Feb. 8, 2020 — Each year, Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s Siuslaw Awards has sought to recognize the area’s top picks in business and community leadership. From Siuslaw High School students and passionate volunteers in the area to business innovation and achievement, the awards night on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the Florence Events Center will celebrate the dedication of Florence Area’s finest.
“This year’s slate is an amazing representation of our community’s best assets — our businesses and individuals that make a difference,” said Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan.
In January, business nominees were announced for Excellence in Customer Service, Curb Appeal, Non-Profit Achievement, Community Caring, Innovation in Business and the Stu Johnston Business of the Year Award. In addition, four area gentlemen were nominated by the community for First Citizen and four high school seniors were nominated for Future First Citizen.
In their own words, read why the following businesses were nominated.
Nominees for the Community Caring Award:
- The Archives: “I believe The Archives deserves this award because of their commitment to creating joy by giving to the community,” said Shawn Penrod. He talked about founder Joshua Greene and his desire to produce photography and art books locally. “Once he decided Florence was his home, he put his personal and business efforts into the community.”
- Jolly Egret/Periwinkles: According to owner Glenna Martin, “For 19 years starting with my first store, I have been directly involved in community and chamber events, improvement projects and nonprofit charities including their fundraising efforts. We feel blessed that we have been able to help so many people, so many organizations and our town which we love.”
- Shorewood Senior Living: From allowing residents space to garden, make art, live and play, “We embrace the community with passion,” said Beth Webb. “Shorewood is a great place for people to live and work. The minute you step in the door you feel the love, as we have been told over and over.”
- Three Rivers Casino Resort: “We are proud to donate to a variety of organizations that play vital roles in the social and economic wellbeing of Oregon,” wrote Director of Marketing Rich Colton. “Three Rivers in partnership with The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians have strong ties to the community and are dedicated to giving back.”
Nominees for the Curb Appeal Award:
- Darci Clark – Florence Keller Williams Realty: According to Darci Clark, she changes décor each season, which prompts people to stop and take pictures at her location in Historic Old Town. “I live, work in and support Florence. I was happy that I was nominated for this award. It shows that people are enjoying what I am doing as much as I enjoy doing it.”
- Darlings RV & Marina: “We’ve invested many hours on improving the curb appeal to Darlings while striving to maintain as much as the original character as possible,” said Lori Edwards-Olson, who owns the marina with her husband Rich Olson. She detailed improvements to the lakefront property, including maintenance, yardwork, lighting and more. “We will be making many more improvements in the future.”
- Florence Antiques and Coast Jewelers: Owners Tom Bassett and Rich Bailey care for their outside landscaping and create windowscapes in the shop to provide pleasant experiences for visitors to Bay Street near the Siuslaw River Bridge. “We love our location, the atmosphere of our store and so many valued customers many of whom have also become lasting friends,” Bassett said.
Nominees for the Excellence in Customer Service Award:
- BeauxArts Fine Arts Materials: For more than five years, BeauxArts has served people and been involved with the community’s art movements. “Just this past year, the shop has been able to do another expansion, nearly doubling in size to provide even more items, services and allow more customers space to be creative,” said owner Jo Beaudreau.
- Coastal Fitness: Owners Jim and Deena Mitchell wrote, “Our goal is to help everyone feel comfortable exercising at our facility and successful in achieving better health and fitness. We consider everyone like family and do our best to treat them that way. … We pride ourselves in having a friendly, welcoming staff that gets excited about the success of our customers.”
- Driftwood Shores Resort & Conference Center: According to Chris Nystrom “Driftwood Shores attributes its success in customer service to its team members.” Reviews and comments show the staff’s commitment to excellent customer service for all guests. “In 2020, Driftwood Shores has made a commitment to continue to train all front-line staff in the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Customer Service Gold program.”
- FTS Computer Repair: “Customer Service doesn’t end once the customer leaves,” said owner Jolene Medeiros. “FTS does their best to follow up with every customer within a week, to make sure that they are 100% satisfied with the repair and/or service provided.” FTS works to educate the community on technology and security threats.
- Kaimana Bodyworx & Tan Republic: “Our staff and professionals are professionally trained to educate our customers and provide safe and healthy services,” wrote owner Erin DeSantis. “To us this means answering tough questions with a positive attitude, making sure to resolve any issues smoothly and effectively creating loyal, and returning customers.” Staff provides childcare while pampering clients.
