Press Kit

MWVCC Announces 2015 MWV Award Winners

News from Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce – May 13, 2015

 Contact: Melody Nester, 603-356-5701or or Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331,


North Conway, NH– The Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce (MWVCC) is pleased to announce the 2015 Annual MWV Business Award winners.  Winners will be honored at the Awards Luncheon held at the 17th Annual Business to Business Expo, June 1, 2015 at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel.  In recognition of the highest concentration of entrepreneurs in the state, the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce (MWVCC) annually calls for nominations and then recognizes successful businesses with the Employer of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Non-profit organization of the year, Student Entrepreneur of the Year and Sustainable Business of the year awards announced at the Business to Business Expo awards luncheon.  Each award winner will receive a plaque and a Governor’s Citation.  Additionally, once again this year, the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce was delighted to present another award.  As a former MWVCC Board of Directors member, the chamber is honored to celebrate Steve Eastman’s legacy with the Steve Eastman Community Spirit Award.

 Tickets are still available to attend the Awards Luncheon and honor winners.  Attendance at the luncheon is a great way to for employers to reward employees for great customer service throughout the year.  Before and afterward, employees are welcome to attend workshops to learn more about technology, service, and resources in the Valley. To order tickets to the Awards Luncheon, simply click here.  

 The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is awarded each year to a business in existence for seven or more years which fills a need within the community and demonstrates creativity, innovation and community involvement. Additionally, the business must be people-and-principle oriented as well as profitable.  This year the Entrepreneur of the Year Award goes to Brian Charles, owner of North Conway Music Center.  With a vision to fill a need within the community for a music center offering a large variety of new and used retail items plus an array of learning and playing opportunities, Brian Charles has grown the North Conway Music Center from its original 300 square foot space to a 4000 square foot location with eight staff members and twelve teachers.  The new Academy reaches out into the community and provides wonderful opportunities for musicians to gather and learn together.  The weekly free clinics, charity events, ensembles and “swap” opportunities are just a few examples of the community outreach demonstrated by the North Conway Music Center.

 The Employer of the Year Award is given each year to a business that demonstrates respect for employees and other business partners and excellence in creating a safe and inviting workplace.  The Employer of the Year is also a business offering solid pay/benefits and the opportunity for training and advancement.  This year the Employer of the Year Award is awarded to Michael Kline and Sal Martignetti of Soyfire Candle.  Offering a culture of respect and involvement of employees, Michael and Sal have created a high-engagement culture for their employees where advancement and eventual store ownership has always been a priority. From transparency of mission and books to providing childcare, flexible scheduling and eventually “giving away the store” to a deserving employee, Sal and Michael are leaders in creating a culture of support, entrepreneurial spirit and engagement.

 The Non-Profit of the Year Award is given to a group that has made a major contribution to the Valley over the past two or more years.  This organization must demonstrate collaboration, a strong board of directors who contribute to the mission and show success in meeting its goals.  This year, the Non-Profit of the Year Award goes to Mt Washington Valley (MWV) Habitat for Humanity.  Since its inception in 1994, MWV Habitat for Humanity has addressed the affordable housing shortage in Mt Washington Valley, remodeling four and completing twelve new homes for Mt Washington Valley families (with four more in the works now). This has resulted in providing stable, safe and affordable living conditions to 31 adults and 48 children. Qualified recipients are offered an interest-free mortgage and are required to participate in at least 300 hours of volunteer labor to help build their own or another Habitat house.  Using privately donated funds, MWV Habitat for Humanity has invested $1.9 million (excluding volunteer labor) with a market value of $2.5 million. 

