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Jones Wins Area Chamber of Commerce 2015 Economic Contribution Award
The Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce presents its annual Economic Contribution Award to that individual, business or organization that has contributed to, and promoted the objectives of the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce in the area of job growth and retention, capital investment, facility expansion, community involvement and/or innovation. This award was created in 1973, and is regarded as the chamber’s most prestigious recognition. Past recipients include some of our largest employers who have positively impacted job creation, and individuals who have had a vision of growing their own companies as well as our business community overall.
The selection committee for this award consists of past chamber presidents who met in mid-January to select this year’s recipient from a list of worthy nominees that had been submitted by our members.
This year’s recipient has played a prominent role in Fort Atkinson’s history, as six generations have all contributed to its success. In fact, you could say they have a history of great taste. Their products are known internationally, they are one of our largest employers, and their recent expansions will not only improve production, but increase tourism traffic to our area.
It is rare for a growing company to remain close to its roots and not relocate to a bigger city, but the land purchased for just $1.25 an acre more than a century ago is still home to this leader in food processing and retail. Wherever you go in Fort Atkinson, you see their family name; evidence of their deep commitment to this community. Additionally, they do their work quietly and outside the limelight, content to let their products speak for themselves.
When they ARE in the headlines, it is for reasons that earned them this year’s Economic Contribution Award. Jones Dairy Farm has, over the course of 127 years, learned to seize opportunities that others may miss, and adjust to the rapidly changing economic times. In 2015, it was the closing of McCain Foods that opened a door for their company to plan for an eventual increase in production. They were already in the planning stages to expand the Jones Dairy Market Store, which has always been a hidden gem for locals, but which can now accommodate the tour buses that frequent The Fireside and Nasco International Outlets. In addition, they were able to retain some jobs that otherwise would have left our area.
The Jones family members received this same award in 2004 for their selfless contributions to our community. They are so service-minded that there is a national award, named in their honor and given by the American Meat Institute, to an individual who has led his or her company in volunteer efforts that enhance the community where that company resides. We can speak from personal experience that the entire company follows this philosophy of service, as they annually support the chamber’s Project Lead endeavors and the New Teacher Welcome, and their employees volunteer for Rhythm on the River, the Chamber Board, and community organizations such as Tomorrow’s Hope, the Boys & Girls Club and United Way. Probably the most notable of their local contributions is the fact that they provide rent free operating space for the Fort Atkinson Food Pantry.
Like many of us, Jones Dairy Farm is looking to attract top-notch talent to help build their company, but they’re not leaving that to chance. They established an endowed scholarship at the Fort Atkinson High School, to educate and encourage high school seniors to pursue a rewarding career in an industrial field by attending an accredited technical college in Wisconsin. They have a strong internship program and have hired many of those students for permanent positions in the company.
The current President and CEO, Philip Jones, is not able to be with us tonight as he is traveling on business. But as is typical of this family, when told of the honor, he insisted that the company employees in attendance tonight come to the stage to accept this honor. In his words, “We don’t do what we do to earn awards, and we certainly don’t do it alone. Every Jones Dairy Farm employee contributed to tonight’s honor. They should be the ones to accept.”
So without further delay, please welcome Jones Dairy Farm employees Jeff Theder, Julie Ankomeus, Ryan Robinson, Parker Detjens, Susie Hannam, Mariah Hadler, Kevin and Terri Kostroski, Gina Steiner, and Jeanne Schulenburg to the podium to accept the chamber’s 2015 Economic Contribution Award.