Chamber hands out business awards

Manager Terry Prentice accepted the Fulton County Business Partner of the Year from the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Electro-Metrics Corporation. (Photo submitted)

The Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual celebration “Cheers to Business” as a virtual event.

The most exciting highlight, the chamber’s business awards, continued virtually as we prioritize to support our members through this unprecedented time.

Another highlight was a virtual raffle on the platform Onecause.com. 

This raffle played an important piece in the Chamber’s year, as revenue raised will help continue to support the Chamber’s mission, which includes:

— Business Support: Exclusive chamber benefits, and premiere business referrals.

Kirsten E. Dunn and Gregory T. Dunn accepted the Montgomery County Business Partner of the Year from the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Dunn & Dunn, PLLC. (Photo submitted)

— Membership: All members have the benefit of a free web page that can be personalized. One of the many included advertising opportunities available.

— Advocacy: As a member, you have direct access to local, state, and federal decision-makers through Chamber representation.

— Workforce Development: Connecting local schools and businesses to help support a well-prepared, capable, and adaptable workforce.

— Tourism Development: Seeking a relaxing visit or relocation? Fulton and Montgomery Counties, have it all, in the foothills of the Adirondacks or the majestic Mohawk Valley.

Award Winners

Bob Channell accepted the chamber's Agricultural Business of the Year Award on behalf of Wemple & Edick's. (Photo submitted)

Centennial Business Award

The chamber presented the Centennial Business Award to The Leader-Herald!

The Leader-Herald has been an integral part of the community for more than a century; on August 30, 2021, it will celebrate its 134th year of publishing in the Fulton Mont­gomery region.

The Leader-Herald’s ancestry dates back to 1887 when the newspaper was called The Daily Leader. In 1921, the newspaper was merged with The Johnstown Daily Republican and became The Leader-Republican. In 1929, The Morning Herald was acquired and at the time was the oldest newspaper In Gloversville, at one time called The Standard and dated back to 1856. In 1955, The Morning Herald and The Leader Republican merged to form what Is now The Leader-Herald.

The newspaper was owned and operated by the Ormiston family until 1989 at which time it was sold to the Ogden/Nutting family from Wheeling, West Virginia. The newspaper’s editorial focus provides a locally published newspaper that not only gives us the local news of Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties, but also affords Its readers a complete package of national, International and state-wide news, sports and entertainment

Tammy and Matt Capano accepted the chamber's Family Award on behalf of Gloversville True Value. (Photo submitted)

Published six days a week, The Leader-Herald boasts a readership of over 11,000 daily readers and close to 16,500 Sunday readers. And, although this news source has a rich and storied history, The Leader-Herald has stayed on top of, and been very successful with, the new medias. The Leader-Herald website and cell phone app have brought our region to the global news scene. The website’s statistics are really impressive – the monthly average page views for 2020 was 2.8 million.

For the month of November 2020, the website enjoyed 95,000 unique visitors. In addition, the paper’s phone app in November of 2020 had 45,000 unique visitors. In addition, the paper’s Facebook page currently has over 13,000 “likes” and The Leader-Herald Is also active on Twitter.

For these 134 years, the newspaper has employed thousands of local residents. Scores of successful business leaders for over a century began their road to success as newspaper carriers, developing with this important job a strong work ethic. Many area residents who chose to work for the Leader-Herald did so for well over fifty years.

The Leader-Herald has been an essential part of the lives of several generations of local residents. Headlines of the beginning of world wars, followed by photos of local victory parades have been treasured in family remembrances along with clippings that have documented family heritages of births, weddings and of deaths.

For 134 years, The Leader-Herald has proudly reflected the mirror image of this region, has partnered with numerous organizations to add the value of an informed community to the quality of life in the region. It is pieces of our past, a daily part of our present lives, and a link to our futures.

The Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce awarded the Edward L. Wilkinson Industry of the Year Award to Hill and Markes, Inc. (Photo submitted)

Agricultural Business of the Year

The chamber presented the Agricultural Business of the Year Award to Wemple and Edick’s

Wemple & Edick’s is a business which was established in 1897. Bob & Laura Channell are the fifth owners since that time. Laura currently works as a JHS teacher and Bob is employed by Keymark Corporation of Fonda. At Wemple & Edick’s, Bob is the ice cream maker and maintenance man while Laura bakes and manages the day-to-day operations. Laura is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has had previous experience in ice cream retail as a co-owner of The Blue Moon of Esperance.

Wemple’s General Store was built in 1899 by Ephriam A. Wemple after he took over the cider business from his father, Eli Wemple. In the early days, Ephriam Wemple delivered goods from the store with a team of horses.

A grist mill was included with the store where feed was ground for the area farmers. This was sold in 1948.

Publisher Trevor Evans accepted the chamber's Centennial Award on behalf of The Leader-Herald. (Photo submitted)

There was a milk station behind the store where farmers left their milk cans for pickup. Barrels of cider were also sold.

Ephriam A. Wemple was born in 1868 and graduated from Albany Business College. He married Ada Suits in 1902. They lived on the corner of Route 334 until 1932 when the second floor of the store was made into an apartment. Their daughter Beatrice M. was born July 24, 1910.

George A. Edick went to work for Wemple in 1921 at the age of sixteen. In 1928, George married Beatrice and became a partner in 1930. The business changed to Wemple and Edick’s at that time. The Edick’s became full owners of the business in 1940 when they bought out Wemple’s second wife, Flora Wemple.

The store was open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week until 1942 when the store closed a half day on Tuesday due to rationing in World War II.

Chamber Family Award

The chamber presented the Chamber Family Award to the Capano family.

The Capanos have been a staple of Downtown Gloversville for over 20 years, running the New York Lunch Diner and open Gloversville True Value Hardware in 2019. Their businesses are located in the heart of the city, and they believe the store location is advantageous to the community, offering convenience to all parts of the city.

In a recent article from the Leader-Herald, Tammy said: “I feel there’s an advantage to being right here, The church across the street from us is the center of Gloversville. So it brings the community from all the way around us. And a hardware store is something where you want convenience, you want to be able to run in, grab what you need, and leave. I feel like having it being centrally located right here is perfect.”

Over the years, the Capano family has employed many local residents and have enjoyed serving the community. They continue to be grateful for the strong community support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is truly great to see how far someone will come specifically for a hot dog with meatsauce! Generations have come through their diner’s doors, with stories about their beloved restaurant. The hardware store also supports the community with much needed supplies and materials.

The Capanos are proud to be a part of the Fulton-Montgomery County Region, and will be expanding their family business with a hair salon to be opened in 2021.

Young Professional of the Year

The chamber presented the Young Professional of the Year Award to Amanda Bearcroft.

As the Director of Community & Economic Development, Amanda Bearcroft continues to move the city of Amsterdam forward. A Montgomery county native, Bearcroft grew up outside of Hagaman and then pursued her education in western New York and continued onto Ohio. After completing her masters, fate brought Bearcroft back to her hometown to work with a private engineering firm. While working in the private sector with municipalities and businesses, she realized her appreciation for the public sector.

In her current position at the city, Bearcroft continues to work with state and federal agencies, alongside stakeholders on a case-by-case basis for new development. “We are taking a holistic approach for Amsterdam’s future. We want Amsterdam to be a destination, but also a work and play city.” Bearcroft noted even with the current pandemic, they are busier than ever and are full steam ahead with Amsterdam’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). “There are an influx of people coming to upstate New York, specifically in the Mohawk Valley and investors and developers are noticing that.” In 2018, Downtown Amsterdam was selected as the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative in the Mohawk Valley.

Personally, 2020 was a year of gratitude for Bearcroft. She was the recipient of the Albany Business Review, 40 under 40. Bearcroft will now add, Young Professional of the Year to her growing list of accomplishments. Bearcroft is excited for the city’s future, but also her own. In her free time, Bearcroft enjoys hiking the high peaks of the Adirondacks and plans to join the elite group of Adirondack Forty-Sixers by the end of 2022.

