Chamber honors leaders, looks to future

Published 8:47 am Monday, March 17, 2014


The Niles-Buchanan YMCA was honored as the Service Organization of the Year. Pictured are Tyanna Weller, president and CEO of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce. (Leader photo/MICHAEL CALDWELL)

With the theme of “Reaching for the Summit,” the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards dinner focused on recognizing the leaders of today and sharing the organization’s vision for tomorrow.

More than 250 people attended the annual event March 13 at Orchard Hills Country Club.

“We cannot get where we want to go by remaining still,” said Tyanna Weller, president and CEO of the Chamber. “We need to reach, and do so through collaboration.”

The chamber currently has 514 members with 94 of those joining in 2013. The goal is to add 120 more this year. Combined, chamber businesses employ more than 3,000 people.

The chamber was founded in 1919, becoming a full-time operation 11 years later. It took the current name in 1977.

Part of the evening was dedicated to showcasing the changes at the organization, which featured streamlining the executive board and developing a vision that includes addressing needs identified in a recent member survey, adding more community events to inject revenue into the city and offering more value to its members.

“So, as you can see, we have taken a new direction as a chamber. We are trying to focus on building a better community through business. It is your businesses that we want to help grow and that is what we are here for … We want to act as your voice and your support system. We are working to restore vitality and bring more businesses to Niles and the surrounding area.”

Ten awards were presented to local leaders in business, industry, volunteerism and community service. Honorees were:


Past Chamber Chairperson Award: Barbara Craig

Presented by Tyanna Weller of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce

Barbara attended the University of London and Western Michigan University. She became the Executive Dean of Lake Michigan College’s Bertrand Crossing campus in 2009 and currently serves on several boards, including Junior Achievement, the Niles DDA and many others.

Barbara works tirelessly to promote Niles and the college. Barbara spent an extraordinary amount of time assisting the chamber in 2013 during a leadership change.


Past Ambassador Chair Award: Jennifer Salmon

Presented by Kelly Rock of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce

Chamber ambassadors are an important part of the success of the chamber of commerce and the leader of the group works hard to motivate them. Jennifer spent the last year corralling these volunteers and leading the meetings in such a way that the ambassadors were able to do their volunteer work to their utmost. Jennifer graduated from Ohio State University.

Jennifer works at Edward Jones and has been in Niles for 5 years. During her tenure, she personally scored high points with both personal visits and calls to members.


Ambassador of the Year Award: Rickey Miller

Presented by Bill Deluca of Teachers Credit Union

Rickey Miller was the most active member of the ambassador team in 2013, going above and beyond what was asked. He is a Business Services Officer at Teachers Credit Union in Niles, evaluating potential clients for business accounts and determining their needs. It has been an unusually tough year for Rickey as his health has been a challenge in 2013, yet he still continued to assist the chamber with his duties throughout several illnesses.

Rickey currently volunteers for Junior Achievement since 1994, the Host Mentoring Program in Benton Harbor and several other reading and mentoring programs in our region.


Volunteer of the Year Award: Pam Ender

Presented by Kim Wooden of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

Pam “The LENDER” Ender is a mortgage loan initiator at United Federal Credit Union. She has been in finance and lending for more than 20 years. Pam’s service and dedication to the community comes through her work with UFCU, which donates hundreds of paid volunteer hours, while the staff provides additional support with numerous unpaid hours volunteering at local events.

Pam also volunteers for Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of St. Joseph County and has for at least 6 years. She helps out with three special event fundraisers every year: The auction in the fall, the golf outing and the bowl-a-thon in March. Pam helps with staffing the events as well as the nuts and bolts of executing each. These three special events account for 50 percent of the annual budget, so they need to succeed each year. Pam has stepped up to the plate each year and helped out with all three events.

She is also a member of Michiana Networking, a group founded in 2006 by local professionals that wanted to change how business networking was done.


New Member of the Year Award: Katharos Catering

Presented by Cindy McCall of AAA

Cynthia Gallero-Greer’s love of cooking began many years ago at her grandmother’s home in Vicksburg, Miss., where she and her family would gather every Sunday for a good old-fashioned southern meal.

