The Watertown Chamber of Commerce honored three local businesses at its annual awards banquet and dinner Thursday at Turner Hall.
The recently opened Slumberland Furniture, 1940 Market Way, was named retailer of the year.
Chamber Executive Susan Dascenzo said the retail award is given to recognize a retail establishment that has demonstrated its commitment to the Watertown area by a major investment in the past year.
Slumberland owner Dave Frie wanted to thank the city of Watertown for all their support and help in getting the business up and running.
“I’ve been to a number of markets where I’ve had opportunities to visit with the community as a whole and people have said to me, ‘Why Watertown?” I need to let you know this is a beautiful community and it is a warm community,” Frie said. “I’ve never felt more at home than I am with you folks here.”
Frie added in the time that it took to build his building and get his business under way he has seen great cooperation from the municipality, something he does not always see in other locations.
Madison Area Technical College received the Service Professional of the Year award for their recently completed renovation at their Watertown Campus. Dascenzo said the college has continued to expand to meet the community’s growing demand of more students and new classes.
The Service Professional of the Year award recognizes any existing or new professional service establishment whose business construction, addition or expansion during the past year contributed significantly to the enhancement of the community.
Executive director of the Watertown Campus Lynn Forseth said it was a surprise and an honor to receive the award. She said the campus started the work on the expansion with a referendum in 2010 and here they were in 2013 moving into their new space.
“We just have to thank every single person in this room and the Watertown community ... who supported our referendum,” Foresth said. “We have used the space extensively already, but we are continuing to grow into the addition day by day.”
She added she hoped everyone in the community would come visit the campus to see the new addition and to see what kind of classes, services and opportunities the college has to offer.
Clasen Quality Coatings was named the Industry of the Year for their multi-million dollar expansion that was completed last fall.
The Industry of the Year award honors any industrial firm whose new manufacturing installation or expansion of facilities has provided a substantial broadening of the community's economic base and major employment opportunities for citizens.
Clasen production manager Fred Nieforth said he would like to thank the Watertown Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Cooperation and the city government including Mayor Krueger. He said when it comes to business transactions, not all cities are created equal.
“You have a wonderful staff here in Watertown who not only watch out for the residents of the community, but they are also watching out for the businesses,” Nieforth said. “It’s great to see you can achieve both objectives and have happy campers on both sides of the streets.”
Nieforth added it was great to be in Watertown and the company plans on staying in Watertown and expanding again in the future.
The chamber gave out two new awards this year. The Golden Gosling award for customer service was given to Tribecca employee Allison Narlock for her outstanding work with customers. The second new award, Chamber Ambassador of the Year, was given to Bank of Lake Mills Vice President Joe Schuch for his work promoting the chamber during the past year.
Two separate sculptures of the space shuttle, one made of ice another made of wood, were displayed at the banquet to honor the evening’s speaker, former astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Dan Branden-stein.
Brandenstein, a Watertown native, told the gathered chamber members the top 10 questions he receives at speaking events.
He said some of the questions usually came from children, like how do you go to the bathroom in space or how much does an astronaut make? He spared the diners the details of the first question and said he received the same salary he was making as a navy pilot while with NASA.
One of the questions he hears often, is what is it like? He said that is a tough question to answer because most people have never experience space travel so he relates traveling in space to flying on an airplane.
“You get ready to go fly, when you get ready to fly on an airliner you show up at the airport and you go through security and you are dressed in nice comfortable clothes and you get on the airplane and you are ready to go flow. The shuttle is a little different,” Brandenstein said. “You get ready to go fly about four hours before hand and you are putting on a really uncomfortable suit, it is hot, uncomfortable and it binds you in a bunch of places.”
He said back in an airline you take off and you start flying and the plane reaches cruising altitude about 30,000 to 35,000 foot range going about 500 miles per hour.
“While in the shuttle you take off straight up and instead of having two, three or four jet engines you have seven rocket engines with seven and a half million pounds of thrust shooting you upwards,” Brandenstein said. “It takes you eight and a half minutes to reach your cruising altitude which is 1,500,000 feet and when you get there you are cruising at 17,500 mph, that is six miles a second or 10 times faster than a speeding bullet.”
Brandenstein also talked about the positive developments the space program brought to the country including advances in medical technology, computer systems and in LED lights.
“Another thing that is a benefit of space is that it really gives humans a chance to learn and explore and go beyond the current realm of knowledge,” Brandenstein said.
The 46th annual Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce dinner and awards banquet was sponsored by Sanft Accounting; BMO Harris Bank; Datatek Imaging; ISB Community Bank; Maas Brothers Construction; Multi-Color; UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center; Clasen Quality Coatings; Domani Salon and Spa; Grinwald Ford; Hafemeister Funeral Home; Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet; State Bank of Reeseville Watertown; Town & Country Bank; Windwood of Watertown; Winter, Kloman, Moter & Repp, S.C.; and Wis-Pak.