The Denton Chamber of Commerce ushered in new leadership Thursday night while recognizing longtime members and businesses at the 110th Annual Banquet and Awards ceremony at the University of North Texas Gateway Center.
Randy and Sandra Robinson, longtime community advocates, took home the top honor of the night, the Otis L. Fowler Award. The award, created in 1960, is designed to recognize people who excel in their occupation and through that benefit the Denton community. It’s considered the most prestigious honor given by the chamber.
Randy Robinson, the president of the Denton market for PointBank, has served on several boards, including as the Denton Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, and is a lifetime member of United Way of Denton County board. Sandra Robinson has served on several service organization boards as well, including chairing the Denton Benefit League.
“I look down the list of people who are past nominees, and a lot of these people served as mentors for me,” Randy Robinson said as he accepted the award. “Probably the most important thing to me is picking the right partnerships, and I was very fortunate 36 years ago to pick the right partnership. I wouldn’t be standing here if Sandra had not been here.”
The chamber also recognized 5 Star Rental Weddings and Events as small business of the year. Two other businesses, Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant law firm and Total Eyecare & Eyeware Gallery, were finalists for the award out of the 23 nominees.
For this award, the chamber looks for businesses that have had notable accomplishments in the past year and have overcome some adversity, in addition to operating for more than two years and being in good standing with the chamber.
“We have had the joy and honor of serving this city,” said Cristi Carothers, general manager of 5 Star, as she accepted the award. “I’m a Denton girl, I graduated from Denton High School and graduated from UNT — go Eagles — and it has been such a joy to be in this city and serve the people I love dearly. Our company is all about service in the hospitality industry, and it’s been an honor to be able to do this.”
Two more awards recognized individuals who have helped the chamber in the past year. Dana Long, director of community and public relations at Medical City Denton, was named ambassador of the year. Pat Sherman, vice president of community relations at DATCU, was named volunteer of the year.
Jill Jester, incoming board chair, highlighted how she envisions the chamber moving forward in the next year during her remarks at the event. Plans include forming new committees to analyze things like the chamber building and its membership, to taking a new look at affiliate relationships with other businesses, organizations and entities in town.
Part of the changes are spurred by new leadership, with Erica Pangburn starting as the new chamber president at the start of next month.
“Your iPhone, your computer, we as people, all need to refresh sometime. We all have to update our software if we want it to work its best,” Jester said. “Welcoming a new president for the first time in 36 years is a great opportunity to look anew at what we do and how we do it.”