Nominees for the Innovation in Business Award:
- Florence Hostel 101: Innovator Marianne Brisbane’s newest venture is an effort to bring a new service to Florence. “This is the only hostel in this region of the Oregon Coast,” Brisbane said. “It is a much-needed resource for the unique type of travelers we see now,” including recreational tourists and those who love art and food.”
- Florence Regional Arts Alliance: President Kristin Anderson said, “FRAA has become a unique and successful member of the community, striving to promote creative expression through art by allowing artists a space to share their creations with the public while helping others find, embrace and express their creativity, thereby enriching cultural life and stimulating economic vitality in the Florence area.”
- Homegrown Public House & Brewery: According to Elaine McMillan, “We really wanted to have our community-driven brewery to be the main highlight. … Community involvement was a priority.” Through a VIP Program, community members raised capital to get the brewery started and the first drafts brewed. “Now, when Google is hit for ‘Florence Brewery,’ we will drive more traffic to Florence.”
Nominees for the Non-Profit Achievement Award:
- Florence Food Share: Director Janet Engel wrote, “Florence Food Share does not just provide food for those in need, but we provide a safe place for our clients to come and get help.” It serves 3,500+ clients each month around 49,000 pounds of food. “We have over 50 volunteers … who take time to talk, listen and many times become friends with our clients.”
- Friends of the Florence Events Center: “Since 1994, this unparalleled nonprofit has been a vibrant entity, bringing arts, culture, music, drama and learning to an under-served rural region of Western Lane County,” wrote Rachel Pearson. The Friends support events, operations and improvements at the FEC, including running the highly successful Winter Music Festival each year. “This very small group of dedicated volunteers does everything.”
- Oregon Coast Humane Society: Achievements for the past year include improvements to the OCHS Thrift Store, beginning an estate sale division, expanding social media presence and starting a buy-a-brick program. “We have an extremely dedicated group of employees,” said Board President Shauna Robbers. “They deserve to be recognized for keeping this organization not only going but thriving.”
- Siuslaw Outreach Services: Director Bob Teter said, “SOS has been there for so many facing some form of crisis. The agency’s mission is to provide compassionate, respectful and confidential support to those in need.” The agency receives nearly $450,000 in grants each year to support victim advocacy, housing and utility assistance, clothing, food and transportation, shower and laundry vouchers.
- Siuslaw Watershed Council: According to Executive Director Eli Tome, “We have been recognized as a leader in the conservation community throughout the PNW, and have completed unique projects and innovative partnerships to help elevate the Siuslaw region as an opportunity for salmon recovery, climate resilience, community building and community education.” In 2019, SWC secured $1.6 million in grants to support its mission.
Nominees for the Stu Johnston Business of the Year Award:
- Coldwell Banker Coast Real Estate: In operation since 1956, “Coldwell Banker has been a pioneer in local business,” wrote Stacey Teter and Aric Sneddon. “With over 200+ years of collective experience in the real estate field, our brokers pride themselves on helping our clients with each individual transaction. … Our firm continues to be number one in real estate in Western Lane County.”
- Laurel Bay Gardens: “We believe in the beauty of plants and landscapes to help our environment and our community be a healthier and better place to live,” said owner Lisa Walter Sedlacek. In its 31 years, staff has designed, installed and renovated thousands of properties on the Oregon Coast and maintains landscape to over 140 customers on a regular basis.
- HYAK: Designed to be an alternative local provider for residential and commercial internet, Hyak’s fiber project has been a major milestone since 2017. “We are just kicking off phase 1.5 of our fiber expansion project, expanding down Kingwood to meet the new ReVision project, and take much-needed fiber service to businesses on Highway 101,” said owner Robbie Wright.
The nominees for First Citizen are Siuslaw Elementary School Principal Mike Harklerode, Florence Dental Clinic’s Dr. Brian Holmes, Siuslaw High School ASPIRE Coordinator Robert Orr and Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Volunteer Firefighter Jerry Ward.
The Florence Future First Citizen Nominees from Siuslaw High School are seniors Tiffany Hine, Brandon Jensen, Jared Northrop and Hannah Rannow.
For more information about the Siuslaw Awards, visit FlorenceChamber.com.