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Prince William Chamber of Commerce 2017 Business Award Winners

Submitted: 

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce celebrated passion and excellence in the business community with their annual Business Awards banquet on February 28 at Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. Northern Virginia Community College was the Presenting Sponsor. James MacGregor, Publisher of the Washington Business Journal served as Master of Ceremonies. In addition to the Chamber’s awards, the event also featured awards presented by the Mayors of the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

And the winners are…

Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Awards

These awards are named after the first wife of the late Senator Colgan: Agnes Colgan (deceased). As a mother and grandmother she was known to live by example, compelling family, friends and strangers to reach out to others in need and view the world with an empathetic heart. Mrs. Colgan was an avid volunteer and fundraiser for a wide array of charitable organizations including the American Red Cross, SERVE and Transitional Housing BARN. Each of the winners receive an award to display in addition to a check for $1,000. No organization may win more than once in a three-year period.

 

Health & Human Services: Project Mend-A-House

Project Mend-A-House is a community-based, not-for-profit organization committed to improving the living conditions of seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities and low-income residents in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. By offering no-cost or low-cost home repairs, safety and accessibility modifications, durable medical equipment, fall prevention and chronic disease self-management programs, they empower residents of all ages and abilities to remain safely and independently in their own homes.

Project Mend-A-House primarily uses the skills of volunteer carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, etc. and matches them with projects to serve people in need.  In 2016, more than 5,000 volunteer hours led to the completion of nearly 700 home repair, safety and accessibility tasks. Just one example of the kind of work being done by Project-Mend-A-House:  Mr. Ernest F is a decorated Vietnam Veteran. He suffers from several physical and mental health issues, including hoarding. His neighbors filed a complaint with the County because of the state of his home exterior and yard. Mr. F needed a roof replacement, and extensive exterior repairs to ensure his home remained in livable condition and that he would avoid further penalties or prosecution. The county asked Project Mend-A-House to help. After 9 months spent gaining his trust, Project Mend-A-House was able to hold the first yard clean-up. The secret ingredient was putting a Veteran volunteer in place as the lead on the project; a shared history helped the two to develop a rapport and some needed trust. At the first clean-up day, a 30 yard dumpster was filled with debris and other items from his backyard alone. Thanks to the recommendation of Delegate Richard Anderson, general contractor Larkin Remodeling took on the exterior repairs. Sub-contractors were found to donate time and materials. They were able to completely replace Mr. F’s roof, soffit, gutters, fascia and siding. The project wrappede project in December of 2016 when Home Depot donated the installation and equipment for Mr. F’s new garage door. Thanks to the involvement of so many members of the community and the incredible amount of work accomplished, Mr. F’s court case was dropped and he is able to remain in his home avoiding further penalties from the county.  In recognition of the exhausting yet necessary work being done by Project Mend-A-House, the Chamber presents the Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Award in the category of Health & Human Services. 

Arts & Education: Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas/Prince William County

The mission of the Center for the Arts is to enrich the creative community by engaging people of all ages; celebrating diversity, fostering innovation and cultivating collaboration and communication. Where similar organizations may be focused solely on visual arts, or dance, or theatre with programs for either adults or children; the Center for the Arts is proud to offer programs for all ages, in a multitude of mediums.

Their Arts on the Go program is one-of-a-kind, designed to elevate creative learning in the local schools.  In 2015 and 2016, the Center partnered with the Governor’s School at Innovation Park to provide mentorships for the high school students at the school.  The mentorships allow students to work with Center staff to design and build Arts on the Go modules which are then used by local elementary and middle school students.  The most notable outcome has been that the interns from the Governor’s School have learned to think creatively to solve educational challenges in their community.  In a time when local businesses have commented on their desire to see more “Out of the Box” thinking from future employees, this program encourages cultivation of such processes. The award is presented in hopes that the Center for the Arts will be able to continue their Arts on the Go and Governor’s School internship programs in pursuit of educating local students in the arts.

Charles J. Colgan Visionary Award: Carlos Castro, Todos Supermarket

Named after the recently-deceased Virginia Statesman, Senator Charles Colgan, the Visionary Award is meant to be awarded to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, including but not limited to their own organization. Just like Senator Colgan, a long-time member of the Chamber with Colgan Air and a Past Chairman of the Board, this individual should be known as an innovator, a great partner, a visionary and an advocate for his or her community and beyond. This is the second year in which the award has been presented. 

