DeKALB – Last year was a year of big change for SundogIT.
In March, it was granted approval to renovate and relocate into the former Moxie building at 230 E. Lincoln Highway, and it now is fully operational at its new office.
This expansion was recognized by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, as it named the company 2017’s Business of the Year during Thursday’s annual Chamber dinner.
Cohen Barnes, owner of SundogIT, accepted the award and said there have been many changes over the past year, including the hiring of new staff members and the development of a strategic plan that brought focus on what Sundog wanted to be a as a company.
“From an execution perspective, SundogIT really crushed it,” Barnes said. “It was an extremely exciting event finding a building in downtown worth restoring and breathing new life into the building. It was a capstone of an absolutely wonderful year.”
The other finalists were Ace Machine and Tool Inc., Northern Rehab and Physical Therapy Specialists, OC Creative and Sears Hometown Store of DeKalb.
First Nonprofit Organization
After years of honoring the city of DeKalb’s finest businesses and leaders, the Chamber of Commerce specifically recognized another field of endeavor for the first time during the dinner – nonprofits.
Matt Duffy, executive director of the Chamber, said businesses and nonprofits usually have been recognized in the same category. The DeKalb Public Library, another nonprofit, was named the 2016 Business of the Year.
The honor of receiving the chamber’s first Nonprofit Organization Award went to the Safe Passage domestic violence shelter.
Mary Ellen Schaid, executive director of Safe Passage, said it was wonderful to receive the award, and this award really helps to raise awareness of the organization, which always is a goal.
“We’ve been around for 30-plus years, and it’s wonderful to get the community recognition,” Schaid said. “We have a tremendous staff that works so hard, and we really do make a difference in people’s lives and get them back on their feet when they are coming back from horrendous abuse.”
Safe Passage also underwent significant changes in 2017, including the offering of space specifically for male victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Other finalists this year included Adventure Works, the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association, the DeKalb County Community Gardens and the Egyptian Theatre. Duffy said that each nonprofit in the community is a winner because of the great work they do.
Two more names to the Business Leader Hall of Fame were added during the dinner.
Brad Manning, former owner of Brad Manning Ford who died in 2011, was posthumously honored for his service to DeKalb, as was Jerry Wahlstrom.
Two of Manning’s grandchildren accepted the award on his behalf and spoke about how their grandfather always would talk about how great a place DeKalb was in his travels.
Wahlstrom was acknowledged for his work in real estate, but his community investment stretches far beyond that line of work.
He has served with the DeKalb Barb Boosters and DeKalb Kiwanis and currently is the chairman of the Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb.
Shirley West of Resource Bank was named the 2017 Ambassador of the Year, which recognizes individuals who are actively involved in promoting the Chamber of Commerce by attending monthly meetings, going to ribbon-cuttings, mentoring new members to help ensure they are actively engaged in the community and other activities.
Duffy closed the dinner by saying chamber members continue to see the value of membership and making it the place to be for businesses and organizations is one of their goals.