The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce held its 14th Annual Celebrate Business Awards Luncheon Wednesday at the Cornhusker Hotel. The event was held to honor nine Lincoln businesses and business people for their success and service to the community. Over 700 people attended the luncheon which highlighted the accomplishments of the 2009 award winners.
“We are excited to have these phenomenal businessmen and women make such an impact on the Lincoln community. Their efforts make Lincoln stand apart from the rest of the Midwest as a great place to live, work, and grow,” said Wendy Birdsall, President of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
The 2009 Cornerstone Award winner is Fiserv. Fiserv has been a cornerstone of the Lincoln community since its founding as Information Technology, Inc. in 1976. Employing 750 at its Lincoln campus, Fiserv is the world’s largest service provider to banks, credit unions, and lending institutions, offering a comprehensive suite of integrated software and services.
Fiserv and its predecessor, ITI, have given generously to deserving local organizations through the years, with a focus on educational programs and young people in our community. Recipients of donations include Bright Lights, Lincoln Children’s Zoo, Lincoln Children’s Museum, Teammates Mentoring Program, and Nebraska Council on Economic Education.
The Cornerstone Award serves as the Chamber’s Business of the Year Award.
The Burnham Yates Citizenship Award went to Larry Arth. Larry Arth was a man committed to his company and community. He spent 40 years with Ameritas, working his way up from mortgage loan assistant to chairman and CEO. Larry’s vision and leadership were instrumental in creating The Ameritas Acacia Companies and UNIFI Mutual Holding Company, an insurance and financial services organization with 2,500 associates nationwide. Larry believed in giving his time and served on dozens of boards and foundations, including the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, earning the nickname “Mr. Nebraska” for his tireless commitment to his hometown and state.
Larry passed away on August 27, 2008, at the age of 65, leaving behind his loving wife, Mary, and their three children, Laura, Susie, and Bill. His legacy is one that will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him well, and the citizens of Lincoln will be forever grateful for his leadership and generous spirit.
The Roger T. Larson Community Builder Award is given each year to an individual whose proven leadership and influence through public service has shaped the Lincoln community. Chancellor Harvey Perlman’s story is one of determination and success. A native of York, he earned his bachelor of arts and juris doctorate degrees from the University of Nebraska. He’s remained dedicated to his alma mater, spending the majority of his professional career at UNL. He served as dean of the University of Nebraska College of Law and also as interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at UNL before being named the University’s 19th chancellor in 2001. Through his leadership, the school has seen marked growth in research, enrollment, student talent and diversity, and private giving.
He’s also committed to stimulating the state’s economy and reinvigorating the campus and community through projects like the new Innovation Campus at UNL and Lincoln’s 2015 Vision, and by serving on the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
Telesis, Inc., the parent company to Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill, FireWorks Restaurant, Empyrean Brewing Company and Data Security, Inc., received the Green Business of the Year Award. Telesis believes implementing green technology is good for the environment and makes good business sense.
The company’s sustainability investment arm, Telesis Climate Banc, integrates energy and carbon accounting with financial analysis and then navigates the various green standards to create a road map to help clients improve their overall return on investment. Recent projects include a district energy system at LincOne Federal Credit Union that reduced energy consumption by 50 percent, and the rain garden at FireWorks, which saves $1.46 per square foot in sustainable landscaping.
Firespring was announced as the 2009 Small Business of the Year. Since 1992, Firespring has been providing marketing services to more than 3,000 clients from around the nation and world, helping establish Lincoln as an international marketing hub. The company, which currently employs 78, recently expanded with offices in Omaha and Ohio and plans to sell franchises across the nation to bring additional business and revenue to the Lincoln office.
Firespring believes in providing quality jobs and a rewarding work environment. The company encourages its employees to give back to the community by giving them a paid day off every month to volunteer for local nonprofits and schools.
The 2009 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner is Nebraska Air Quality Specialties, LLC. Giving up a successful career and stable income was not an easy step for Piyush Srivastav; but he saw a strong need for consulting services to help companies struggling to comply with complex local, state, and federal air quality regulations. In 2003, he started Nebraska Air Quality Specialties from the basement of his home in Garland, Nebraska.
Business grew so quickly that Piyush soon moved his office to Lincoln, and today NAQS works with a spectrum of public and private entities from local municipalities to Fortune 500 companies. Piyush still finds time to serve on numerous industry organizations and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
John Klimpel is this years’ winner of the Tourism Development Award. John Klimpel’s career is all about bringing people to Lincoln and providing a comfortable stay while they’re here. Throughout his 33 years in Lincoln’s hotel industry, John has overseen the construction of hotels and the renovation of more than 2,000 rooms. As a partner with HMA Hotels, he focuses on contracting, design, and vendor negotiations for seven local hotels and their facilities.
John is also an active member of the Visitors Promotion committee for the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, advising the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners on tourism-related issues.
The 2009 Manufacturer of the Year winner is LI-COR. From cancer research to global climate change, scientists and researchers around the world rely on tools from LI-COR Biosciences to help them find the answers they need. Founded in 1971, the Lincoln-based manufacturer is a global leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of scientific instruments for plant biology, biotechnology, drug discovery, and environmental research.
The company employs 245 in Lincoln and has offices in Germany and the United Kingdom. LI-COR believes in supporting undergraduate science programs, annually providing grants to help train the next generation of researchers.
R.U. Nuts is the 2009 recipient of the Woman-Owned Business Award. Twenty-six years ago, Charlotte Ralston was a stay-at-home mom looking to earn extra income. She started R.U. Nuts, hosting tasting parties and selling nuts out of her home. When the bulk foods industry began to boom, Charlotte saw an opportunity for expansion, and business has been growing ever since. R.U. Nuts now carries over 350 bulk food and 400 snack food and coffee-related items sold in most local grocery stores.
Charlotte believes in giving back to the community, donating her time to numerous civic and nonprofit organizations. In addition, R.U. Nuts roasts, packages, and markets Mission Bean coffee to benefit the People’s City Mission.