Galbreath and Sons’ Heating and Air, Inc. was named the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Business of the Year and Caitlin Young was named the Chamber’s top ambassador for 2016 at the organization’s annual meeting and banquet Jan. 12 at the Richmond Hill City Center.
Young was introduced first at the event, which drew a large crowd of local business and civic leaders. Naomi Havens, last year’s ambassador of the year, introduced Young.
She was clearly surprised.
"Oh my gosh," said Young, who thanked the Chamber and said she joined as an ambassador because, "I like to get other people involved in helping the community."
Galbreath and Sons owner Larry Galbreath and his son, Steven Galbreath, accepted the 2016 Business of the Year award from last year’s winner, Audrey Singleton of Richmond Hill Montessori School.
"I’m thankful for my immediate family and my business family, because you do get real close to the people you spend a lot of hours with," Larry Galbreath said. "I was thinking about the list of (previous winners) and I feel real honored to be among those folks. I think we don’t to anything special, we just try to be a good neighbor to our community, try to help others when we can and certainly not hurt them in anyway."
Galbreath, whose business was founded nearly four decades ago in Richmond Hill, also spoke about the importance of managing Richmond Hill’s booming growth.
"I’ve enjoyed watching this community grow," he said. "I like how it is now, but I reminisce about the old days too. I just like controlled growth where we use our heads a little bit and not grow anything anywhere."
Galbreath’s son also said he was honored to have grown up with many of those now among the community’s business leaders.
"Hopefully we’ll be around another 36 years and one day my kids will be working for the business," he said. "Thank you."
During the meeting, RHBC Chamber Board Chairman Jim Gardner spoke of the community’s resilience in the face of storms.
"That should’ve been a premonition, when we saw (Hermione) barreling through here, that it was going to be a challenging year for all Bryan County residents, but particularly those in Richmond Hill," he said. "Hurricane Matthew made sure 2016 was a year we’d all remember. But this fall demonstrated just how close of a business community Richmond Hill and Bryan County are, and it allowed us to weather this storm with as little residual effect as possible. It made me proud."
Hurricane Matthew ultimately caused the cancellation of the Chamber’s biggest moneymaker, the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival, but Gardner said that, too, showed how tightly knit the business community is.
"Even though we had to cancel the Seafood Festival in 2016, I’m proud to say we’re coming back strong in 2017," Gardner said.
Before the meeting ended, Gardner turned over the gavel to his successor, Trace Palmer.
Palmer urged those in the building to shop local, noting he saw a sign at a stop in Connecticut that said 56 cents of every dollar spent locally remains in the community, while only 16 cents of that dollar spent in a big box store or national retailer stays at home.
"So if you’re thinking about traveling to Walmart or Home Depot or Target, stop down at Plantation Lumber or Ace Hardware or someone else local instead," Palmer.
"And look for that chamber logo when you go to shop local," Palmer added. "Help a chamber member out, because they’re trying to help you and your family."