The Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its 2020 Annual Dinner and Silent Auction on Thursday, Jan. 30. A roaring 20s themed event, the dinner was full of networking presentations from Waukee chamber leadership.

Attendees also enjoyed live entertainment, a gravel plaque presented to 2019 Board Chair, Ray Meister and the recognition of the 2019 chamber award recipients.

Large Business Member of the Year Award Recipient — Holmes Murphy

As one of the largest employee-owned and controlled insurance brokerages, Holmes Murphy first relocated its headquarters to the Waukee community back in January 2018.

“Moving to the Kettlestone development offered a chance to build a space that was more collaborative and can allow for future growth,” Holmes Murphy Chairman and CEO Dan Keough said. “As a growing community with a bright future, Waukee is the perfect home for our growing company.”

As an independent brokerage, Holmes Murphy currently serves business and industry leaders across the nation. The company provides services in the areas of property casualty insurance, employee benefits, captive insurance, risk management and loss control. The company also believes in “Leaving Good Footprints and Sharing Abundantly,” which they showcase through their philanthropic work throughout the local community.

“One of our philosophies at Holmes Murphy is to give back to the communities we live, work, and play in, and we hope you see that in the philanthropic work we do in the community,” Keough said. “We are truly humbled to receive this award and to be a part of the Waukee community.”

Keough also said that the City of Waukee has not only been welcoming but also has a sense of pride regarding the city’s growth.

“We are lucky enough to have a front row seat to the exciting developments in the Kettlestone area, and we can’t wait for our new neighbors to experience the one-of-a-kind hospitality that Waukee provides,” Keough said. “Waukee is our home, and it’s a great place for our employees to be.”

Medium Business Member of the Year Award — Heartland Co-op

As a company that has been a part of the Waukee downtown business district for over 80 years, Heartland Co-op has been a member of the Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce since the chamber was founded.

“Heartland Co-op is a tie to the rural farm community that remains vital to the local economy as Waukee grows rapidly,” Heartland Co-op Senior Credit Leader Don Frazer said. “The relationships that have been developed in our friendly community with many longtime customers make Waukee a great place for us to do business.”

Frazer also said that one of the best parts of having a business in the Waukee community is the people. He credits the city with retaining its small town friendliness even as the community continues to experience rapid growth, stating that several of the Heartland Co-op employees have been with the company for many years.

“Waukee is blessed with great leadership in City hall, both with city staff and the mayor and city council,” Frazer said, “It is a great honor to be recognized by the Waukee chamber for this award. We are very proud of the recognition.”

Small Business Member of the Year Award Recipient — Marco’s Pizza

When Marco’s Pizza first opened in Waukee, they were looking for an area that would complement and not compete with the Windsor Heights location.

“Marco’s is very much one family. So, we knew we wanted to look at another suburb to open our restaurant where we would be able to complement and not compete with the Windsor Heights store,” Patti Bond of Waukee Marco’s Pizza said.

As a local business owner, Bond likes that even with the large growth throughout the area, many different local groups work together to accomplish big goals. She also likes that Waukee is not only focused on improving local infrastructure but has also maintained a small town feel.

“The growth of Waukee got our attention first. But it was more than that. We noticed that Waukee works together as one team to make things happen,” Bond said. “Even with the incredible growth it still feels like a family working together for the good of everyone. Waukee has always had a small town feeling to us.”

Bond also enjoys seeing regular customers at her Waukee location and likes that there is a sense of belonging that comes with owning a business in the local area.

“It feels great to be selected by the Waukee chamber and to be recognized as the small business of the year,” Bond said. “It is our hope that more people will try Marco’s Pizza and encourage others to partner with us in raising money for their passions. We are here to make a difference, not just to make pizza, wings, subs and salads.”

Ambassador of the Year Award Recipient — Holly Lewis

A farm girl from Kensett, Iowa, Holly Lewis of Stivers Ford Lincoln Waukee first joined the Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce in order to give back to the community and bring awareness to the value of driving safe vehicles.

“We experienced the fast pace development of Waukee when my three kids who attended kindergarten at Walnut Hills transferred to Shuler Elementary through Waukee’s growth,” Lewis said. “As a working mom juggling three kids’ activities, my involvement with the Waukee chamber [not only] allowed me to participate personally [but also] professionally continue my career development.”

As a member of the chamber, Lewis likes that Waukee is a city full of brilliant talent and amazing individuals that work together. She also likes that the Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce not only embraces learning but also provides members with new opportunities.

“Receiving the Ambassador of the year Award and participating in every ribbon cutting was personally rewarding,” Lewis said. “Each event brings incredible excitement, and it made the day go by so fast to participate and feel the energy from individuals at each business event.”

One of Lewis’ favorite events, What’s Cookin’ in Waukee, allows participants to sample food while highlighting the businesses throughout the local community.

“Every year the event attracts amazing talent for anyone to come enjoy tasting and be a part of an incredible community that truly allows everyone to be accepted and participate in their own way,” Lewis said.

When not working or participating in chamber activities, Lewis enjoys biking and jogging on the local trails. She also enjoys “fun in the sun” and spending time with her three children.

Young Professional of the Year Award Recipient — Katelyn Soults

Originally from Marion, Iowa, Katelyn Soults first joined the Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce after relocating to the City of Waukee.

“I’m a native Iowan,” Soults said. “When my now husband, DJ, and I began hunting for our first home in 2015, we knew that we wanted to live in a western suburb. We found Waukee to be a bright, growing community with the right mix of quiet residential neighborhoods, local restaurants and businesses, and convenient access to neighboring cities.”

Soults originally studied magazine journalism and marketing at Drake University before accepting a position with a marketing agency in the East Village. Her and her husband have since grown their own digital agency, Illuminated, and together the couple helped co-found the Waukee Young Professionals Group in May 2018.

“What began as an experiment to determine interest quickly became a growing group of young professionals living and working in Waukee,” Soults said.

As part of the group, Soults and other members work to build relationships and give back to the local community. She likes that although Waukee continues to grow, it still retains its small town feel. Soults also likes that the business community, including the Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce, has been both encouraging and friendly to her as a young professional.

“Receiving the Young Professional of the Year award is particularly meaningful this year, as it is the inaugural award in this category. Seeing young professionals in this space, and knowing that deserving young professionals will be recognized for years to come, makes me feel that the voices and impact of young professionals are growing in Waukee,” Soults said.