At its awards luncheon Friday, the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce honored a business leader who has also led in education, a small business with a 116-year heritage and an entrepreneur whose business really delivers.
The 2013 Business Leader of the Year Award went to Edwin Hill, a managing partner in the accounting firm Dabbs, Hickman, Hill & Cannon. Hill, 61, served two four-year terms on the Bulloch County Board of Education, concluding in 2012, and has also served on many other boards and as an officer — usually treasurer — of other local organizations.
“Statesboro is a great place to live, and very frankly, if I had 61 more years to live, I think it would be very difficult for me to have the opportunity to repay Statesboro for all it has provided to my family and me,” Hill said.
Presenting the award, past chamber Chairman Gary Johnson listed Hill’s offices with Statesboro First United Methodist Church; United Way of Southeast Georgia, where he was president and chairman; Georgia Southern University Foundation; Rotary Club of Statesboro, again as president; Forest Heights Country Club; and the Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County.
Hill also chaired the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department board that built Mill Creek Regional Park and other parks, Johnson said. The Bulloch County Board of Education, during Hill’s tenure, oversaw the construction of six new schools.
“This board accepted the challenge and convinced the citizens of Bulloch County that it was time to step up and build new schools at a cost of over $100 million, which now is a source of great pride for Statesboro and Bulloch County,” Johnson said.
The Small Business of the Year Award went to Howard Lumber & Hardware.
“This business is actually the result of a family business with a history of success dating back to 1898. … From this success, a new business was formed to help meet the local retail needs of our community,” said Ashley Ellis, who presented the small business and entrepreneur awards on behalf of the chamber’s Small Business Committee.
In an interview after the awards, Arthur Howard, who counts himself in the third of four generations in the family business, explained that his grandfather started a sawmill on the other side of town in 1898. Howard’s father later launched the current Claude Howard Lumber Co. The family spun off the retail store as a business separate from the sawmill about 25 years ago.
Now Howard Lumber & Hardware serves commercial and residential contractors in a 65-mile radius, as well as local consumers. Ellis said the company, with a good work environment and reputation for quality, is an example for other businesses to emulate.
The store has 30 employees.
“I think we’ve got a great bunch of people, they operate the store and run in on a day-to-day basis, and we’re proud of them,” Howard said.
The 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year winner is Rick Robins, who with business partner Sally Minton founded Boro Take-Out Express four years ago. The idea was to offer delivery service for restaurants that did not have one and to extend the delivery radius for those who did. Minton had seen a similar service operating in North Carolina.
Started with contracts with 10 or 11 restaurants, Boro Take-Out Express has expanded to make deliveries for 30 restaurants and one supermarket. It employs about 20 drivers and is looking for more.
“Saving consumers time away from home, apartment and office, his successful venture in Boro Take-Out Express has helped Statesboro and Bulloch County be a little more productive and a little less hassled at meal time,” Ellis said.
A fourth award, Committee of the Year, went to the chamber’s Membership Committee.
Friday’s luncheon, also the Chamber of Commerce’s 92nd annual meeting, saw outgoing chamber Chairman Keely Fennell, the owner of NeSmith Construction, pass the gavel to incoming chairman Darron Burnette, the president and CEO of Sea Island Bank.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9431.