Hundreds gathered at the Pioneer Pavilion last Thursday in downtown Puyallup to celebrate the winners of the 2013 Puyallup Sumner Chamber “Rising Star” annual awards breakfast.
The event gave thanks to the tireless work of those who support the military and business communities.
“It was interesting how passionate our (awards) committee was in selecting recipients who have really done tangible contributions to the community,” said Shelly Schlumpf, president and chief executive officer of the chamber.
John Rader, operations manager for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Sumner, took home the John Porter Memorial — one of the top awards that recognizes commitment and service to the community and the chamber. Rader also was elected chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.
“John takes it to the next degree,” Schlumpf said. “He is a great community resource.”
During the past several years, Rader has helped to turn Green Mountain Coffee Roasters into a source for regular volunteer contributions and community financial support. In 2011, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters hired the Pomegranate Center to design a central gathering place in downtown Sumner along East Main in the alleyway adjacent to Berryland Cafe.
“Our staff also did a number of volunteer hours at the Sumner Arts Festival this past year,” Rader said.
Because of its strong networking across Puyallup and Sumner, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters also picked up the Young Professional/Organization award.
Central to that effort was Green Mountain Coffee Roasters human resources assistant Sarah Knap, who, as part of the chamber’s Leadership Institute program, helped to spearhead the inaugural peanut butter drive competition between the cities of Sumner and Puyallup.
Before Rader was presented the awards, past board chair Rod Stephens handed the gavel to Rader to officially make him the chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.
“I call John Rader the king of Keurig,” Stephens said. “People at his plant affectionately refer to him as Darth Rader. Ever since John has been on the board, he has worked tirelessly. Up until 2012, John lived in Redmond, but he made sure to make it to every board meeting.”
After Rader took the gavel from Stephens, he thanked the past chairman, jokingly, for “herding a bunch of cats into a successful term of office.”
Rader said he promises to continue the commitment Stephens set to make the chamber the connector between businesses, education and the community.
“I look forward to the coming year,” Rader said. “We shall celebrate success.”
The Association of the U.S. Army presented a series of awards to commemorate individuals and businesses who have contributed to the AUSA during the past year.
Awards comprised Soldier of the Year, Military Spouse of the Year, Small Business Contributor, Corporate Contributor of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Member of the Year.
Eric Kantor of Strategic Advantage, a retired Army veteran, received Member of the Year for his work with AUSA. He worked to donate care packages to soldiers as they returned from Afghanistan. Kantor also received Volunteer of the Year from the chamber for his contributions to the AUSA.
Kimberly J. Harris, president and chief executive officer of Puget Sound Energy, was the keynote speaker who talked about the economic development the agency has implemented in the region through energy savings for PSE customers and investments in infrastructure.
“Our mission is to be safe, dependable and efficient,” Harris said.
Other chamber award winners included the IKEA Distribution Center in Frederickson for the Best Company to Work For, and Joshua Wilson, who received the Young Professionals/Individual award.
Greg Miller, operations warehouse manager at IKEA, said supporting a work-life balance for employees at the company is very important.
“IKEA’s vision is to create a better everyday life for co-workers and customers in the community,” Miller said.
The distribution center employes 106 people, including administrative staff members.
Wilson, the operations manager at Chase Construction North West, Inc., was recognized for his efforts to help Chase reach into the community and beyond. For example, Wilson helps in the company’s endeavor to grow a mission project in the village of Putti, Uganda.
“Giving back is at the center of everything we do,” Wilson said.
• John Porter Memorial: John Rader, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
• Volunteer of the Year: Eric Kantor, Strategic Advantage/AUSA; Sandy Maynard, Sumner School District
• Ambassador of the Year: Debi Gregory, Edward Jones
• Small Business of the Year (1-10 employees): Grossland Branding Co.
• Medium Business of the Year (11-50): Hampton Inn and Suites
• Large Business of the Year (51-plus): South Hill Mall/Cafaro Company
• Young Professionals, Individual: Joshua Wilson, Chase Construction North West, Inc.
• Young Professionals, Organization: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
• Non-Profit of the Year: Association of the United States Army
• Best Company to Work For: IKEA Distribution Center, Frederickson
• Entrepreneur of the Year: Craig Sorensen, Impressive Signs and Graphics; Katelyn Geddes, Salon Ish
• Business Innovations: Group Health CooperativeReporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.