Business and Community Leaders Honored at 2022 Business Excellence Awards
Business and Community Leaders Honored at 2022 Business Excellence Awards
Chapel Hill, NC – Convening in person for the first time since 2019 for this celebration, The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro hosted the 2022 Business Excellence Awards ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Twenty-one finalists were honored, and 10 winners were presented awards live at American Legion: Chapel Hill Post 6.
“We are so happy to be back in person for our 8th Business Excellence Awards” said Aaron Nelson, President and CEO of The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill Carrboro. “It was an honor to share the stage with our community’s best businesses and leaders.”
The 10 award winners listed below were selected by The Chamber’s Awards Selection Committee, made up of local business and community leaders from diverse industries with a demonstrated commitment to our community. The Committee, chaired by Denny Marcin of Pinnacle Financial Partners, reviewed detailed pages of nominations from many nominees, selected three finalists in each category, and then voted by secret ballot on the winners.
The 2022 Business Excellence Award Winners
Businesswoman of the Year
Nora Spencer, Hope Renovations
The 2022 Business Woman of the Year Award is presented to an exceptional woman in business, who has excelled in her job function and industry, and has pioneered initiatives to promote female leadership in business and the community. This year's award is sponsored by Erickson Advisors. The 2022 Businesswoman of the Year award is Nora Spencer of Hope Renovations.
As a self-taught tradeswoman, Nora Spencer was frustrated by the fact that construction isn't an industry women naturally consider. While in graduate school for social work, she began forming the idea for a training program that would help women bridge the education gap, giving them the skills and confidence to access the industry. She looked for an existing program, but there wasn't one in North Carolina - so she created one - Hope Renovations.
Currently, she serves as the Chair of the Professional Women in Building of the Triangle. She is also an active member of The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, Carrboro Business Alliance's Leadership Council, and the Carrboro Business Alliance’s newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
Among garnering numerous local, state, and national awards, which include the 2021 Triangle Business Journal’s Inspiration Award, the 2022 UNC School of Social Work Distinguished Alumni Award, and the 2022 National Association of Home Builder’s Young Professional award, she was recently named a 2022 CNN Hero.
For her hands-on work in our community, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her dedication to solving social issues in our community, we are proud to name Nora Spencer our 2022 Businesswoman of the Year.
Young Professionals of the Year
Pavani Peri, Acta Solutions | Wes Rowe, Graduate Hotel Chapel Hill
The 2022 Chapel Hill Young Professional of the Year Award is presented to a local professional under the age of 40, who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in his or her industry and whose achievements have promoted young professional engagement through leadership in the community pertaining to economic development and civic involvement. This year's awards are sponsored by Holliday PLLC. The 2022 Young Professionals of the Year are Pavani Peri of Acta Solutions and Wes Rowe of Graduate Hotel Chapel Hill.
A 2020 graduate of the University of North Carolina, it did not take Pavani Peri long to recognize a need in our community and take action. In 2020, along with co-founders Tai Huynh and Andrew McKinnon, Peri founded Acta Solutions, a firm dedicated to helping local governments serve their constituents. At Acta Solutions, she handles top-of-funnel sales, customer success, and marketing.
In addition to her role at Acta, Peri works for EMPOWERment Incorporated on its affordable housing development, serves as co-chair of The Chamber’s Big Bold Ideas Committee on Innovation and Workforce Development, and leads the UNC School of Government’s writing effort on workforce programs across the state.
As a woman of color in business, Pavani continues to break barriers for the good of our community. For her work in affordable housing, government relations, and her desire to improve our community, we are proud to award Pavani Peri with the 2022 Young Professional of the Year award.
Wes Rowe is the General Manager for Graduate Chapel Hill Hotel, located on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill. Wes and his family have been a part of the Chapel Hill community for over a decade. Wes prides himself on supporting his family, hotel staff and guests, and his community.
Rowe led the opening of Graduate Chapel Hill in August 2020, just weeks before UNC reverted to virtual learning and halted a lot of travel to the area. Wes and his team pivoted by leasing rooms to students who wanted to remain in Chapel Hill. The hotel took on 55 leases for the 2020-21 school year, which gave students a chance to experience Chapel Hill and allowed dozens of employees a chance to continue to work.
Rowe was nominated by his peers as one of the nation's top general managers at Graduate Hotels for 2021, and he received honorary recognition from Graduate Hotels for the idea to house students during the pandemic.
A Chamber board member, a panelist at Kenan-Flagler Business School, and a guest speaker at the University of South Carolina, Rowe’s dedication to Chapel Hill and beyond has not gone unrecognized. We are proud to name Wes Rowe the 2022 Young Professional of the Year.
