2018 Awards of Excellence


The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Awards of Excellence recipients were announced Feb. 13. The recipients, recognized by Nicole Christensen, Chamber Board President (left), are (left to right) Joe Wright, Kennon, Large Business; Roy Garber and Tom Tom Belus, Whitney Benefits, Strength of Sheridan; Amy Albrecht, Spirit of Sheridan; Yvonne Swanson and Rhonda Weber, Advocacy & Resource Center, Key Service Award; Jessica Garrelts, Cottonwood Kitchen + Home, Business Person of the Year; Becky Cooper, Kennon, Large Business; Keith Kershaw and Jessica Bohnsack, Landon’s Greenhouse & Nursery, Small Business.

The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce announced the recipients of the 2018 Awards of Excellence during the Feb. 13 Chamber Lunch at the Holiday Inn Sheridan.

The awards presented and the recipients are:

Spirit of Sheridan
This award honors a business or individual who volunteers countless hours for the betterment of the Chamber and Sheridan County: demonstrates vision, ambition, and drive to serve the community and the mission of the Chamber, understanding a community thrives when those in it invest and contribute to its success.

2018 Recipient: Amy Albrecht
Amy Albrecht serves as director of the Center for a Vital Community (CVC) at Sheridan College. The CVC’s mission is to engage citizens to strengthen the community by focusing on leadership training, nonprofit support and identifying and moving community initiatives forward. A Wyoming resident since 1992, Amy is a founding member of The Food Group, helping it grow from feeding 150 kids on the weekend to now 485 kids, as well as implementing Tiny Pantries, Teen Pantries and summer books. She also is the current chair of the Wyoming Nonprofit Network, helping to bring the WY Nonprofit Symposium to Sheridan, and is a graduate of Leadership Sheridan County and the CiViC Leadership Project. Amy says the great thing about her job is that if she doesn’t know something or someone, she knows someone else who does. She loves to introduce people to each other who can advance their work and ideas.

Key Service
This award honors a Chamber member non-profit organization that has made a significant impact in Sheridan County: a non-profit that serves with enthusiasm and dedication, addressing needs in the community and aligning the vision of its organization for maximum effectiveness.

2018 Recipient: Advocacy & Resource Center
Founded as a grassroots movement in the 1980’s, the Advocacy & Resource Center (ARC) exists to empower people affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of violence to realize lives of safety, choice, and freedom. This non-profit organization provides free services to victims of violent crimes and hosts a number of awareness activities, trainings and events. Services for victims include crisis intervention, emergency shelter, food, transportation, help navigating the criminal justice system, information about protection orders, support and more. This year, the Advocacy & Resource Center opened a second satellite office at Sheridan College in addition to their satellite office at the County Attorney’s Office and partnered with Sheridan High School to add two days of violence prevention and healthy relationship curriculum.

Strength of Sheridan
This award honors a Chamber member business or organization that has a long and distinguished tenure in the community (20+ years): an organization that demonstrates consistent service, continually invests in the community, and demonstrates sustained quality performance.

2018 Recipient: Whitney Benefits, Inc.
Whitney Benefits was created from the last will and testament of Mr. Edward A. Whitney, a Sheridan county resident who passed away in 1917. In his last will and testament, Mr. Whitney directed the corporation to do three things — fund a community center in Sheridan, establish a college in Sheridan and create a student loan program for worthy and needy students. Whitney Benefits helped establish and fund the YMCA by donating over $11.7 million, built the original Sheridan Ice rink and Whitney Commons park, which it continues to maintain. Whitney donated the land Sheridan College sits on today and has donated over $85 million to help fund several of their projects, buildings and educational programs. From inception of the student loan program in 1928 through June 30, 2018, the corporation has loaned $43 million in interest-free loans to just over 5,900 students.

Small Business (under 20 full-time employees)
This award honors a Chamber member small business that demonstrates steady growth, solid leadership and a strong commitment to the success of the Sheridan area. This business shows innovation in strategic planning, employee development and customer service and is actively involved in the betterment of the community.

2018 Recipient: Landon’s Greenhouse and Nursery
Landon’s Greenhouse was founded in 1978 and is currently owned by Janelle Gray, Phil Gilmore and Keith and Jennifer Kershaw. Landon’s Greenhouse and Nursery is somewhat unusual among modern-day Garden Centers in that it has an extensive production facility of its own at the Greenhouse’s original location. Today, in addition to a 2-Bay store, Landon’s has 9 hoop houses between the two locations, plus a seasonal greenhouse in Gillette. They employ 6-12 people year-round, and in spring, their workforce swells to 60ish for a couple of months. They encourage employees to attend events that help them keep abreast of market trends and to earn professional certifications. Over the years, Landon’s has contributed greatly to the beautification of Sheridan County. For decades, they have donated Trees for Trash seedlings, planted trees for the City’s Arbor Day Celebration and served on the Tree Board. In addition, Landon’s has the region’s only year-round farmers’ market and regularly hosts a local garden tour.

Large Business (20 or more full-time employees)
This award honors a Chamber member large business that maintains consistent growth and strong performance, understands its customer, has an engaged workforce with effective leadership, and is continually innovating to support future growth. This business not only invests in its continued success, but also invests its resources in the success of the community.

2018 Recipient: Kennon
Ron Kensey co-founded Kennon in a small rented garage in California in 1984 and moved the company to Sheridan in 1989. Kennon is an employee-owned company that manufactures products and provides engineering services to a multitude of markets including the Department of Defense, commercial/general/military aviation, NASA and behavioral healthcare. The company is inspired by and committed to the protection of high value assets, from aircraft and other essential equipment, to the most important asset: life. Kennon’s products are designed, developed, and produced right here in Sheridan. The company has three significant current engineering efforts slated to begin production between 2019 and 2021: KC-46 Thermal Radiation Shields, Navy LPUs and V-22 Composite Armor Systems. To accommodate its growth, Kennon has added a second shift and increased its workforce from 37 to up to 52 by the end of 2018 and will begin construction of a new 40,000 square foot facility in Sheridan’s Hi-Tech Park in the next year or two. Although Kennon offers services and supplies products internationally, community involvement and local contributions are an important part of the company culture. The company and its employees volunteer over 2,600 hours and provide $70,000 in charitable contributions annually.

Business Person of the Year 
This award honors a Chamber member business person who shows outstanding business acumen and strong leadership in business and community efforts. This person is a champion for economic development, constantly strives to exceed customer expectations, delivers industry leading standards of service and quality, and exhibits innovation in business development.

2018 Recipient: Jessica Garrelts, Cottonwood Kitchen + Home
Growing up in Sheridan, Jessica Garrelts’ love of food and connecting with people through a meal came from spending much of her childhood in her Italian grandmother’s kitchen. While home on college break, Jessica worked at the Cottonwood Shop, and then purchased the store in 2011 with her husband Jeff. This year, Jessica and her husband painstakingly restored and renovated the former JCPenney building and moved the Cottonwood Shop, now Cottonwood Kitchen + Home, into that space. Serving her community was instilled in Jessica when she was young, and she continues that commitment. She believes in living the Golden Rule, which coincidently was the name of the store located in Cottonwood’s current space prior to JCPenney. This affords her the opportunity to donate to many local fundraisers, charities and non-profits. Jessica supports the Chamber as a Gold Community Partner and a Brewfest sponsor, and she is a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and works with the Downtown Sheridan Association.

Nominations for the awards were submitted by members of the Chamber. The nominations then went before the Chamber’s Awards Committee, who compiled the final slate of nominees. Voting to determine the winners was done by the membership via on-line ballot.

For more information, contact the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce at (307) 672-2485.


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