PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Thursday afternoon, the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce held its annual membersâ€™ luncheon, and the highlight of the event was the naming of the 2012 Business of the Year Award, Krise Bus Service of
The winner write-up, read by Tracy Smith â€” representing Spirit Publishing Company, which was last yearâ€™s winner â€” stated this yearâ€™s winner was a company â€śformed in 1990 by a person who became interested in the industry while he was still a senior in high school. Starting out with 45 employees, this company grew steadily.
â€śBy 2004, this business had achieved a presence throughout the state of Pennsylvania and employed 450 people.â€ť
Owner Tim Krise spoke about how much the award meant to him after the luncheon.
â€śItâ€™s a huge honor, and I donâ€™t take this award lightly,â€ť he said.
â€śThere are a lot of people in this room who I feel are more deserving, who do a lot for this community and never get recognized. Thatâ€™s what it takes to make this community so great.â€ť
The Business of the Year Award was initiated in 2004 by the Chamberâ€™s Board of Directors â€śto call attention to the contributions made by
the businesses to the community,â€ť said Jodi Presloid, Chamber vice president.
Each year, one business is recognized for its â€śhard work, proficiency and dedication to the community,â€ť she added.
Kriseâ€™s original business has become a subsidiary of a national corporation, but Krise has sprung three businesses of his own out of the original one, the winnerâ€™s write-up said, and Krise has become the vice president of the subsidiaryâ€™s Pennsylvania operation, which now employs approximately 1,100.
Krise spoke highly of his employees, saying that he would be â€śnothingâ€ť without them in his acceptance speech, also giving a great amount of credit to his wife for believing in him.
Krise said he knows exactly how dedicated his employees are to their jobs, adding that the reason the company is so great is their willingness to be good at their jobs.
â€śI would not be here if it wasnâ€™t for my employees,â€ť he said. â€śThe bus drivers are phenomenal, and theyâ€™re such a large part of our operation. It would be easy to take them for granted, but they get the students to school regardless of the road conditions. I have the utmost respect for them and their enjoyment of the job.â€ť
Kriseâ€™s nomination pointed out his dedication and devotion to not only his employees, but also to the community. Krise and his employees have given their time and resources to a number of local organizations, including the Red Cross blood drives, local food banks, the Salvation Army, the Crossroads project, the American Cancer Society
and, most recently, to Hurricane Sandy relief.
Kriseâ€™s company also donates the use of its vehicles to transport thousands on the busiest day in Punxsutawney â€” Groundhog
â€śI think itâ€™s important to step forward and be a part of your community,â€ť Krise said. â€śThere are so many groups and organizations that are in need of something, and I think if you canâ€™t give financially, they could really use your time. That alone can make a huge difference.â€ť
In addition to his employees, his wife, the school board and others, Krise gave a large part of the credit to another supporter who couldnâ€™t be at the presentation.
â€śMy Father, Dale, who is no longer with us, helped me financially and took a big chance on his oldest son in the beginning,â€ť Krise said. â€śThat really got the ball rolling. But there are too many people to mention who stepped forward and took a chance on me. I had very little money to start, and the chance they all took on me, following and supporting me, is one Iâ€™ll never forget.â€ť
Other nominees for this yearâ€™s award included: Billet Electric, Fairlady & Company, Gilson Stained Glass & More, Laskaâ€™s Pizza/Caterinaâ€™s, Marion Center Bank, P&N Coal Co., Proform Powdered Metals, Punxsutawney
Dental, Inc., Rosemanâ€™s Florist & Gifts and Standard Pennant Co.
Previous winners of the award in addition to the Spirit Publishing Company include: Ragleyâ€™s True Value Hardware, FEMCO Machine, Fezellâ€™s County Market, Foxâ€™s Pizza Den, BFG Manufacturing Services, Miller Brothers Furniture and CRW Home Center.
Also at the luncheon, Chamber President Jeff Curtis presented the State of the Chamber, saying that last yearâ€™s report was a bleak one, but he had better news to report this year.
Due to the turn in the economy and the cessation of the Ty Beanie Babies sales at the Chamberâ€™s store, Curtis said the group was not where it needed to be financially last year.
But he said â€śhard workâ€ť and â€śdedicationâ€ť led to the Chamber being in a much better place this year.
He also gave the yearâ€™s highlights:
â€˘ The current business count included in the
Chamber is 269.
â€˘ The Chamber held 8 ribbon cuttings this year, and four Chamber mixers were held.
â€˘ The community of Punxsutawney has seen changes to the business climate, including Graystone Court, the ATA terminal and many others, he said.
Curtis also said that the bridge closures for road work over the next year will add a challenge to the flourishing of the downtown businesses,
but it is a roadblock the Chamber hopes to help overcome.
He said the gift check program has been going well, and said an expanded Web presence has brought more exposure to the businesses in town.
Punxsutawney.com, the Chamberâ€™s website, is averaging over 10,000 hits per month, and a collaboration with Great Outdoors PA is leading to a smartphone app that will lead people to the businesses in town as well,
Finally, he offered thanks to the members for pulling together in tough times, and encouraged them to continue to do so.
The guest speaker for the event was Craig Pritts, of Chamber Choice and JRG Advisors, who presented on healthcare, especially for businesses, in the wake of change.