Large Business of the Year
ATMA Hotel Group
The 2022 Business of the Year Awards are presented to outstanding Chamber members that have shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity, and contribution to the community. The large business category is presented to a Chamber member with 50 or more employees. This year's award is sponsored by PHE, Inc. The 2022 Large Business of the Year is ATMA Hotel Group.
ATMA Hotel Group specializes in development, purchasing, and hotel management operations. Since its start in 1995, ATMA Has expanded to ten hotels, six of which are in the Chapel Hill market. Their core values center around providing consistently clean and well-maintained hotels with exemplary guest satisfaction.
The Group has purchased two hotels in Chapel Hill since 2019 including the Sheraton, which they have completely renovated, and the Tru Hotel which opened last May. ATMA Hotel Group was the first hospitality company in Chapel Hill to install UV light air filters in all air conditioning units, rooms, and public areas to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, they introduced robot delivery systems to serve in the dining room, and plan to extend this to all 10 hotels.
ATMA Hotel Group was publicly recognized when the Hampton Inn and Suites in Carrboro was the recipient of the circle of excellence award from Hampton Hotels. Its Courtyard and Sheraton hotels in Chapel Hill are ranked in the top five percent of the Courtyards throughout the world for guest satisfaction and consistency. For its job creation and dedication to our local business community, we are proud to name ATMA Hotel Group our 2022 Large Business of the Year.
Mid-Size Business of the Year
Carrboro Plumbing, Inc.
The Mid-Size Business of the Year is presented to an outstanding Chamber member that has shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity, and contribution to the community. This year's award, presented to a Chamber member with 6 to 50 employees, is sponsored by Pinnacle Financial Partners. The winner of the 2022 Mid-Size Business of the Year Award is Carrboro Plumbing, Inc.
Carrboro Plumbing was founded in 2007 with the goal of providing quality plumbing services to the community at fair prices. In addition to performing trustworthy and exceptional work, the family-owned and operated business is committed to volunteerism and community engagement and partners with organizations to give back. Carrboro Plumbing began an annual day of service in 2018, partnering with Habitat for Humanity to install a sewer line and rough trim for a bathroom and kitchen for a family living without indoor plumbing.
After delays due to the pandemic, Carrboro Plumbing resumed its Home Tune Up program this spring in partnership with OWASA. The program was wildly successful and resulted in over $10,000 of plumbing labor and materials for customers that qualified and received emergency housing assistance.
Whether they’re addressing our leaky pipes, donating their time and talent to the community, or even helping their Facebook followers find vaccine appointments, Carrboro Plumbing always seems to have our back. We are proud to award Carrboro Plumbing with our 2022 Mid-Size Business of the Year Award.
Micro Enterprise Business of the Year
Carrboro Farmers’ Market
The 2022 Business of the Year Awards are presented to outstanding Chamber members that have shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity, and contribution to the community. This year's winner in the micro-enterprise category presented to a Chamber member with five or fewer employees is Carrboro Farmers’ Market.
Founded in 1979, the Carrboro Farmers' Market aims to create and sustain a vibrant, accessible, and innovative market that supports local farmers and artisans while extending the benefits of local food to the greater community. A leader among farmers markets in North Carolina and beyond, the market has grown to over seventy-five vendors and producers, all who grow, produce, or create within 50 miles of Carrboro. The Carrboro Farmers’ Market not only accepts payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but doubles that benefit, enabling customers to stock up on healthy foods for their families. The Carrboro Farmers’ Market also works with local stakeholders to increase accessibility. They recently piloted popup markets for shoppers at Piedmont Health in Carrboro and for seniors at the Seymour Center. For their diligent, inspiring, and community-focused work, we are proud to name the Carrboro Farmers’ Market the 2022 Micro-Enterprise Business of the year.
New Business of the Year
One sign of a thriving economy is the growth of new businesses. The New Business of the Year is presented to a business that has been operating for less than three years. In celebration of exceptional performance in 2021, the winner of the 2022 New Business of the Year Award presented by Town of Chapel Hill Economic Development is Olmaz Jewelers.
After a nationwide search to find the best location for a jewelry store, founders and best friends Elie Abou-Rjeileh and Jack Daoud opened Olmaz in the Fall of 2020. The family-owned-and-operated jewelry boutique specializes in diamonds, engagement rings, wedding bands, and estate and fashion jewelry, and after less than two years in business, Olmaz has established themselves as a trusted, go-to jeweler for not just Chapel Hillians, but customers throughout the Triangle.
After starting with just the two co-owners and a jeweler, Olmaz Jewelers doubled their staff in 2021, adding three new jewelry specialists to focus on custom work and stone setting. This past year the jewelry boutique upgraded its repair shop by investing in a new bench, a gem-setting microscope, and a laser welder.
