In a celebratory mood thanks to votes from their customers and visitors, about 125 people representing 51 businesses and events enjoyed the first News-Review Reader’s Choice Awards Celebration Thursday evening at the Roseburg County Club.
The top three placers in many of the 81 categories were recognized and presented with a framed certificate and a rose bouquet. Awards were determined by a vote of News-Review readers, either on a paper ballot or online, during a two-week period in October. A special section in Friday’s News-Review listed all the winners for 2013.
Those in attendance said they were pleased with Thursday’s gathering and appreciated the recognition.
“There’s really not enough recognition for small businesses,” said Christie Wuerst, the customer service supervisor for Douglas Fast Net, second-place winner in Favorite Internet Service Provider. “As a whole, for small businesses it is nice to be recognized for all the work we do. We can’t do it without the support of the small business community.
“To be recognized by the Reader’s Choice vote tells us how far we’ve come in the community,” she added. “We strive for customer service, for reliable service and to place one or two is recognition of our hard work. We’ve worked hard to get there and we’re proud of it.”
Mike Winters, owner of Wintergreen Nursery, Landscaping & Florist in Winston, said he was surprised a celebration event hadn’t been held in past years.
“It’s a chance to see and visit with other business guys and ladies,” he said. “These are the businesses where I get my hair cut, get my muffler fixed, get my tires changed. This is the real business community. These are the folks whose businesses were voted most favored by the consumer. They’ve selected our products and services as their favorites, and that’s worth recognizing.”
Wintergreen was voted first in the Nursery and Landscaper categories and was honorable mention in Florist.
Marv DeVoogd, owner of Green Collision Repair, said a little bit of recognition goes a long way in bettering the small business community. His business, after several years of finishing second in Auto Body Shop, placed first.
“We try hard to satisfy our customers,” he said. “I was shocked (to be first). Obviously some people out there appreciate that. The hard work pays off.
“This type of event helps bring out the competitiveness in all of us and our businesses, and obviously we’re all competitive or we wouldn’t be in business,” he added. “Second or third is nothing to be ashamed of, but a competitive person wants to be first. It would tell me I have to do something different to be first.”
DeVoogd said he’s a believer in advertising, keeping his business name out there on a consistent basis.
Phil Kaser, owner of Harvard Avenue Drugs and Gifts in Roseburg, said it was humbling to finish first in the Gift Store category. He gave credit for the Reader’s Choice honor to the store’s staff.
“We’re blessed with the staff we have,” he said. “Everybody has their niche and does it well. There’s a lot of places to buys gifts. We’re really proud of what we’ve got and the wonderful crew we have to run the store.
“This recognition makes you feel good,” added Kaser, who is semiretired from his business.
Scott Henry, owner of Henry Estate Winery of Umpqua, agreed that it is nice to be recognized by the consumer for the work done through the year. His business was first in the Winery category.
He was also appreciative of the gathering.
“We all do business here, but we hardly see each other,” Henry said. “It’s great to get together for some nice food and wine. How often do businesses get together like this to be recognized?”
Henry said it’s his belief that part of being in business is being involved in community activities. He said he stresses involvement with his staff at the winery, and believes that attitude is key in earning Reader’s Choice votes.
Henry Estate Winery has been tabbed the No. 1 winery for several years, but Henry said if it wasn’t, his business would just work harder to attain that honor.
“It’s important,” he said.
Kathy Bates, the special events coordinator for The News-Review, said she received numerous positive comments about the Reader’s Choice event Thursday evening and more by phone calls and emails Friday.
“Sometimes small business owners may feel like they get lost with all the big box type stores that are options for consumers,” Bates said. “We love doing this for the business community. These businesses love being known as a Reader’s Choice favorite.”
• News-Review business reporter Craig Reed can be reached by calling 541-957-4210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is nice to be recognized for all the work we do. We can’t do it without the support of the small business community.
Douglas Fast Net