The Summit Awards Thursday night had neared its end and Forrest Ball said he had begun to get comfortable.
Then his son, Douglas Ball, walked to the stage. Douglas Ball would be presenting the final award for the night. Forrest Ball didn’t know his son would be presenting an award.
“When he went up, I wondered what he was going to talk about,” Forrest Ball said. “And I had loosened my tie, so I had to tighten it back up.”
Douglas Ball said he would be handing out the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” an award given out to a person who was committed to improving the business community in Garner for more than 40 years.
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Then he began to describe a full-time farmer, who left his farming business, to start a successful real-estate company in Garner in the 1980’s. The farmer became the board chair of the Garner Chamber of Commerce in 1991, before much of the current business growth, and while the chamber was still working out of a trailer.
The farmer and others led a campaign to raise funds for a new Garner Chamber of Commerce building.
“The building was completed in 1993 and I’m proud to say our chamber building has been debt free for years and still serves its members in the community,” Douglas Ball said.
The former farmer and former board chair was his father, Forrest Ball.
“It totally caught me by surprise. I did not see it coming,” Forrest Ball said. “I was totally in shock and totally honored to have it given to me by my son and to have my family there.”
Forrest Ball, a native of Garner, said he was humbled by the award and he doesn’t give back to the community to win awards.
“It just feels good to do it,” Forrest Ball said. “It’s what we ought to do.”
Douglas Ball agreed.
His family and extended family are trying to practice the same philosophy, he said.
Award winners: The lifetime achievement award was one of many awards given Thursday night at the Grand Marquise Ballroom.
Although a few businesses were nominated for multiple awards, none took home more than one. The chamber submits applications for the awards to out-of-state judges in an effort to keep the playing field level.
Chick-Fil-A won the First Citizens Bank “Forever First” award for putting customers first and caring about their employees. Capital Production Group won the ALCO Custom Cabinets “Steady Growth and Achievements” award. NC Wesleyan College won the National Pawn Nonprofit Achievement Award.
B.E.S.T. Inc. won the Wells Fargo “Vision and Values” award. Aversboro Coffee won F&D Huebner dba McDonald’s “Entrepreneurial” award. It was their sixth Summit Award in the past five events.
Feelgoodz won the Wingswept “Excellence in Business” award for a business with less than 16 employees. And finally Autobell won the “Excellence in Business” award for a business with 16 or more employees.
Getting with the times: The highlight of the night was watching each table try to use a selfie stick. A selfie stick is a monopod used to take selfie photographs by positioning a smartphone or camera from a distance.
Chamber president Neal Padgett asked each table to take a selfie with selfie sticks, chamber employees provided. It seemed to take a while for some tables to nail the right shots.
Passing of the gavel: The awards ceremony also signaled the passing of the gavel for the Garner Chamber of Commerce Board Chair. Dena McDonald passed the gavel to Mark Berube of Duke Energy.
Worth mentioning: The Hall Sisters sang the national anthem, as well as a few musical selections for the night. Made up of four sisters – Jessica, Lydia, Valerie and Natalie – the quartet wowed those in attendance with their harmony.
At the beginning of the show, Mayor Ronnie Williams mentioned that the awards show would be over in time to watch the season premier of “Scandal,” which came on at 9 p.m. That comment was met with laughter and applause.