The Bay County Chamber of Commerce announced the recipients of the 2018 Industry Appreciation Celebration (IAC) Awards at their annual breakfast on last Friday at Florida State University – Panama City.
“These awards show the hard work and dedication that these Bay County businesses put in every day,” said Carol Roberts, President/CEO of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce. “Without them, there would not be new opportunities for high-wage jobs being developed in our community for future generations.”
The prestigious IAC Awards Program, presented by Gulf Power Company, recognizes companies in Bay County that have gone above and beyond to diversify the local economy and build a better Bay. Award categories include export excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship, newcomer and business expansion. To be eligible, the company must be a for-profit business located in Bay County.
2018 Award winners
Business Expansion Award: GAC Contractors, Inc.
GAC Contractors, Inc. has invested $5 million dollars in 2017 in equipment to improve infrastructure in Bay County. With over 200 full-time employees, including adding 80 full-time jobs in 2017 with an average annual wage of over $40,000, this 60-year-old business is forecasting more growth over the next five years. The leaders of GAC believe in giving back to the community financially and by giving their time and resources to numerous organizations such as Bay Education Foundation, Salvage Santa, The Red Cross, Bay County Chamber of Commerce, FSU Foundation, Gulf Coast State College Foundation, the Lynn Haven Rotary, Bay County Contractors Association, Shaddai Shriners and many more.
Entrepreneurship Award: System Service & Engineering, Inc.
System Service & Engineering, Inc. started their air, plumbing and electrical company from a dining room table with just four employees and grew it to employ over 140 employees with an average salary of $60,000 in just six years. As they grew, they faced the challenge of finding qualified, skilled labor. To overcome the challenge, System Service & Engineering, Inc. teamed up with Haney Technical Center and offered in-house training. Since opening, System Service & Engineering, Inc. has expanded to offer heavier commercial/industrial services across the panhandle, and expect to grow 33% over the next 5 years. Through hard work, faith and support of a pro business community, leaders of System Service & Engineering, Inc. say they see nothing but a bright future for the company
Export Excellence Award: JENSEN USA, Inc.
JENSEN USA, a part of the JENSEN-GROUP, is an original manufacturer of industrial laundry machinery with over 170 employees in Panama City, 210 nationally, and 120,000 square feet of factory and offices. They take raw materials such as carbon and stainless steel and laser cut, weld, and bend them to create unique parts. Those parts are then assembled in the factory located in the heart of Lynn Haven and shipped world-wide. Working on mostly a manufacturer direct basis in all countries, JENSEN has expanded the sales territories for each of the Sales and Services Centers, including an additional three centers. Their market share has grown double digits for the past 6 years.
Innovation Award: Aaron Rich Marketing
Aaron Rich Marketing has developed innovations that are both process-oriented and innovative through their organizational structure. The company recently developed their their own website content management system which utilizes pre-developed code that can efficiently integrate into custom builds. This helps to ensure a competitive advantage for efficiency in developments allowing for full customization. The company also re-structured its’ organizational structure to combine their three service areas. Aaron Rich Marketing has a low voltage cabling business that serves as a feeder to the IT Support and Digital Marketing divisions. Typically, new clients in any of the three service areas have needs that cross-over to the other two business divisions. The combination allows them to leverage relationships and client satisfaction to create significant growth.
Newcomer Award: GKN Aerospace
GKN Aerospace decided to make Bay County its’ home due to Florida’s strong aerospace industry which was critical in the selection. Leaders of GKN say there is no substitute for the highly skilled workforce and that was found in Bay County with the strength in local military bases and strong educational community. They are currently employing 36 new, full-time positions with growth to 180 by 2020. Officials with the advanced technology aerospace manufacturer say they found great partnerships with Bay EDA, the St. Joe Company and CareerSource and that having the first location in Florida presents the ability to reach out to local and regional supplier partners.
The Bay County Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the many sponsors of the event: Gulf Coast State College; Hancock Whitney Bank; Lamar Advertising; Aaron Rich Marketing; Bay County Board of Commissioners; Berg Steel Pipe Corp; City of Panama City; GAC Contractors, Inc; GKN Aerospace; JENSEN USA, Inc; Port Panama City USA; Roberts & Roberts, Inc; Summit Bank; System Service & Engineers, Inc; and Trustmark Bank.
About the Keynote
Enterprise Florida is a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for Florida. With a mission to expand and diversify the state’s economy through job creation, Enterprise Florida works closely with a statewide network of economic development partners. They have championed Florida as the premier location for business expansion and relocations, created a renewed interest both nationally and internationally as a top state for business, and resulted in a significant number of new jobs and capital investments.
Mike Grissom is the Executive Vice President for Enterprise Florida. He is the point person for communications between Enterprise Florida and the Executive Office of the Governor, State Legislature, and partnering state agencies including the Department of Economic Opportunity, CareerSource Florida, Florida Department of Transportation and VisitFlorida.
Prior to joining Enterprise Florida, Mike served as the Senior Director at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He has held positions in the offices of Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum, as well as similar roles with legislative leaders in Kentucky, South Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
About the Awards
The one-of-a-kind awards presented at the Awards Breakfast were produced by Mr. Kurt Morris, Engineering Technologist at Gulf Coast State College. The awards were designed using Auto Desk Inventor, a 3D modeling software, and printed on the college’s 3D printer. These awards took over nine hours to design, and 12 hours each to print, and include working mechanics.