January 22, 2015
Brewer, Maine — More than 1,000 area business and community leaders gathered Wednesday night to celebrate the successes of movers and shakers, innovators and volunteers.
Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce CEO John Porter said the crowd on the arena floor of the Cross Insurance Center was the largest the Chamber has seen at its annual awards dinner, and perhaps the largest single dinner gathering in the city’s history.
John Simpson, former CEO of H.E. Sargent Inc., took home the Chamber’s loftiest honor, the Norbert X. Dowd Award. That recognition is handed each year to a person in the business community whose “commitment of time, resources and talent has made the Bangor region a better place to pursue one’s livelihood and dreams,” according to the Chamber.
Simpson retired from H.E. Sargent in 2005 after 40 years working with the company. He went on to serve on the boards of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, the University of Maine Foundation and more. He also is credited as being one of the driving forces behind Mobilize Eastern Maine, a group working to boost economic opportunities and population in the region.
C&L Aviation Group received the Bion & Dorian Foster Entrepreneurship Award. Since moving its headquarters from Australia to Bangor in 2011, C&L has grown from just a few employees to more than 130. C&L refurbishes and repairs corporate jets and small regional and charter aircraft. The company recently opened an aircraft painting hangar and is seeking more qualified applicants to paint planes.
“We look forward to bigger things in the future,” CEO Chris Kilgour told the crowd after leading an “Aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, oi” chant. He thanked Bangor and airport officials for their support as his company grew, and his employees for their hard work.
R.H. Foster, a Hampden energy company that employs 350 Mainers, received this year’s Business of the Year award. The Chamber recognized the company’s efforts to “reinvent” itself by offering a range of energy efficiency technologies, audits and other services as the energy market began to shift away from home heating oil.
The Chamber’s Catherine Lebowitz Award for Public Services went to former Bangor City Council Chairman Ben Sprague and former Brewer Mayor Jerry Goss. The peers reached across the Penobscot River during their terms in 2013-2014, stressing the need for collaboration between their communities. They stressed the need for plans and programs to tackle opiate abuse in the region and advocated for restored revenue sharing from the state.
The new council leaders from both cities, Matt Vachon in Brewer and Nelson Durgin in Bangor, have vowed to continue that collaboration.
The Chamber handed the Jane Irving Community Service Award to Mark Woodward, retired executive editor of the Bangor Daily News. After leaving the BDN, Woodward became heavily involved in nonprofit advocacy, as well as the push to build a new arena and convention center.
Woodward has volunteered and contributed to Eastern Maine Development Corp., the Maine Discovery Museum, Bangor Public Library, the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame and many more organizations.
Dennis Marble, director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, won the Arthur Comstock Professional Service Award for his advocacy on behalf of the region’s homeless population and his efforts to tackle the issue at the statewide policy level.
The Nonprofit of the Year award went to the Foster Center for Student Innovation at the University of Maine. The Foster Center has worked with thousands of students to promote an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. The center also has consulted with more than 1,000 Maine businesses on how to make their organizations more successful.
During the dinner, Porter urged business leaders to look to workers affected by the spate of regional layoffs for their next great employee. He stressed the need for collaboration and bright ideas to pull through what has been a difficult few years for Maine’s economy and industry.
“We all want the best, and if we choose to see the good in our region and the good in each other, we’re going to be just fine,” Porter said.
By Nick McCrea of the Bangor Daily News