The Pell City Chamber of Commerce received nominations for local businesses and citizen of the year from their members. Each was voted on and tallied and awards were given out on Dec. 5 during a luncheon at Eden Westside Baptist Church. More than 175 Chamber members from multiple businesses were in attendance.
“Determination is what drives us everyday,” said Pell City Chamber Board President Brandon Turner. “That’s what helps a community prosper.”
Businesses were nominated in several categories including Small Business, Medium Business, Large Business, Small Industry, Large Industry, Non-profit, and Citizen of the Year.
The Citizen of the Year came down to three nominees, Larry Daugherty, Caran Wilbanks, and Jean Speer. The winner by a close margin was Jean Speer.
Jean Speer is the Co-Founder and Board Member of the Good Works Charitable Foundation, which was also nominated as a Chamber Non-Profit of the year. This nonprofit charity hosts a monthly food resource program for those less fortunate, living in poverty, neglect and in food insecure households.
For over 20 years, Speer has conducted a much-needed October coat, mitten, hat and blanket drive. Jean has been a Community Swim Instructor since 1992, providing FREE Swimming Lessons to adults, children over the age of 3 and persons with special needs. Since 2014, Jean has served as a volunteer for the Special Stars Prom hosted by the Pell City Civitans Club. This annual prom is for children between the ages of 15-22 with special needs. In addition to volunteering at this event, Jean spends the year collecting prom dresses for many of the attendees.
She serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity (Greater Birmingham) which services Jefferson, Walker, Shelby and St. Clair Counties. She is a previous Board Member for Habitat for Humanity (Pell City) and she served as the 2018 Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity (Pell City) House Number 14. She has served in the past at the YWCA Our Place Domestic Violence Shelter, the YWCA St Clair County Steering Committee, has been a member of the Business Professional Women’s Club of Pell City and served as the St Clair County Representative for One Roof Alabama, a clearing house and center of coordination for the homeless Continuum of Care system for Central Alabama.
“Thank you. It is such an honor to be considered for this award and for my non-profit to be nominated as well,” said Jean Speer. “When people ask me how I do all these things, I can’t do them without all of you. My father and mother instilled a lot of me. Always invest in people. Do what you think you can’t and surround yourself with people that make you better.”
The winner of the Small Business of the Year is Main Street Drugs. Curt Eddy, along with his wife Jennifer, opened MainStreet Drugs & Gift Shop in July 2014. After operating two other successful pharmacies in St. Clair County, Odenville and Ashville Drugs, they wanted to bring their philosophy to their home community of Pell City. The philosophy is simple: “take care of every patient as you would take care of your mother.”
They are a Hometown drug store. It’s not just a slogan; it is a way of life for them. They still answer the phone the old fashioned way, no recordings. There is also an emergency number to reach a pharmacist after hours if needed. They offer free delivery, drive through service, vaccinations, cholesterol and blood sugar screenings, blood pressure monitoring and conduct local and state employee wellness screenings. They also have a gift shop where you can find a gift for most any occasion.
The winner of the Medium Business of the Year is Dixie Sod Farm. Mr. Marlin “M.S.” Hugghins started Dixie Sod Farm in 1976. Mr. Hugghins was a pioneer for sod farming here is the U.S. He was able to bring the first tractor mounted harvester here from Canada in the 1970s. Over the years Dixie Sod has been successful in its business through several generations. M.S. Hugghins owned and operated the business from 1976 until 1989. In 1989, Richard Smith, the son-in-law of Mr. Hugghins took over the business. Smith was in charge of operations until his passing in 2005. At that point, Matthew Smith, Richard’s son, took over the management of the sod farm. After three years of running the business, Matthew was put in a position to re-brand, or remarket the sod business, due to the economic recession. Today the business is thriving and has made many economics impacts to St. Clair County and the City of Pell City. Dixie Sod and Matt Smith are dedicated to not only supplying a great product, but also giving back to the community. They are involved with the local Habitat for Humanity, the Good Works Charitable Foundation and with local school athletic programs. Dixie Sod Farm and Matt Smith are honored and overjoyed to have been chosen for this great award.
The winner of the Large Business Award is Pell City Chick-Fil-A.
“Each day provides us ample opportunities to impact Pell City in a positive manner. Each transaction provides us an opportunity to impact a guest’s life in a positive manner. Each shift provides us an opportunity to help a team member grow into the man or woman they were designed to become,” said Pell City Chick-Fil-A owner Brian Jennings. “As we seek to maximize those opportunities through the relationships we build, we are building a legacy that we hope will outlive our time at Chick-fil-A Pell City, and, in the process, we will leave the community a little better than we found it.”
The winner of the Small Industry Business Award is Royal Foods. The Royal Foods brand is recognized throughout the Southeast as a leading producer of fine meat products. A family owned business the company was launched in 1978 in Enterprise, Alabama. After moving to Troy, Royal Foods was incorporated in October of 1983. They moved to Pell City in 1992, where they currently offer over 50 products including hams, picnics, bacon, turkey cuts, and a broad range of smoked and fresh pork cuts, and of course smoked sausage that they distribute throughout the southeast. Royal Foods employs 150 to 180 full time employees.
Over the years Royal Foods has supported not only the city and the community, but St. Clair County and the surrounding area as well. From the school’s academic and sports organizations, to Public Service employees, to religious and charity fund raisers, Royal Foods has tried to support as many local causes as possible.
“Without this wonderful city and our product supporters, we would not be where we are today,” a representative sent in a release. “With a quarter century of experience, Royal Foods is honored and humbled to be nominated for this award.”
Winner of the Large Industry Award is Garrison Steel. The Garrison Steel Group is made up of three Companies, all of which are located here in Pell City. The oldest and largest of the Companies is Garrison Steel Erectors which was founded in 1992 by John Garrison. They were originally located in Birmingham and moved to Pell City in 2004.
“A community is no better than its people and there are great people [in St. Clair County],” said owner John Garrison. “We have seen a lot of solid growth and a great community. We’re just glad to be a part of it.”
The Non-Profit of the Year Award winner is The Children’s Place. The St. Clair Children’s Advocacy Center was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1993. This is their 25th year serving the children and families of St. Clair County in a child friendly atmosphere by making them feel comfortable in unpleasant circumstances. The mission of The Children’s Place is “to foster family development and to enhance family functioning by coordinating services for children and families involved in child abuse”. The center also facilitates cooperation between agencies, offers training for professionals, and provides education that will increase public awareness and prevent child abuse in the community.