Carlos first came to the United States as an illegal immigrant fleeing war in El Salvador.  He was caught and deported. Then he came back. Today he is a U.S. citizen and the owner of Todos Supermarkets, a multi-million dollar business.  An outspoken advocate for open communication between the Hispanic community and local governments, Mr. Castro is known as a leader among fellow business owners and in the Hispanic community.  His stores, named with the Spanish word for “everyone,” specialize in foods and services for people from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. A true businessman, he recently expanded his supermarket to offer ancillary services like postal services, money transfers, insurance and travel services in response to the needs he saw among his customers. Business leaders and government officials alike turn to him for advice and leadership, particularly on issues pertaining to the Hispanic community.  At his urging the entire Castro family has become engaged in the community and is picking up the mantle of leadership. He is a strong supporter of the Chamber and gives generously of his time and money to support countless worthy causes. Carlos is a man who came to this country to escape war and poverty – and through his own perseverance, ingenuity – with the highest integrity – has become a visionary leader for the Prince William region. Never could it be said that Carlos Castro has allowed his success to go to his head. Whether providing a helping hand to the less fortunate or helping Latinos assimilate and become contributing members of their communities, “Carlos Castro is an ambassador for empowering people to learn more, do better and prosper.” 

Business Awards

Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year: City of Manassas Park, Parks & Recreation

The innovative practice for which the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) was recognized is that they incorporate partnerships into nearly every one of their programs. In the City’s nomination, there were descriptions of a dozen different programs made possible through partnerships. But to save time, we just picked out a few to highlight. To quote Jason Shriner, the Marketing Manager for DPR: “We in the department understand the value of forming solid partnerships. As City employees we are tasked with expending City funds responsibly. When feasible we leverage partnerships, in-kind donations sponsorships and volunteers to provide resources for a greater diversity of people in our community while avoiding duplication of efforts.” During the summer, DPR invites the City’s Police and Fire Departments to conduct free camps for teens recognized as “at risk.” The public safety officials run the camps with the help of the parks–the goal being to help students recognize alternative futures for themselves. The “Leaders in Training” program is done with the help of Manassas Park Middle School. Once again at-risk students are chosen and taken through a rigorous 9-week training program involving guest speakers, community service and team-building exercises. At the conclusion of the program, graduates are eligible to be hired by the Department of Parks & Recreation. “Leaders in Training” includes arts and culture programming provided by the Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas/Prince William County. In exchange for their participation, the Center for the Arts has access to additional rehearsal space for their Pied Piper Theater at the Manassas Park Community Center. The partnerships feed one another and increase available programming options for the residents of Manassas Park. Finally there is the MAP clinic run by George Mason University. MAP is a free acute care services clinic for those without health insurance. Nursing students who work the clinic receive credit towards their degrees. Manassas Park residents enjoy greater health. In light of their commitment to innovative partnerships in order to serve the residents of their City in amazing ways, the Chamber is pleased to present the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation with the award for Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year.

Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year: Prince William County Solid Waste Division

It’s not every community that can say their landfill has been internationally recognized for model operations and innovative practices. But the Prince William County Landfill, operated by the Solid Waste Division, has been honored with numerous awards. Their brilliance shines in their transformation of trash to electricity with the landfill gas to energy project; environmental protection measures and good neighbor policies such as the 100-acre buffer area and newly constructed wetlands. In 2016, the Prince William County Solid Waste Division envisioned and then partnered with Prince William County Schools, Prince William County Parks and Recreation, area Boy Scouts, George Mason University Environmental Science staff, Dominion Virginia Power and PWC Public Works Youth Ambassadors to add sparkle to the outdoor environmental education of three neighboring schools.  With the help of their partners, the Outdoor Discovery Trail was carved in to the 100-acre landfill buffer area, complete with curriculum, outdoor class rooms and signage. The Outdoor Discovery Trail is in the “backyards” of the new Charles Colgan High School and Benton Middle School and adjacent to Coles Elementary School.  Representatives of each school, science administration staff for the school system and GMU’s environmental science staff provided valuable input into the curriculum and trail amenities needed for each grade level.  The Boy Scouts helped build classrooms, the Youth Ambassadors helped preserve and secure an historic site along the trail, and Dominion constructed interpretive signage kiosks, trail signs and storage sheds to house environmental equipment at the three trailheads.  The 1.7 mile trail is open to other schools and organized groups with prior permission. Future plans include an additional mile of trail that will overlook the constructed wetlands and lead to a STEM education center, as well as more opportunities for innovative partnerships. According to their nomination, “In addition to being one of the greenest, and most environmentally responsible landfills in the nation, the Solid Waste Division’s commitment to community education is unparalleled. Uniting partners for environmental education is their strong suit.” For spearheading the Discovery Trail partnership, which has the potential to teach our students and positively impact the local environment for years to come, the Chamber presents the award for Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year to the Prince William County Solid Waste Division.

