice, having frequently appeared on WGMD radio with mortgage advice and doing so nowadays on the new Internet-based talk-radio station DelmarvaTalkRadio.com. He’s also a 16-year Ocean View businessman, having founded Kaylor Kent Mortgage Associates’ Ocean View office in 1992.
To top it all off, Walt Lydic was set to celebrate his birthday this past weekend, just after the Chamber event concluded, so son Quinn took advantage of the public event to rib his dad a bit, asking those assembled to sing him “Happy Birthday,” in retribution for a long-ago birthday at which the younger Lydic was subjected to a very public birthday song at a Mexican restaurant.
“I’ll repay you for that one,” the senior Lydic warned his son with a chuckle.
In accepting the Lighthouse Award, Walt Lydic noted that he had himself presented the award to Brady, pointing to his family’s long past with the Chamber.
“The Chamber has been part of our lives for the last 17 years,” he said, noting also how events such as the Exercise Like the Eskimos have grown in that time. And, he admitted, despite Walt Lydic’s intimate involvement with the Chamber, everyone involved in the presentation on Sept. 26 had managed to keep it a secret from the guest of honor.
“This is a very big surprise,” he said.