Businesses and Professionals Honored at Chamber Choice Awards

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Business professionals and community members gathered Thursday evening at the Rainwater Conference Center for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber’s 5th annual Chamber Choice Award presented by Citizens Community Bank, to recognize outstanding businesses and professionals from 2013.

Rusty Simmons and Jordan Turman of Wild Adventures emceed the red carpet event that included the following award presentations: Ambassador of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, Members’ Choice Award, Small Business of the Year, and BIG Thinker Award.

Ambassador of the Year was awarded to the Chamber Ambassador who volunteered the most time throughout 2013, providing invaluable support on the Chamber’s behalf. Gerrell Aldridge of New Hire Solutions received this year’s honor after earning the most points for attending and assisting with Chamber events. These events include Ribbon Cuttings and Ground Breaking Ceremonies, Leading Business of the Week Presentations, Business After Hours, Chamber New Member Orientations and other special events.

The Young Professional of the Year award was presented to an employee who has made a significant impact on her employer’s bottom line. The winner was chosen based on the individual’s general positive impact and financial impact on the community. This year’s selection was based on letters submitted by each nominee’s employer. The 2014 Young Professional of the Year Award was presented to Angela Hobby of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College (WGTC) for her exemplary leadership and her contribution to the school’s dual enrollment initiative. Hobby was instrumental in tripling the number of dually enrolled students at WGTC and increasing the school’s bottom line by $300,000.

The Member’s Choice Award was awarded to a business that shows dedication to quality, customer/client services and courtesy within the community. This year a record-breaking 2,276 total votes were cast for the Member’s Choice Award. Newbern Family Dental Practice received the award for receiving the most votes. The business is owned and operated by Jeanne and Jeff Newbern.

Astro Exterminating Services was named the 2014 Small Business of the Year. This award honors a top-notch business with 100 employees or fewer that exhibits growth and stability in the business community. Founder Lamar Culbreth started Astro using one truck to provide pest control to residential and commercial customers. Since then, the company has grown to be Valdosta’s largest exterminating service business with 39 employees and more than 15,000 clients. Laura Culbreth Perlman, has carried on the tradition as manager and president of the Valdosta and Tifton offices since her father’s retirement.

The Chamber introduced the BIG Thinker Award in 2005, the year the Chamber was recognized as Georgia’s first “entrepreneur-friendly” community by Governor Perdue. The BIG Thinker was designed to recognize those entrepreneurs in the Valdosta-Lowndes community whose ideas, innovations and business savvy go above and beyond the norm. The award recipient was selected by a blue-ribbon committee of top business leaders in the community. This year’s award was presented to Susan and Chuck Steel, owners of Steel’s Jewelry. The presentation of the award featured a video in which the Steels described the beginning of their business and how the business came to be the origin of Summit Pointe.

For more information about the Chamber Choice Awards, please call (229) 247-8100 or visit