Remsen Chamber honors businesses/citizen at annual meeting and dinner

Thursday, February 21, 2019
Barry’s Electric, owned by Barry Galles, received the 2018 Business of the Year honors at the Remsen Chamber Annual Meeting and Dinner, which was held at the Golden Pheasant on February 11. Employees at Barry’s Electric, pictured above include: Front row, from left: Melissa Galles, Josh Bohnenkamp, Barry Galles, Justin Tentinger, and Tyler Galles. Back row, from left: Nathan Ruhland, Neil Schreier, Josh Gengler, and Mitchell Plendl.
(Photo contributed)

The Remsen Chamber of Commerce held their annual meeting and dinner on Mon., February 17, 2019, at the Golden Pheasant in Remsen with 93 people in attendance, according to Chamber board member Stephanie Loutsch. The original date of the dinner, February 7, was canceled due to the winter weather.

A social hour was held from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Then the chamber board members were introduced to the crowd. Members serving on the 2018 Remsen Chamber Board included: Michael Matgen, Matgen Insurance (President); Dustin Pick, American Bank (Vice President); Stacey Schroeder, Floyd Valley Healthcare (Secretary); Stephanie Loutsch, WesTel Systems (Treasurer); Shane Bork, Smith Insurance; Alicia Hoffman, Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc.; Karen Harnack, Thompson, Phipps & Thompson; Kurtis Kroeger, Christ Lutheran Church; Tammy Portz, Furnishings On Second At Muller’s; and Scott Jones, Iowa State Bank.

There were three board members that were retiring and would be off the board for 2019. Those three were Karen Harnack, who has served for the past 15 years; Tammy Portz, who served in the 1980’s and then rejoined and has served a number of years; and Michael Matgen, who has served for the past six years.

Karen Bartolozzi received the 2018 Employee/Citizen of the Year honors at the Remsen Chamber Annual Meeting and Dinner on Monday, February 11, 2019.
(Photo contributed)

New board members joining for 2019 include Rachel Keffeler, City of Remsen; Jennifer Galles, RGS Seeds; and Mirna Miller, Iowa State Bank.

Before the meal was served, Pastor Garret Kasper of Christ Lutheran Church said a prayer. A delicious meal of roast beef, broasted chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, vegetable, rolls, salad bar, and dessert followed, served by the Golden Pheasant.

The Remsen Chamber then started the meeting part of the evening. A summary of events taking place in 2018 was given. Events included the Easter Egg Hunt, Scholarships for graduating seniors, Kids’ Days, Chamber Golf, Oktoberfest Spirit Contest, Halloween Trick or Treating, Olde Fashioned Christmas; Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Chamber Bucks Drawings; Christmas Lighting Contest, Little League Parade, and Chamber Bowling.

The awards portion of the evening then took place.

The first award announced was the Up and Coming Business Award. Loutsch then announced the winner and gave a little bit of background, “This award is being given to an “Up and Coming” Business that belongs to the Remsen Chamber. This award is presented to someone that has recently invested into this community and has taken a leap into the business world of Remsen, Iowa. This award is nominated and voted on by the Remsen Chamber directors. This year’s winner is Dollar General. Dollar General opened in Remsen just over a year ago. They have been a real life saver to many citizen’s in Remsen, especially since the fire at Farm Fresh Foodtown. Dollar General employees five people. A new manager will be starting on Monday, February 11. Trish Wurth from Remsen is the assistant manager of the store. Please be sure to welcome the new manager to the community. Since no one is here to accept the award, we will drop it off at the store next week.”

The Chamber then went on to announce the winner of the Employee/Citizen of the Year for 2018. Scott Jones came up to read his speech about the winner, which was Karen Bartolozzi. Ashley Schuttpelz sent in the original nomination letter, recommending Bartolozzi for the honor.

In his speech, Scott stated, “This year I have the privilege to announce the 2018 Employee of the Year award. What makes giving this award a privilege is that it goes to one of our own from Iowa State Bank. Congratulations goes out to Karen Bartolozzi who has dedicated 45 years of service to our bank and the community of Remsen. After graduation in 1973 Karen started work with then Farmers Savings Bank, now known as Iowa State Bank. One of Karen’s responsibilities is to create a welcoming environment for our customers and guests as they enter our business. In the past 45 years, her dedication and commitment to our customers and the service to the community has not wavered. Karen has seen the bank go through many changes, and through it all, she has stepped up to the challenge to meet new bank regulations, deadlines, and milestones with a smile on her face and a willingness to help all. Karen brings her professional attributes to Iowa State Bank, as seen through her quality of work, her willingness to go above and beyond what is asked of her to pursue great customer service. Karen’s warm and cheerful attitude extends into the community with bank activities such as tailgates, movie nights, spaghetti suppers, and even working concession stands, just to name a few. Karen has always been a good sport joking with the customers making their day a little brighter. Iowa State Bank has been fortunate to have such a dedicated employee for the last 45 years. I asked several people if they had any funny stories they wouldn’t mind if I told and they all said the same thing. Yes, they had a lot of stories, but all of them thought those stories might be a little inappropriate to tell. It’s been a privilege and an honor to work with such a wonderful and fun person. Thank you, Karen, for all that you do and congratulations on such a prestigious award.”

The 2018 Business of the Year was announced and awarded their plaque. Brad Galles came up to read his speech about the winner, which was Barry’s Electric. Randy Galles sent in the original nomination for consideration for Barry’s Electric, which is owned by Barry Galles.

In Brad’s speech, he started out with a story, “In 1994, Barry was in his first year at Sheldon and I was in my second. It made sense for us to car pool since we both still lived a mile or so from our folks place. We would switch off driving, and I still laugh to this day because I was all about driving a two-door car with a V8, while Barry put his Monte Carlo in the shed and bought a Ford Escort (or something like that) to get better gas mileage. He didn’t care about how the car looked, he cared about saving money. So one day we were running late, and I asked Barry if this car could go any faster. Barry said, “What’s the point, we’re already late and if I drive faster we’re still gonna be late...I’ll probably end up with a ticket.” That was Barry, a calculated person, who was not comfortable with taking a risk for no obvious benefit.

A year later, Barry graduated and goes to work for a couple of contractors when he ends up at Langel’s Electric. Then one day Barry surprises me and tells me he is going to start his own electrical business. So here I sit thinking...this guy, who only takes calculated risks, is going to quit his job, start his own business, and hire Shorty, good luck! Well 20 years later, it turns out that all of those decisions were genius. Barry’s Electric started in 1998; he worked out of an old 20x20 feeder pig barn that dad was no longer using, and Barry never looked back. Through the years, Barry grew the business working out of an old barn at his acreage, to the old Schaaf’s building in Remsen, to the new building he now has on Highway 3. Barry has 11 full time employees with Shorty being there from the beginning. I can’t drive in Remsen, Le Mars, or any of the surrounding communities, without seeing a Barry’s Electric vehicle on the road. I think it is really cool to see business’ like Barry’s Electric stay in their hometown and continue to bring jobs to their communities. Barry and I talk almost everyday, and I can assure you of this, I don’t think I know another person that is more dedicated to his family, his employees, and his community. He doesn’t make a decision unless it somehow positively affects one of those three things. He is certainly no longer a person who won’t take a risk; he is the embodiment of an entrepreneur. Robert Kiyosaki said, “Everyone can tell you the risk, an entrepreneur can see the reward.” I want to congratulate Barry and Melissa and the Barry’s Electric team for their company being the 2018 Business of the Year!”

Congratulations to Dollar General, Karen Bartolozzi, and Barry’s Electric on receiving their respective prestigious honors.