The Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce honored six business people at its Celebrate Business Luncheon and Community Excellence Awards, where Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford, gave the keynote speech.
Ford told about 700 people in attendance that the founding and history of the Ford Motor Company demonstrates “dedicated perseverance,” which was the event theme.
At the Jan. 26 event, Ford told the story of how his great-grandfather, with no racing experience and very little driving experience at all, entered a car he had engineered himself to race against a well-known race-car driver of the era. The year was 1901.
Henry Ford’s race car, called “Sweepstakes,” looked like “a cross between an oversized baby carriage and a baby grand piano,” said his great grandson. Though the race-car driver that Ford faced had set a speed record earlier that day, Ford beat him because the driver’s engine misfired when Ford’s did not, he said.
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From this accomplishment, Ford found the investors he needed to start the Ford Motor Co., which has existed ever since.
Chamber board members also discussed the accomplishments of 2014 and its goals for 2015.
In 2014, the chamber added 157 members and held 103 ribbon-cuttings for local businesses, while the state average for chambers is 35, said 2014 MSI Chamber board chair Howard Kosofsky. Jeff Shoe, 2015’s chamber board chairman, said the chamber set a record by hosting 12 ribbon-cuttings in one day.
The chamber “broke records at almost every event” in 2014, said Kosofsky. In partnership with local businesses and nonprofit organizations like Mitchell Community College and the Mooresville Christian Mission, it hosted 100 workshops, job fairs, a speaker series and attracted 20,000 attendants to the Race City Festival.
Shoe also discussed chamber plans for this year, including engaging and building involvement with members of millenial generation and improving the chamber’s website. Last year, said Shoe, 650,000 people visited the website and 3,500 events were posted to its event calendar.
Shoe also attributed some of Mooresville’s success to the level of collaboration and cooperation between businesses and nonprofit organizations.
When founder of Serenity House Cheryl Pletcher accepted her Citizen of the Year Award for her efforts to provide end-of-life care through two comfort care homes, she offered a concrete demonstration of such collaboration by thanking businesses for “donating local.” Pletcher opened the second Serenity House location in Huntersville in 2014.
The award recipients honored at the event were nominated by Chamber members. In addition to Pletcher’s, five other awards were presented.
Georgia Krueger, executive director of the Ada Jenkins Center, was honored with the Duke Energy Service Award for creating collaborations within the community, building an endowment program and significantly increasing the center’s annual budget in response to increasing demand for its services.
Hans DeBot of DeBotech was selected as MSI Chamber Businessperson of the Year. His business provided the U.S. Olympic Sliding Teams with custom pods and parts for bobsledding and skeleton racing events. In the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams took 71 medals with the help of DeBotech’s bobsled engineering.
La Patisserie Bakery, run by Manuel Mendoza and his family, received the Mooresville Ford Entrepreneurial Award. The family’s business has been expanding since it started years ago and has brought new life to multiple vacant commercial spaces in Mooresville. The family has two locations and may open a third in Charlotte.
Crystal Hill, Mooresville Graded School District director of elementary education, was honored with the Sara Haire Tice Women in Leadership Award. Under her leadership, Mooresville’s third-grade students ranked first in end-of-grade test results in North Carolina for the 2013-14 school year.
Sharon Kiger was selected as Ambassador of the Year for her service to the Chamber and community. As well as being an ambassador for the chamber, Kiger also volunteers for the Mooresville Christian Mission, Health Reach Community Clinic, her church and other service opportunities.