Vancouver Chamber announces 2018 award winners

Recipients of the organization’s Business and Leadership awards were honored during a Tuesday event

John McDonagh
John McDonagh, president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, announces the award winners during last year’s Annual Dinner: Officer Installation and Awards event. The 2018 event was held this past Tuesday evening. Courtesy of Kate Singh Photography

The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner: Officer Installation and Awards event on Tuesday evening highlighted business leadership, honoring six winners of the organization’s 2018 Business & Leadership awards.

The winners – companies and individuals that have shown outstanding leadership skills – include large companies, small companies, start-ups and other notable members of the business community.

Business of the Year (Small Business)

Wendy Marvin, owner of Matrix Roofing, winner of the Small Business of the Year category, said she’s thrilled her company won, and noted that the event is both a great place to network and to learn about the accomplishments of other Vancouver business leaders.

“To be recognized by your peers is something special,” Marvin said. “Business leaders are a different breed. You come across road blocks, everybody does, but to have leaders there to help and reach out to is a huge help. The peer recognition is just amazing.”

Matrix Roofing was founded about 10 years ago with a small crew, and has since grown to 25 employees. The company, which does roof maintenance and replacement, participates in educational and training opportunities, including the Oregon Tradeswoman Career Fair, which is focused on women and girls, and a national giveaway program to help struggling homeowners called No Roof Left Behind.

“I hope we’re a resource for people to know they’re not alone,” Marvin said. “I think it’s a really neat thing that the chamber does awarding local organizations. It’s real, it’s legitimate and it unfolds you into a world of very cool people.”

Business of the Year (Large Business)

Silicon Forest Electronics, founded by Frank Nichols in 1999, won the Large Business of the Year category. The company has grown to more than 96 employees since then, with a management style that’s focused on listening, not just to customers, but to employees, contractors and everyone else the business touches, said Jay Schmidt, executive vice president and general manager.

“Our business philosophy is based on our goal of making a positive and profound impact,” Schmidt said. “How well we do depends on how well we address what we call our 360-degree-impact-circle. That’s been our emphasis for the past 10 years, working in that model to create pathways for employees, contractors and others that we work with. We do that through internships and working with community workforce partners to develop job skills training.”

Owner Frank Nichols, who has 46 years of engineering and manufacturing experience, created the company’s management style to focus on making a positive and profound impact to employees, customers, communities and shareholders through what he calls the “Listen. Connect. Improve.” strategy. He’s also a board member of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition, Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing, and a member of the Governor’s Aerospace Pipeline Committee.

Statesman of the Year

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey was awarded Statesman of the Year for his work improving citizens’ confidence in government.

The county’s population has grown nearly 40 percent since he took office in 1999, while Auditor’s Office employees have decreased by 14 percent, but that hasn’t stopped the office from making an impact. Due to changes in Washington’s election system, in the future, citizens will be allowed to register to vote on Election Day, and some citizens will be automatically registered to vote. The Auditor’s Office is also working with the Secretary of State to replace and improve the state-wide voter registration system. Kimsey was also recognized by Washington’s Secretary of State as the “Local Government Official of the Year.”

2018 Start-Up to Watch (defined as first five years in business)

Why Racing Events and CEO Sherri McMillian won the 2018 Start-Up to Watch award for the athletic events company’s work raising more than $300,000 for the community and for offering free race entries to groups like children, the military, breast cancer survivors and those going through alcohol and drug therapy.

Why Racing Events, Inc. offers athletes of all abilities, from the elite level to first-timers, the chance to successfully train for and complete various types of races including fun runs, triathlons, adventure events and more while raising awareness and funds for important community causes. Why Racing provides people with the guidance, support, resources and various types of training programs to help inspire them every step of the way.

So far, Why Racing Events has grown from four events to 12 over three years.
Community Champion

Share’s Director of Volunteers Dellan Redjou won the Community Champion award for her outstanding community contributions. She manages almost 4,000 volunteers a year. She’s been an active member of the Hazel Dell Salmon Creek Business Association for 26 years and a member of the Greater Clark County Rotary Club, where she twice served as president. She also spent 15 years as the chair of the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands.

This year, Redjou was also co-chair of the Rotary Club of Greater Clark County’s annual Rummage Sale; and she, along with her late husband Wayne, was inducted by the Rotary Club of Vancouver Sunrise into the Clark County Hall of Fame. She also was a competitor in the Dancing with the Local Stars competition, supports Habitat for Humanity, Open House Ministries, American Red Cross, Friends of the Carpenter and more.

John S. McKibbin Leadership Legacy Award

Brent Grening, CEO of the Port of Ridgefield, won the John S. McKibbin Leadership Legacy Award. Grening has spent nearly two decades in the position, and was recognized for his role in growth and economic development in Ridgefield and North Clark County. He’s one of the founding leaders of the concept of the Discovery Corridor, an economic development effort on I-5 from Northeast 134th Street to Northeast 319th Street. He also helped approve the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass to Ridgefield Waterfront. He’s been a long time participant on the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) Board of Directors Executive Committee, and he’s also part of the Advisory Council at Washington State University Vancouver.

Grening’s work led to the completion of a 20-year, $90 million environmental cleanup of 40-plus acres of waterfront property, regarded as the largest non-Superfund remediation in the state.

Nelson Holmberg, who nominated Grening, touted Grening’s “positive attitude, can-do spirit, participation and visibility in the community, expressed thought leadership and active leadership,” as reasons why he nominated him for the award.

“For nearly two decades as the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Ridgefield, Brent has played a critical role in the responsible growth and economic development in Ridgefield and North Clark County- but also across the county and the Portland-Vancouver metro area,” Holmberg said.

“He is the on-the-ground leader behind the concept of the Discovery Corridor (1-5 from Northeast 134th Street to Northeast 319th Street) and the transportation infrastructure improvements that have occurred to position Discovery Corridor for its past, present and future economic development in Ridgefield and North Clark County.”