Indian River Chamber honors area businesses

VERO BEACH — The beaches and beauty of Indian River County may be the primary attraction for tourism and retirees, but its businesses play a major role in helping to sustain our economy and enrich our lifestyle.  Local industry provides jobs to area residents and makes a major economic impact through taxes, payroll contributions and purchases within the community. Each year, to honor and celebrate the achievements of area businesses and manufacturers, the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce hosts an Industry Appreciation Award Luncheon.  The positive impact of architectural enhancements made to new and existing buildings in IRC are also recognized at the luncheon.   This year’s sold-out event was held on Thursday, Sept. 17 at the IRSC Richardson Center.  Earlier in the week, the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners presented a Proclamation to the Chamber designating September 14 – 18, 2009 as Industry Appreciation Week in Indian River County. The awards process is a lengthy one; a committee of Chamber volunteers, under this year’s IAA committee chair Dawn Hopkins from Light Source Business Systems, distributes nomination forms to potential honorees throughout the county, and eventually votes on the winners from among many candidates.  Ms. Hopkins shared Master of Ceremonies duties at the awards event with Linda Schlitt-Gonzalez of Coldwell Banker-Ed Schlitt Real Estate and chair of the Chamber’s Economic Development Division. Firms honored with Company of the Year awards represent businesses that have an overall positive impact on our county through local economic stimulus, contributions back to the community and year-round employment. {igallery 32} William D. Bryant, CEO of Bill Bryant & Associates, was honored with the 2009 Micro Company of the Year award.  The general contractor began business in 1981.  With just twelve employees, the firm pays above-average wages and is extremely active in the community.  The company and its employees are involved in over a dozen local organizations and non-profits.  The company firmly believes in creating a strong and prosperous community, taking great pride in leading by example and giving back to the community. Jim Davis, General Manager of Treasure & Space Coast Radio, accepted the award for the 2009 Small Company of the Year.  The station’s economic impact includes a payroll of well over $1 million, annual revenue of $3.2 million, and pays over $100,000 in local taxes.  Employee morale is the company’s key to success with many perks and prizes awarded such as travel packages and concert tickets.  The company fully supports local businesses, spending $500,000 annually in Indian River County for services and supplies.  Treasure & Space Coast Radio is probably best known for its community outreach, with over $300,000 annually provided to local community activities through on-air support, Public Service Announcements, its community calendar and its website. Scott Alexander, Indian River County Regional President of Northern Trust, accepted the award for the 2009 Mid-Size Company of the Year.  The company was established in Vero Beach in 1966 as The Beach Bank of Vero Beach, later merging with Northern Trust in 1995 and adopting the name.  The company employs 45 local residents at an average wage greater than 140% of the county’s average annual wage.  In 1912, Northern Trust was one of the first banks in the country to offer an employee life insurance plan and, in 1913, a pension plan.  In 2008, local employees raised over $5,500 for the local American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  Wall St Journal and MSN recently named Northern Trust as one of the safest banks in America, while Fortune magazine named them as one of America’s most admired companies. Sheryl Koenes, General Manager of Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, accepted the award for the Chamber’s 2009 Large Company of the Year.  Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is a 211-room Disney Vacation Club destination that opened its doors in 1995.  The Resort is the largest contributor of tourism taxes in the county, and the second largest taxpayer in property taxes.  The cast members at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, numbering 290, are committed to our community.  There are monthly planned volunteer opportunities ranging from back-to-school drives and walk-a-thons to bi-monthly beach clean-ups.  Many cast members also volunteer on numerous non-profit boards and loaned executive opportunities throughout Indian River County.   The Latin Business of the Year was awarded to Tatiana Dyer, Managing Member of Dyer Chevrolet.  Dyer Chevrolet was established just 18 months ago but has jumped right in as a major contributor to the Indian River County community.  The Dyer Difference Award is presented monthly to non-profits in Indian River County that make a difference in the community.  So far, they’ve recognized 14 organizations, each with a check for $3,000.  The Dyer work ethic includes great integrity, a strong sense of urgency, a passion for the business, and respect for the customer.  The company is ranked #4 out of all GM dealers in South FL in terms of training and, with over 60 employees, has one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry – just 5% as compared to the average 30-50%. The 2009 Small Manufacturer of the Year was presented to David Francis Furniture, a manufacturer of luxury furniture.  Its Vero Beach headquarters includes a full-line showroom, a finishing department, and a warehouse that stocks over 5,000 pieces.  They maintain additional showrooms in 15 major US markets.  They recently opened their doors to the public as an outlet store, offering a well-stocked array of sample pieces and discontinued items.  David Francis Furniture is a certified women-owned business that has doubled its sales nationally over the past 8 years.  95% of their product is sold outside Indian River County, 50% outside of FL, with much of its furniture used in major hotels and resorts around the world. Bob Beaucher, President of Vero Machine Industries, was recognized as the 2009 Mid-Sized Manufacturer of the Year.  They began their metal fabrication and machining work 19 years ago with just 2 people – the owner and one other person.  The owner got his start in his father’s machine shop 35 years ago while he was still in grade school.  The company now employs 40 residents.  Vero Machine specializes in manufacturing military support systems for our troops overseas as well as servicing many other industries.  Their varied manufacturing operations include precision machining and some assembly for rugged computers that are used for enemy surveillance via satellite.  Over the last 5 years, the company’s sales have grown nearly 300%. Larry Thompson, CFO of SpectorSoft Corporation, was awarded the Large Manufacturer of the Year.  Founded in 1998, the company is headquartered in Vero Beach with 73 employees who earn an average annual wage of $63,800 – nearly twice the county’s average wage.  Its products regularly receive coverage in well-known trade publications and thru mainstream media.  SpectorSoft sells 93% of its products outside FL, 22% of its products outside the US, and has made “Inc.” magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies in the US 4 times.  The company’s award-winning Spector Pro monitoring software was recently highlighted on the Oprah Winfrey Show during an interview with John Walsh about the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act. Architectural Recognition awards are based on numerous criteria including the building’s impact on the surrounding area, enhanced landscaping, unique or eco-friendly features and accessibility features such as parking, sidewalks and signage.   This year’s award winners were: New Small Commercial Building, North County – About Storage, Sebastian New Small Commercial Building, South County – RBC Banking Center, Vero Beach New Large Commercial Building, North County – Sebastian Professional Center New Large Commercial Building, South County – Pointe West Medical Suites New Commercial/Non-Profit Building – Oslo Road Goodwill Retail Store New Government Building – Indian River State College Brackett Library New Commercial Project – Barker Electric Air Conditioning and Heating, Vero Beach Small Commercial Building Redevelopment – Young’s Market, Vero Beach Large Commercial Building Redevelopment – Stor-All Storage, Vero Beach Large Commercial Building Remodeling – South Vero Square Large Government Building Redevelopment – Vero Beach Airport Terminal Building Best Re-Use of Old Property – The Back Country, Vero Beach Restoration of a Commercial Building to Retain Historical Character – New Patio Restaurant

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