Following a rousing NASCAR-themed video skit by Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dr. Ron Shiffler and several board of director members, local businessman Tommy David was honored as the 2010 Business Leader of the Year.
Each year, one of the highlights of the Chamber's annual business meeting is the video, produced by Frank Fortune, featuring the board of directors in a short skit showcasing business and industry in Statesboro and Bulloch County. Shiffler played NASCAR driver "Richard Pettycash" and several board members played the parts of his crew members. The crowd in attendance at the annual meeting, held Thursday evening at Georgia Southern University's Nessmith-Lane Building, reacted with laughter and approval throughout the video, especially when Shiffler and his cohorts performed a unique rendition of the mechanic shop scene from the movie "Grease," singing along to the song "Greased Lightning."
The major feature of the evening's meeting, however, is the announcement of the Business Leader of the Year. David, president and CEO of First Southern National Bank in Statesboro, was introduced by Billy Hickman, who served as chamber chairman in 1991.
Hickman opened his introduction by listing characteristics of those chosen for the annual honor: "... supports community with their time, money, and their employees ... has a clear vision for their business ... has a passion for their company and employees; a team builder.
Other qualities include "courage to admit when wrong but wants to do right; strong internal motivation - sometimes called 'fire in the belly' and has strong Christian values. If you are around our recipient, you will know that God is first in his life. His company employees told me that their company prays together. Every Wednesday morning, they have a staff meeting and pray for the sick and the needs of our community."
He gave personal information about David before announcing his name.
"Our nominee became a leader at an early age," he said. "He was class president all four years of high school. In fact, when he was giving an election speech to the Junior class, he fainted.
“David graduated from the University of Georgia in 1972 and followed his career to Statesboro 16 years ago. He was not born in Bulloch County but moved here in 1993," Hickman said. "I am told that he never wants to leave here.
"If you talk to our recipient, you will learn that technical education is a passion of his," he continued. “He and David Russell started the Technical College Foundation Association of Georgia to train other technical colleges how to raise money for their colleges. He was the first president of this organization."
After Hickman announced his name, David took the stage to accept the honor.
"Well, this is quite a surprise," he said. "I'm very humbled about it. I worked most of my life to be successful, but it's not success I should be striving for - it's to be significant in somebody else's life.
"I give credit to the Lord for all I've accomplished," he said. "I don't deserve this."
David is also very active in community service. Hickman listed several areas he has volunteered: as past board chairman of the Ogeechee Technical College; as past chairman of the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation; as chairman and volunteer for United Way fund drives; the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, Meals on Wheels, Five Days in May (now IGOT), the American Diabetes Association, the American Red Cross and A Day for Southern.
In 2001, he and his wife spearheaded and raised the necessary money and recruited volunteers to build a Habitat House, Hickman said.
"In working with our recipient, it is easy to get caught up in his passion and enthusiasm," he said. He then recited David's lengthy list of current involvement - as president and CEO of his company; as vice chairman of the Board of Atlantic Bank & Trust in Charleston; and having been appointed by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to serve on the Board of the Technical College System of Georgia.
David also serves as chairman of the Board of East Georgia Regional Medical Center; serves on the executive committee of the Georgia Southern University Foundation; is president-elect (beginning in July) of the Rotary Club of Statesboro and will assume the duties of chairing the Keep Bulloch Beautiful Great American Cleanup effort in April.
David also serves on the executive committee of the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce; as a board member of the Georgia Southern University Housing Foundation; and a member of the First Methodist Church where he has served on numerous committees. He is also an active member of the DaySpring Walk to Emmaus.
David has been married to his wife Karen for 36 years and, they have two adult daughters, Katie and Molly.
Others were honored at Thursday night's annual Chamber of Commerce meeting. In addition to recognizing outgoing board and committee members, the Chamber issued a new honor: Outstanding Community Leader.
Debra Chester, who was key in organizing the Downtown Statesboro Farmers' Market, was given this award by Shiffler, who said she "has worked tirelessly to make the community a better place to live," he said.
Chester has also been very active in promoting renovation and historical preservation of Savannah Avenue homes; has served on the GSU Botanical Gardens advisory board; and helped organize the Lunch and Learn educational series, he said.
Chester works with the 3/50 Program, where citizens are encouraged to target three local businesses and spend $50 at each business as a way to support local commerce, he said.
Another honor presented was the Libba Smith Award, presented to a volunteer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty," said Smith, who herself presented the award to Chamber special events committee member Sherry Hinson.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.