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On Occasion, which operates with four regular employees and regularly contracts as many as 25 additional workers, was chosen from a field of six other nominees, according to the chamber.

"It's so nice to have the people you work with so often show that they think highly of you, " said Kathy Pedersen, owner of On Occasion, which has been a member of the chamber for 10 years. "I was surprised. It was a pretty big list of nominees."

The nominees included AllPrint Inc. in Hawthorn Woods, Beelow's Steakhouse in Lake Zurich, Chick-Fil-A in Kildeer, D and J Bistro in Lake Zurich, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Lake Zurich-Barrington, and the Helen Oliveri Team of Keller Williams Realty Partners in Hawthorn Woods.

Pedersen said On Occasion may have been selected because the company had a good year in 2016 following a rough 2015. The catering and event management service also stays active in the community and chamber events, she said.

Because her father was sick and died in 2015, Pederson was absent from operations for five months that year, she said. For the first time in 12 years, On Occasion's sales dropped, Pedersen said.

"I did not know what to expect for 2016, " she said. "We hit goals I never imagined we would hit. It was a really, really good year for us. We grew quite a bit from the previous year. From the year before, when we had gone down, we were up over 60 percent. I was really thrilled. It was a very busy year for us."

The chamber's "2016 Excellence Awards" event drew its largest crowd in the past four years, said Executive Director Dale Perrin.

Roughly 225 people attended Jan. 21 to watch business and community awards be handed out at the Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, he said.

"It went really well, " Perrin said. "I'm not exactly sure why we attracted so many, but we changed venues. The new venue may have been attractive to some people, going to a different place. Plus, we added a young professional award and a new business award."

The New Business of the Year award ultimately went to Consume craft beer and wine restaurant.

The business captured the award from a field of seven nominees, including Bobbers Lake Zurich, Craving Gyros of Lake Zurich, House of Betty Jane of Lake Zurich, JDog Junk Removal and Hauling of Lake Zurich, Lumen Optical of Kildeer, Primrose School of Long Grove, and State Farm Insurance agent Trung Thai of Lake Zurich.

A new business is classified as one in operation for less than two years, Perrin said. The category was added because a larger number of new businesses have opened in the Lake Zurich area recently, he said.

Other award winners included Kildeer resident Lisa Warren, who was named Citizen of the Year; Hawthorn Woods resident Justin Pathmann, who won Young Professional of the Year; and Alice Schmitz, who won the Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 Educator of the Year award.

Susanne DePaepe, of Hallmark Promotions Inc., also won Chamber Volunteer of the Year. Real estate agent Ginny Opsahl of RE/MAX at Home won both the Samuel R. Mitchell Director of the Year award and the President's Award winner.



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