Small Business Award

The chamber presented the Small Business Award to Jenny Rulison-Fisch, State Farm Agent

Many businesses are begun out of a desire of commitment, independence, hard work and a can-do spirit. Jenny Rulison-Fisch is a fine example of this, and much deserved to win the 2020 Small Business of the Year.

Jenny Rulison-Fisch, State Farm Agent offers auto, home, life, health insurance, and various other financial services. State Farm has been number one in auto insurance since 1942 and number one in homeowners insurance since 1964 in the United States. Jenny is an independent contract agent for State Farm since 2015. The office started its sixth year on Jan. 1.

Jenny and her team have achieved Honor Club and various other company promotions and continues to achieve corporate goals.

Jenny has also been a prime example of resilience and remaining committed to her community. Recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, her office was able to partner with State Farm Good Neighbor Community program, where she donated food and needed staples to the Mayfield Food Pantry at the Presbyterian Church and the Mayfield Fire Dept.

Industry of the Year

The chamber presented the Edward L. Wilkinson Industry of the Year Award to Hill and Markes, Inc.

Hill & Markes, Inc. is a 115-year-old, Montgomery County-based, family-owned wholesale distributor of food service disposables, janitorial supplies, office supplies, industrial packaging, PPE, and clean/natural foods. Their mission is to be good to their people, their customers, their community, and their earth.

Hill & Markes, Inc. dates back to 1906 when it was founded as a ice cream processor by Amos Hill and Charlie Markes. Amos and Charlie made deliveries by horse and buggy throughout Upstate New York, even during the harsh winter months. In 1947, Hill & Markes was purchased by Harry and Harriet Finkle. Harry worked from dawn to dusk peddled candy, tobacco, and toys to five & dime stores and pharmacies. In the 1970’s, Harry was joined by Neal Packer, Jeffrey Finkle, and Andrea Finkle Packer. This next generation grew the business through elimination of candy and tobacco (as they saw the entrance of big box stores to the market) and expanded into food service disposables and sanitation supplies. Jason Packer later joined the company in 2008. Jason has focused on building a more robust technologically-advanced infrastructure, building on the company’s corporate social responsibility, and a culture of giving back to the community. In the past several months, Jason has led the company into new market segments like grocery and convenient stores and expanded product lines to PPE products the community needs right now.

50 percent of Hill & Markes business is concentrated in the food service arena and 25 percent is concentrated in higher education and K-12.

All of those segments saw significant challenges in operating during COVID. While Hill & Markes was experiencing a 20-30 percent loss in revenue in early spring, their mission throughout the pandemic was to ensure no one in the company lost a job or saw a cut in income. Therefore, their team found creative procurement avenues, embarked on supporting new market segments, and they were fortunate to be able to stabilize the company.

Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Award

The chamber presented the Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Award to Arkell Museum at Canajoharie and the Canajoharie Library.

Museum & Library Executive Director & Chief Curator Sue Friedlander accepted the award on the Museum and Library’s behalf. She is elated to accept and is proud of her work and of the entire team — especially in a year of uncertainty for tourism. The Museum and Library partnership has been a staple in the community for many years, and because of her leadership and dedication to fulfill the organization’s long standing mission, they had a successful year. Despite unprecedented changes to the art shows and programs, the Museum and Library were able to reopen when safe to do so, and welcomed visitors from across the state and beyond.

The mission of the Arkell Museum and Canajoharie Library is to promote and celebrate the understanding and enjoyment of the arts and humanities; the Museum collects, preserves, researches and presents American Art and Mohawk Valley history, and promotes active participation in art and history related activities to enhance knowledge, appreciation, and personal exploration. The Library provides literary, entertainment, and information resources, and promotes the active use of these resources for recreation, education, and community engagement. “We serve and immediate population here in the Mohawk Valley, and attract visitors and followers from across the county and the world,” says Friedlander.

In 1925, Arkell’s founder and first president of the Beech-Nut Packing Company Bartlett Arkell built a library for the people of Canajoharie and hung 12 paintings from his own collection on the walls. This building was constructed from stone of an 1840 Erie Canal grain store.

