Photo by Mark Perfetti
Brennen Parker, chair, Mark Kilmer, president/CEO Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce present city of Gloversville Mayor Dayton King with the Young Professional of the Year award.
By MORGAN FRISCH
Fulton County Express
JOHNSTOWN — From policemen, to politicians, artists and entrepreneurs, hundreds gathered at the Holiday Inn Friday for the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Celebration and Cocktail Party.
Over 200 guests mingled underneath white twinkle lights, that set the mood of a “Winter Wonderland” themed event. Chamber President Mark Kilmer hosted the awards ceremony, which honored six regional businesses and two business people for their work in Fulton and Montgomery Counties. Each winner was presented with a glass award.
Fulton-Montgomery-Schoharie Workforce Solutions also honored two businesses during the ceremony.
Lexington and the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts were awarded the Edward L. Wilkinson Industry of the Year Award.
Paul Nigra Center Director Sue Nigra was “pleasantly surprised” to be a recipient.
“It really means a lot to be recognized for all the work that we do for members throughout the community,” she said.
Lexington, Fulton County Chapter NYSARC Inc., is founded by a board of directors made up of family members of people they support. According to the chamber, Lexington has expanded and developed and is Fulton County’s largest employer.
Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston said she was very honored to be recognized for all the work her and her staff do.
“We are very fortunate to have a community that welcomes the people we support,” she said.
Lexington is also home to the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts and Transitions, which is a program that assists young adults with autism and other learning disabilities in an effort to help them become independent community members. “We’re here for everyone,” Nigra said adding they plan to have even more events and things for kids to do in the near future.
“It was a wonderful way to begin 2017,” Nigra said. “I’ll tell you, 2016 was the first year in operation and to be receiving this as we go into the new year is really a wonderful feeling because the best is yet to come.”
Barbara Madonna took home the Thomas B. Constantino Entrepreneurial Award. Madonna, who is the director of the Gloversville Public Library, holds a B.A. in history and anthropology from SUNY College at Oswego, a masters in library and information science from the University of of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a 2016 graduate of the NY Library Association Leadership and Management Academy. Madonna said she was “thrilled and honored” to receive the award.
The award is named for Thomas B. Constantino, founder of The Noteworthy Company in Amsterdam, and is awarded to those who exhibit exemplary leadership skills, determination, creativity and vision.
Madonna has assisted in the library’s capital campaign, which is meant to modernize and expand the facility. Madonna has helped receive grants for the project and assisted in making the library more of “a community center”.
“Everything we do at the library is a team effort, so to be recognized individually is a great honor and I’m happy that the library is getting some extra publicity because of it. We have done a lot of great things for the community and this just another way of putting the library into the public eye.”
Young Professional of the Year was awarded to Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, who is finishing his seventh year in office. He said he did not expect to win the award, but “hard work pays off”. His wife, family members and several department heads were in the audience to show support. The 38-year-old is seeking re-election in 2017.
“It’s about team, it’s not about me,” he said.
King works full-time as an account manager with NBT-Mang Insurance Agency. When he took office in 2009, the city was close to bankruptcy, according to a chamber release. King has assisted in updating the city’s comprehensive plan and obtaining grants to help recreation and continued operations of the senior center. During his term, the city’s revenues have grown by over 20 percent while expenses have increased less than 10 percent.
“It’s been a team effort,” he said. “Since 2010, we’ve been moving forward in the city and I would say the winning is just beginning and I’m happy for the support.”
This year’s Centennial Award went to the Fonda Fair, which just celebrated it’s 175th anniversary. The fair has a variety of events, but the main purpose is to showcase the importance of agriculture in Montgomery County. Richard Kennedy, fair president, said that last year being the 175th year, a lot of extra time and energy was put into the event.
“I’m just very grateful for the chamber for recognizing the Fonda Fair and the hard work all of our volunteers put in,” he said. “It’s very humbling.”
The fair helps the region’s business and tourism efforts.
“We plan on continuing to grow and build on what we did this past year,” he said. “Hopefully we can make the fair bigger and better every year.”
The Fort Plain Museum, and volunteers Norm Bollen and Brian Mack were the winners of the Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Partner Award. Bollen and Mack, who are museum volunteers, have worked with the tourism department over the past two years in an effort to improve Montgomery County tourism.
