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Businesses having a ball

Ursula Gross
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyJohn Battistn of Big Bang entertains the crowed at the Roaring '20s Gala, Success Connection Awards Friday in Vail.
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VAIL – The Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau announced the winners of its Success Connection Awards Friday night at the second annual Roaring ’20s Gala held at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and Spa.The event that raised money for the Chamber and Tourism Bureau’s nonprofit of the year, the Eagle Valley Land Trust, a conservation agency. Seven categories comprised the 2004 Success Connection Awards – business person of the year, nonprofit of the year, marketing campaign of the year, customer service of the year, emerging business of the year, small business of the year and business of the year. First nominated by locals, finalists were chosen by a Chamber and Tourism Bureau selection committee. The committee considered each finalist’s impact on the community in the past year to determine the winner in each category.Giving the night’s only acceptance speech, business person of the year Rod Slifer, who knew in advance he’d won, said he was pleased with the award.

“One person should not be business person of the year,” said Slifer, a longtime local who is also the mayor of Vail, “because it is a company that does the work, not just me. I have a lot of people I should thank for this award.”More discretionary than other the other awards, the business person of the year was selected by the Chamber and Tourism Bureau’s board rather than the selection committee. Doing the right thingThe nonprofit of the year was also announced in advance because a portion of the gala’s proceeds go to the winner. The Eagle Valley Land Trust received the award as a result of their work in securing Bair Ranch as open space.

“We did the right thing for the right reasons,” said Cindy Cohagen, executive director of Eagle Valley Land Trust. She added the award “sends us a message that the community understands the importance of our work.” The winners in the remaining categories were announced for the first time during the ceremony. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra campaign by Untraditional Marketing won the marketing campaign of the year, having increased summer visitors to the valley from Dallas. Untraditional Marketing President Joel Heath and project manager Devra Pearson agreed that the success of the campaign was in its simplicity — “targeting Dallas made a lot of sense,” they said. Because customer service of the year was judged on the experience of secret shoppers, Alpine Bank of Edwards and Pismo Gallery of Beaver Creek tied for the honor. Andrew Karow, president of Alpine Bank, said the award was a fulfillment of their mission statement, “Service is Our Business.” Emerging business of the year was awarded to eat!drink! in Edwards. Looking for an untraditional business as well as a strong starting foundation, the Chamber and Tourism Bureau chose eat!drink! because of their unique concept and early success in the valley, the selection committee said.

“We’ve been really blessed to live in a valley where people understand the concept of food, wine and life,” said eat!drink! founder Pollyanna Forester.About the employeesVerbatim Booksellers won small business of the year, overcoming today’s difficulties of owning small bookshop as well as operating in a hard-to-find location in Vail Village, the selection committee said. Owner Robert Aikens says that while bookselling is one of the most difficult businesses to be in, he loves it.

“We do everything in our power to make people feel comfortable and enjoy the store,” he said. The final award, business of the year, was given to Evans Chaffee Construction. Perhaps the most inclusive award, business of the year looks at recent growth, future sustainability and commitment to the community. Given the finalists, the selection committee admitted having difficulty in choosing one winner, as all the businesses in this group meet the criteria. Evans Chaffee, however, has taken an innovative approach to doing business, the selection committee said. They turned the corporate pyramid upside down, making employees work for those below them. Additionally, Evans Chaffee has merged the benefits of today’s technology with the skill and work ethic of the old-school construction trade, the selection committee said. “It’s an honor even to be included in the group of finalists,” said President Michelle Evans. “We could not have gotten here, though, without our employees, subcontractors, the community and our clients,” Vail, Colorado


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