Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce awards were presented at a Business Appreciation Luncheon on Wednesday at the Bassett Country Club. Above, award winners are (from left) Jerry Wood with Technical Machine Service Inc., Small Business of the Year in Manufacturing; John Parkinson with Drake Extrusion, Business Person of the Year; Tonya and Anthony Martin with ATM Motors Inc., Small Business of the Year in Retail; Danny Wulff with Chick-fil-A, Small Business of the Year in Service; and Billy Russo with the Smith River Sports Complex, Young Professional of the Year Award. At right is Phil Gardner, chairman of the chamber’s board. More Photos Thursday, May 31, 2012 By MICKEY POWELL – Bulletin Staff Writer John Parkinson, chief executive officer of Drake Extrusion, was presented the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s “Business Person of the Year Award” on Wednesday for his work to improve the local economy. Parkinson received the award during the annual Business Appreciation Luncheon, held at the Bassett Country Club and co-sponsored by the chamber and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). Phil Gardner, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, called Parkinson “a true business leader and advocate of this community.” Drake Extrusion, a company based in England that makes fibers for various industries, has expanded six times since it opened its plant in the Martinsville Industrial Park in the mid-1990s. The plant now has about 180 employees. It is the company’s only U.S. facility. “(Drake’s) commitment to our community and confidence in our work force continues to shine … with each expansion announcement,” Gardner said. Since moving to the area to run the plant, Parkinson “has always believed that Martinsville-Henry County is a great place to live, work and play,” said Gardner, referring to the executive’s “persistent spirit and tenacity.” Parkinson has worked to strengthen the local business community through his involvement in the chamber, the Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG) and the EDC, of which he now is chairman, Gardner noted. Many other awards were presented during the luncheon, which about 140 people attended. ICF International received the EDC’s “Keystone Award,” presented annually to the local company that created the most jobs during the past year. The company, which provides various services to other companies ranging from marketing research to processing energy-efficiency rebates, recently opened a state-of-the-art facility in the Patriot Centre industrial park. ICF has 173 local workers and plans to increase that number to 539 during the next two years, according to EDC President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Heath. “We (the EDC) look forward to helping you grow” in the future, Heath told ICF executives in attendance. Jim Frith, president and chief operating officer of Frith Construction Co., received the EDC’s “Ambassador Award.” It is given to someone who goes “above and beyond the call of duty” to help host visits by executives of companies considering the area for possible growth, said EDC Marketing Director Lisa Lyle. Commending his enthusiasm, Lyle recalled that Frith recently helped a new local business — which she did not identify — find a suitable building after one of his firm’s buildings was found unsuitable for the firm. Previously, the company was identified as Laminate Technologies. Frith’s philosophy, Lyle said, is that “when a company comes or expands here, we all win.” Solid Stone Fabrics received the EDC’s “Small and Minority Business Award.” The company produces a variety of fabrics for uses ranging from banners for universities to costumes for theme park performers, according to Lisa Fultz, director of the EDC’s small, minority and entrepreneurial division. Fultz said the company’s sales have risen 52 percent in the past year, and founder David Stone has helped the EDC develop educational programs for local schools on entrepreneurship. Craig “Rocky” Rockwell, operations manager at Philpott Lake, received the EDC’s “Tourism Achievement Award.” Jennifer Doss, director of the EDC’s tourism division, said Rockwell helped establish a fishing dock at the lake — a popular tourist attraction — and is involved in efforts to build a marina there. He also has been involved in developing partnerships between communities to promote the area to tourists, Doss said, noting that when people search for places to visit, “they don’t pay attention to (geographic) boundaries.” Billy Russo, director of the Smith River Sports Complex, received the “Young Professional of the Year Award.” It is presented to someone 35 or younger who works for a business that is a chamber member. A letter of recommendation for a nominee must be provided. Since Russo took its helm in April 2010, the sports complex has diversified its marketing to include eight sports, and it is hosting many sporting events and tournaments, according to Gardner. In the past fiscal year, Gardner said, the complex’s economic impact on the area was “well over a million dollars … and hopefully with announcements of new sporting events, that number will continue to grow.” He added that Russo “truly encompasses all of the traits of a … strong leader of this community.” Chick-fil-A received the chamber’s “Small Business of the Year Award for Service.” Gardner said the fast-food restaurant at Liberty Fair Mall has seen its sales jump 17 percent in the past three years. It also has increased its staff by 20 percent during that period, he said. “This business exhibits the very best customer service around,” Gardner said, “and they (the company) are frequently regarded as a model for best practices in the retail and customer service fields.” ATM Motors was presented the chamber’s “Retail Small Business of the Year Award.” Gardner said the firm’s sales rose 39.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, and its number of full-time employees has risen by 33 percent. Owners Anthony and Tonja Martin “provide excellent customer service, and as good as they are at that, they are even better people,” said Gardner. Technical Machine Services received the chamber’s “Small Business of the Year Award in Manufacturing and Distribution.” Gardner noted that the firm recently doubled its sales and staff and acquired another local business, Collinsville Machining Co.