Chamber Awards Night is Tomorrow! Meet the Final Nominees

February 17, 2016 | Posted By: Connor Watkins

Meet the Nominees

The countdown to Chamber Awards Night is almost over. The big event will finally be upon us tomorrow night, and we still have seven nominees to introduce, so let’s get started. Purchase tickets here or call (803) 359-6113.

The event, which is designed to honor deserving businesses and business people in the Greater Lexington area, will be held on February 18 at 6 pm at the Lexington Municipal Complex.

Our seventh and final nominee for Small Business of the Year is Kay Plumbing Services, which has been in business since 2007. The business employs seven people full-time.

“Our mission is to provide quality and reliable service to every customer,” according to owner Konrad Orzechowski, who also stresses a commitment to the local economy. Kay Plumbing makes it a priority to by local, hire local and refer local.

Local involvement was never more evident for the business than in 2012 when Kay Plumbing joined the Greater Lexington Chamber and saw a 35% increase in sales that year.

Orzechowski was also nominated for Young Professional of the Year, along with six others, including two you will meet here. Orzechowski has donated funds and services to local schools and non-profit organizations. He is also involved with several networking groups, including BNI, which has recognized him for passing business on to other businesses.

The next nominee for Young Professional of the Year is Megan Gonzalez, franchisee and store leader of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, a Chamber member since 2013.

Gonzalez has made it a priority to give back to the community in a variety of ways. Menchie’s has partnered with several schools to help raise funds for the PTA and also donated more than $1,000 in school supplies to teachers at Lexington, Fort’s Pond and Midway Elementary Schools this past year. The business has also been involved with Kid’s Day of Lexington since 2013, giving out approximately 2,000 cups of yogurt each year. Following the floods in October, Menchie’s partnered with the Lexington Police Department, raising $1,200 for LICS in an effort to assist local flood victims.

“It is an honor to be nominated for an award such as Young Professional of the year. To be recognized for doing what you love for and with a community you love is a dream come true,” Gonzalez said. “Lexington has been a support to Menchie’s from the beginning and to be able to give back to a community like Lexington during times of need is what we at Menchie’s are all about.”

Our final Young Professional of the Year nominee is Will Baker, communications marketing coordinator at Saluda Hill Landscapes, a Chamber member since 2015.

Baker has been committed to several local organizations to better the community, including serving as a SC Farm Bureau Youth Ambassador. He advocated for more support for the state’s agriculture industry and pushed for more ethanol inclusion in our state’s economy. Baker also volunteered at Habitat for Humanity from October through December to help move appliances, furniture, and other household items during the Christmas season for less fortunate families in the Midlands. He also spearheaded an effort through his Lexington BNI chapter and co-workers to donate food and clothing to victims of the historic flood in October.

“It is an incredible honor to be nominated for Young Professional of the Year because there are so many hard working folks in Lexington deserving of this. Lexington holds so much talent, beauty, history, charm, and professionalism, and I am so proud to be a part of it each day,” Baker said. “Though I live in Columbia, God has truly blessed me with the wonderful gift of working here, and I look forward to being a part of Lexington’s future growth and development.”

Our final category is Large Business of the Year, and we will introduce the final three nominees from this group.

Chick-fil-A of Lexington employs 18 people full-time and 66 part-time and has been a Chamber member since 1997. The company’s corporate mission is to “provide customers “REMARK”able experiences so they will tell others about our brand.”

Owner Michael Tucker has added his personal mission statement for the Lexington business, striving to “provide a workplace environment where team members will want to work together to provide the highest quality products in a clean store while providing personalized service. This, combined with emotional connections marketing, will make our guests feel obligated to eat with us.”

Making a positive impact in the community is a way of life for Chick-fil-A. Each year, the business provides over 7,000 cards for free kids’ meals to families that join the PTA in every Lexington One elementary school. Chick-fil-A also sponsors biscuit sales and spirit nights for schools, as well as sponsoring rewards for the Lexington County Public Library summer reading program.

“Giving back to the community energizes me and the business,” said Tucker, who has also been involved with the Women’s Shelter in Columbia, as well as the Nancy K. Perry Shelter. “I love making people happy and doing the unexpected for others.”

Our next nominee for Large Business of the Year is Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative, a company that employs 136 people full-time and five people part-time. MCEC has been a member of the Chamber since 1959.

The mission of MCEC, a not-for-profit member-owned electric distribution utility, is “to improve the quality of life of our members by providing quality electric services at competitive costs with a commitment to member satisfaction.”

MCEC has provided essential electricity to members for 75 years, annually receiving outstanding customer service scores. MCEC is also committed to the local economy, contributing $4.2 million through RDA funds to help fund Lexington economic development projects since 1996.

“As I have learned since joining Mid-Carolina Electric, a big part of our DNA is helping folks – not just by providing electricity for our members but also by making a difference in our community,” said Troy Simpson, VP Member Services. “From our beginnings 75 years ago as a nonprofit, member-owned utility, we were created to do just that – serve both our members and areas we do business.”

MCEC’s community contributions are endless, including Operation Roundup, voluntary contributions from MCEC members to help those in our community facing catastrophic situations get back on their feet. Those efforts have generated over $4.3 million since 1994 just by MCEC members rounding up each month’s power bill to the nearest whole dollar, showing a little bit of change changes lives.

The company’s annual charity golf tournament, led by Women Involved in Rural Electrification groups, has also raised over $120,000 to benefit breast cancer patients through Becky’s Place at LMC.

Our final nominee for Large Business of the Year is Palmetto Health, a Chamber member since 1997. The company employs 9770 people full-time and 854 people part-time.

Palmetto Health’s mission: “Palmetto Health is committed to improving the physical, emotional and spiritual health of all individuals and communities we serve; to providing care with excellence and compassion; and, to working with others who share our fundamental commitment to improving the human condition.”

Palmetto Health includes seven acute-care hospitals – Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Parkridge, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital, Palmetto Health Richland, Palmetto Health Tuomey and Baptist Easley, as well as an expansive physician practice network, dozens of affiliated clinics and specialty care practices and a 501(c)(3) foundation.

These hospitals include the state’s first freestanding children’s hospital, South Carolina’s only freestanding hospital dedicated solely to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and the Midlands region’s only Level I Trauma Center.

Palmetto Health is committed to supporting the local economy, purchasing more than $1 million of goods and services annually from businesses operated in the Midlands. The company is also committed to giving back. When Palmetto Health was formed in 1998, a commitment was made to return 10 percent of the annual bottom line to the community. In the fiscal year 2015, Palmetto Health provided $193 million in charity care.

The company is also involved in the community, giving more than 5,000 hours annually to numerous community service projects in the region, including feeding the homeless at the Transitions shelter, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army during the holidays and renovating homes through HomeWorks. Team members also serve as Lunch Buddies at two local elementary schools and volunteer as mentors and speakers in various community settings.

Wells Fargo is the presenting sponsor for Chamber Awards Night, and dress for the event is black tie optional.

Tickets for the event are $40. Click here to buy your tickets so you can support these and all of the other nominees tomorrow!