Bollen said the award was not expected, but they were very excited.
“It’s great exposure for the museum,” he said. “It’s also great exposure for our Mohawk Country history program.”
Mohawk Country is a marketing campaign which aims to bring visitors to historic sites in the community.
“I tell people, look, our industries can pack up and go, but our history is here forever,” he said. “If we put it in the workforce in terms of a new economic model that makes sense, because if it’s bringing people in and creating jobs you are going to want to take care of these sites.”
The Keller family of Keymark/Kasson and Keller won the Chamber Family Award. The Fonda business, which employees over 800 people, is a full service-aluminum extrusion company manufacturing custom and stock extrusions/profiles for the automotive, building and construction, consumer durables, distribution, electrical, machinery & equipment, and transportation markets. Kasson & Keller is a manufacturer of storm windows under three distinct brands to serve various markets: EcoShield, Modernview, and Smarter Window Systems.
The business started in 1946 by Austin Kasson and William L. Keller, Sr. and is now in the fourth generation of ownership. William (Bill) Keller III is currently the president and CEO and his brother James (Jim) Keller is executive vice president.
Keller thanked his family for all the support.
“To any family business, the most important part is the business has to come first,” Keller said.
He continued to thank his family for all the support. Keller also mentioned that his grandfather, great uncle, father and the third generation who helped the company grow would have appreciated the award.
Randall Implements, located in Fultonville, was awarded Agricultural Business of the Year. The business that started as a single-line dealer is now one the area’s largest full-service, multi-line dealerships of outdoor power equipment for agricultural, commercial and household markets. The business celebrated it’s 50th year in 2016.
Robert Freeman, a farmer, founded Randall Implements in 1966. Wes Ostrander, the current owner, employs 18 full-time and two part-time employees. Customers travel from Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut.
Ostrander said after 50 years, the mission is still about customer service. He said he was “humbled” that his company were recipients.
“It’s nice to see that agricultural businesses are still in our minds,” he said.
Ricmar Design and Print Shop was awarded Small Business of the Year. Krissy Tanzola Gillmore, owner, has worked in the region for over 20 years. Gillmore spends time at the Board of Trustees for the Amsterdam Free Library, Fulton County Museum and Historical Association Board of Directors and is also on the advisory board for the Montgomery County Office for Aging. Gillmore and her associations Sheila Wiley and Sean McGillin, believe a successful business breeds a successful economy.
“I am very humbled and honored and did not expect it at all,” Gillmore said.
The Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market received FMS Workforce’s Fulton County honors. Mohawk Harvest started in 2009 in an effort to support local farmers and producers and be part of revitalization in downtown Gloversville. Under the management of Chris Curro, the store has expanded to a full-service grocery store, that serves breakfast and lunch daily. The co-op also houses the Micropolis Art Gallery, which is owned by local artists. Food products come from over 60 local and regional farmers. Mohawk Harvest has utilized the Workforce Solutions Center and have members of the youth program work in their business during the summer. Curro said in a chamber release that the co-op seeks to be a valuable resource for the community and a part of a vibrant downtown area. They would like to assist creating a sense of community and belonging as well as operate for the benefit of the community.
“I’m really excited,” Curro said adding that Workforce Solutions has been beneficial for the co-op.
Home Helpers and Direct Link of Amsterdam also received FMS Workforce’s Montgomery County honors. The facility is owned and operated by Ramon and Maria Rodriguez. The couple decided to open Home Helpers and Direct Link of Amsterdam after living in the community and seeing how many people could use or would appreciate a helping hand. In 2011, they started operating with three employees providing in-home care and companionship to seniors, new and expectant mothers, working parents, and individuals requiring recuperative or continuing care.
Maria Rodriguez was speechless.
“I don’t have the words to say how happy we are,” she said. “We truly, truly, care about what we do.”
After working from their home, the Rodriguez’s held a small office in the Mohawk Valley Medical Arts Building. In 2016, after receiving their NYS Department of Health license to offer “Licensed Home Care Services,” they expanded to the former YMCA building in Hagaman, serving 150 clients with 200 employees. Ramon Rodriguez said the award was definitely a surprise.
“It hasn’t come easy,” he said.
Rodriguez described 14 hour workdays and when they started the job from home. He thanked his family and the chamber.
“Anything is possible,” Rodriguez said. “But you can’t do it alone.”