Celebration of Winter Haven 2013-2014

Feeling Good

This past Tuesday the Chamber held the 2014 Annual Meeting and the theme was It’s a New Dawn… It’s a New Day… It’s a New Life… And We’re Feeling Good! And after taking a look back at everything that has happened in the last year, we certainly have reasons to feel good!

It was a night of celebration as outgoing Chairman of the Board, Mr. Steve Crisman with Cross, Fernandez & Riley, LLP, reflected upon his tenure as chairman. He remarked that “I don’t think that anyone can argue that there is a new energy to Winter Haven. Over the last year we have had some major milestones to celebrate.” He went on to describe the opening of the CSX Central Florida ILC, the “launch” of Florida Polytechnic University, the opening of Polk State’s Advanced Technology Center and the groundbreaking of their college of Public Safety, the sale of the land adjacent to the ILC for development, the opening of the Winter Haven Public Education Partnerships Education Center and the expansions at LEGOLAND Florida including the Florida Pool and Oriental Gardens, Duplo Valley and the groundbreaking and construction of the LEGOLAND Hotel, opening in Summer 2015. And while large-scale additions are important to our economy, there were many small businesses who also made their mark on the year. From dozens of ribbon cuttings, capital investments and new building construction, to those entrepreneurs who have taken the risks and opened their own business – this year was a year of growth.

All in all there were many things to celebrate. A few honors were bestowed as well.

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Ruth Hooper & Steve Crisman

The Chamber inducted a new Presidential Ambassador, Mrs. Ruth Hooper with All About Time Clock Shop. Our Chamber Ambassadors are a dedicated team who work tirelessly to help our members feel WELCOME and VALUED. We currently have 17 Ambassadors that give a great deal of their personal time for the good of the Chamber. Five  years ago our Ambassadors helped to create a program to recognize exceptional dedication and commitment to the role. The ones who meet these criteria are our Presidential Ambassadors. This year Ruth was added to the 7 other Presidential Ambassadors.

Mike Potthast

Katie Worthington, Mike Potthast & Steve Crisman

The Leadership Winter Haven Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes an individual who has carried through the lessons learned and knowledge gained throughout their time in Leadership Winter Haven into their career and community life. This year’s winner has done that – most notably in this case how one individual can impact the portrait of our community. Mike Potthast began working in his father’s studio at the age of 5, learning how to process film in the darkroom. Since that time, he has loved the art of photography and has spent his adult life documenting the beauty and authenticity of Winter Haven and beyond through his small business, Potthast Studios. Over the years the business has grown and Mike has certainly captured some memorable moments – from Sheriff Grady Judd and his deputies dressed like the Wild West, to local citizens staged for recreation of favorite movie posters, to an annual nativity photo layout that adorns his studio windows on Central Avenue each year, to the most intimate of family moments – a new born or a blushing bride. His business has grown over the years, and besides personal portraits, he has become a go-to photographer for many corporations seeking business photography, headshots and videography.

2014 Winner, Nikki Smith, ASAP and 2013 Winner Dr. Mitsie Vargas with Orchid Springs Animal Hospital.

2014 Winner, Nikki Smith, ASAP and 2013 Winner Dr. Mitsie Vargas with Orchid Springs Animal Hospital.

The Industry Award for a company with less than 100 employees went to ASAP Advertising Solutions and Printing. For over 13 years, ASAP has been making companies look good. From designing unique printed materials to coming up with creative marketing solutions, ASAP Advertising Solutions and Printing, strives to establish tightly knit relationships built on trust, innovative ideas and helping their clients reach a maximum audience for the best price.

A company of only 8 employees, ASAP operates under the philosophy that being strategic and consistent quality and service is what allows them to have grown over the years. During the last 5 years, they have invested over a half million dollars in equipment and facilities to ensure they are staying at the cutting edge of their industry. Just recently they acquired a printer that allows them to print on many different kinds of materials including PVC, magnets, window clings, bad stuffers, signs, posters and so much more, all at lightening speeds, allowing for faster turn around for their clients. They also believe in giving back and allow each employee to take up to a week, fully compensated, for community outreach, mission trips or other charitable acts of service.

2014 Winner Oliver Pietri, The Results Companies and 2013 Winner Peter DeVito with Brown International

2014 Winner Oliver Pietri, The Results Companies and 2013 Winner Peter DeVito with Brown International

The Industry Award for a company with more than 100 employees went to The Results Companies. Located at 5300 Recker Highway, The Results Companies moved into Winter Haven in 2010 and began running their facility with 250 employees offering a premier global customer experience through their uniquely designed, built, operated and award-winning call centers. Their services range from customer service, acquisition, enrollment, retention, member support services, transaction processing and outbound sales.

Over the last four years, The Results Companies have invested in both their facility and their workforce. They recently held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the renovation of their building and received a visit from Florida Governor Rick Scott who recognized them for their investment in creating jobs for our community. Now at 350 employees and looking to add another 100 employees by the end of October, The Results Company is quickly expanding and offering quality jobs to the people of Polk County. They anticipate gaining 3 to 4 additional lines of business over the coming years and project a final employee count of about 600 people. The majority of the staff at the Winter Haven facility is bilingual. Just a brief walk through their call centers gives you a feel to their work environment: Collaborative, energetic and positive. At The Results Companies they don’t just believe in keeping their employees happy. They believe it is their duty to foster employees’ growth. Just over the last 9 months, 30 front line employees have been promoted. They believe their job is to prepare their employees to become leaders both within their organization and within the community.


Past Presidents Pass the Gavel

As is tradition, past presidents from the 80’s to today gathered for the passing of the gavel that ended with outgoing Chairman Steve Crisman passing the gavel to Greg Littleton, President of Citizens Bank & Trust, the 2014 – 2015 Chairman of the Board.

Outgoing Chairman Steve Crisman passes the gavel to incoming Chairman Greg Littleton.

Incoming Chairman Greg Littleton accepts the gavel from outgoing Chairman Steve Crisman.

Greg looked forward, outlining the three year strategic plan that the Board of Directors put into place during their summer board retreat.

The following installations were approved:

Nominated to a first three-year term:

  • Jennifer Fasking, State Farm Insurance
  • Angel Neubrand, Winter Haven Hospital
  • Bob O’Malley, CSX
  • Claire Orologas, Polk Museum of Art
  • Martha Santiago, Polk State College

Reappointed to a second-three year term:

  • Mike Mahalak, Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Winter Haven
  • Ingram Leedy, Protected Trust
  • Amy Sumerlin, Bright House Networks

Officers for 2014 – 2015:

  • Chairman                                      Greg Littleton
  • Chairwoman-elect                       Debbie Harsh
  • First Vice Chair                            Hap Hazelwood
  • Treasurer                                      Adrian Jones
  • Immediate Past Chairman        Steve Crisman


Check out the video below created to kick off the program and view photos from the event on our Facebook page.

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This entry was posted in Chamber Events, Economic Development, Education, Florida Polytechnic, LEGOLAND® Florida, Observations, Perspective, Polk State College, Small Business Opportunity, Success Stories, Tourism. Bookmark the permalink.

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