Chamber honors local businesses


Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 9:08 p.m.

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce honored businesses that have combined community involvement with success Wednesday, with Gator Domino's Pizza and Glaeser Realty winning the overall large and small business of the year awards respectively.

Gator Domino's received high scores in revenue with $5 million in 2006, top brand recognition, lowest turnover and community involvement in organizations such as the United Way of North Central Florida, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, Keep Alachua County Beautiful, the chamber and numerous golf tournament fundraisers.

The company employs 181 people and plans to add two more Gainesville locations. Gator Domino's has also reduced its energy consumption by 15 percent.

Owner Freddie Wehbe dedicated the award to his employees, who he said couldn't attend because Halloween is their second busiest day of the year.

Glaeser Realty was recognized for its involvement in Junior Achievement, Guardian ad Litem, CrimeStoppers, Leadership Gainesville, Stop! Children's Cancer, the Children's Miracle Network and for hosting an Earth Day celebration. The company was noted for its goal that in every transaction the buyer and seller walk away happy.

Broker Mitch Glaeser thanked his parents, Ralph and Joan Glaeser, who started the company in 1963 and who took in 76 foster children.

"They helped me understand the value each one of us has to be able to give back to the community and how working together we can make it a better community."

In a new category this year, Alta Systems Inc. printing company won the Commitment to Environment Award sponsored by Gainesville Regional Utilities.

Alta was noted for recycling 99 percent of its waste, retrofitting its lighting to save energy use equivalent to three to four homes a year and plans to install a solar electric system.

United Shipping Solutions was named entrepreneur of the year. The company opened in 2006 and has grown 200 percent. Management is involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, gathering school supplies for Duval Elementary and chairing the chamber charity golf tournament.

Cloud 9 Spa Salon received the Business Expansion Award for its $250,000, 1,500-square-foot expansion and adding seven new employees with plans to add six to eight more, franchise the business and double revenues in five years to $5 million. The company was also recognized for providing Thanksgiving baskets to the needy, gathering supplies for Peaceful Paths, and hosting Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities and blood drives.

Meridian Behavioral Healthcare Inc. was named nonprofit business of the year. The company has implemented an open access program that allows walk-ins to receive services and has instituted a job coach training program that has placed 80 percent of its mental health patient participants in part-time work. The company is also involved in Rotary, the Child Advocacy Center, Leadership Gainesville, the March of Dimes, the annual Stop the Violence Rally and Guardian ad Litem, among others.

Winners were selected on a point system by a panel of former winners and other business leaders.

Other finalists were the Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County, Children's Home Society, City College, Comfort Keepers, Cox Communications, Crime Prevention Security Systems Inc., Gainesville Health and Fitness Center, Haven Hospice, Junior Achievement and Spa Royale.

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