Vail Valley Partnership’s Success Awards honor valley’s businesses, nonprofits |

Vail Valley Partnership’s Success Awards honor valley’s businesses, nonprofits

Peter Dann of East West Destination Hospitality accepts the company’s award for Business of the Year at the 15th Annual Vail Valley Partnership Success Awards on Friday, May 11 at the Ritz Carlton Beaver Creek.
Ben Dodd

The winners

Here are the winners of the Vail Valley Partnership’s 15th annual Success Awards:

• Chairman’s Award: Cheryl Jensen, Vail Veterans Program.

• Business of the Year: East West Destination Hospitality.

• Small Business of the Year: Select Surfaces.

• New Business of the Year: Capture the Action.

• Nonprofit of the Year: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

• Small Nonprofit of the Year: Speak Up Reach Out.

• Best Place to Work: RA Nelson.

• Community Impact Award — Individual: DeWayne Davis.

• Community Impact Award — Organization: Alpine Bank.

• Young Professional of the Year: Mikayla Curtis.

• Actively Green Award: Eagle River Water & Sanitation District.

• Healthy Workplace: Eagle River Watershed Council.

To learn more, go to

BACHELOR GULCH — In a way, the first of the Vail Valley Partnership’s 15th Annual Success Awards was a show-stopper. But in another, that award set the tone for the rest of the event.

The Chairmain’s Award led off the annual event, held Friday, May 11, at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch. That award honored Cheryl Jensen and the Vail Veterans Program.

Instead of a prepared speech of her own, Jensen asked partnership board chairman Mark Herron if a couple of speakers could present instead.

It’s hard — OK, maybe impossible — to say “no” to Jensen, so participants Chris Fesmire and Tim Johannsen spent a few minutes talking about how the Vail Veterans Program has affected their lives.

Fesmire, a Marine who lost both legs to a land mine in Afghanistan, told the sold-out crowd that he’d “been through the wringer” since his injury.

The Vail Veterans Program and others like it have brought “real healing” to his life, Fesmire said.

Johannsen said the Vail Veterans Program showed him “people really do care … It made me want to be a better person.”

In her own remarks, Jensen noted that the Vail Veterans Program started with little more than desire to help. It’s since become a well-organized operation that has helped hundreds of injured combat veterans.

Starting with not much more than idea was a common theme running through this year’s awards.

Speak Up Reach Out, this year’s Small Nonprofit of the Year, also started with an idea and little else when it was founded in 2009. From that small start, the group already this year has trained as many people as it did in all of 2017.

Even the Business of the Year started small. Peter Dann of East West Destination Hospitality said that firm started with just four employees. The company now has about 1,400.

Dann told the audience that organizations need to keep some core values in mind as they become established and then grow.

Supporting the community is important, he said. So is being a good corporate steward. Accomplishing those and other goals requires great people, too, he added.

Organizations also need to recognize good work. As a valleywide chamber of commerce, that’s what the Vail Valley Partnership does.

‘It’s exciting’

As he was headed out to finish his work day, Dann said that organizations of any size benefit from recognition from the rest of the community.

Before the luncheon began, Rob LeVine, former general manager of The Antlers Lodge, said there aren’t many opportunities to provide that recognition for local companies.

“It’s exciting,” LeVine said. “It’s really a meaningful thing.”

Realtors Cynthia Kruse and Bev Trout were guests of at Stewart Title’s table.

Trout, of Keller Williams Real Estate, said the awards are a way to “reward good behavior” by local businesses. Trout added that she loves that local nonprofit groups have a chance to tell their stories at the event. Those groups set a tone for other organizations in the valley, she said.

Kruse, of the local ReMax agency, added that she enjoys seeing so many younger people participating in the award and its events.

“They’re getting engaged in the future,” Kruse said.

After the final award was given and the wrap-up video played, Partnership CEO Chris Romer said both businesses and nonprofits share something else: Hard work and a desire to make a difference in the community.

Friday’s celebration honored the best of that work.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 and

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