Frank Dodge, owner of Dodge Contracting, received the 2012 Business Leader of the Year Award on Thursday afternoon at the Opera House. Pictured here are (front row, from left to right): Tracy Ash, Frank Dodge, Karen Gordon, and Alycia Vosinek; (back row, from left to right): Carl Hilgenberg and Chad Stearns Darin Wipperman/The Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
November 20, 2012LITTLETON — A positive atmosphere prevailed at Thursday afternoon's annual Economic Development Celebration attended by dozens of people. Economic updates and Frank Dodge's recognition as Business Leader of the Year were the focus of the event.
Chad Stearns, Executive Director of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce, started the festivities. Although "we've been through out ups and downs" in recent years, Stearns said, Littleton is stronger than ever. The town is "the hub of the North Country and the Main Street of the Mountains," Stearns declared.
There was a big round of applause when Stearns asked the crowd what they thought of the Main Street flower baskets this summer. He also thanked those who volunteer time for the Chamber.
Several people provided updates on the town's economy. Alycia Vosinek discussed the Littleton Area Community Project. She said the economic development effort means "the people in the community rally to get things done."
In other updates, Dave Ernsberger talked about the Main Street area. He mentioned the high building occupancy rate and the great diversity of stores. He said Main Street creates "a high energy environment for our customers and our citizens."
Andy Smith's real estate market overview brought further optimism. He said that "unit sales are dramatically up over last year," and days on the market are decreasing. On commercial property sales, Smith said, "It has been many years since we've seen as much activity."
Town Manager Fred Moody mentioned how busy Littleton's employees have been. He said this high level of work is "a direct result of the business activity level" the town enjoys.
The highlight of the event was the award for 2012 Business Leader of the Year. Stearns announced that the award was recently renamed to honor long-time District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton.
The crowd was very pleased to see Frank Dodge recognized as this year's winner. Dodge Contracting was founded in 1970. The humble Dodge has earned great praise from employees and customers alike for over 40 years.
Dodge Contracting is currently based at the intersection of Mt. Eustis Road and Industrial Park Road. The company performs excavation, building and plowing services.
Carl Hilgenberg announced Dodge's award. Hilgenberg read from the letter that nominated Dodge. He noted that those who nominated Dodge had one problem. They wondered how they could get Dodge "to stop working and come to this event?"
Dodge was raised on a farm in Bath. He is a skilled outdoorsman and a devoted, hard worker for the community. Dodge's style has made him beloved by the town, Hilgenberg noted. "His leadership and values are instrumental to his employees," he said. "Many of them have been working for him for 20 years, some even longer."
Hilgenberg said that Dodge has done much to help the community. "Frank," he said, "is the hardest worker we have ever, and may ever know." Hilgenberg continued the praise by saying Dodge was "a generous man, with a kind heart, a true legend in his own time."
Because of his quiet nature, Dodge did not stay in the spotlight for long. After being announced as the winner, he accepted the award, thanked his employees and family, then quickly surrendered the spotlight. His award-winning humility and kindness were very much on display.
With the reports from various community leaders and Dodge's award, a great optimism could be felt at the Opera House. Busy shops and Dodge's omnipresent plow trucks will be the likely future symbols of the afternoon's joyful tone.