Manatee Chamber celebrates past year's achievements at 50th annual dinner

cnudi@bradenton.comFebruary 8, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Listing the past year's achievements of the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce at Thursday's 50th Annual Dinner could have been a dry and humdrum exercise, but the antics of outgoing Chairman John Horne kept it light and funny.

Horne, owner of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, who was rumored to serve margaritas at Chamber board meetings, told about 500 members and guests that his term was filled with good memories, such as winning the toy tractor pull at the Manatee County Fair.

He also won a bet that he would wear shorts to the event, which is usually business attire, showing up in a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and jacket, and black shorts.

Even though this presentation was sprinkled with good-humored jabs at fellow board members, Horne highlighted the accomplishments of the business-oriented organization.

One was the Manatee Young Professionals, a Chamber-sponsored group of young business owners established only 10 years ago, increased its membership by 10 percent.

The Chamber also had seven of its 10 top legislative issues become law.

The chairman of the board of directors for 2013, Tom Seguin, owner of Suncoast Gems, followed Horne on stage and outlined his goals for the Chamber during his one-year term.

"I'm following a great leader," Seguin said, "who led with vision and margaritas."

He went on to say he will work on cooperating more with the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

"The past year we started working on the idea that Sarasota and Manatee counties as being a region," Seguin said. "This year I will continue to work on this idea of regionalism."

He also said his focus will be on getting the word out about what the Chamber does for its members.

"Manatee Chamber of Commerce delivers an incredible return of investment for its members," Seguin said.

Not only does the organization provide local services and networking opportunities, it represents business interests in Tallahassee and Washington, he said.

Before the dinner, Bob Bartz, president of the Chamber, said this event was an opportunity to thank all the volunteer members "who make it the organization it is today."

Joe and Angela Garland are one of newest business members, having only opened their business, Safe Solutions Termite and Pest Control, in early December,

"We joined because we wanted to part of the community," said Joe Garland, who is a third-generation Manatee County resident. "It's about being around like-minded people."

Angela Garland, who is a fifth-generation county resident, agreed, adding that being a member allows business owners to network and to get their name out in the community.

Although Jim and Jeanne Hoey have only owned Claudia's Mobile Home Place & Real Estate for three years, they have been involved with the Chamber for more than 13 years, as Jim Hoey was a broker at the firm before buying it.

He said, "As members of the Better Business Council (a part of the Chamber) we follow the ethic standards of the Chamber and treat customers fairly."

"Also, having the Chamber's sticker on the door tells the customer we're an upright business in the community," Jim Hoey said.

During the dinner, officials presented awards and plaques to various members and volunteers.

The Chairman's Award went to Charles Clapsaddle, station manager of METV, as a special tribute for his community service.

"I was totally surprised," Clapsaddle said after the dinner, "and honored by the chamber's recognition."

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