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William “Bill” Turner accepts the 2019 Lifetime Achievement in Business Award from Springfield Business Journal Publisher Jennifer Jackson.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
William “Bill” Turner accepts the 2019 Lifetime Achievement in Business Award from Springfield Business Journal Publisher Jennifer Jackson.

Blog: Success stories shared at 20th Economic Impact Awards

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Springfield Business Journal last night dished out top Economic Impact Awards honors to companies recognized for financial performance, growth, community involvement and impact on the Ozarks.

The four top honors — in their respective categories for years in business — went to Hotel Vandivort LLC, Sun Solar LLC, Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc. and Citizens Memorial Hospital. Nine other companies were in the running for top honors.

In all, 19 organizations and individuals were honored during the 20th annual ceremony held at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center, including William “Bill” Turner of Great Southern Bank, who received the pinnacle Lifetime Achievement in Business award.

Below are the company winners, based on years in business.

1-5 Years in Business
Hotel Vandivort took home the top honor in the startup category. The runners-up were Hurts Donut Co. and Loehr Chiropractic and Acupuncture LLC.

Since it opened its doors in 2015, Hotel Vandivort has focused on supporting the community and revitalizing downtown Springfield. General Manager Zackary Oxley thinks of the hotel as Springfield's living room. In early fall, it will expand its services with the opening of Hotel Vandivort, Phase 2.

“We started this project with a passion for Springfield and I’m very proud to see where downtown has come in the past 15, 10, five years,” said Hotel Vandivort co-owner John McQueary. “We’re lucky to find so many talented and passionate people. The guests and the business benefit from it.”

6-15 Years in Business
Taking home top honors in the six- to 15-years category was Sun Solar, over runners-up Burgess Aircraft Management LLC and Phoenix Home Care Inc.

Sun Solar officials say the company gives back to the community every day that the sun shines. The solar energy company has donated solar panels to nonprofits throughout the Springfield area. The company recorded 2018 revenue of $19 million and has expanded to five locations.


“It’s about getting involved and seeing how you can help,” said CEO Caleb Arthur.


16-29 Years in Business
Little Sunshine’s Enterprises won the top honor in the 16-29 years in business category for the second year in a row. Oasis Hotel & Convention Center and Toth and Associates Inc. also were honored in the category.

Little Sunshine’s roots started when founder Rochette Dahler opened a small child care program for eight children. Today, the company has $36 million in revenue and serves children and families across nine states. Officials say they have their sights set on opening seven additional schools by next year.

“The team we have assembled here in Springfield is absolutely fantastic,” said President Brett Roubal. “Without then there would be no impact on the community.” 



30+ Years in Business
Citizens Memorial Hospital took the top spot over runners-up Mercy Springfield Communities, Penmac Staffing Services Inc. and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. This year, four companies were honored for 30-plus years in business.

CMH provides health care in eight southwest Missouri counties. The health system employs more than 2,000 people at its hospital, 34 clinics and other specialty service centers and programs. Since 2016, its revenue has increased by 15%.

“CMH is the story of the impossible dream. It wasn’t supposed to happen,” said Dave Berry, vice chair of the CMH Board of Directors. “Even though rural hospitals were closing, we decided we needed one in Bolivar, Missouri.”


Individual honors
The night’s top honor, Lifetime Achievement in Business, was awarded to Turner, the former president and current board chairman of Great Southern Bancorp Inc.

Turner was born during the heart of the Great Depression, and his first jobs were hauling wood and shining shoes. He joined Great Southern in the mid-1970s. Today, the Turner name is synonymous with the bank, now a nearly $5 billion publicly traded financial institution (Nasdaq: GSBC).

Turner was named president in 1974, when the bank had a single branch and roughly $80 million in assets. Now, the bank has over 100 offices in 11 states and $4.9 billion in assets.

“I’ve been there 45 years and when I got there, there were 12 employees. Now there’s 1,200,” Turner said. “Those employees are the people that got me this award. They’ve done the work.”

SBJ also honored two other individuals and three companies.
• Tim Clegg of Hurts Donut as Entrepreneur of the Year; Clegg said, “This award for me was built on a diagnosis ... I had no idea where I was going in life. This is way bigger than doughnuts.”
• Paula Adams of Penmac Staffing Services as Community Involvement Champion; Adams said, “I don’t think anyone volunteers with the expectation of recognition. But thank you.”
• Ozark Region Workforce Development Board as Business Advocate of the Year; Susan Johansen, the board’s vice chair said, “This team does amazing work in assisting employers with recruitment and retention. This team works tirelessly.”
• Convoy of Hope as Charitable Nonprofit of the Year; Founder and President Hal Donaldson said, “There are 1.5 million charities in America and Forbes recently reported that Convoy of Hope is No. 82. Springfield is one of the most compassionate communities in America, and Convoy is the better for it.”
• Arvest Bank as the Philanthropic Business of the Year; President Brad Crain said, “It’s not the dollars and the hours, it’s the fact that our associates engage in efforts they are passionate about.”

Read full profiles of all honorees in SBJ’s July 29 print edition and the Early Friday Digital Edition delivered at 3 p.m. today.

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