Press-Republican

January 26, 2013

Chamber honors top business achievers

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Hey, Baby.

That was the theme of the 101st-annual North Country Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner, held Friday night at West Side Ballroom in Plattsburgh, with guests asked to dress in a style from the decade of their birth.

The event once again offered an opportunity to recognize a number of businesses and individuals for their achievements and community support.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Glens Falls National Bank was named the 2012 Business of the Year. CEO Tom Murphy said they were pleased to be chosen.

“It really is an honor to be recognized for what we do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

The ability to provide excellent customer service is a main focus of the company’s mission statement, Murphy said, noting the company and its employees are a reflection of the communities in which they operate.

Glens Falls National branches recognize a Community Volunteer of the Quarter and Volunteer of the Year. 

The branches also hold Community Appreciation Days, in which local charities are supported through fundraising and other activities. Murphy said the branches are competitive in their attempts to better one another in that regard.

“That’s fun to watch,” he said.

The three Plattsburgh branches support more than 40 organizations in the Plattsburgh area through those efforts.

Glens Falls Bank was formed in 1851. Arrow Bank Corp. was born in 1983, which paved the way for creation of Saratoga National Bank and Trust Co. Now, Glens Falls Bank and Saratoga National Bank both fall under the parent company, Arrow Financial Corp. 

Glens Falls National acquired six Fleet Bank offices, including two in Plattsburgh, in 1997. The Margaret Street and Cornelia Street branches were its first in Clinton County.

The U.S. Avenue office on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base property opened in 2007. 

Arrow Financial Corp. has 29 Glens Falls National bank offices and six Saratoga National offices. It also oversees four insurance agencies, a proprietary mutual fund and trust assets of more than $1 billion.

The company has 500 employees, which includes about 25 in the three Plattsburgh branches. Murphy said that any award Glens Falls National receives is a recognition of their efforts.

”We wouldn’t be where we are without the work of our employees.”

BUSINESSPERSON OF THE YEAR

The Monette family, owners of several Malone-based businesses, received the 2012 Joe Bornstein Businessperson of the Year Award.

The family was recognized for its efforts to boost the Malone area economy through a number of investments.

Bruce Monette Jr. said he and his brothers, Christopher and Brian, and their wives, Nancy, Christine and Kelly, respectively, work well together to run the businesses. 

“We were truly honored to be chosen for this award. We are very proud of the dedicated people at our companies who work so hard toward making the North Country a better place to live, work and play,” he said.

“Being recognized by our peer group for these efforts is extremely rewarding.”

The businesses are mainly in the Malone area but extend into Clinton, Essex and St. Lawrence counties.

Adirondack Energy started as a small heating-oil company in 1988. Next came an Exxon/Mobil franchise, followed by the first of seven Mountain Mart convenience store/gas stations in 1997. 

Adirondack Propane started in 2002, followed by Adirondack Waste in 2009. 

The family built the Holiday Inn Express and Suites and the adjacent Mo’s Pub and Grill and Adirondack Room banquet facility in 2010.

“Each of us has our own area of expertise,” Bruce Monette said.

The latest addition was the purchase of Titus Mountain in 2011. The family invested upward of $1 million last year to completely renovate the base lodge and expand the trail network.

In January, Titus Mountain hosted the chamber’s Family Ski Day and sponsored a free ski day for people who held a season pass at Big Tupper last year.

Bruce Monette said he was one of 382 students in Franklin Academy’s 1982 graduating class. When his daughter graduated in 2009, the class size at the school was down to 161.

“We’ll do anything we can to invest in the North Country. We want to reverse that trend of exporting our children out of the area,” he said.

SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Six area vineyards were honored as the Small Businesses of the Year.

The award winners are: Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery in Chazy, owned by Mary and Gilles Fortin; Vesco Ridge Vineyards in Ingraham, owned by Nancy and Dan Vesco; Hid-In-Pines Vineyard in Morrisonville, owned by Richard Lamoy;  Stonehouse Vineyard in Mooers, owned by Philip and Bonnie Favreau, ELFS Farm Winery and Cidermill in the Town of Plattsburgh, owned by Tom Frey; and North Star Vineyard in Mooers, owned by Natalie Peck and Colin Read.

Mary Fortin of Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery, who recently ended her term as president of Lake Champlain Wines, an organization of the Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association, said its members were pleased with the award.

“We’re very excited to be recognized for our efforts and hope we can create a wine trail in the North Country,” she said.

Members are also working to make the area a state and federally recognized wine-growing region.

Mrs. Fortin said they are excited to have been included as part of the Champlain Valley International Wine Trail, which includes vineyards in Clinton County, Quebec and Vermont.

“The chamber has been so supportive to us to try to establish these trails. I think they really believe this will help the region develop.” 

Mrs. Fortin said they continue to see repeat customers but are seeing an increase in bus traffic at local vineyards.

“It’s all good, and it’s all working very well,” she said.

Some members will be among those at the Champlain Valley Winter Wine Festival, a fundraiser to benefit the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum, to be held at Legend’s Bistro tonight. For more information, visit www.cvtmuseum.info.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

Maureen Carlo, business development manager at NeuEon, was named Volunteer of the Year.

“I love volunteering for the chamber,” she said on her way to the podium.

North Country Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Jody Parks said Carlo was a fitting choice.

“Maureen has been a devoted supporter of the chamber for many years. She has been part of our Ambassador Corps. for about 10 years and has helped with numerous events, including Taste of the North Country, Business Expo, the Chamber Golf Tourney and more.”

The chamber thought it had lost one of its best volunteers when Carlo left the area a few years ago. That changed for the better when she returned to her new job in Plattsburgh.

Parks said Carlo immediately resumed her extensive volunteer efforts at the chamber and for other non-profit organizations.

“I tried to retire this week. She (Parks) wouldn’t let me,” Carlo said.

Parks also praised Carlo’s enthusiasm.

“Maureen’s positive attitude is contagious,” Parks said. “She accomplishes a  lot on her own but also inspires others to volunteer their time for causes they believe in.”

Email Dan Heath:

dheath@pressrepublican.com