Chamber names Company of the Year in annual ceremony – Albert Lea Tribune

Chamber chooses company of the year at annual ceremony

Published October 27, 2022 10:05 p.m

Cargill Foods was named Large Company of the Year at the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Thursday at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club.

The Heimatbundessparkasse with its 12 active employees was voted Small Business of the Year. Good Steward Consulting – which won Small Business of the Year in 2017 – was Medium Business of the Year.

It was the first year in the past two years that the event has been held in person, having gone virtual due to the pandemic.

The event began by honoring retired Chamber members including former Superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools Mike Funk, Ryan Langemeier of Riverland Community College, Heather Lee of Country Inn & Suites, Kevin Miland of Mrs. Gerry’s and former Board Chairman Mike Chandler of the Renewable Energy Group.

“We want to thank you for all you have done over the years that you have served in the Chamber,” said Beau Hartman, the Chamber’s retiring board chairman.

The Chamber also recognized new members, including John Double from Albert Lea Community Education, Janelle Koepke from Riverland Community College, Greg Thomas from Innovance, and Lou-Rich and Lisa Christensen from Mrs. Gerry’s.

Gary Schindler is the new 1st Chair of the Chamber Foundation, while his Co-Chair will be Noelle Hagen of Albert Lea Economic Development.

Kim Nelson, Kathy Woodside and Catherine Buboltz will leave the company and Cathy Malakowsky will join the board.

Sandy Jensen was named Ambassador of the Year for the second year in a row.

“This is the first time in the history of ambassadors that this has ever happened,” said Chamber Executive Director Shari Sprague. “The ambassadors set their own policies or statutes or whatever you want to call them. And so they decided how to choose the Ambassador of the Year.”

The award was based on who had participated in the most chamber activities.

Sarah Stultz was voted Volunteer of the Year for her work with the all-inclusive playground.

Stultz attends Noon Kiwanis, serves on the board of directors of The Salvation Army, and is active on their church council. She also played a key role in Splash Pad.

“She does so much for the community and is always busy acknowledging other people, so we really wanted to acknowledge her,” Sprague said. “The board was unanimous in this decision.”

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