MT. STERLING - Three local businesses were honored by their peers Thursday at the annual meeting of the Pickaway County Chamber of Commerce held at Deer Creek State Lodge.
Ann Freeman, owner of Circleville Physical Therapy, 1414 N. Court St., earned the award for Business Person of the Year. To be eligible, an individual must be a chamber member, company owner or operator, and must have performed outstanding services in advancement and betterment of the community. Qualifications also include personal characteristics of honesty, sincerity, integrity, benevolence and fairness.
"I am just so honored and humbled," Freeman said following the presentation. "I didn't expect it at all. With all the time and energy you spend on your business, you're grateful people acknowledge that, and it just feels good to know that you might make some kind of impact in the community."
Freeman opened Circleville Physical Therapy in 1988, and she said she knows very well her success over the past 27 years has not been accomplished alone.
"It's not all about me," she said. "You can't get an award like that unless there are people supporting you. I really thank the Chamber for the award, and I thank my staff and the community for supporting me. Circleville is a great community, and it's a great place to have a business."
This year's Business Pride Award was bestowed upon The Savings Bank, represented at the Chamber dinner by Jeff Farthing, bank president.
The Business Pride Award is given to a business that demonstrates a commitment to upholding quality and integrity in the product they sell/service; takes pride in their business externally and internally by renovating an existing building, constructing a new building or making improvements to a current location; recognizing and rewarding employees; exceeding customer service expectations; expanding goods and services; and creating jobs.
"It was a surprising honor, and one that we are very humbled and very honored to accept," Farthing said. "We appreciate the recognition. We are proud to be part of the Chamber and part of improving downtown."
Farthing said he believes the construction of the new Savings Bank building at North Court and Pinckney streets has had a significant impact on downtown Circleville, as well as on the bank and its operations.
"It's been a long time since a new building has been constructed here, and it has enabled us as a business to maintain our operations in downtown Circleville and to maintain jobs," he said. "We've also been able to move operations people into our downtown facilities that have been working from our branches over the past few years, so it has definitely allowed us to improve our operations and to improve services for our customers."
Richie's New York Corner Deli, 206 S. Court St., earned the Jean Ankrom Memorial Service Award on Thursday. The award is given to a business that demonstrates innovation in product or service presentation or delivery, is a recognized industry leader, demonstrates participation and leadership in civic involvement, displays honorable and ethical operation of business, demonstrates pride in operation and facility and has no more than 50 employees.
Richie Verito, owner of the business, was unable to attend the dinner on Thursday but said Friday he was honored by the award for the business he opened just over three years ago.
"I am honored and happy to be able to do everything we do in Circleville and Pickaway County," Verito said. "We try to do as much as we can, try to sponsor as much as we can and be involved in the community."
Richie's currently sponsors a softball team, which his wife Mindy coaches locally, he said. They also promote awareness and education for the National Kidney Foundation and this year offered an inaugural scholarship through Circleville City Schools for students pursuing an education in restaurant management or culinary arts.
Verito said he and Mindy continue to work on improving the building and the business together.
"I owe a lot to my wife," he said. "She is a major part of the business. Without her support and ideas, none of it would be possible. What we do, we do together."
The annual Chamber dinner celebrates the accomplishments of the business community during the previous year and looks ahead to goals for the coming year.
Thursday's event included dinner, a variety of auctions and a presentation by the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.