Three members of the business community honored at Chamber’s annual small business awards celebration
Today, three members of the Morgan County business community were honored by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce for their contributions to the area and their encouragement of the local economy.
The annual Small Business Awards Celebration luncheon, hosted by Decatur Country Club and presented by Redstone Federal Credit Union, was held in conjunction with National Small Business Week – an initiative lead by the U.S. Small Business Administration to encourage and highlight small business and entrepreneurialism.
"Our winners reflect what is great about Decatur: hard work, innovation in their market, dedication to the customer and a community spirit," said John Seymour, president and CEO of the Chamber. "Each of today's honorees share a unique characteristic, in that they want to make sure each person, each transaction and each relationship is positive for citizens spending their hard-earned money here in Morgan County and Alabama. Whether it's a non-profit, industrial or small business environment, I'm struck by their dedication to the customer and their willingness to serve. They are some of the best this area has to offer."
Lonnie Williams, owner and president of FilTech Inc. in Decatur, was honored with the Raymon Baker - John Cook - Ralph Jones Small Business Person of the Year award. Williams started Filtech in 1987 supplying commercial and industrial filtration products and filtration systems to area businesses, and is now the largest stocking filter distributor and service company in Alabama. Williams is a long-time member of several community boards, including the Northeast Morgan County Water and Sewer Board of Directors and the American Red Cross. Also, he is the director of the Will Steven Foundation, founded in 2011 by Williams to provide college scholarships for area students. He and his wife, Carol, have two daughters.
Mindy Thwing, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County, was honored with the Lynn C. Fowler Non-Profit Professional of the Year award. Thwing has spent the past 25 years in the non-profit field, the last 12 as executive of Habitat – whose mission is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing in Morgan County. As executive director, she manages a staff of 14 people and oversees the day-to-day operations, fundraising efforts and public relations, as well as supervises the Habitat ReStore. Among her numerous community commitments, she is past president of Decatur Kiwanis – the first female to hold that position. Thwing has two sons and a daughter, and six grandchildren.
Ashley Ashwander, owner of The Paper Chase, Inc., in Decatur, was honored with the Arthur Orr Young Professional of the Year award. Ashwander established The Paper Chase in 2007 and specializes in paper goods, invitations, announcements, stationary, monograming, in-house printing and wedding consultations. Her Bank Street storefront has become a staple in downtown Decatur and epicenter of the Decatur's 3rd Friday event. As an active community volunteer, she has been involved with various groups, including the Junior League of Morgan County, Hospice of the Valley, Decatur Cotillion Club, and recently served as president of the Downtown Decatur Merchants and Business Association. She is married to Charlie Ashwander and has one daughter.