L-R: Fred Hebblewhite, Michelle Venzke, Karli Klismith, and Brian Pfannes. (Courtesy PCBC)

PCBC honors excellence in local business

By Brandi Makuski

Honorees from four area entities were recognized last week for their excellence in the Portage Co. business community.

The four were honored during the Portage Co. Business Council’s annual award banquet, held at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center on Jan. 25.

Ambassador of the Year Award
  • Karli Klismith, KerberRose

Klismith is a senior talent consultant for KerberRose, a certified public accountant firm. She’s served hundreds of hours of volunteer time for the PCBC by attending ribbon cuttings, grand openings, groundbreaking ceremonies, Business After Hours, Women in Business, and many other events, visits to new and existing businesses, and monthly committee meetings where she currently serves as secretary/treasurer.

Klismith also serves on the board of the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, and its grants and development committees, and is a member of the Stevens Point Area Human Resources Association. She holds a certified staffing professional designation from the American Staffing Association.

The Small Business of the Year Award
  • Real Deals on Home Decor, owner Michelle Venzke

Real Deals on Home Decor was selected from several nominees based on their growth and financial stability, dedication to customer service and community needs, personal commitment, and innovative efforts to identify a market niche.

The store opened in November 2017 and is located at 817 Clark St. in Stevens Point. The staff demonstrates their commitment to the community daily and it is evident through donations, community involvement, and support to many organizations including the Salvation Army, UW-Stevens Point, local K-12 schools, the Next Home Priority fundraiser for the animal shelter, and participation in local fashion show fundraisers for the Senior Center and the Portage County Business Council Women in Business event.

The Decree of Excellence Award
  • Steel King Industries, Inc.

Steel King is located at 2700 Chamber St. in Stevens Point. For over 50 years, Steel King Industries, Inc. has produced high-caliber material handling racking, storage, and safety systems that improve, fortify, and protect companies’ supply chains nationwide.

Steel King’s reliability, strength, and support have earned recognition and loyalty as one of the top rack manufacturers in North America, proudly contributing vitality, efficiency, and value to supply chains worldwide.

In 2023, the company will continue to reinvest in the community where it started, with a move to a new corporate headquarters. This new facility will triple the size of Steel King’s headquarters and attract new talent to the community and enable the next generation of Steel King growth in the community it has called home for over 50 years.

The President’s Award
  • Fred Hebblewhite, CEO of United Way of Portage County

Hebblewhite provides “inspirational leadership, successfully develops and manages financial goals, brings out the best in his team” by providing training, coaching, development, and encouragement, and is committed to the collaboration and success of area businesses, and the communities he serves.

He is a homeowner and board member of Oxford House International, Oxford House River Point, and Oxford House Riverside, which are alcohol and drug-free homes for those in recovery from addiction. In addition, he is a Member, Board of Director, and Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Stevens Point, a graduate of Leadership Portage County, a presenter at various United Way of Wisconsin conferences, Past President of Portage County Crime Stoppers, former board member of the Plover Area Business Association, Wisconsin State Crime Stoppers and mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portage County.

Karen Myers, the director of programs and events for the Portage County Business Council, said that these four individuals are among the best that the local business community has to offer.

“Their dedication to bettering our local community is another element that makes all four award winners unique and valuable parts of the Portage County community,” she said.

The presenting sponsors of the event were Marshfield Medical Center River Region Stevens Point Campus and TDS. Other sponsors included Aspirus, CLA, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Festival Foods, Herrschners, Inc., Keller, Inc., KerberRose, Nicolet National Bank, Sentry, Simplicity Credit Union, Steel King Industries, The Dirks Group, Van Horn Nissan of Stevens Point, and WoodTrust Bank.

The media sponsor of the event was WSAW TV-7, with popular news anchor Jeff Thelen as the master of ceremonies.