Arkell then opened an attached Art Gallery (now Museum) in 1927 with a permanent collection “replete with beautiful notes for landscapists and suggestive and vital themes for historical painters.” He made it his mission to acquire beautiful artwork on the forefront of excellence, to make these works available to the community, and to support the work of living artists. Today the Museum and Library continue his vision to bring educational and artistic experiences and opportunities to our immediate community, and to attract visitors to the Mohawk Valley.

The most recent building expansion in 2006 was made possible with significant support from the Arkell Hall Foundation, which allowed the organization to add a classroom, great hall, and new exhibit spaces. Says Friedlander “we remain grateful to the Foundation for their continued annual support, which allows us to expand our community services, exhibit our collection, and develop new educational opportunities.”

Friedlander writes, “I am especially proud of several recent accomplishments: In 2020 we completed the full restoration of our original Reading Room windows; this project was made possible by a major New York State Aid for Public Library Construction grant and generous support from the Stockman Family Foundation. The windows have been returned to their historic beauty, and the Reading Room is vastly more comfortable for patrons and materials alike. I am also very proud that the painting “Winter” by Geri Melchers, which was discovered to have been stolen by the Nazis and unknowingly acquired by Bartlett Arkell, was officially repatriated to family heirs in 2020. It was an honor to work with the FBI and the family to make something right even after so long. We received so many compliments and thanks from people around the world; it was a “feel good story” just when we all really needed one.

The Museum has participated in prominent exhibits around the world (painting loans to China; Germany; Portland, Maine Gloucester, Mass.; Cooperstown, has been featured in scholarly catalogs, and are the recipients of many competitive grants from NYSCA, IMLS/MANY, and CTW.

The Museum and Library are no strangers for presence in the community. They have partnered with Fulton/Montgomery Regional Chamber on travel-writer tours, and work closely with the Canajoharie and Palatine Bridge Chamber of Commerce, and volunteer fire department on local events and fundraisers.

The Museum and Library worked quickly to accommodate the changes to adapt to a new tourism world.

They immediately increased their social media presence and began hosting regular programs via Zoom. When permitted to do so, they started offering curb-side Library pickup, and currently continue to offer this service. The Library expanded its Home School program by increasing the number of take-home kits and virtual presenters. Unable to host live concerts and programs, the Museum partnered with Caroga Lake Arts Collective Music Fest musicians to produce two exceptional art and music programs (available on YouTube). Friedlander states: “We practice “zone defense” in the building; occupancy limits are posted in each area of the building (timed entry not required). All returned Library materials are quarantined before being made available again; all public surfaces are regularly sanitized. And of course, floor markers for social distancing, plexi-shields, hand-sanitizing stations, and face masks are standard.”

A long-time resident of Cooperstown, Friedlander earned her undergraduate degree biology at Colgate University (where she rediscovered art, language, and literature in her junior year), and spent several years in bio-medical research before earning her master’s degree in art history at SUNY-Binghamton. An eighteen-month job offer in 1989 at the now Fenimore Art Museum lasted five years, and launched her long tenure as a consultant, researching and developing exhibits, collection plans, and more for museums and arts organizations including The Farmers’ Museum and (now) Fenimore Art Museum, Old Sturbridge Village, Hyde Hall, and Glimmerglass Opera. A chance consulting project in 2011 at the Arkell Museum led to regular collection work; Friedlander was made acting Museum Director & Chief Curator in February 2017, then Museum Director & Chief Curator, and Executive Director & Chief Curator of the Museum & Library in March 2018.

Thomas B. Constantino Entrepreneurial Award

The chamber presented the Thomas B. Constantino Entrepreneurial Award to Kevin Chamberlain, Upstate Coffee.

Upstate Coffee is some of the best coffee in New York and is quickly becoming a household name. The brand’s association to marinas, local vacation rentals, apple orchards, camping venues, and hiking trails has taken the company to new heights. Upstate Coffee has associated its branding through collaborations with well-known New York companies and destinations including; Adirondack Brewery, Hemp Farms of New York, PureADK, AllTrails, The Dyrt app, and many more.

