South County Chamber honors business leaders

By Mike Benbow Herald Writer

LYNNWOOD — The South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce will honor several of its members next week for work they’ve done for the organization and the business community.

But, as is often the case, the award winners are all people who’ve contributed a lot in a broader arena, said Jean Hales, president/CEO of the chamber.

“They’re focused on individuals and leadership,” Hales said of the awards that will be presented Wednesday at the Lynnwood Convention Center. “But all three will go to people who walk the talk of participation in the greater community.”

Award winners are:

•Howard Chermak, of Chermak Construction Inc., winner of the John M. Fluke Sr. Community Service Award.

Jack Oharah, president of Edmonds Community College, the Swedish corporate executive of the year.

Rick Ellersick, of Big E Ales, the Comcast small business executive of the year.

The winner of a fourth award, for the spirit of business, will be announced at the ceremony.

Hales said Chermak was selected because of his involvement in a host of activities. “He’s everywhere,” she said, adding he’s a frequent sponsor of many events and a strong support of the chamber.

Chermak is in a tough business, but he’s working hard to improve it. “His staff is very innovative and they’re not just sitting by and being victimized (by hard times).”

Oharah also is heavily involved in the community, Hales said.

“He’s had to adapt in changing times and with declining revenues (at the college) and he’s helped many other boards do that throughout the community,” Hales said.

She noted that Oharah has worked hard to partner with a variety of organizations and groups involved in developing jobs. “He’s helped to pull the workforce development elements together,” Hales said.

She said Ellersick has developed Big E Ales from its beginning in a garage in 1997 to its success as a family-operated business today. But he also coaches kids in baseball and football and “gives and gives” to a lot of community groups.

Hales said she’s looking forward to next week’s dinner and just celebrating the service of the award winners.

“It’s been a tough couple of years,” she said. “It will be nice to take an evening and celebrate something good.”