A small business with big ambitions to turn out healthy, fit and energetic Tri-Citians is the winner of the 2011 Gold Award in the 16th-annual Mid-Columbia Small Business Awards.
Randy Willis, owner of Columbia Basin Racquet Club in Richland, and his 32 employees were honored Thursday at a banquet at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel.
"They just go way out there for their members. They have three parties for them in the summer, another in the fall, they put on Easter egg hunts for the kids. It's just overwhelming what they do for members," said Gerri Good, judging coordinator for the awards. "They're really an amazing group and what they give back to the community is incredible. It's not just over the top, it's the cherry on top."
In January, Willis donated $100,000 worth of used exercise equipment to six Tri-City area schools.
"The schools love to get a call from the racquet club, especially in these economic times. Rather than sell it, he chose to donate it, and it's not the first time," Good said.
The awards are presented by the Pasco Chamber of Commerce, West Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The awards recognize small businesses in Benton and Franklin counties for exceptional customer service, outstanding commitment to employees and superior community relations.
Twelve businesses applied this year. Winners were chosen by a panel of six judges.
"What I noticed in going through their (application) packets is the great pride each business has not only in their business but their fellow workers. That was uniform everywhere in all the nominees," Good said. "They all have a passion for what they do every single day."
Other Small Business of the Year awards went to:
w Silver winner -- Tri-Cities Digestive Health Center, owned by Dr. Somprak "Boon" Boonpongmanee.
w Bronze winner -- Sylvan Learning Center in Kennewick, owned by Randy Way.
For more information onthe awards, go to http://midcolumbiasmallbiz.com or on Facebook at Mid-Columbia Small Business Awards.