The founder of Upstate Coffee, Kevin Chamberlain, started his roastery in the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market five years ago in the heart of downtown Gloversville. At the co-op, Upstate Coffee has become an integral part of the Fulton/Montgomery community, and has been able to build ties with local business vendors and customers from all over the state. The experiences, conversations and values learned while at the co-op is something Upstate Coffee cherishes and will always keep as part of its core mission.

Kevin is very community conscious and enjoys assisting other entrepreneurs in our area. Helping local businesses and students understand the importance of proper business startup, social media, marketing, E-commerce study and app integration comes natural for Kevin.

After graduating from University of North Dakota with a BFA in ceramics, he earned his MA in Ceramics at the University of Iowa in 2011 as a Bodine Fellow, as well as his Masters of Fine Arts with a museum studies certificate.

Kevin wrote his master’s thesis on business outreach and community engagement and is an alumni of the prestigious University of Iowa’s Interdisciplinary Obermann Fellow Student program. Kevin believes by having a well-established marketing strategy a company can be very profitable. The more businesses in our community that have successful marketing and social media platforms will help connect, strengthen, and enrich the community at large. Kevin shares his brilliant strategies with other entrepreneurs and young minds for continued success and economic development in Fulton/Montgomery region.

Kevin has also worked with the Fulton Montgomery Region Chamber for tourism initiatives and HFM PTECH. He works with area school administrators for collaborating and developing internships. Students not only learn about the art of roasting coffee, but also learn about E-Commerce and how to be a top-notch social media icon. Kevin shares his expertise and understanding of how to market your business online is and the wisdom he shares is extraordinary. He generously donates coffee and monetary support to local fundraisers, such as the Caroga Arts Collective golf tournament and gift baskets.

Kevin enjoys sharing all of what he has learned while Upstate Coffee grows.

He will achieve this mission by building long-term relationships with the people who want to be “a great place to work; where people are inspired to be the best they can be.”

Montgomery County Business Partner of the Year

FMS Workforce Solutions Centers have awarded the Montgomery County Business Partner of the Year Award to Dunn, Dunn & Dunn.

Dunn & Dunn, PLLC is owned and operated by Gregory T. Dunn and Kirsten E. Dunn, Attorneys at Law, and is located in Palatine Bridge. The business has been in operation since 2012.

Dunn & Dunn, PLLC is a general civil law firm focusing on real estate, business transactions, municipal law, probates, and estate planning.

Dunn & Dunn began utilizing the Workforce Solutions System’s services three years ago. They posted their job openings on the Job Bank and took advantage of the Customized Upgrade Training Program.

They have upgraded three of their employees to date. Furthermore, they continue to be consistent in their efforts to hire and train both new and current workers and maintain a secure, steady work environment for their employees.

FMS Workforce Solutions looks forward to a continuing partnership with Dunn & Dunn in workforce development. Congratulations to Kirsten and Greg Dunn and their staff for their success.

Fulton County Business Partner of the Year

FMS Workforce Solutions Centers have awarded the Fulton County Business Partner of the Year Award to Electro-Metrics Corp.

Electro-Metrics Corp., located on Enterprise Road in Johnstown, has a proud history of technical innovation and manufacturing excellence since its founding in 1963.

Today, Electro-Metrics is a leading designer, producer and integrator of antennas, sensors, and system for broadband Radio Frequency communications and testing. General Electric Company, Sylvania, Hitachi, British Aerospace Engineering (BAE), and Siemens are a few of the companies around the world that rely on Electro-Metrics’ products, technology, and manufacturing capability. Worldwide, government agencies including the highest levels of the US Government use their equipment to secure their most sensitive communications.

The chamber presented the Young Professional of the Year Award to Amanda Bearcroft. (Photo submitted)

Jenny Rulison-Fisch, a State Farm Agent, earned the chamber's Small Business Award. (Photo submitted)

Arkell Museum & Library Executive Director & Chief Curator Sue Friedlander accepted the chamber's Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Award on behalf of the museum. (Photo submitted)


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