Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Leonard Moreland (from left), of Heritage Bank; Bonnie Wilson, of Sutherland’s Foodservice Inc., and Bonnie Pratt, of the Clayton News Daily, were recognized as outgoing 2011 board members, during the Clayton Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.
Chick-fil-A took home the “Business of the Year” award, during the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s “58th Annual Banquet and Awards Presentation” at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel Atlanta Airport, over the weekend.
While the restaurant chain and its local affiliates were recognized as the top, large business in the county, Fulton & Kozak Certified Public Accountants was chosen as the 2011 Small Business of the Year.
Geoff Fulton, a partner in the Morrow company, accepted the award on behalf of the firm. “This could not be possible without the staff that we have,” he told the audience of business, political and community leaders gathered for the event. “This is a wonderful honor,” said Fulton.
In accepting the award for Chick-fil-A, Randy Burgess, manager of Truett’s Grill Morrow, was upbeat and comical. “We influence people in the community by leveraging our food, our people, [and] the cows,” he said. “Thank you, and eat more chicken.”
Ron Shipman, immediate past chairman of the Board of Directors of the chamber, said the board chose Chick-fil-A because of its commitment to the county, its support of the chamber, its ongoing service to the community, and its longevity. The company was started in 1946.
The award “was for the entire corporation, but also for the Chick-fil-A local operations in Clayton County,” added Yulonda Beauford, president of the Clayton Chamber.
Ricky Camp, vice president of Oakwood Café, who presented the award to Fulton & Kozak, was the 2010 Small Business Award recipient. He said judges had a hard time selecting the finalist, but that Fulton & Kozak rose above its competition on the strength of so many positive qualities, including: its dedication to making customer service, satisfaction and community involvement important to its success; making a difference in the county and surrounding areas by doing so much of its business locally; and significant growth in its new clientele base, mostly through referrals.
“Just enjoy it,” said Camp to the 2011 winner. “It’s an earned award. If you win it, you’ve earned it.”
According to the chamber, the firm performs complex tax and audit functions for individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and small governments. The firm opened for business 28 years ago.
County dignitaries and business leaders, such as State Rep. Glenn Baker (D-Jonesboro), enjoyed the festivities. Baker said the sense of community present, and his support of local businesses are the reasons he attended the banquet.
“What I expect out of tonight is, I hope everyone leaves here feeling great and enthusiastic,” he said. “This is a great turnout, and with the downturn in the economy, everybody still has a great attitude.”
Others receiving recognition or awards, included:
• Clayton State University President Tim Hynes, the Chairman’s Award;
• Recognition of outgoing board of directors members — Bonnie Wilson, of Sutherland’s Foodservice Inc., Leonard Moreland, of Heritage Bank, Bonnie Pratt, of the Clayton News Daily, Delores Gallego, of Delta Air Lines, and Robert Lee, of Southside Seafood Company.
• Recognition of committee chairpersons — Bess Garrett, of the Tommy Nobis Center, Mike Thomas, of the Clayton County Water Authority, Lee Fincher, of Fincher Denmark and Williams, LLC, Geoff Fulton, of Fulton & Kozak, CPA, Tim Hynes, of Clayton State University, Angela Redding, of the City of Forest Park, Hop Mosel, of Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Inc., and Ryan Vermeulen, of Connecting Clayton,
• The 2011 Chamber Partner of the Year Award, Bess Garrett, of the Tommy Nobis Center, and Coylitia Williamson O’Neal, of Williamson Mortuary;
• The Carl G. Rhodenizer Community Service Award, Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon;
• The Lifetime Achievement Award, Gene Sutherland, Sr., chairman of the board for Sutherland’s Foodservice Inc.
Following the award presentations, Ron Shipman, of Georgia Power Company, passed the gavel to Winston Cooper, of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, signifying Cooper’s new position as chairman of the board of the chamber. Cooper said that, as chairman, he will focus on five key factors, including economic development, governmental affairs, education, leadership and partnerships, to ensure that Clayton is a vibrant county.
“We look forward to another successful year with, your support and with your help,” he told the crowd. “There are many opportunities that are available for all of you to participate in, and to help us shape the business climate of Clayton County –– and I believe we all can do that.”