Vistage Members Recognized in Lancaster “Small Business Person of the Year” Award

San Diego, August 9, 2012 – Four Vistage members in the past seven years have been honored with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry Small Business Person of the Year Award. The four—all members of Rick Oppenheimer’s CE 349—members include David McIlwaine, Michael Walmer, Mike Mitchell, and Mike Deberdine.  This award is given annually to recognize the outstanding contributions of local small businesses (100 or fewer employees) to the small business community and overall business climate of the Lancaster area. Criteria to win the award include entrepreneurial and leadership skill, ability to overcome adversity, community involvement, and growth, among many others. This year’s award was distributed at The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry 140th Annual Dinner on May 8th at the Lancaster County Convention Center.

Vistage Member Michael DeBerdine, President and CEO of Rhoads Energy, was honored this year with the Small Businessperson of the Year Award.  Rhoads has been providing heating-oil delivery and heating and cooling equipment installation to Lancaster and Chester County residents since 1917. Under DeBerdine’s leadership, Rhoads’ sales have grown from $14.5 million in 2003 to $48.1 million in 2011 and they’ve expanded from one location in 2003 to four locations in Lancaster, Chester, Berks and Montgomery counties and operate four commercial fueling stations throughout Central Pennsylvania. From 2003 to 2011, Rhoads increased its active customer base by 560%.

An active community leader, DeBerdine is the Table Host Chairman for the Harvest District Scout Reach breakfast, served on the DID Reauthorization Task Force in 2011 and served as co-chair of the American Heart Association’s 2012 Heartball. For more than 20 years, he has actively supported Challenger Little League, a program that enables kids with disabilities to play baseball. On a company level, Rhoads and its employees support the United Way of Lancaster County and numerous local organizations through the EITC tax credit program, including local school districts, Junior Achievement of Central Pennsylvania, Inc., the Lancaster Public Library and the North Museum of Natural History & Science.

In 2010, the Small Business Award was awarded to Vistage Member Michael Mitchell (2010), President and CFO of Amelia’s Inc. In 1989, Michael Mitchell’s father, Melvin, purchased Amelia’s, Inc., formerly Tyson Food’s Weaver Chicken Outlet. Mitchell joined the business in 1995. At the time of his arrival, the business was not profitable, and needed to cut costs and reposition itself for longevity and growth. Part of the company’s repositioning included changing its name and logo to Amelia’s Grocery Outlet. Prior to re-inventing itself in 1995, Amelia’s sales were slightly more than $6 million.In 2009, the company was just short of $40 million in sales. The company’s employee count, which includes a large number of part-time employees, has grown from 45 to more than 300 with 81 full-time equivalent employees in Lancaster County. For the second year in a row Amelia’s was included in the INC 5000 national ranking of fastest growing companies with a sales increase of 65% from 2005-2008. Amelia’s also ranked 26 on the Top 50 fastest Growing in Central PA by the Central Penn Business Journal.

Amelia’s is committed to community involvement and leadership for both its individual employees and company. Amelia’s is the lead sponsor of Scouting for Food, a major sponsor of the Water Street Fall Food Drive and the Mission’s Youth Food Frenzy. They also partner with WGAL on the Souper Bowl of Caring and participate in the Rally Roni promotion with the Barnstormers and Water Street.

Vistage member Michael Walmer, President and CEO of Electron Energy Corporation, was honored with the Small Business Person of the Year award in 2008. Michael is President and CEO of Electron Energy Corporation, an integrated producer of rare earth magnets and magnet systems in the U.S. The company makes its own alloys (from pure metallic elements) using operations which include—pressing, sintering, machining, and magnetization to produce high performance magnets. Its workforce retention rates show that more than a third of its employees have been with the company for 11 years or more.

Under Walmer’s leadership, EEC encourages employees to contribute both time and money to the community. From 2004 to 2007, corporate support for the United Way averaged $12,000 and employees contributed time to the Day of Caring. They supported the 2006 American Cancer Society Relay for Life, raising $2,500.EEC is a corporate sponsor of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and the Lancaster County Conservancy. Walmer serves on the board of the Lancaster Symphony and serves on the governance committee of the Lancaster County Conservancy.
David McIlwaine President of HVAC Distributors, Inc. was honored with the Chamber’s award in 2007. McIlwaine started HVAC in 1987 with three employees and today employs nearly one hundred team members with revenues approaching $45M.  HVAC has expanded from one location to six and covers over one-half the state of Pennsylvania with daily delivery through the company fleet of over 14 trucks. HVAC has been honored as a Best Places to Work in PA Company in 2004 and 2005, and was on the 50 fastest growing companies in PA list in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

McIlwaine has Co-Chaired the Harvest District Scout Reach Fundraising Breakfast since 2005, has served on the board since 2006 and is current board chair for Assets Lancaster, a non-profit micro-enterprise development organization for aspiring entrepreneurs. HVAC is community focused with a community service committee that searches for opportunities for the company to give back and participates in over a dozen non-profit fundraising activities yearly and supports numerous non-profit organizations in Lancaster County.

about Vistage International
Founded in 1957, Vistage International, Inc., headquartered in San Diego, California, is the world’s leading peer advisory membership organization, serving more than 15,000 business leaders in 15 countries.Vistage members, largely CEOs, participate in chair-led advisory board peer groups, receive one-to-one coaching, learn from expert speakers, and connect online and in person with a global network of business leaders from a broad range of industries.Its renowned Vistage CEO Confidence Index has been tracking CEO confidence and attitudes related to Main Street businesses since 2003.

media contact
Leo Bottary
Vistage International, Inc.