The 2012 Rim Country Business Awards started with a somber reminder — a two-minute video slide show of people waiting in line for food, out of work and boarded up businesses. Halfway through, though, the video took a turn, the music lightened, images changing to those of happy faces and inspirational quotes of persistence and hope.
The message, although hokie, was clear: through tough times, there is hope on the other side.
The businesses honored showed that through hard work and service, you can survive one of the worst economic times in recent history and come out the other side stronger, organizers said.
Those honored as this year’s best included Messinger Payson Funeral Home, Home Depot and several local business leaders.
Messinger Payson Funeral Home took home the title of Small Business of the Year. Messinger, a family-owned business out of Scottsdale, opened a new funeral home and meeting space off Main Street in June 2011.
Also nominated in the small business category were Mattress Experts and Payson Farmers Market.
Mattress Experts, which opened in 2010, is one of the few Tempur-Pedic dealers nationwide recognized by the company in sales. The store is co-owned by Kristine McCormack and Cindy Gregory.
Gregory also took home the honor of Jim Young Businessperson of the Year Tuesday.
Gregory not only runs a successful business, she works tirelessly in the community. She helped with the Payson Community Kids coat drive the last two years, sponsored the restoration of town benches on Main Street and is an ambassador for the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Another award winner Tuesday was Stephanie Creasy, general manager of the Best Western, with the Pat Willis Award for Business Excellence.
Creasy, who has a degree in hotel and restaurant management, joined the staff at Best Western Payson Inn in 2003, where her mother worked as the general manager.
Another big award winner Tuesday was Buzz Walker, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award honors someone who has worked to improve the community for at least 20 years, Landino said.Walker has played a hand in nearly every major development in Payson since the 1970s.
The last business award handed out Tuesday went to The Home Depot, who was honored as the Large Business of the Year.
Store manager David P. Kane said he was proud of his team and proud to work with them. He said the company had always valued giving back and the Payson Home Depot team has consistently done just that.
Chapman Auto Center and Hospice Compassus were finalists in the large business category.