Over 430 people gathered to spend an evening at Nora Mayo Hall celebrating Winter Haven and the people who make it home. This reimagined event combined the Banker's Cup Awards with the Chamber's Annual Meeting. We celebrated the 92nd presentation of the Banker's Cup Citizen of the Year Award, experienced the fine dining of Terrie Lobb Catering, awarded the Small and Large Business of the Year, and passed the gavel from 16-17 Chamber board chairman Hap Hazelwood, to incoming Chair Adrian Jones. We also had a few surprises - including the unveiling of a new brand video that celebrates this place we call home. Share and embed this video on your social media channels and your own companies website!
Thank you to our event sponsors:
Nora Mayo Hall is reopened!
Mayor Steven Hunnicutt recognized the work of Former State Representative John Wood and current State Representative Sam Killebrew for their work to get a long term lease on Nora Mayo Hall so it could reopen. Guests also received a greeting from Commissioner of Agricultural Adam Putnam who advocated for Winter Haven to earn the right to use the facility. Thank you to all involved. It was great to be "back home."
Presentation of the 92nd Banker's Cup
In partnership with Mr. Winter Haven History himself, Bob Gernert, Potthast Studios and the Chamber created the following video to celebrate the history of this prestigious award.
Doug Lockwood, 2016 Banker's Cup Man of the Year recipient, had the honor of introducing the 2017 Banker's Cup Woman of the Year, Chris Nikdel. Chris has been a small business owner in Winter Haven for over 25 years. During that entire time she has donated her talent and energy to creating the brands and identity for over 30 local non-profits and numerous other community businesses. Since 2003, her business, CNP has provided over a half million dollars in in-kind advertising, marketing and web development services to non-profits to help elevate their cause. She uses her professional expertise and personal passions of empowering women, supporting education and improving the community which have all led her to have a significant and lasting positive impact on the Winter Haven community.
Bonnie Parker, 2011 Banker's Cup Woman of the Year, also had the honor to recognize the 2017 Banker's Cup Man of the Year, Mark Voisard. As the founder of the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team, Mark has made it his mission to ensure that the legacy of Winter Haven as the water ski capital of the world continues on in perpetuity. He introduced the famous delta winged kite flights to the Cypress Gardens Ski show and is responsible for the direction and performance of the first five-tiered water ski pyramids. He wants to ensure that future generations of Winter Havenites of all capabilities can experience the thrill and satisfaction that water sports can bring.
Small Business of the Year
The small business of the year was presented to Heart & Vascular Institute of Florida. They established in Polk County in 2010 and has grown from 4 employees at one location, to over 35 employees across 6 locations. They have invested over 6 million dollars into capital investment over that time period, most recently opening a state-of-the-art facility in northeast Polk.
One of the greatest needs in Polk County is the expansion of the access to medical care for our residents and the Heart and Vascular Institute of Florida has made a commitment to improving the access to cardiac and vascular care. They continue to expand their services and have added more board certified physicians and surgeons and a Women’s Heart Center. Their team now consists of four cardiologists, two vascular surgeons and one nurse practitioner. Their next project includes the addition of a hybrid OR surgery center. But it’s not just the physical expansion that has made this business so impressive.
The Heart and Vascular Institute of Florida is an advocate for building the community and understands that being engaged in your community is of the greatest importance. Dr. Saddiqui (Sah- dee- key) and his staff and most involved in financial and supply assistance to women’s needs, engaging with the Life Choice Center in Winter Haven and the Women’s Center in Haines City which is a shelter for women affected by domestic violence. Each Valentines Day, Dr. Saddiqui (Sah-dee-key) and his team visit women’s shelters throughout east Polk to deliver roses to each resident and patient. The office also engaged the staff and their patients in Toys for Tots drives each holiday season and sponsor little league sports teams.
Large Business of the Year
The Large Business of the Year was presented to Citizens Bank & Trust.
Founded in 1920 as a family owned business, this company has grown to numerous locations throughout Polk County, but is still family owned today. Routinely applauded as one of the most generous businesses in Polk County, tonight’s industry award winner has a value-system grounded in the belief that a business grows stronger when you give back to the community you serve. It is estimated that on average the employees at this company donate 10,000 hours in volunteer service per year.
Citizens Bank & Trust began in Frostproof in 1920 and in 1998 expanded to Lake Wales. In 2004 they purchased Lake Wales based American Bank & Trust which expanded their footprint into the Winter Haven area. Their second Winter Haven office opened in High Pointe Center in July 2007. Today Citizens Bank & Trust has 13 locations, just recently opening their Ft. Meade branch, and employs 165 people in Polk County. In the last year they also moved their title company, Ridge Security Title, to an office in Winter Haven.
It truly is a bank where “everyone knows your name” and the employees at every level are encouraged to get involved in their community. Frankly it is difficult to find a non-profit they have not been involved with at some level. Not only does the corporation donate and sponsor community causes to the tune of $250,000 a year, but their employees are equally as generous. Over the last several years, employees at the bank raised $37,000 for the Polk Education Foundation and $30,000 for the American Heart Association. During the last United Way campaign employees raised over $60,000. Members of the Winter Haven Citizens team also hold leadership positions on the boards of numerous non-profits including Polk State College Board of Trustees, Polk State College Foundation board chair, Polk Vision chair, Kiwanis Club of Winter Haven, Endeavor Winter Haven young professionals group, Winter Haven Chamber Board and Foundation Board, Girls Inc. of Winter Haven and Rotary Club of Winter Haven.
