The Halifax County Chamber of Commerce honored standout local companies and business leaders at the 68th annual Meeting and Awards celebration Thursday evening at The Prizery.
Among the night’s winners were Stanley Jeffress of Jeffress Funeral Home, who won the Business Person of the Year award, and Dustin Francis of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, who received the Young Professional of the Year award. Comfort Systems USA Mid Atlantic was named the 2022-23 Business of the Year.
Tommy Elliott, president of Elliott Electric, the 2021-22 recipient of the Business of the Year award, presented the 2022-23 honor to J.R. Griffin of Comfort Systems USA Mid-Atlantic. Elliott hailed Comfort Systems USA as a well-respected company in Virginia and North Carolina, known for its reliability and quality of service.
Since 1970 Comfort Systems USA MidAtlantic has provided HVAC, mechanical and plumbing building systems for clients in south central Virginia and north central North Carolina, becoming a leader in its field. With more than 150 employees, Comfort Systems USA is also one of Halifax County’s largest private employers, and actively partners with Halifax County Public Schools to offer internship and career opportunities for local students.
The company takes pride in its highly-trained workforce and “[w]e believe in making a positive difference in people’s lives and maintaining the health and welfare of the communities where we live and work,” as stated on their website, csusamidatlantic.com.
The Business Person of the Year award went to Jeffress, owner of Jeffress Funeral Home for the past 43 years. Although retired, Jeffress continues to help out at the funeral home, and he also is a developer of downtown properties, with his latest project being the renovation of the former Domino’s Pizza building at the corner of North Main and Broad streets as a mixed use residential-commercial building.
The Chamber recognition was completely unexpected, said Jeffress. “I was totally surprised and honored. I felt unworthy, but at the same time I was very appreciative of receiving the award.”
The awards were chosen by a selection committee, and they were presented by winners from previous years. Jeff Francisco, the 2021-22 Business Person of the Year award winner, presented this year’s honor to Jeffress. Jeffress also serves on the implementation committee for the Community Strategic Plan, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s board of trustees, and was chair of the Chamber from 2012-2013.
“I’ve had to stand on many people’s shoulders as mentors,” said Jeffress of his civic and business commitments. “I have many people that have mentored me so I just want to give back to my community as best as I can.
“I think if we are to continue with the growth in the community, we have to keep our businesses thriving, and I would like to help in any way I can to promote that,” he added.
Francis, community relations coordinator for Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, received this year’s Young Professional award from Cameron Starke, the 2021-22 winner. In addition to his work at MEC, Francis also serves on the Halifax County Planning Commission and solar density committee, the Halifax County Agricultural Advisory committee and the Halifax County Cattleman’s Association.
“I’m greatly humbled by this,” Francis said. “I appreciate everybody that has helped me and has brought me along, because none of us in this room do anything on our own. We have a lot of people who help us and ultimately the good Lord helps us all.”
The Chamber ended the evening on a touching note by recognizing the late Ankur “A.B.” Brahmbhatt, the Chamber’s 2020 Business Person of the Year. Brahmbhatt died unexpectedly of natural causes in September. He was 39 years old.
Chamber President Mitzi McCormick, in an emotional presentation, gave a Lifetime Achievement Award to his wife, Disha Brahmbhatt, and the couple’s son. Among his contributions to the county, he made multi-million dollar renovations to the Quality Inn and Super 8 motels in South Boston. He later purchased The Lake Motel and Magnuson on the Lake Motels in Clarksville, upgrading those properties as well.
Brahmbhatt also invested in a number of residential and commercial properties in the county and renovated the medical building at 1129 North Main Street, South Boston, which now serves as the home of Halifax Internal Medicine, Radiant Spa, Southern Gastroenterology Associates and Labcorp.
In their civic roles, A.B. and Disha Brahmbhatt partnered with Tri-County Community Action Agency to provide temporary housing for survivors of domestic assault and build a TCAAA satellite location on John Randolph Boulevard. For those contributions, A.B. Brahmbhatt was recognized as the agency’s “hero of the year” at the 2018 Tri-County CAA annual banquet.
Grace Winegar, event coordinator for the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, said the Lifetime Achievement Award is rare and special and went to Brahmbhatt to honor his “significant impact to our community in his time in Halifax County.
“He accepted South Boston as his hometown, and he was a good friend to many. He was a great visionary and a true asset to the community,” Winegar noted. “Although no longer with us, we would like to recognize Ankur Brahmbhatt, also known as AB, for his contributions to our community with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He will never be forgotten.”
With its mission to advocate for business excellence in the county, the Chamber has hosted 15 networking events, held 14 ribbon cuttings, and organized a Manufacturing Day within the past year.
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