Chamber banquet celebrates the best of 2013

Published 8:55 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Washington Yacht & Country Club was packed with area movers and shakers last night at the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce’s annual membership banquet.

The banquet started with a networking social hour, but the highlight of the evening came when emcee and chamber Executive Director Catherine Glover presented awards to businesses, and business people, that stood out from the crowd in 2013.

Two nonprofits were recognized with Nonprofit of the Year awards: Ruth’s House, the domestic violence shelter, and the Boys & Girls Club of Beaufort County.

“Sometimes you have two well-deserving organizations in the same year,” Glover said. “The Boys & Girls Club, with their merger with Pitt County, it was just a great year to recognize the turnaround and what they’re doing for the children in our area. … And for Ruth’s House, it was the grassroots effort and opening the shelter. … They both had phenomenal years.”

Small Business of the Year went to Perfect Perks and Rachel K’s Bakery, a partnership referred to as “two great businesses merged into one serving our community.” The combination of a full service coffee and espresso shop and a bakery with freshly made products has proven a hit in Washington.

Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded to downtown Washington’s Cottage Junkies, a family-owned, eclectic vintage store that specializes in refurbished pieces, each one unique. According to Glover, the store was nominated by other downtown business owners, who said they were thankful Cottage Junkies had moved in.

Carver Machine Works was named the chamber’s Business of the Year. Since its start in 1976, the company has held onto its original chemical plant and mining facility customers and has branched out into defense, aerospace, nuclear and power generation industries, continually growing and expanding with the times.

And Community Leader of the Year went to Lentz Stowe, who Glover referred to as “the consummate professional and a team player.” Stowe, director of Beaufort County Community College’s Business and Industry Service/Small Business Center, is actively involved with the Beaufort County Economic Development Council and works tirelessly to bring free workshops and seminars to those members of the public with, or interested in starting, their own businesses.

“He’s counseled so many of our small businesses and helped so many of our small businesses get up and running,” Glover said.

The chamber’s annual banquet was originally scheduled for Jan. 30, but the lingering snow and icy roads that put most of Beaufort County on hold last week prompted chamber officials to reschedule.