Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Jeremy Shearer, owner of Beyond Exterminating, accepts the Dick James Small Business of the Year Award from Gena McLendon, chair of the Chamber's Small Business Committee, as Chairman Jerry Mays looks on.
COVINGTON -- Jeremy Shearer wasn't planning on attending Thursday night's Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting. It's a good thing he did.
Shearer, owner of Beyond Exterminating, received the Dick James Small Business of the Year Award.
"I wasn't planning on coming. Another employee attends most of the Chamber functions. My office manager is my mom and she teamed up with my wife and pulled the wool over my eyes and got me there," Shearer said.
"It's awesome. It was completely unexpected. I had no idea I had been nominated," he said.
The award is named in honor of the late Dick James, longtime president of the Chamber, who "was respected throughout Georgia for his integrity, talent and values that exemplified the highest qualities of leadership," according to Gena McLendon, 2009 chair of the Small Business Committee.
"Since opening the business, (Shearer's) goal to become the best in his profession was by providing superior customer service, innovative treatment techniques and affordable rates," McLendon said.
Shearer opened Beyond Exterminating in April 2004. Just three months later, he was called by the U.S. Marine Corps to active duty in Iraq. His commanding officer recognized his leadership skills in a letter to his parents that read in part, "As a sergeant in the Marine Corps, you are expected to be a leader and a good one. Your son is the poster child of a Marine. He is the consummate professional at all times and expects the same from anyone around him."
Since returning from his tour of duty, Shearer has grown his business to be one of the most recognizable exterminators in Newton and surrounding counties, McLendon said.
He is also very involved in the community, serving as president of Newton County Habitat for Humanity and Certified Pest Control Operations of Georgia and as a member of the Chamber and the East Metro Board of Realtors.
He has received numerous honors and awards including the Circle of Excellence Award each year from 2005-08; the East Metro Board of Realtors President's Service Award in 2007; and East Metro Board of Realtors Affiliate of the Year in 2006.
Teri and Chris Haler received the Spirit of Excellence Award. The winner is selected by the staff of the Chamber to show their appreciation for those who have gone above and beyond the norm in their support.
"This couple is involved with all aspects of the Chamber, from economic development, to tourism, to small business, to membership and finally, marketing," said 2010 Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Jerry Mays. "They serve on the Tourism Advisory Council, the Ambassador Committee and the Small Business Committee. They have been instrumental in the development and execution of the Buy Local Newton program, the wedding destination program, the creation of the Chamber's logo and the Buy Local Newton logo and recruiting multiple members to the Chamber."
The Haler's own Current Event Productions, a design and video agency specializing in print, online media, video taping and editing services.
"We were definitely surprised but very much honored to receive the award. We live here in Covington, we've established our business in Covington, I grew up in Covington. Our kids go to school here," said Teri Haler. "We feel that basically what we put into the community it will definitely come back to us somehow. It's just a great place. It's an investment in our lives, an investment in our community. Chris and I feel the Newton Chamber of Commerce has provided us with many wonderful opportunities. We feel very fortunate to be a part of the organization."