Like any successful organization, the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce has continued to grow and evolve since 1952, adjusting its focus and programs whenever necessary to meet the needs of its members and the community.
From the days of textile mills and furniture manufacturers to today’s ever-evolving advanced manufacturing, the Chamber has continually provided resources, reasonably priced marketing and advertising opportunities, networking, and individual counseling for small businesses, but one thing has never changed — its commitment to its membership.
Since 2008, the organization has been very much involved in the development and implementation in a variety of programs for workforce development. The Chamber also now leads the charge of promoting tourism in our area through the recently developed brand, “Pulaski County is……..”
The Chamber is preparing to celebrate its 67th Annual Meeting and Banquet on November 15 at the state-of-the-art Volvo Customer Experience Center. There will be a reception from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. followed by dinner, then a program and the presentation of awards. Master of Ceremonies will be Marcus Thompson, Volvo’s Inspiration/Communications Manager. The theme of this celebration will be “Celebrating Pulaski County Prosperity.”
The Community Impact Award will recognize a non-profit/organization that has made a significant social impact for the betterment of the community. There are three worthy nominees for this award:
The Dublin Lions Club, founded in 1953, has been rendering humanitarian service to the local community and state for over 50 years. They have many service projects, the best known probably being their vision screenings and providing eyeglasses to those in need. The club’s major emphasis is helping the community by fostering a spirit of understanding among all people through community involvement and international cooperation.
Pulaski Christmas Store, now in its 13th year of operation, is a charity run totally by volunteers who have to date served over 1,000 children. Their one and only goal is to make sure that all County children receive gifts during the holiday season.
The Pulaski Theatre, originally opened in 1911 as the Elks Theatre, is now restored and serves as the cultural hub in the Town of Pulaski providing programming including concerts, live stage performances, motion pictures, children’s programming and special events.
There are five nominees for this year’s Small Business of the Year Award, each of which makes outstanding contributions to our community and economy:
Al’s on First is an outstanding restaurant located inside the Jackson Park Inn, a remodeled historic warehouse in the Town of Pulaski. Opened in 2016, it brings people from all over the NRV to dine in an atmosphere that features exposed wood with rustic yet elegant furniture. The high ceiling, spacious dining area, and friendly atmosphere have made Al’s a local favorite.
Mountain 2 Island is more than paddleboards, kayaks, outdoors & boat rentals on Claytor Lake & Gatewood Park, and their new retail store in Fairlawn. An integral part of Pulaski County Tourism, this small business brings people from all parts of the Commonwealth to participate in the outdoor adventure lifestyle that we enjoy.
OK Barber Shop, a true local gem that has been part of the Pulaski community since 1921, was purchased in 2016 by Bryan and Kym Fowler. They have followed the leading of their hearts to show compassion and caring to others by providing free haircuts to the homeless, to families with a loved one suffering from cancer, and discounted rates for the children’s home. True community partners, each year they celebrate their customers with a special Customer Appreciation Day.
Southern Harts Boutique is a locally owned boutique focusing on great fashion at great prices!
Their motto is Love Life/Love Fashion. The proprietor, Kyla Lewis, has three locations: Pulaski, Blacksburg, and Kernersville, North Carolina. Customers who have reviewed the shop emphasize the personal care that the sales staff gives to each and every customer.
Stand Out Fashions is a women’s retail shop specializing in fashion for the curvy woman but has something for everyone. The tone of the business is set by the personal philosophy of the owner, Lotoshia Newman, who says that “size doesn’t determine beauty, you do!” Beautiful clothing lines and commitment to fashion have made this shop an on-line success as well as a destination shop.
Four nominees are vying for this year’s Business Excellence Award:
Martin’s Pharmacy has been committed to helping customers in the Pulaski community since 1942 and continues to expand to include many patient care services. Every member of their staff is knowledgeable and accessible and has a real commitment to personal service. The modernized pharmacy is committed to preserving the intimacy of a neighborhood pharmacy while serving the health needs of the members of our community.
Rural King is an affordable pet and farm supply store that was originally founded in 1960 with over 109 stores. They have a reputation for providing excellent customer service and supporting the agricultural communities where they reside.
Service Contracting, which began in 1976 as a small paint subcontracting business, has expanded into a large commercial construction subcontracting business. A value-based company, they are committed to their mission and believe in honest, responsible business practices, keeping the client’s best interests at heart while giving back to the communities they serve. Some of their local projects have included Riverlawn and Pulaski Elementary Schools, the new Virginia Tech Baseball Stadium, Radford University Covington Arts Center, Radford University Center for the Sciences, and the Volvo Customer Experience Center.
Travis Team Realty has called the New River Valley home for the past twenty-six years. A winning team in real estate, they’re one of Pulaski County’s biggest advocates. The Travis Team wears their “Pulaski Proud” shirts and are seen working tirelessly for community projects.
There are three most worthy nominees for Business Executive of the Year:
Agnieszka Fafara is President and CEO of Korona Candles, Inc., which established a candle manufacturing facility in Dublin in October 2013. Korona Candles is a subsidiary company of Korona Candles SA and, since April 2018, has been a part of Gala Group, a merger of four companies in candle and home décor with overall employment of 4,750 people worldwide. Before coming to Virginia over four years ago, this nominee spent over fifteen years with Korona Candles SA in Poland as Sales Director. Through years with the company, plus sales skills and experience in working with the largest retailers and contract manufacturing, she acquired vast knowledge on candle production specifics. AS CEO of Korona Candles, Inc., she was given the task of learning quickly a new scope of responsibilities related to setting up and running a business overseas. She holds an MSc in International Business Relations and postgraduate studies in European Management from the University of Economics in Krakow, Poland.
Dr. Pat Huber, President of New River Community College, earned her Associate’s Degree from Wytheville Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree and teaching credentials from Emory & Henry College, her Master’s Degree in secondary education from West Virginia University, and a PH.D. in Community College Leadership from Old Dominion University. She has held many faculty and administrative positions at New River Community College, where she began as an adjunct instructor. She loves the community college mission and is known across the region as a passionate educator.
Sean Pressman, CEO of LewisGale Hospital – Pulaski, has more than twenty years of healthcare management experience and has served as CEO of the local hospital since June 2017. During his time as CEO, LewisGale-Pulaski has undergone a significant transformation:
*Employee Engagement has hit 90% – top score among over 170 acute care hospitals in HCA;
*HealthGrades has recognized LewisGale-Pulaski among the Top 5% of all hospitals nationally for Patient Safety;
*The hospital was named a Top Rural Hospital for Quality by NOSORH;
*Patient Satisfaction Scores have risen to among the Top 25% of all hospitals nationally for Emergency Department, Surgery, and Outpatient Testing;
*More than $7 Million in capital investment has been secured for new programs and technologies;
The Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce wishes to sincerely thank the sponsors for this year’s event:
*Reception Sponsor – Truliant Federal Credit Union
*Awards Sponsor – National Bank
*Video Sponsor – Union Bank and Trust
*Annual Report Sponsor – Martin’s Pharmacy
*Music Sponsor – Member One Federal Credit Union
*Gold Sponsors – Americare Plus, Appalachain Power, Cumulus, First Bank & Trust, Highland Ridge Rehab, LewisGale Hospital – Pulaski, Pete Dye River Course, ServePro, The Southwest Times, State Farm Insurance – Webb Donald, The Patriot and Town of Pulaski.
If you are interested in attending this event, you may contact the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce after October 1st at (540) 674-1991 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There are only a few remaining reservations.
By SHEILA D. NELSON
For the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce