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Chamber gives nods to its finest


Celebrate Tualatin awards ceremony highlights stars from business community

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Tualatin Chamber of Commerce recognized Mike Shiffer, Tracy Smith, Valia Eskandari, Loyce Martinazzi, Perry P. Perkins, Amy Freeman and Jeff Houghtaling of ClubSport Oregon and Ramsey Zawideh.A chef, a graphic designer, a franchise owner and a historian were among the honorees at the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce’s Celebrate Tualatin awards ceremony.

Loyce Martinazzi insisted there were other members more deserving of the chamber’s Spirit of Tualatin Award, but the local historian was honored for her tireless efforts to document and preserve Tualatin history — and to save Winona Grange.

“The Grange nearly died out about 12 years ago, due to the old age of most members,” Martinazzi explained. “When I was a teenager, the Grange had a fantastic youth group. So when the membership was dying out, I was told our Grange was dying. ‘Over my dead body,’ I thought.”

With that, Martinazzi contacted her fellow, former youth group members and gathered support.

“I knew we had to get out into the community and bring the Grange back to its former place in society, and I knew the chamber was the way to do that,” she said.

The chamber saw a uniting force in Valia Eskandari, owner of Edge Graphics Company and Volunteer of the Year. Eskandari not only lent her professional services to the chamber by designing two of its web pages, she has stepped up as event photographer and somewhat of a marketing maven, and is well known for recruiting new members.

Also focused on outreach was the chamber’s Rookie of the Year, Perry Perkins of Hautemealz.com. Although he’s only been a member of the chamber since March 2012, Perkins impressed other chamber members with his eagerness to jump into networking events — and as the award-winning chef at last year’s Crawfish Festival Cook-Off. But Perkins, who runs a meal-planning business for families, has thrown himself just as hard into addressing hunger.

“I grew up in what’s now called a home with ‘food anxiety’ — we just called it ‘poor’ back then, so I have some experience in this area,” Perkins said. “I think that with just a small amount of effort from a lot of people, it’s something that can be overcome.”

“On a more selfish level, there are few activities in life that will make you feel better than feeding a hungry child,” he added.

For fighting hunger on an organizational level, the Tualatin Schoolhouse Pantry was given the chamber’s Outstanding Community Service award. The nonprofit is a branch of the Oregon Food Bank and supplies more than 650 families with emergency food boxes each month.

The chamber noted that the volunteer-run organization was committed to treating the families it served with “dignity and respect.”

“We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish for the last eight years,” said Mike Shiffer, who accepted the award on behalf of Tualatin School House pantry during the April 25 ceremony. “It is wonderful to be in a community that believes in neighbors helping neighbors.”

Ramsey Zawideh was the chamber’s Business Leader of the Year, due in large part to the exemplary customer service and overall performance of the Baja Fresh franchise he owns in Lake Grove. This is the second year his restaurant has been given the No. 1 spot in general excellence among Baja Fresh locations nationwide.

A member of both Tualatin and Lake Oswego chambers, Zawideh felt that joining with other “like-minded business people” helped all involved move forward.

“I was truly flattered and humbled” by the award, Zawideh said.

Finally, ClubSport Oregon was thanked for bringing together several chambers from other cities for a large networking event — the Best Networking Event of the Year, the chamber agreed.

Perkins expressed the sentiment of his fellow honorees by pointing out that he felt appreciated not only by the local business community, but by friends.

“Having become friends with many of my fellow chamber members, as well as doing business with them, and having several as customers ourselves, it was a great feeling to be recognized by people I respect so highly,” he said.