Community Outreach Award: What’s Up Prince William

What’s Up Prince William is a relatively young news site, but they’ve developed quite a following since their founding in late 2015, including 17,000 Facebook followers. Perhaps the most impressive thing has been their commitment to the not-for-profit community. They post events and fundraisers held by the not-for-profit community (at no charge) and frequently make efforts to cover those events through photos and videos; a big job for a small staff. ST Billingsley and Stephanie Carter believe in the value of community organizations and want them not only to be successful, but to find passionate partners for their work in the community. It’s no surprise then that What’s Up Prince William became one of the Chamber’s Premier Partners this year. You will frequently see the What’s Up Prince William team covering Chamber events and promoting the work the Chamber is doing in the community. For their work to focus on good news and their commitment to igniting a community-wide passion for giving back, the Chamber presents the Community Outreach Award to What’s Up Prince William.

Government Contractor of the Year: Athena Construction Group

Athena Construction Group, Ic. (Athena) is a General Contractor specializing in interior renovations with an emphasis on hospital and military facility construction.  Athena has the distinction of the being the nation’s only Service Disabled Veteran, Woman-Owned, HUB Zone, 8(a) construction company. Since their inception in 2003, trust, integrity & accountability have been their guiding principles.  Founded by VP Melissa Schneider and run by President Amber Peebles, both former officers in the United States Marine Corps, Athena has gained a reputation for savvy project management that sets them apart in the competitive world of government contracting. They pride themselves on having worked with clients such as the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, National Cemetery Administration, US Geological Survey and the Marine Corps.  2016 was a year of milestones for Athena.  They were granted an interim secret level security clearance.  With the help of financing from fellow Chamber member First Virginia Community Bank, they also purchased an 11,000 sq ft. building in Prince William County.  For Athena, the purchase of their new building serves as a testament to their growth from humble beginnings as well as a reminder of their strength in overcoming adversity.  Last year a trusted employee in a significant position of authority and responsibility sabotaged one of their jobs, resulting in a loss in excess of $465,000.  In spite of challenges, they continue to grow and pursue the building of a team that embraces personal and professional accountability.   Athena considers themselves leaders in an industry that supports the warfighter and national security. In recognition of their pursuit of greater accountability and efficient execution of government contracts, Athena Construction Group receives the award for Government Contractor of the Year.

Outstanding Professional Service Award: Baden Contracting

Baden Contracting is a family-owned, licensed and insured Class A Contractor specializing in home remodeling projects. If you’ve ever watched a show like “Property Brothers” on HGTV, you know that their other specialty — finishing on schedule, and at a reasonable price — is a marketable asset in the home remodeling community. Owner Corey Baden began his career in construction in his teens working for his family’s business: Baden Seamless Gutters. When he started his own company in his mid-20’s, he set out to be the kind of contractor who would really listen and understand potential clients before offering a quote. In the early years of his business, Corey set out to prove himself to be a reliable and knowledgeable professional: someone that potential clients could trust in and around their homes. Today he still works just as hard to earn and keep the trust of every client. When it comes to the service industry, the customer says it best: “Baden Contracting has just finished several projects for me. Initially there was a timeline in which I agreed to wait for the work to be started. They were able to start weeks earlier than proposed. The work completed was professional in every way. Keeping a rapport with the customer is something that really caught my attention. There was never a moment when I was left in the dark. I would hire them again in a heartbeat!” In recognition of the fact that they go above and beyond for their customers, continuously offering more and better services to the homeowners they serve, Baden Contracting is presented with the award for Outstanding Professional Service.

Tech Company of the Year: Aurora Flight Sciences

Headquartered at the Manassas Regional Airport, Aurora Flight Sciences is a world-wide leader in the research and development of unmanned aircraft systems, robotics and autonomous flight technologies. Just one example of the exciting advancements in aerospace being accomplished right here in Manassas is their recent contract with DARPA, for which Aurora is working on a design called Lightning Strike; poised to revolutionize unmanned vertical flight. Contracts with NASA and the FAA are contributing to design and testing for their D8 commercial aircraft, projected to improve aircraft fuel efficiency by up to 70 percent. They continue to make advancements in their solar aircraft program which will deliver unlimited capability in utilizing the sun’s energy for continuous efficient flight. These items exclusively highlight the “future” of aerospace coming out of Aurora, but they have plenty of past victories in their 28 history on which they could have rested. In the spirit of a true community of scientists and engineers, however, they continue to innovate and impress with their work. The Chamber is proud to name Aurora Flight Sciences as Tech Company of the Year.

