Chamber honors local enterprises

JOHNSTOWN – A festive atmosphere greeted attendees at the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce’s first annual Celebration and Cocktail Party on Friday.

Business owners and employees, and state and local government officials were among those at the Holiday Inn for the event, where the chamber’s award winners for 2013 were honored.

Chamber President Mark Kilmer said the event was different from the annual dinners of previous years. Many participants at those annual dinners said they enjoyed the networking part of the events the most, Kilmer said, so this year’s event had a more festive atmosphere and networking was the focus of the activity.

“The award winners were all deserving tonight,” Kilmer said. “We have a great turnout and with the new format it was a change for everyone, but I believe they all enjoyed themselves.”

Kilmer said the change also was needed due to the increased size of merged membership. He said it’s hard to accommodate more than 300 people in any local venue, and last year the event had well over that number.

At the event, Benjamin Moore Inc. received the Edward L. Wilkinson Industry of the Year honor.

Benjamin Moore, a Berkshire Hathaway company, has had its paints sold exclusively by independent paint and decorating retail stores – including local retailers Noble Ace Hardware in Johnstown and Kingsboro Lumber in Gloversville.

The Johnstown site, opened in 1991, employs more than 120 people on three shifts and is a key manufacturing site for Benjamin Moore & Co., a news release from the chamber said. In 2013, the Johnstown plant manufactured more than 16 million gallons of paint-setting a company record in the process, the release said.

“We are extremely humbled to receive the award,” said Plant Manager Paul Connelie. “The Fulton-Montgomery Region is a great place to live and work, so we are happy to be here.”

Some of the other award winners that were honored Friday include:

– Centennial Chamber Business of the Year Award, St. Mary’s Healthcare and The Leader-Herald;

– Small Business of the Year, Seely Conover’s Office Centre;

– Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Partner Award, Pecks Lake Protective Association;

– Agricultural Business of the Year, Rogers Family Orchards, Inc.;

– Chamber Family Award, Heck family (Alpin Haus);

– Thomas B. Constantino Entrepreneurial Award, Christian Klueg, CMK & Associates Real Estate;

– Young Professional of the Year, Chuck Torres, The Geek Pantology.

Kilmer said the awards were decided based on member nominations and a vote by the chamber’s Board of Directors.

Sharing the honor

Both St. Mary’s Healthcare and The Leader-Herald were honored as the recipients of the Centennial Chamber Business of the Year Award.

In 2013, St. Mary’s Healthcare, formerly St. Mary’s Hospital, celebrated its 110-year anniversary of serving the region through the provision of healthcare services.

Throughout the 1990s and continuing today, the hospital expanded its outpatient service network including, but not limited to, primary and specialty care, outpatient mental health and addiction services, a news release said.

“It’s very gratifying to receive this award,” said Hospital President and CEO Vic Giulianelli. “It’s also great to share it with another company that has been here for more than 100 years.”

On Aug. 30, 2014, The Leader-Herald will mark its 127th year of publishing in the Fulton-Montgomery region.

According to a news release, the chamber presented the award to the newspaper for providing local news for Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties, along with national, international and state-wide news, sports and entertainment.

“It’s a tremendous reflection of 100 years of serving the community and the thousands of employees that have worked for the Leader-Herald,” said Publisher Patricia Beck. “They are the true recipients tonight.”

Agricultural Business of the Year

Rogers Family Orchards was nominated as the Agricultural Business of the Year for its work with the Fulton County Farm Bureau and other entities to make the Fulton County Day on the Farm a reality, a news release said.

“This is the first time we ever won anything like this so we are really honored to be here tonight,” said Todd Rogers.

Rogers Family Orchards has been a mainstay in the region for more than 40 years, the release said.

While embracing the past, the business also has plans for the future, the release said. Those plans include a hard cidery to make hard apple cider, which, according to industry data, is currently the fastest growing alcoholic beverage in the country, the release said.

Chamber Family Award

Working about five decades, the Heck family has turned Alpin Haus into an outdoor recreation powerhouse, a news release said.

In 1964, Bud Heck was a founder of Alpin Haus, a business that started as a ski shop with one full-time employee and a handful of helpers, the release said.

Today, Alpin Haus is a leading outdoor recreational retailer in the Northeast and employs more than 200 people across its five stores, the release said. The business sells items including luxury recreational-vehicles, snowmobiles, skis, boats, pools and spas.

“It is just great,” said President Andy Heck. “We have three generations of the family actively working in various parts the business right now and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Small Business of the Year

According to a news release, Seely Conover has always been in Amsterdam, and 135 years later, current owners brothers Wayne and Gary Bovee are still committed to the Rug City.

“It’s nice to know there are people out there still supporting the small businesses,” Gary Bovee said.

Seely Conover was founded in 1879 by a man named -Seely Conover, a news release said. His son, Kenneth Conover took over the business in the 1940s, and then Robert Conover, another of Seely’s sons, became the face of the business in the 1970s.

“When Wayne and Gary bought the business from Robert Conover on Jan. 31, 1986, Mr. Conover asked the brothers to please keep intact the reputation that he had built – as an upstanding and viable business in Montgomery County” the release said. “Gary and Wayne have far surpassed Mr. Conover’s wishes.”

Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Partner Award

Pecks Lake Protective Association was awarded this year’s tourism partner award during the celebratory event.

The Peck’s Lake Protective Association was incorporated in 1973 and created the Peck’s Lake Sprint Triathlon in 2010. The triathlon is held in partnership with the Fulton County Tourism Department, and brings athletes and their friends and families to the region each August from an average of 10 different states, a news release said.

Thomas B. Constantino Entrepreneurial Award

In 2008, Christian Klueg obtained his real estate broker’s license and CMK and Associates Real Estate was born in his first office in Northville.

Klueg now has a team of 26 agents and five staff members in four offices. He announced his 2013 sales figures are $47.8 million with 305 real estate transactions for the year.

“Being a business owner presents a lot of challenges and to feel that I’m a part of helping Fulton County improve is rewarding,” Klueg said.

Young Professional of the Year

Chuck Torres was named the young professional of the year at the event.

Torres opened The Geek Pantology computer service and repair on Market Street in Amsterdam. The business has been in operation since the spring of 2011, and with the support of the community, has been growing since.

FMS Workforce Solutions also had award winners at the Friday event including Fulton County 2013 Business Partner of the Year, Mohawk Cabinet Company and the Montgomery County Business Partner of the Year – Giant Solutions, LLC.