Congratulations to 2021 Excellence in La Verne Awards Recipients

The La Verne Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2021 Excellence in La Verne Awards. This is the second year that the Chamber has honored businesses for outstanding contributions to the economic health and quality of life in the city. Recipients were selected by a committee composed of the previous year’s winners. Ambassador of the Year was selected by the Ambassadors Committee.

Business of the Year: The Corner Butcher Shop
Established in 2008 by owner John Fuelling, The Corner Butcher Shop has worked with the city and Chamber to help local sports teams, schools, and other local small businesses, as well as participate in events such as Sip of La Verne Wine Walk, Taste of La Verne. “John and his brother, Will, have always been available to serve the community, as both live and raise families here in La Verne,” the nomination form said. “Over the years, I have seen them do whatever has been needed to help out wherever requested.” The shop has been featured in many magazine and newspaper articles and videos, such as “The Best BBQ” by Chef Dave Chang.
Award criteria: Nominee must be in business at least five years and must have demonstrated one or more of the following characteristics: 

  • Exceptional growth through additional creation of jobs 
  • Has achieved success through diversification into new products or markets 
  • Provides an atmosphere which gives their employees opportunities for growth 
  • Demonstrates innovative communications and marketing campaigns 
  • Demonstrates civic leadership through the giving of time, talent and resources to the betterment of La Verne 
New Business of the Year: Sol Flower
Sol means sun in Portuguese, and the store name Sol Flower  comes with a heritage steeped in sunshine and positiveness. The aesthetic boba shop was founded by owners Cindy Lien and Vicky Cheng in 2018 and jumped right into community activities, including but not limited to crafts workshops, speed dating, and a dance video with Tri-City Mental Health Services for Green Ribbon Week. The latter event united 20 small businesses in various cities while helping raise mental health awareness by encouraging people to build a happier version of themselves. They also supported David & Margaret Youth and Family Services and Phi Sigma La Verne fundraisers.
Award criteria: Nominee must be in business less than three years and must have demonstrated one or more of the following characteristics: 
  • Demonstrates a strong potential for future growth and sustainability 
  • Innovative products or services 
  • Evidence of recognizing and acting upon a new market opportunity 
  • Active in the La Verne Community outside of regular business obligations 
Not for Profit Organization of the Year: David & Margaret Youth and Family Services
Established in 1910 as an orphanage, David & Margaret Youth and Family Services has changed to continue to support the community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency participated in Giving Tuesday Now, a special event to raise funds and provide immediate support for at-risk individuals during the outbreak. For 2020 Foster Care Month, they partnered with Sol Flower to raise funds to provide essential services to vulnerable families the surrounding communities. D&M also established COMPASS Point, a program for youth aging out of foster care to set them on a path of self reliance.
Award criteria: Nominee must be a registered Not for Profit Organization and must have demonstrated one or more of the following characteristics: 
  • Broadened education of their service 
  • Demonstrated creativity and innovation in meeting the needs of the La Verne community 
  • Promotes volunteerisim 
  • Demonstrated the organization’s growth and stability 
  • Clear evidence and examples of making a positive and worthwhile impact on society, individuals and/or the environment. 
Family-Owned Business of the Year: Third Street Wine Shop
Founded in 2011 by Mary and Jim Forgey, Third Street Wine Shop  is located in the heart of Old Town La Verne and offers guests an opportunity to sip wine and relax. Matthew Forgey, their son, became tasting room manager shortly after passing his certified sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Staff have offered their services in the development of the business community, such as curating, ordering and pairing wine for Sip of La Verne Wine Walk. Matt sits on both the Downtown Business Improvement District and the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
Award criteria: Nominee must be Family-owned and operated and have demonstrated the following characteristics: 
  • Provides exemplary customer service 
  • Demonstrates multiple family members/generations currently work in the business 
  • Demonstrates significant growth and innovation in the company’s market sector 
  • Demonstrates performance that makes the business stand out from it’s competitors 
  • Demonstrates civic leadership through the giving of time, talent and resources to the 
betterment of La Verne 
Employer of the Year: Gilead Sciences
During 2020’s pandemic, Gilead Sciences, which moved to La Verne from San Dimas three years ago, has gone above and beyond to allow employees to work safely and efficiently from home where possible. The company has covered the cost of additional computers and other devices to improve efficiency, even making sure employees had access to ergonomic home-office furniture. It provided care packages of health supplements to employees, and gave every worker a thanksgiving turkey. This is in addition to such perks as 401k accounts with matching funds and health insurance benefits.
Award criteria: Nominee is an employer who has demonstrated the following characteristics with regards to the treatment of their employees: 
  • Consistently provides a positive work environment for all employees while maintaining, and even exceeding, employment standards and safety policies 
  • Provides benefits for health and wellness 
  • Provides training, professional development and job creation as well as recognition and awards for exemplary employees 
  • Impacts the community through social services and added value by making La Verne a better place to live and work. 

The Brian McNerney Ambassador of the Year Award: Matthew BartlettHill Top Real Estate,  Realtor/Notary

Selected by a committee of his fellow ambassadors, Matthew is notable for his cheerful disposition and community involvement even during these trying times, such as bringing in new Chamber members, mentoring members, bringing membership plaques and packets to new members, and attending (virtual events). The Ambassador of the Year Award is newly named for former Chamber Director Brian McNerney, who passed away on Thanksgiving Day 2020. He was an ardent Notre Dame fan and would have appreciated the irony of the first award bearing his name going to a USC fan!