KENNEWICK -- Boeing Executive Vice President Jim Albaugh has noticed some big changes in the Tri-Cities since he grew up here many years ago.
"Many of the places I associate with hunting, fishing and drinking beer are now fancy (wine) appellations," Albaugh joked to the more than 500 people who attended the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting and awards luncheon Wednesday at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Seattle-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes, was the keynote speaker and received the Tri-City Region Alumnus of Distinction Award. This was the first year it was awarded.
The Richland native's speech featured his views on everything from how the world is changing to tips on how to professionally succeed.
The chamber also recognized various companies and individuals for their contributions to the chamber and community.
In his keynote address, Albaugh noted how the world has changed since he landed his first engineering job with a Hanford contractor in 1975.
For instance, he said China has gone from being "an enemy, to (Boeing's) No. 1 customer, to a competitor."
Albaugh said he also is worried about what he called the "intellectual disarmament," referring to how he believes the United States is lagging behind other countries in terms of how many engineers graduate from its universities.
He said the innovative spirit of Washington businesses, such as Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, is one of the state's strengths.
And, although he acknowledged the state's dire financial situation, he encouraged the Legislature not to cut funding for higher education because it helps spawn the innovation on which such companies rely.
The audience clapped in response.
Albaugh also shared some secrets of his success.
He said he advises people to work for managers who care about them and about helping them succeed.
Albaugh said it also is important to surround yourself with good people, "people that are better than you and will tell you when you're wrong."
He said a manager's primary job is to develop a good team with a common purpose. And he said he values employees who put the company before their personal ambitions.
Albaugh said the strength of a company is its people.
"It's the 60,000 people who get up every morning and go through the gate (at Boeing Commercial Airplanes)," he said."They get a chance to work on things really hard and to get to work on things nobody else can do."
Before Albaugh's address, the chamber recognized several individuals and companies.
Toby Bouchey, the chamber's chairwoman for 2011, said part of the chamber's strategic plan this year is to recognize its members and volunteers.
To that end, two companies received a new award called the Business on a Roll Award.
One of those is elevate, a computer networking business based in Richland, which received the award for a business with fewer than 50 people.
The company's revenue grew 111 percent in 2010, and its staff grew by 100 percent, said presenter Russ Keefer, chief human resources officer at Kennewick General Hospital.
Pasco-based Randolph Construction Services received the Business on a Roll Award for a company with more than 50 employees.
The company experienced significant revenue growth and increased its work force by 74 in 2010, Keefer said.
Both companies also donated to many community organizations, he said.
Two new awards called Impact Awards were given to companies that have contributed financially to the chamber.
The Tri-City Cancer Center received the Impact Award for a charitable community organization. Hapo Community Credit Union received the Impact Award for a corporation.
Awards also were given to two people who have been active in chamber activities. Jim Carey received the Ambassador of the Year Award, and Jill Hefter received the Chamber STAR Award.
* Kathy Korengel: 509-582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org