The Sustainable Business of the Year Award, chosen by the Mt Washington Valley Green Team, is given each year to a business that provides concrete examples of business practices which are environmentally responsible, plus educates employees and customers about the importance of sustainability.  The Sustainable Business of the Year Award is given this year to Memorial HospitalBy switching to a new form of renewable biofuel, Memorial Hospital has reduced its greenhouse gases from heating fuels by 85-percent and total emissions by approximately 75-percent.  Additionally, completing phase I of converting all lighting to LED, the hospital has realized a reduction of 62,000 kilowatt hours and an energy savings of $8,000.  The recycling programs have continued with placement of bins throughout the facility collecting paper, bottles and cardboard.  The employee-led Green Team oversees environment efforts and staff education at the hospital too.

 The Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award is chosen each year by the Mt Washington School to Career Program, and is given to a student who has demonstrated innovation and creativity in business for a real world application.  The Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award goes to Hayden Cyr this year. Hayden has taken his welding, automotive and machine tools class knowledge and put it to work in his own mobile service repair company, HJC Mobil Diesel & Welding Repair.  Growing up in his father’s construction and snow/ice removal company, Hayden saw first-hand how important equipment maintenance can be.  Knowing that moving equipment off-site is expensive, Hayden created a company that brings the service to the Fleet, saving time and money.  He’s hoping to soon add big rig and fleet repair parts to his operation so his customers won’t have to travel so far for parts. 

 Working with family members of the late Steve Eastman, the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce adds the Steve Eastman Community Spirit Award to the list of MWV Business Awards presentations once again this year. Created to honor of the late Steve Eastman, former MWVCC board member, longtime community leader and former Mountain Ear newspaper publisher and editor, this award will recognize a strong community leader.  As the founding publisher and editor of The Mountain Ear, Steve's business life personified what it means to give back to the community. His mantra, expressed beautifully at a memorial rock in his honor at the top of North Conway's Steve Eastman Memorial Field at Hog Coliseum, was “Love everyone, hold no grudges, and good deeds do count”.  The Steve Eastman Community Spirit Award is given annually to the person who personifies Steve's passion and zest for life, for helping the community, and for carrying on Steve's love for Mount Washington Valley.

This year's Steve Eastman Award recipient is Ben Wilcox, President and General Manager of Cranmore Mountain Resort. A University of New Hampshire graduate whose family long vacationed in the region, Ben's parents moved the family to valley from Fall River, Massachusetts in the late 1970s. Ben worked as an intern with Cindy Russell at Arts Jubilee, and later worked in marketing at Attitash Mountain Resort from 1988 to 1993 and in marketing and management at Bretton Woods from 1993 to 2004, after which he came to Cranmore as general manager in 2004. When Booth Creek sold Cranmore in June 2010 to the Fairbank Group, the new owners smartly retained Ben, giving him the additional title of president to go with his longtime general manager duties.

He is the current chair of Ski NH, and a past president of the Board of Directors of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. He also served as president of the Eastern Slope Ski Club, and the MWV Preservation Association, and has served on numerous state ski and travel boards, and is a current advisory member of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Ben has been a community supporter through his career, hosting such events at Cranmore as Arts Jubilee's summer concert series, Jen's Friends Climb Against Cancer, the American Cancer Society's "Hope on the Slopes" Race to Beat Cancer, the North Conway Firefighters' Association's annual summer concert, and hosting Boy Scout and Girl Scout sleepover camping trips at the base lodges.

"Ben very much personifies the community ideals and commitment to Mount Washington Valley that Steve exemplified throughout his years as publisher and editor of the Mountain Ear. If it was good for the community, Steve was all for it, and that's a passion that Ben has shared throughout his career. We congratulate him on this honor," said Tom Eastman, former assistant editor at the Mountain Ear, and a member of the staff of The Conway Daily Sun for the past eight years as a reporter and as co-editor of the paper's North Conway Magazine and Steve Eastman’s younger brother.

Tickets are still available to attend the Awards luncheon and celebrate the winners.  Tickets are $50 per person and should be pre-ordered.  Those wishing to order tickets may do so online. Go to to find online registration forms.  A limited number of tickets may be purchased on the day of the luncheon.

For more information about these awards and nominees, contact Melody Nester Assistant Director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at 603-356-5701, ext 302.

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