GOSHEN — Scott Woldruff said he has lived in eight midwestern communities, but they all fall short of Goshen when it comes to the schools, medical care, city services and “just the people in general.”
The owner of Woldruff’s Footwear & Apparel said so Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting while accepting the chamber’s 2013 Small Business of the Year award. The Chamber credited the Woldruffs with giving great customer service, their involvement in Kiwanis Club and downtown promotional efforts.
“We’ve had 21 years here and it’s been real special to us,” said Woldruff, who owns the store at 129 S. Main St. with his wife Judy. “This is a real caring community. There’s a lot of towns where it’s every man for himself. We’re not like that. Everybody cares and supports each other in whatever way they can.”
The chamber gave Keystone RV Company its Maple Leaf Award for best small business with more than 50 employees. Keystone employs 3,400 and has been Elkhart County’s largest giver to United Way for two consecutive years, Shelly Pulaski, chair of the chamber’s ambassador committee, said.
“We all know 2008 was a rough year, but Keystone refocused and is thriving,” Pulaski said.
“Goshen has been very important to our success,” said David Chupp, Keystone’s chief operating officer. “We have 17 plants down south of (C.R.) 38. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a pretty impressive complex. The (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association 51st Annual National RV Trade Show this week in Louisville) results are coming in good, so it looks like it will be another good year for the RV industry, so we look forward to another year of supporting the community and being a part of this.”
Hoppers Pike Street Grill, 1208 W. Pike St., took the Maple Leaf Award for best small business with fewer than 50 employees. Pulaski called it “The Cheers of Goshen,” the “place to be seen at.” The eatery, opened in 1997, has been a strong supporter of Goshen High School football and basketball, Goshen Boys and Girls Club and is the lead sponsor of the frog jumping contest at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
Owner Steve Frauhiger, calling himself “not much of a speaker and a behind-the-scenes guy,” simply thanked the chamber.
The chamber named Mark Lindemood, chief philanthropy officer at IU Health Goshen Foundation, as its Volunteer of the Year.
Lindemood is an ambassador of chamber, member of toastmasters and served as important part of the capital improvement campaign this year, which allowed the chamber to improve its building, add state-of-the-art meeting rooms for chamber members’ use and create a second-floor “Launch Pad,” an incubator for new business startups.
“Many of you deserve this more than I,” Lindemood said. “We simply do what we need to do when we’re called upon. All of us have skills sets and all of us contribute them, so offer yours and they will be taken.”
The chamber also gave a Community Service Award to The Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail for its work in developing a network of pedestrian trails, this year’s segment connecting Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewanna.
John Yoder, who has worked on the project for 23 years, accepted the award for the group. He said a study this year estimated that 60,000 people use the trail in a year.
“The greatest support that we’ve had has come from the city of Goshen,” Yoder said. “People ask me, after working on this for 23 years, whether I feel a sense of gratitude when I see people on the trail. It’s very heartening to see all the people who ride, bike and walk their dogs.”
Yoder said people call him and ask his advice on how to start a trail. People around the room started to laugh.
“Yeah, think about it,” he said. “Twenty-three years and they’re asking my advice. I guess it’s just perseverance or stubbornness.”