They have be awarded CareerSource Polk’s best places to work numerous years in a row and won the Employers of Distinction Award this year. Polk Vision named them the 2017 Spirit of Leadership Award recipient. And just last week became the two-time winner of the Ledger’s Best of the Best in Polk for banking.
And if you needed any further convincing of their qualities that earned them this award, you would have just had to drive to Frostproof last week where they distributed over 500 meals to citizens who were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Irma’s aftermath.
We currently have 25 Ambassadors that give a great deal of their personal time for the good of the Chamber. Together they have dedicated:
Eight years ago our Ambassadors helped to create a program to recognize exceptional dedication and commitment to the role. The ones who meet these criteria are our PRESIDENTIAL AMBASSADORS. Those presidential ambassadors that we are recognizing tonight have met numerous benchmarks including attendance at ribbon cuttings, networking events, helping to set up for events, delivering welcome packets and recruiting new members!
Dawn Van Meter with Keller Williams Realty received a plaque for her inaugural year as a Chamber Presidential Ambassador.
The following people celebrated numerous years as Presidential Ambassadors:
A look back at the last year
Hap Hazelwood, 2016-2017 Chairman of the Board and CFO of Six/Ten LLC, spent time reflecting on the past year in the life of Winter Haven. He thanked out outgoing Chamber board directors Debbie Harsh with CenterState Bank, Amy Sumerlin with Bartow Ford, Mike Mahalak with Mahalak Auto Group and Angel Neubrand with Winter Haven Hospital.
He also reflected on the many amazing business developments over the past year from expansions to new businesses alike. From Winter Haven Hospitals expansion to LEGOLAND's new attractions to Grove Roots opening - it was a big year for many, many businesses large and small.
He also reviewed many great things that have happened at the Chamber over the last 3-year strategic plan.
A Look Forward
Adrian Jones with Merlin Entertainments, celebrated the start of his Chairmanship by introducing the newest piece of art for Winter Haven - a new video that refines and defines with clarity, who we are in Winter Haven. This was a year long collaborative effort to define, refine, align and reinforce the brand of Winter Haven. We pulled together a team of people including the Chamber, Main Street Winter Haven, the City of Winter Haven, the EDC, CNP Agency, CSX, Potthast Studios, LEGOLAND, and others to help distill down what the Winter Haven of today is. Our task really was to reposition the Winter Haven brand from a ‘retirement community’ to a renaissance City that promises an affordable lifestyle in a uniquely beautiful environment.
It all started with this irrefutable statement –
“While many Florida cities have obscured their identity with artifice, only “Winter Haven” is thoughtfully, enthusiastically and proudly leveraging its authentic roots to build a compellingly unique destination for visitors and residents. And we are doing this in a creative, enthusiastic and future-focused way."
From that our team drilled down into defining the four key brand pillars for Winter Haven which include:
1. Lakeside Lifestyle – celebrating our history and future as the water ski capital of the world, our over 91 miles of shoreline on our 55 lakes that offer affordable lakefront living and breathtaking views to dine by.
2. Downtown is Our Stage - this pillar celebrates the revitalization of the downtown core, which has once again become a centerpiece for the community. It is our stage for art, for music, for innovation, for local favorites and so much more.
3. Collaborative Business Community - Winter Haven’s approach to business is an unusually collaborative one, incorporating pro-growth government policies, strategic partnerships, high capacity IT infrastructure and flexible workforce development opportunities throughout the greater Winter Haven area.
4. And finally, being a premier family-friendly vacation destination, which is underscored, by being the proud home of LEGOLAND Florida Resort.
The foundation of all of this? It is all of our people. Those who populate energize and promote the city’s uniqueness in a genuine and hospitable way to all others who may be drawn in by Winter Haven’s lively charm, sun-drenched horizons & possibilities.
Perhaps this can all be summed up with the phrase "Authenticity Reimagined." Our community has a rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship. It began in agriculture and that has evolved in healthcare, technology, tourism etc. We aren’t reinventing ourselves; we are building on our foundation for the future.
Enjoy the video below produced by the amazing team at Potthast Studios (Rick Maldonado, Joel Faubert and Mike Potthast) in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and many, many others. Share and use on your own websites. Over the course of this year we will be rolling out assets that let us communicate the message of Winter Haven - including photos and videos!
Chamber Board Nominations
The membership voted for the approval of the following 2017-2018 Nominating Slate:
2017-2018 Board Nominating Slate
Kevin Aspergren, Florida Polytechnic University
Ann Barnhart, Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center
Brian Burns, Ledger Media Group
Jeff Donalson, Tom Wolfe Co.
Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti, Polk State College
Rex Jackson, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort
Steve Nierman, Winter Haven Hospital
Reappointed to a second three-year term:
Jennifer Fasking, State Farm
Bob O’Malley, CSX
Claire Orologas, Polk Museum of Art
Officers for 2017-2018:
Chair- Adrian Jones, Merlin Entertainments
Chair Elect- Kevin Ashley, Peterson & Myers, P.A.
First Vice Chair- Dr. Martha Santiago, Polk State College
Treasurer- Alex Nikdel, CNP
Imm. Past Chair- Hap Hazelwood, Six/Ten LLC