Cynthia now lives in Niles, and tells stories of how she would watch her grandmother with awe as she made dishes she still remembers today.

From the grand opening in November of 2013 to today, Katharos Catering, located at 1125 Wayne St., has been a great member business.

To understand Cynthia’s business philosophy, one doesn’t have to look further than the name Katharos, which means “clean or pure” in Greek. Cynthia said her take on it, is the things we put into our body can give us a pure and clean heart, and that allows us to bear good fruit. We are healthy, then we are able to smile.”

Opening Katharos Catering has been Cynthia’s life-long dream. Katharos Catering offers catering services for all occasions. Cynthia is former standout sprinter for the Niles High School track, she was the recipient of a Rotary Scholarship in Track, and currently a youth leader at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Niles.

Service Organization of the Year: Niles-Buchanan YMCA

Presented by Tyanna Weller of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce

The mission of the Niles-Buchanan YMCA is to strengthens the foundations of our community through well-being and fitness, camps, swim, sports and play. At the Y, they help build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all with the core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility at the heart of everything we do. 

The Niles Buchanan Y is committed to nurturing youth development, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility.

At the Y, it’s not about the activity you choose as much as it is about the benefits of living healthier on the inside as well as the outside. The Y brings families together to have fun and grow together. They believe the values and skills learned early on are vital building blocks for life.

At the Y, children and teens learn values and positive behaviors, and can explore their unique talents and interests, helping them realize their potential. That makes for confident kids today and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow.


Business of the Year: Olfactory Hue and owner Daysha Amster

Presented by Kate Gassman of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce

Daysha is a 1996 graduate of Niles High School. From there she Attended the Art Institute in Seattle, where she trained for two years in culinary arts. Olfactory Hue opened on May 3, 2012. She uses organic ingredients in creating her culinary delights with a major focus on local food. She has a desire to educate diners about their food choices.

The restaurateur also teaches fitness classes to kids in her “spare” time. In the past year Daysha has opened a new satellite location at the Niles Buchanan YMCA and she has hired seven new employees. That is nearly 200 percent growth over the prior year. Daysha and her husband have two children and live in Niles.

Daysha returned to Niles to grow her family and her business.


Industry of the Year: Delta Industrial Valves

Presented by Jose Ontiveros of Honor Credit Union. Accepting the award is Keith Stelter.

Delta Industrial Sales, Inc. was founded in 1987 by Wannis Parris and William and Carol

Robison. The original intent of the business was to distribute high-quality, American-made valves to the iron and steel industries in the Midwest.

In 1989, under the leadership of Keith Stelter and Mark Johnson, the company modified its business plan to include the manufacturing of a high-quality knife gate valve. At this time Delta Industrial Sales, Inc. changed its name to Delta Industrial Valves, Inc. and worldwide distribution was established.

In 1993, the United States Patent Office awarded Delta Industrial Valves, Inc. two patents for its unique design concepts. Since this time, Delta has offered the industry many market firsts. 

The team at Delta prides itself in its ability to quickly transform new research and development concepts into real performing valves. These concepts come from both within Delta’s engineering group and from its clients. By listening to their customers, Delta is able to manufacture superior valves that perfectly meet the customer’s needs.

In 2013, the company increased its staff by 25 percent and is currently continuing to look for talented individuals to help it continue to grow. In the first part of 2014, the company shipped more products than it normally does for half of a year.


Lifetime Achievement: Lesley Bookout

Presented by Tyanna Weller of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce

Lesley is a lifelong resident of Niles. She has been a member of Psi Iota Zi Sorority since 1968 and has served this organization at all levels including the state and national level where she has served as president and treasurer. She took part in organizing a local convention in 1988 and she currently administrates the National Memorial Fund. She has volunteered for the Berrien County March of Dimes, the Niles City Election Board, the Monday Reading Club, the Jay Cees and Jay Shes and the Welcome Wagon.

Lesley continues to volunteer at the Niles Community Library and for the Niles Downtown Development Authority on the promotions committee ,where she has proudly served for the past 11 years.


Special Recognition: The Niles Haunted House

The Niles Haunted House was honored with a proclamation marking its 40th year. It was signed by all the local representatives and senators as well as Gov. Rick Snyder.