Companies big and small draw awards during annual business salute

Bibb County companies were recognized and celebrated Thursday for what they do for the community.

The companies received recognition during the 2017 Business & Industry Salute to Business Awards luncheon held at the Armory Ballroom on First Street.

The annual event is organized by the Macon Economic Development Commission and the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.

Two new awards were added this year. Rob Betzel, the president of Infinity Network Solution Inc. and vice chairman of existing business and industry, said organizers decided to add awards for the outstanding young business leader and the startup of the year because of the influx of successful young professionals and the fast-growing startup movement.

Here are this year’s awards and the winners:

▪ Business of the Year Award — ESG Operations, a utility operations and public works management company with nearly 700 full-time employees. It provides water, wastewater, public works and elevated water tank maintenance services to municipal and private-sector entities. Macon is home to ESG’s corporate headquarters, with 23 additional offices across the Southeast. For the past seven years, ESG has been recognized as one of the top 200 environmental companies in the nation. The award was presented to Daniel Groselle, principal and co-founder of the company.

This award is presented to the company that has 26 or more employees and has been operating for a minimum of five years.

▪ Small Business of the Year Award — ASP Franchising LLC, also known as America’s Swimming Pool Co., was founded in 2002 by Stewart Vernon and is now the nation’s largest pool maintenance and repair company. The franchising side of the business was formed in 2005 and has grown to franchises in 400 U.S. cities. It has been listed on the Franchise 500 as one of the fastest-growing franchises for the past six years.

The award is present to a company that’s been operating for a minimum of five years and has 25 or fewer employees.

▪ Startup of the Year Award — Tommy’s Bakery & Café. The business opened in 2016, and it has grown from one to 14 employees. Owned by Tommy Sadler, it sells 500 to 600 doughnuts a day.

The award is presented to a company that’s been operating one to three years.

▪ Outstanding Young Business Leader Award — Andrew Eck, founder, president and vice president of marketing, finance and operations for Georgia Artisan. The business is a boutique furniture manufacturer based in downtown Macon. In its first year of operation, the company grew from one to four employees, increased its sales by five times and developed better designs that include materials from local blighted homes.

Eck is co-founder and chairman of SparkMacon, and he also has helped create several community organizations.

This award goes to any individual 35 years old or younger and working in Bibb County. The person must have made a significant impact in the growth of their business and/or a significant investment of time and energy in the community.

All awards were based on a number of criteria, including: employment history and stability within their business; culture and unique environment within their workplace; leadership within their local community; and their total impact in educational, civic and charitable involvement.

Linda S. Morris: 478-744-4223, @MidGaBiz