Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner Marks 33rd Year
by Janice Limbaugh
For the Wyoming and Kentwood Chamber of Commerce, the event of the year is the Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner held last Friday at the Grand Rapids Airport Hilton. More than 100 people from the Chamber and their guests braved the wintery weather to gather for an evening of recognition.
“The Annual Meeting and Silent Auction is a celebration of the previous year,” says Bob O’Callaghan, president and CEO of the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber.
“It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ for a job well done to all the businesses and individuals who make our Chamber so successful.”
The Chamber also recognized the incoming Board of Directors, acknowledged the Businesses of the Year and announced the winner of the much coveted Gerald E. Fessel Distinguished Service Award. O’Callaghan says that the winning businesses are nominated by members and then selected by the Chamber Executive Committee.
“Qualifications are that they have to be a business in the category in which they are nominated – either manufacturing, retail or service. The winning businesses also have to be involved with the Chamber and with the community they serve. In other words, leaders in their field,” says O’Callaghan.
The awarded Businesses of the Year for 2013 were: Consumers Energy for Service, Tommy Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille for Retail, and Lack’s Enterprises for Manufacturing.
For over 127 years, Consumers Energy has been serving the people of West Michigan. Currently the company employs over 500 employees at their service centers in the Wyoming and Kentwood area. In addition, Consumers contributed over 8 million dollars to the community through various programs such as, United Way, Walk for Warmth, Metro Cruise and the Santa Parade to name a few.
“Everyone at Consumers Energy is humbled and honored about receiving this award, because we value our relationship with the community and the Chamber,” says Public Affairs Area Manager Karen McCarthy.
For Tommy Brann, receiving the Retail Business of the Year Award was one of the highlights of his 42 year career.
“This award shows that after 42 years, a little steakhouse on Division is still relevant to the community. It means a lot to me,” he admits.
Brann started the restaurant in Wyoming in 1971 with a $3000 loan from his dad. At age 19, he was the youngest restauranter in Michigan. Today, the restaurant represents the success of a small business in a changing community through the years. Meanwhile, Tommy Brann has established himself as a big believer of supporting and protecting the rights of free enterprise.
“Every business helps build the community,” he states.
Receiving the Business of the Year Award for Manufacturing is the largest electroplater in the world, Lacks Enterprises. Now in its third
generation of being a family owned and operated business, Lacks began in 1961 as a dye cast manufacturer started by J.P. Lacks and Dick Lacks Senior. By 1982 the company decided to leave the dye cast business and try injection molding. Today the company sees annual sales of $500 million with 19 manufacturing facilities in Kentwood and Wyoming.
“We consider ourselves to be a part of the Kentwood-Wyoming family. We’ve had an excellent business relationship with the Chamber for the last 52 years and look forward to another 52 years to continue that relationship,” says Jim Green, Executive Director of Human Resources. “Lacks Enterprises plans on staying in West Michigan.”
In addition to the Lacks Cancer Center at St. Mary’s Hospital, the company supports area performing arts, schools, and family and wellness programs.
More than 100 members and guests attended this event to congratulate the winners and show their appreciation for the differences these businesses make in the community.