Above: Club Vocational Services chair Andy Borgert poses with FWDG owner Larry Mark and his wife Robyn Mark. Larry Mark was awarded an Ethics in Business Awards in the category of Locally Owned Business. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Sea Island.
From staff reports
The Rotary Club of Sea Island – Beaufort celebrated its 40th anniversary on Tuesday, June 29 at Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club and awarded two Ethics in Business Awards in the categories of Locally Owned Business and Local Not-for-Profit Organizations.
President, Carole Ingram, presided over the ceremonies, which also included the installation of officers and board members for the coming year.
In the category of Not-for-profit Organization, Sea Island Rotarians nominated Beaufort Memorial Hospital and, specifically, two members of the BMH professional staff for that award – Corporate Director of Quality/Patient Safety Officer Ashley Hildreth, RN, and Director of Operations and Special Projects Courtney K. Smith.
“It was an honor to accept this award on behalf of Beaufort Memorial,” Hildreth said. “The appreciation shown for the commitment BMH has to our community’s health and well-being was humbling.”
“All that we have accomplished, including the administration of more than 45,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, could not have been done without the vast number of staff who took on extra roles and the valuable assistance provided by community volunteers,” said Smith, who runs the Beaufort Memorial Vaccine Clinic in Port Royal. “Members of the Sea Island Rotary have helped at mass-vaccination events and at the clinic.”
Andy Borgert, Club Vocational Services chair, said those staff members continue to help make the BMH vaccine program a success through their tireless efforts and are always the first employees in each morning and the last to leave each day while assuring the program is successfully implemented. He said the larger organization has demonstrated the qualities expected from a trusted partner while meeting all the expectations of honesty, integrity and demonstrated ethical business practices as the primary health care provider in Beaufort region.
BMH prioritized the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine to those in greatest need, from the elderly through those of 16 years of age and above. The logistical management of resources included efforts to ensure that no vaccine would be wasted and that all required supporting medical tools would be utilized to implement a safe and effective program.
BMH also had to development and train personnel qualified to implement the program while not impacting the daily operations of the hospital system and its medical partners.
Under the senior leadership of CEO Russell Baxley, and Kurt Gambla, MD., Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, in concert with South Carolina DHEC and CDC, BMH developed a plan of implementation to broadly provide the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination. Hildreth and Smith then implemented the medical aspects of the vaccination program.
In the Locally Owned Business category, FWDG, and its owner, Larry Mark, were presented the Ethics in Business Award by Borgert, who said, “It’s almost impossible to find a family-owned furniture business these days, but FWDG defies those statistics.”
FWDG was founded in 1972, by then 20-year-old Mark and his father, Ernest, on the idea that they could provide lower prices to Beaufort residents on reliable, well-known furniture brands and provide furniture built in the Carolinas to its customers. FWDG has continued to make that original idea their goal in business.
They have been a stable contributor to the Beaufort economy by making creative financial decisions to “ride the wave” of economic prosperity and recessions that have severely impacted other area businesses since the 1980’s.
Borgert said, “Mark and company successfully persevered through the gauntlet of Beaufort bureaucracy and built a new home for their business that has allowed them to remain accessible to their customers in Beaufort County marketplace. They have weathered continuing change in the furniture industry over time and sought to find creative ways to keep prices as low as possible.”
FWDG is now part of a National Co-op that affords it greater buying power which translates into lower prices for its customers.
In addition to supporting working families, they have sponsored the FWDG Coat Drive for 30 years and have collected more than 45,000 items to donate to needing community families. The Coat Drive specifically benefits two local non-profit organizations – Help of Beaufort and The Deep Well Project of Hilton Head Island, which provide maximum benefit to Beaufort County citizens. Additionally, FWDG recycles cardboard waste locally and buys locally to support other community businesses. In 2020 and 2021 they have also sponsored multiple blood drives through One Blood to support and sustain the Beaufort community.