Rolling out the red carpet, The Tribune celebrated the Best of the Best with help from local award-winning companies at its first Readers’ Choice Luncheon.
“It’s this group of people that really make Elkin so special, so we’re so glad that you’re here,” said Regional Publisher Sandra Hurley as she welcomed the winners Friday. “We’re so glad to be celebrating you.”
For the Best of the Best Awards, The Tribune and its staff, assisted by graphics employees from The Mount Airy News regional office and Yadkin Ripple staff, held a special luncheon to congratulate such winners as Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, premier sponsor for the event.
“When they had the opportunity to be our premier sponsor, they were right on it. They knew that they wanted to be part of saluting the best today,” said Hurley of HCMH.
Known for community involvement as well as for excellent care, readers choose HCMH to receive the award for best hospital/medical facility.
“We are so fortunate to have a good hospital in Elkin,” said Hurley, whose son preferred to have surgery at HCMH recently. “We chose to have it here in Elkin, because that’s where good quality care was.”
Quality care is also available at TC Sports & Rehab where Dr. John Orta was recognized by readers as the best occupational therapist.
“It’s a great honor,” said Orta. “I appreciate everybody that has voted for me and hope that I can endeavor to uphold such an honor and privilege to be noted as leading in the community.”
Also leading in the community was elite sponsor and best exterminating company, Rid-a-Bug.
“You see these guys all over the place. They’re in your community,” said Hurley of the employees who often work with the nonprofit organization, Mercy and Truth Ministries.
“Marty [Roberts, owner] and the fellows are always serving everyone,” said Hurley.
Service was important to another top winner.
“[I’m] humbled and honored that we get the opportunity to serve the community,” said Super Sports and Imports owner Jerry Willard, “and they would make us their choice instead of going to Winston-Salem or wherever and give us the chance to try to get their business.”
Best car salesman Zack Willard took none of the credit.
“It’s a blessing,” said Zack, “and I want to thank God for it. It’s the first one I’ve received really and it’s a blessing. I just want to thank them for voting for me. It’s just an honor to serve the community.”
Jennifer Kleinheksel of Jennifer K Photography also felt honored.
“It was a very nice surprise,” said the best photographer winner. “I very much enjoy doing business here in Elkin and I’m very appreciative that they would think highly enough and appreciate me enough to vote for me for something like this.”
“I feel so impressed that everybody vote[d] for us and we really appreciate that,” said Michelle Tran of Aloha Nails, which was voted the best nail salon. “I would just like to say thanks for everybody for the vote and throughout the years.”
Aloha Nails was just one of several local businesses which has won for several years and displays its certificates in its location.
“What does that tell the customer that walks in your door,” asked Hurley. “It tells them that I am a good business. The community believes in what I do and my customer service is great. It tells a lot of people that your customers are really happy with you. That’s something to be really proud of.”
It also provided the opportunity to participate in the luncheon where elite sponsor and best barbecue recipient, The Woodbox, provided a heaping plate of food.
“It was apparent by the way Cindy [Hicks, owner] greeted and spoke to each guest why The Woodbox was voted best barbecue,” said Cynthia Johnson.
Production manager at The Mount Airy News, Johnson also has worked with a Dobson catering company for eight years. “The barbecue is amazing, but their service and friendly attitudes have to play a part in bringing customers back again and again.”
The friendly service may have helped create the atmosphere of camaraderie that filled the fellowship of the Elkin First Methodist Church, which received best church as well as being recognized for best choir director, Amy Johnson.
“I feel exciting,” said Tran, noting in previous years winners’ certificates were delivered to businesses with very little fanfare. “I think this is the better idea. This year is really cool.”
“This is wonderful because it puts a name and a face to everybody that I might’ve heard of in the past but not really connected it to,” said Orta, “so this is a great way of connecting and letting everybody see you and let you see them as well.”
“I think it’s very interesting seeing lots of people and business owners I might not come into contact with otherwise,” said Kleinheksel, “so it’s also a nice way to meet new people and interact with them and find out more about them and their business.”
“I think it’s very classy,” said Jerry Willard. “This shows you how The Tribune and the people are just trying to step it up. It just feels very, very special and part of the community like we’ve never felt.”
Dale Badgett, director of the Small Business Center of Surry Community College, served as keynote speaker for the luncheon. He praised the customer service each winning business provides and offered his center’s services to those in the community.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.