Emerging Business of the Year: KO Distilling

Craft distillery KO Distilling opened their doors in the City of Manassas on September 12, 2015 with a 12,000 square foot facility featuring a state-of-the-art distilling plant, barrel storage, and tasting room. They produce three gins, Virginia Moon White Whiskey and Bare Knuckle bourbon, rye and wheat whiskeys. Co-founded by college classmates and long-time friends Bill Karlson and John O’Mara, KO Distilling is part of the emerging craft spirits industry in Virginia, providing exports as well as tourism revenue. To date, KO Distilling has won nine awards in spirits competitions, including a gold medal for their Battle Standard 142 Barrel Finished Gin at the 2016 MicroLiquor Spirit Awards.  The Chamber is proud to have KO as a 2016/2017 Cornerstone Partner. In August 2016, KO Distilling announced that it will expand its operations, thanks in part to financial support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Manassas.  The company will invest $675,000 in the site improvements and equipment needed to expand its distillery and tasting room, nearly tripling production capacity.  With a new column still and upgraded handling systems, they will be capable of a 300% increase in production as well the creation of six new jobs.  When their expansion is complete, KO Distilling is projected to emerge as one of the top 5 distillery producers in the state. In November 2016, they released their first brown spirit — aged in new charred American oak barrels for one year.  With the introduction of their first aged spirit, they were able to establish a relationship with a distributor who opened them up to markets outside of Virginia. On the heels of that success, John and Bill continue to work to find new ways to get their products in the hands, homes and glasses of consumers. The Chamber recognizes the success of KO Distilling, to date, with the 2017 Emerging Business of the Year Award.

Excellence in Small Business (1-10 Employees): Metro Sign & Design, Inc.

They may be a small business, but it would seem that Metro Sign & Design, Inc. can do it all; providing complete in-house production and installation for all kinds of signs — including vinyl and printed banners, sandblasting and carving, welded metal structures and automotive quality painting.  They have in-house capabilities to build signs using neon, LED and fluorescent lighting.  Bob Anderson and his team of skilled artisans and installers offer turn-key service to every business client by handling the process from start to finish; beginning with design and extending to permitting and installation. Their goal is to deliver every project on-time and within budget. Metro’s services save the customer time and money. Because of their outstanding reputation with local governments across the Commonwealth, Metro Sign & Design are often able to protect customers from exposure to building, electrical and zoning violations, as well as provide savings on zoning attorney fees.   Not only do they have an outstanding reputation for service with a small crew, Metro Sign & Design is known as a prolific community supporter. Whether through time or treasure, Bob and his staff are known to support numerous organizations such as Transitional Housing BARN, Historic Manassas, City of Manassas Park Community Events, The Hylton Performing Arts Center and the American Red Cross just to name a very few. Metro Sign & Design has been an active member of the Chamber since 1991.

Business Excellence Award (11+ Employees): Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, PC

From their start in 1986, one of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian’s goals was to become a sophisticated law firm providing top-notch work for the community’s legal needs. The Chamber is pleased to recognize them for the realization of that goal. Over the years, Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian has grown to include twelve practice areas and 29 employees who all work in concert to provide every client with the best possible outcome for their legal needs. Many of their attorneys have been hand-picked because they have a knowledge base that extends beyond the law to include areas such as architecture, civil engineering and business management—adding an extra element of knowledge and understanding to the client experience. VF&N is an “AV” rated Pre-eminent Law Firm, meaning they hold the highest possible rating for ability and ethical behavior.  Three of their partners have served as the Chairman of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Chamber of Commerce and seven of their attorneys were recognized by Virginia Business Magazine in 2016 as “Legal Elite” in their practice areas. Recognizing that a successful business is one that helps those around them thrive, VF&N’s attorneys are deeply rooted in community membership organizations and not-for-profits. The attorneys of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian provide leadership through volunteerism and monetary contributions. Notably, Novant Health UVA Health System and Habitat for Humanity Prince William County have each recognized the firm for over $100,000 in contributions over the years. Since its inception, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce has been proud to call Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian a Premier Partner and supporter through in-kind services. The Chamber is pleased to recognize them with the award for Business Excellence.

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