ABG, Innovance businesses of year

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, October 25, 2012

Doug Olson from Innovance accepts the Large Business of the Year award at the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce's annual membership dinner on Thursday as the chamber's executive director, Randy Kehr, looks on. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Alliance Benefit Group and Innovance Inc. shared top honors Thursday at the annual Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Membership Celebration.

Both businesses were named Large Business of the Year for their involvement with the chamber and the community, said Chamber of Commerce Director Randy Kehr. The celebration was at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club.

Alliance Benefit Group, one of the nation’s largest retirement plan providers, was established in 1984 and has since grown to 105 employees.

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Kehr said in addition to contributing to numerous organizations, Alliance Benefit has a commitment to the wellness of its employees.

Brad Arends from Alliance Benefit Group speaks to the crowd at the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce's annual membership dinner. ABG was awarded Large Business of the Year. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Innovance is the holding company for Lou-Rich, Almco and Exact Manufacturing and has 359 employees, he said.

The company was established in 1994 and has grown to conduct $71 million a year in sales.

It has several people who are a part of chamber committees, has twice been voted best place to work and is also devoted to worksite wellness, he said.

Named as Medium Business of the Year was Geneva Bar & Grill.

Kehr said the business has 21 full-time and part-time employees and has shown it is committed not only to Geneva but to Freeborn County as a whole.

He said the company sponsors events such as the Geneva Cancer Auction and the Geneva Wild Game Feed and sponsors many local sports teams.

“They’ve been a helpful and cooperative to a number of members of the community,” he added.

Named as Small Business of the Year was Fleet Farm Supply.

Kehr said this company has been in business since 1956 and has been a chamber member since 1975. It is serving its second and third generations.

“They take their customers and caring for their customers very seriously,” he said.

It was the chamber’s 132nd annual meeting and membership celebration.

Tom Jones was awarded Volunteer of the Year, and Lori Bagley was awarded Ambassador of the Year.

Mark Jones was awarded a Lifetime Member Award.

Officials also presented Worksite Wellness Awards to recognize employers who have invested in and are offering varying levels of worksite wellness services.

The speaker was Bob Kill, president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota, a nonprofit consulting organization that helps small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies, education service and government entities.