CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — After an emotional year that affected many businesses directly and many members of those businesses personally, the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County took it upon itself last week to help everyone return to something approaching normal with its Annual Salute to Business Awards Night.
The June 17 celebration of local business was held in the Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park and for many who conduct business over meals as part of their normal workday, it was the first time in a year they had been seated across a table from someone unrelated.
There were no surgical masks in sight with this group and the mood was one of joyous relief from cocktail hour to coffee and dessert.
“It’s weird emotionally to be out like this in public but well worth it,” said Ellis Medicine President and CEO Paul Milton. “The pandemic really had an effect on all of us but the resilience in all of us is something that should be recognized.”
Each year the Chamber presents a number of awards to member businesses in six categories. In recent years the recipients have been selected by a committee of Chamber members.
The businesses selected for awards this year ranged from a 22-year-old locally-based technology firm with an international reach to a family-owned brewery with taproom startup where brewing beer is viewed as a quest for personal enlightenment.
The winner of the Chamber’s Rising Star/Outstanding New Business was Bound by Fate Brewing of Schuylerville, the first local producer of beer to call the village its home.
“We opened Feb. 14, 2020, six weeks before the shutdown,” said partner Pam Pradachitch-Demler. “It’s been [a] hustle, hustle for the past six months so it’s nice to take a break like we’re having tonight.”
The brewing company is a family affair. Bradachitch-Demler is married to Brett Demler who, along with his brothers Evan and Ryan, make up the corporate team. The three brothers have long histories in home brewing and extensive work experience in the commercial brewing industry. Bradachitch-Demler is recognized as the team’s financial wizard.
The winner of this year’s Community Partner Award was Kitware, Inc., a technology company that creates software and innovation for people; most of which is open-sourced.
The company was formed in 1998 by five individuals who left GE Research and Development to go out on their own. The company now has more than 200 employees in the U.S., a branch office in France, and, recently became 100 percent employee-owned.
“We help people with their software if it has to work across many different platforms,” said company CEO Lisa Avila. “This [award] has all been a team effort. A lot of people put a lot of work into getting this.”
Selected for the Chamber’s Business Leader Award was Scott Earl, the former owner of County Waste and Recycling, a well-known developer in Halfmoon and Clifton Park, the owner of Prestige Services, and now the owner of Twin Bridges Waste and Recycling, a competitor to his former business.
Asked why he chose to go back into the waste hauling business Earl was blunt, “I want to please people,” he said. “That’s all I want to do and I didn’t like what I was hearing. That business is all about quality service and attention to detail.”
Selected for the Business Innovation Award was G&G Industrial Lighting of Clifton Park, a local company that made its name by providing lighting in harsh conditions such as those found in 24/7 car washes.
The company so impressed officials from SpaceX with its all-weather abilities that it was chosen to provide the bright illumination and futuristic design needed on the walkways on the NASA launch tower in Florida from which SpaceX missions are launched.
The Community Partner Award went to Quick Response Restoration of Round Lake. This award recognizes a company’s commitment to the community and a willingness to further the development of southern Saratoga County.
Well known for its annual Holiday Light Display each December, Quick Response offered free sanitization services during the pandemic for first responders and their organizations. To expand the number of facilities taking advantage of the offer, the company tirelessly searched and finally found an environmentally safe disinfectant that no one could refuse because of a particular chemical.
“Offering the free service was our way of giving back,” said Fabian Johnston, the company’s director of business development. “First responders have to be there; they can’t just not show up. We saw a need to help them and we offered the service during the pandemic and I expect we’ll continue to offer it as long as there’s a need.”
The winner of the Entrepreneurial Award was Neet’s Auto Body of Round Lake. This 30-year-old business owned by Rachel and Tim Neet had just re-opened its doors after a disastrous fire in 2019 when the pandemic hit with full force.
In accepting the award Tim Neet said the most rewarding part about reopening for a second time in a year has been recognizing that the business has expanded in size since the fire, increased its staff, increased its revenue, and has customers returning.