Over the last two decades, the word “growth” has been synonymous with just about anything having to do with the once-sleepy town of Gilbert.
Fittingly, it was also the over arching theme of Tuesday’s Gilbert Chamber of Commerce annual business awards luncheon, and a concept familiar to many of the afternoon’s key award recipients.
More than 250 were in attendance for the sixth-annual event, held this year at the DoubleTree San Tan Elegante Conference and Reception Center. Noted Valley television and radio personality Pat McMahon served as emcee and provided the comedic hijinks.
Founded in 2004, software and technology firm Infusionsoft took home the “large business of the year” honor. The company currently employs nearly 300, and while it announced last month plans to expand to a larger Chandler facility near the end of this calendar year, the organization’s Gilbert roots were specifically cited Tuesday as a reason for its ability to add both personnel and customers.
Marc Chesley, Infusionsoft’s chief technology officer and a Gilbert native, said the company is adding 20 jobs each month and expects its workforce to hit 1,000 within three years.
“This is really the reason Infusionsoft exists — to help small business succeed,” he said, thanking the chamber for its similar support over the years.
Phoenix Gilbert Hampton Inn and Suites, located near San Tan Village, was honored as the chamber’s “small business of the year.” Criteria for both the large and small business awards includes “progressive sales/market growth over the last three years.”
The Sign Guys, owned by Todd and Jeni Wigington and specializing in printing, lighted signage, multimedia and vehicle wraps, was named “family business of the year,” while “rookie of the year” was presented to Jill Schiefelbein, owner of Impromptu Guru. Schiefelbein specializes in communication training and public speaking technique development. “Rookie of the year” is given to relatively new business that meets its first-year business goals and offers a unique service or product.
The “employer of choice” honor — “recognizing a business that provides an ‘employee nirvana’ workplace atmosphere,” according to the chamber — was presented to Employee Benefit Exchange Corp.
Chamber employee Adriana Lynch and National Bank of Arizona’s Paige Modlin took home individual awards. Lynch received the “Gilbert Leadership Award,” given to a graduate of the Gilbert Leadership program, while Modlin was named “volunteer of the year.”
A number of scholarships were doled out to area high school students, and chamber board chairman JW Rayhons of Rayhons Financial Solutions unofficially handed the reins to his successor, Jon Olson.
“It’s been an interesting few years. The environment has changed a lot,” said Olson, of Arizona Business Bank.
He cited the chamber’s “diverse membership,” with national technology companies housing 40,000-plus employees and local home-based businesses among the members.
“And with such diversity, there’s always a wide range of things we can be doing to help those businesses grow,” he said.