Local businesses honored at Winter Haven Chamber meeting

Companies big and small were celebrated Thursday at the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting.
By Mike Ferguson
The Ledger

WINTER HAVEN — Companies big and small were celebrated Thursday at the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting.

“I think it’s fabulous,” chamber member Jennifer Fasking said. “The camaraderie is fantastic. I think it’s a great opportunity for the business community to get together.”

The Southeastern University jazz band played as hundreds packed into Lake Ashton Golf Club for the sold-out annual event.

“I’m excited to see another sold-out event,” said Mike Compton, vice president of Platinum Bank and past chamber president. “It’s a wonderful event, they’ve done a real nice job. We’ve got a lot of great things going on with the Chamber of Commerce, no doubt.”

Central Florida Health Care was honored with the Industry Award for companies with more than 100 employees.

The company has been providing health services in Polk County since 1972 and began with 10 employees. In 2015, Central Florida Health Care served more than 30,000 patients, totaling nearly 100,000 visits.

Over the last five years, the company has donated nearly $10 million in facilities throughout the region and earlier this month, opened the Women and Children’s clinic in downtown Winter Haven. Central Florida Health Care has opened four facilities this year for a total of 13, including nine in Polk County.

“What a blessing and an honor it is to receive this tonight,” said Ann Claussen, CEO of Central Florida Health Care. “Every day, doors open for us and it has just been an amazing adventure.”

The Industry Award for companies with fewer than 100 employees went to the Brooks Law Group, which has grown from two to 22 employees since its founding in 1992. The firm has officers in Tampa, Lakeland and two in Winter Haven.

“Thanks to the chamber,” said Beach Brooks III, who accepted the award because his father, Beach Brooks Jr. He was accompanied by his uncle, Steve Brooks. “We’re excited not only for the future of this firm, but the future of the city.”

As far as philanthropic efforts go, the firm has partnered with public safety, local schools and nonprofits to provide bicycle helmets for children, clothing for women in need, Thanksgiving turkeys for families and Valentine’s Day cards for U.S. military veterans, among other efforts.

T. Michael Stavres, interim city manager of Winter Haven, received the 2016 Leadership Winter Haven Distinguished Alumnus Award. Stavres has been employed by the city for nearly 15 years and had served as assistant city manager since 2015 before being named interim city manager earlier this month.

According to Hap Hazelwood, chairman of the chamber, Stavres has been involved with bringing many of the city’s recreational and public amenities to fruition. Stavres also performs locally as part of Coastal Acoustic Barefoot Music to help raise money for music programs at public schools in Winter Haven.

New officers were sworn in as well. Hap Hazelwood, of the Six/Ten Corporation took the gavel from Debbie Harsh to signify a changing of the guard. Hazelwood will become the chairman of the chamber’s Board of Directors.

“I’m excited about the new slate of officers,” Rhonda Todd said. “We have such a great chamber. We’re very fortunate to have such a strong supporting staff.”

— Mike Ferguson can be reached at Mike.Ferguson@theledger.com or 863-401-6981. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.