The Lake Champlain Chamber celebrated its 109th Annual Dinner and Cocktail Reception on October 24th at the DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington. Five awards recognized businesses and business leaders for their accomplishments and contributions to our community.
The Chamber also welcomed its incoming Chair of the Board of Directors Kurt Gruendling. Gruendling is Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom. Governor Scott, Congressman Welch and Burlington Mayor Weinberger delivered remarks to the 450 plus person crowd.
Business of the Year – presented to Hazelett
This annual award recognizes a business that exemplifies the hard work and commitment necessary to succeed despite the risks and challenges in business. The winner must also demonstrate a strong commitment to their employees and our community. Celebrating their 100th year in business in 2019, Hazelett is a fourth-generation family business. Pioneers in their field, the company was moved from Connecticut to Vermont in 1956, and today employs 150 people from their headquarters in Colchester. The machines they produce for the global metals industry can be found in 24 countries.
Community Impact Award – presented to Switchback
This award is presented to an organization or individual that has demonstrated consistent, meaningful impact in their community. Since their humble beginnings in 2002, Switchback has prioritized contributing time, talent, and treasure to make lives better for Vermonters. Their contributions are focused in three areas: the environment and preservation of outdoor recreation areas, caring for Vermonters, and pets (with an emphasis on dogs). In 2019 alone, nearly 50 different Vermont-based organizations benefited from the program, with many on board since the company’s earliest days. Contributions range from in-kind items and merchandise to significant monetary donations. Over 500 worthy causes have received support over the past 17 years. The Switchback Gives Back program donates five percent of sales one night each week to a local Burlington-area non-profit of the staff’s choosing.
Emerging Leader Award – presented to Alice Urban
This award recognizes an emerging leader who combines professional success with community leadership. The individual demonstrates strong commitment to our community, and leadership in their field. LCRCC has been developing community leaders through Leadership Champlain for 30 years, believing that strong leaders improve our community and in turn, our region’s economy. Alice Urban has worked to address global issues including water, sanitation, and hygiene, good governance, and environmental health. A senior manager for business development at Tetra Tech International Development, a global consulting firm, she leads diverse proposal teams to design development projects that address such needs as women’s workplace advancement, environmental protection, and water access. She previously worked for several international development nonprofits, including as a communications officer for Ebola response programming in Liberia and as a content writer for Rutland-based Pure Water for the World, for whom she now serves as an advisor to the board. Alice has developed deep roots in her Vermont community where she volunteers as a youth mentor and as a Middlebury College volunteer alumni interviewer. She has built strong connections with her mentee and her mentee’s family – refugees from Chad – and supports them as they adjust to life in Vermont. She is a graduate of the Leadership Champlain class of 2019.
Wayne Roberts Business Award – Kestrel Coffee Roasters
This award was created to honor former LCRCC President Wayne Roberts. It recognizes a new business that demonstrates growth, job creation and entrepreneurial-ism. Founded in 2018, Kestrel Coffee Roasters’ husband and wife team share an intense love of food, and a deep appreciation of good service and hospitality. They choose quality beans from all over the world, focusing on single origin coffees from small farms and roasting them themselves. In addition to roasting coffee and running a successful cafe, they opened their second location last month. Kestrel Coffee Roasters’ growth and care for both their customers and community make them a new business worth celebrating.
Workforce Innovation Award – Wake Robin
This award celebrates a business that is ahead of the curve in retaining and building their future workforce, recognizing achievements in diversity and inclusion, employee retention and training, collaboration with other institutions and businesses, and innovative practices that benefit their employees, and in turn our community. Nominated for the award by one of their former employees, Wake Robin has created programs where staff can learn on-campus and advance their skills, where diversity in their workforce is celebrated, and where staff training is focused on both patient care and the strategic plan of the organization. This company has innovated performance reviews, replacing traditional reviews for a “Job Talk” that encourages staff members to set goals, discuss their challenges, and work towards being a member of their team and department in a way that is both productive and exciting for each individual.