2023 Annual Meeting & Inauguration
Muskogee, OK January 26, 2023: As a Chamber we depend heavily on strong volunteer leadership to fulfill our mission and serve the businesses in Muskogee. To help recognize individuals and businesses who have shown exemplary success and distinguished themselves, and in Muskogee, we honored the service of six Chamber members at our Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 26th.
The 2022 Volunteer of the Year winner was Larry Hoffman. This year’s award recipient has been involved with many areas and organizations in Muskogee. This person is sure to be involved in Chamber committees and events and especially present at the majority of ribbon cuttings. When called upon, they are there without question to assist. They have even gone above and beyond to mentor new chamber members to ensure they are involved with us. Their service extends past the Chamber and shines on other local organizations, and our community, probably too many to count on both hands. This gentleman is a part of the Rotary Club, Bare Bones Film Festival, Gospel Rescue Mission, Boy Scouts and many more. After his retirement in 2013, he continued to be more active giving his time more than ever. He is the definition of a true advocate for Muskogee and his time volunteering and passion proves that.
The Young Professional of the Year winner was Eric Wells. This year’s award winner is a graduate of Hilldale High School, Northeastern University and Southern Nazarene University. He began his career in technology in 2006 and has since had tenures at Hilldale and Muskogee Public Schools before branching out to expand Muskogee’s national footprint with a business right here in Muskogee as well as a couple of personally owned businesses. He is a board member of several local organizations. His passion for Muskogee does not go unnoticed and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this Young Professional and the growth of his businesses.
The Non-profit of the Year winner was Green Country Behavioral Health Services. This year’s non-profit of the year did just that! This organization was established in 1979 and their services have been a crucial to Muskogee and this region ever since. Their services continue to expand and diversify to meet the needs of the community and clients. Ranging from primary care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment to access to social services. They strive to create a safe, supportive and welcoming environment where those they serve can gain skills and resources necessary to lead healthy, self-sufficient, and productive lives. Along with all of the great services, is their amazing team!! There is not a Chamber program or community event that you do not see a member of their team participating. They are one of the biggest cheerleaders and supporters of the Muskogee Chamber & community, always willing to lend a hand wherever they can and we thank them for that!
The Muskogee Small Business of the Year winner was Queen City & Co. This locally owned business began in 2019 with a passion for their products and in 2020 turned that passion and small business into a brick and mortar in Downtown Muskogee. They love the connection that their products and business brings to their customers. I’m sure most of you in here have stepped foot in this business. They love Muskogee so much, several of their products are named after local landmarks and figures in the community. We want to celebrate this family on their business venture and recognize just how successful it has become and thank them for their great partnerships with the Chamber and continued success and expansion of their business.
The Muskogee Business of the Year recipient was Acme Engineering & Manufacturing. Since their inception in 1938, this third and fourth generation leadership team and family has seen growth and success in all aspects of the business with more than 200 employees and is dedicated to creating new jobs in Muskogee. They have more than 80 years of expertise, specializing in engineering, testing and manufacturing of ventilation equipment for commercial, industrial, agricultural, horticultural and OEM markets and are known worldwide. They announced plans last year to invest over $3 million in new equipment for its Muskogee plant over the next several years. This is a testament to their commitment and future in Muskogee. They have been a Chamber member since 1966! We cannot wait to see what the next 84 years of growth & innovation will look like for this business.
The Okie from Muskogee Award recipient was Earnie Gilder. Born in Muskogee this individual went on to graduate from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1969 with a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has been carrying on his grandfathers business since founded in 1953. He has served on the Chamber board for many years and Chairman in 2010. Not only is his dedication to the Chamber, he is also a current member of the Kansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission, Federal Commissioner; Muskogee City/County Port Authority as well as a board member for the City of Muskogee Foundation.
There are too many stories to tell on how he has impacted Muskogee as well as many individuals. Earnie Gilder truly represents what it means to be a Real Okie and we are so proud to call him an Okie From Muskogee.