The 2015 Business Leader of the Year has made a great impact on the local economy over more than two decades. Doug Lambert, whose footprints in the hospitality industry include eight hotels built in Savannah and Statesboro, was given the prestigious award Tuesday during the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting.
The meeting doubled as an awards luncheon, held at Georgia Southern University's Nessmith-Lane Conference Center. Other awards presented included the Chamber's 2015 Committee of the Year, which went to the Agribusiness Committee, and the 2015 Small Business of the Year, which was Wall Orthodontics.
Statesboro attorney Kenny Stone introduced Lambert as the Business Leader of the Year, dropping clues throughout the introduction before eventually naming Lambert as the recipient.
In describing Lambert, Stone said he is "a man of integrity, a dedicated public servant and an accomplished businessman. He is a recognized leader in his industry and has made his mark as an entrepreneur, a visionary developer and a capable manager" who built eight businesses and "created hundreds of jobs" within the community.
Lambert "provided leadership to countless professional and civic organizations — always giving back to his community and asking nothing in return," Stone said.
Lambert is an Atlanta native who enrolled in Georgia Southern College in 1967 and graduated in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in marketing.
He began working as a desk clerk at Statesboro's Quality Inn while attending college, and after graduating, he was hired by Franklin Equities Inc., where, "during a 25-year career, (he) was responsible for the operation of seven hotels and eight restaurants in six southwestern states," Stone said.
In 1996, Lambert formed Southeastern Hospitality Services Inc. and has since built eight hotels in Statesboro and Savannah. He is "a former member of the Staybridge Suites National Advisory Board, approved to manage hotels by Marriot International, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Starwood Hotels and InterContinental Hotels Group," Stone said.
Other accolades include being named the 1986 Georgia Hotelier of the Year, receiving the 1994 American Hotel & Motel Association's Lawson Odde award and being named the 1980 Hospitality Leader of the Year by the Statesboro Convention and Visitor's Bureau. He also was named the 1990 Travel Industry Member of the Year by the Magnolia Midlands Travel Association.
Lambert has served as past director of the American Hotel & Motel Association and is a former chairman of the Hospitality and Travel Foundation of Georgia and the Georgia Travel and Hospitality Association.
In 1986, he organized the Statesboro Convention and Visitor's Bureau and was the charter president. He has served as past chairman of the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce and is a past president of the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation, Forest Heights Country Club and the Rotary Club of Downtown Statesboro. He also served as the 2009 Rotary assistant governor.
Lambert is a present member of the Georgia Tourism Roundtable and the Development Authority of Bulloch County.
A "strong supporter" of Georgia Southern University, Lambert was honored as the 1997 GSU College of Business Administration Alumnus of Year. He is currently vice chairman of the COBA Advisory Council and chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of GSU's Hotel and Restaurant Management program.
He and his wife, Karen, have five children and six grandchildren.
He was brief in his comments while accepting the award during Tuesday's luncheon.
"I have been attending (the annual Chamber meeting and awards ceremony) for 45 years," he said. "As I look at the list of people who have received this honor, I am humbled to be in their company. Thank you very much."
Tuesday marked the 94th year the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce has celebrated its annual meeting and awards program.
Wall Orthodontics was praised for its commitment to the community to provide braces for six youth from financially challenged families each year. Dr. Mike Wall said he hopes to increase the number of families helped annually through the program.
The Chamber's Agribusiness Committee was noted for its efforts to reach and educate the community about agriculture through the annual Farm/City Breakfast, Blessing of the Harvest and other programs.