The Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce honored members Thursday at Susquehanna University during its annual meeting.

Honorees were Rue Rothermel, with the Dan Foss Heritage Award; Ted Silker, with the Karen L. Hackman Star of Excellence Award; Kreamer Feed Inc., Small Business of the Year; and the Baylor-Hamm Companies, Business of the Year. Rothermel worked in banking for 37 years before his recent retirement and has received awards for his volunteer work in the past from the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way.

Rothermel said he was surprised and touched by the recognition from his peers. “I’m humbled by the experience. It was truly a shock and I am so greatly appreciative,” he said. “It’s significant to me and I accept it on behalf of so many of us who have made this chamber a success by volunteering and I would just encourage everybody, and particularly our young professionals, to get involved in the community and just stay involved in it.”

Rothermel is a past chamber board member, a volunteer on the chamber’s governmental affairs and transportation committees and an active ambassador with the chamber for the past three years. A chamber volunteer for his entire professional life, Rothermel said.

“I thoroughly believe in the chamber. I believe in the goals and the missions and connecting business to our community and the fact that someone a long time ago remind me … that we all receive benefits from the area and from our community and we have a responsibility to do something to help repay the way that others have paid for us — you can take, but you’ve got to give, too, and that’s important.” Silker also is an active chamber volunteer and has served as a chamber ambassador for the past four years, during which he has delivered more than 150 membership plaques to new chamber members and represented the chamber at the majority of its ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

“With the ambassador program, what it allows us to do is interact with those prospective businesses or entities that want to join the chamber and what we try to do is connect them with their community, and business-to-business connections, too,” Silker said.

Baylor-Hamm Cos. of Lewisburg was recognized as the 2007 business of the year.

Founded in 1973 by Daniel Baylor and his family, the company has grown from its single operation of The Country Cupboard, to include the Best Western Country Cupboard Inn and Suites, Damon’s Grill, Brookpark Station Associates and Limestone Run Associates.

The company has been generous to many local organizations, including the United Way, the American Red Cross, the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership, Evangelical Community Hospital and Susquehanna and Bucknell universities. Kreamer Feed Inc., of Kreamer, was named the chamber’s 2007 small business of the year.

According to the chamber, the company purchased more than $8 million in products from Pennsylvania producers in 2007 and the company’s poultry company paid more than $4.4 million to 67 farmers to produce poultry and eggs in 2007.

The company, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, also purchased about 1.1 million bushels of locally grown corn from more than 60 farmers in the area.

The chamber also presented its annual report. According to the report, the chamber anticipates a net income of $22,834 from 2007.

Although that is down considerably from last year’s net income of nearly $600,000, that number reflects a portion of the approximately $800,000 in contributions that were made to the chamber’s $1 million building project, said Dave Hall, chamber president and chief executive officer. The chamber carries about a $200,000 mortgage on the building, Hall said.

“The chamber is certainly healthy financially,” Hall said. “The long-term goal obviously is to build that cash reserve up.”

Hall characterized the chamber’s current cash reserve of nearly $60,000 as a rainy day fund. He would like to see the chamber have three to five months worth of cash reserve.

“So we’ve got a little ways to go, but the chamber is healthy,” Hall said.

Article was written by Amanda Keister for The Daily Item.