Since opening in 2020, Olmaz has generously given back through numerous partnerships with local nonprofits. For their tremendous success and dedication to the community, we are proud to name Olmaz Jewelers our 2022 New Business of the Year.
Fitch Lumber and Hardware Company
The Innovation Award is presented to a business that has demonstrated innovation through the concept, value, delivery, and impact of a product or service, system, or event. This year’s Innovation Award is presented by Fidelity Investments. The winner of the 2022 Innovation Award is Fitch Lumber and Hardware Company.
In business for one hundred and fifteen years, Fitch Lumber and Hardware could easily continue to perform in a way that has worked for over a century. They’ve taken the opposite approach however, prioritizing innovation with the same commitment to exceptional service.
Since 2018, Fitch Lumber and Hardware has been in a continuous state of transformational change. The company has completely updated its IT infrastructure from top to bottom, enabling its team members the flexibility to work onsite, in their vehicles on a job site, or remotely. Last year, Fitch Lumber and Hardware invested heavily in capital upgrades, allowing them to dedicate an entire warehouse for storing and staging made-to-order and special-order building materials, which is the fastest-growing portion of their revenue.
Fitch Lumber and Hardware is dedicated to the community and there is no bigger example of its commitment than its ongoing work with Hope Renovations. Fitch recently helped Hope Renovations increase its construction revenue by giving the non-profit even more space to store materials in their warehouse, and helping them double the number of training cohorts by offering night classes. For its consistent desire to improve its business and our community, we are proud to award Fitch Lumber and Hardware with the 2022 Innovation award.
Community Impact Award
Trevor Holman Photography
The Community Impact Award is presented to an outstanding organization that has significantly and measurably made social, economic, or environmental improvements within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community. The winner of the 2022 Community Impact Award is Trevor Holman Photography.
Trevor Holman is a commercial headshot photographer in Chapel Hill with a focus on creating business-friendly images for local organizations and individuals. Whether in the studio, outdoors, or on-location, Trevor always makes his clients feel comfortable, which leads to natural, professional headshots customers rave about.
Amidst the pandemic, Trevor merged his talent and passion for the community by offering his services free-of-charge to individuals who were unemployed or in career transition to help them accelerate their job search. These headshots have created financial opportunities and jobs for individuals while supporting the local business community.
For his generosity and unwavering support of our community, we are proud to present Trevor Holman Photography with the 2022 Community Impact Award.
2022 Community Impact Award Finalists: The Home Builder's Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties, Orange County Living Wage
Nonprofit of the Year
The Non-Profit of the Year recognizes an outstanding Chamber member charitable non-profit organization that has shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity and/or contribution to community. The 2022 Non-Profit of the Year, presented by Durham Tech, is Hope Renovations.
Hope Renovations offers a free pre-apprenticeship training program for underemployed women and nonbinary individuals designed to give them the skills to enter the trades or enroll in apprenticeships and continuing education. Hope Renovations completes home repairs and renovations for older adults, so they can stay safely in their homes.
These jobs provide trainees the opportunity to apply and practice their skills in a real-world setting. In fewer than two years, Hope Renovations has expanded its training, offered fun and educational events to the community, and worked with low-income families to improve their living conditions. Hope Renovations work extends beyond the construction site.
The organization is working to address several serious social issues simultaneously. With the support of the local community, Hope’s work will increase housing affordability and safety, the availability of skilled tradespeople in our community, and the employment statistics, wage-earning potential, and career options of women and nonbinary individuals. For its trailblazing work in the construction trades and commitment to improving the lives of older adults aging in place, we are proud to name Hope Renovations our 2022 Nonprofit of the Year.
About the Business Excellence Awards: The 2022 award winners were announced during the Business Excellence Awards – a celebration that took place on Thursday afternoon at American Legion: Chapel Hill Post 6. The luncheon was catered by Mediterranean Deli and photography was captured by Daniel Turbert Photography.
Event sponsors included: Chapel Hill Economic Development, Durham Tech, Erickson Advisors, Fidelity Investments, Holliday PLLC, Pinnacle Financial Partners, and PHE Inc. Contributing sponsorship was provided by IdentifyYourself.
About The Chamber: The Chamber is a membership organization that serves and advances the business interests of the Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, including the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well as southern Orange, northern Chatham, and southwest Durham counties. The Chamber's network includes over 600-member enterprises that employ more than 95,000 workers throughout the region. Together with its network, The Chamber is committed to building a sustainable community where business thrives.
Contact: Aury St. Germain, Communications Manager, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-674-8982 (direct)