Chamber gives top awards to Kohlfeld and Ford & Sons

Saturday, February 1, 2003

An area beverage distributor who is said to be "unbelievably involved in the community" and a family funeral home that has compassionately dealt with grieving families for three generations were given the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce's highest business awards Saturday night.

Mike Kohlfeld, president of Kohlfeld Distributing, received the Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. Award, and Ford & Sons Funeral Home was named the city's Small Business of the Year during the chamber's annual dinner and dance Friday night at the Show Me Center.

Kohlfeld, president of Kohlfeld Distributing, is a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. He started with the family business as sales manager in 1971, and became president of the company in 1994.

David Limbaugh, a grandson of Rush H. Limbaugh Sr., presented the award to Kohlfeld, whom he described as "the nicest of all the nice guys."

Limbaugh read a list of Kohlfeld's community involvement, including his service as a board member at Southeast Missouri Hospital, the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Commission, Southeast's Copper Dome Society, the American Cancer Society, Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, Community Counseling Center and Girl Scout Council.

"He's also been so instrumental in the family business," Limbaugh said.

Kohlfeld, choked up during his speech, thanking his parents and his wife and children.

"When you're called to serve," he said, "you have to say yes."

Recognizing efforts

The late Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. was a practicing attorney in Cape Girardeau for more than 75 years and was the award's first recipient. The chamber established the award in 1989 to recognize exceptional effort on behalf of the community over an extended time.

The Ford family has been offering funeral service in Cape Girardeau since 1949, when Walter H. Ford started a funeral home with a partner. In 1953, he bought out that partner and a few years later started a second funeral home in Dexter.

The Cape Girardeau funeral home on Sprigg Street saw seven expansions before they opened a new facility on Mount Auburn Road in 1990.

"The exemplify excellence," said F.R. "Buzz" Sutherland of the Small Business Development Center as he presented the award. "They have carved out at excellent niche in the community."

Sutherland said the family and its 15 employees are also involved in the community at every level, particularly youth sports. The business heavily sponsors American Legion baseball.

"We're extremely flattered," said Kevin Ford, vice president of the company. "We consider it a real honor to serve the community of Cape Girardeau. We have always tried to be there for our customers."

Walter J. Ford, the company chairman, and Cliff Ford, the president, were out of town.

"These are just two fine community leaders," chamber president and CEO John Mehner said. "The Ford family and Mike have done more than their share to make Cape Girardeau what it is. We just want them to know how much we appreciate them."

Also honored Friday night was Tracy Glenn, who received the Go-Getter Award for the for her work with the chamber's membership committee.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

PAST BUSINESS WINNERS

SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

1997: JCS/Tel-Link

1998: BART transportation service

1999: R&M-COCO Designs

2000: Kwik Kopy Printing and Rose Concrete Products Inc. (tie)

2001: Shivelbine's Music Store

RUSH H. LIMBAUGH AWARD

1997: Paul Ebaugh

1998: Gene Huckstep

1999: Dennis Marchi

2000: J. Ronald Fischer

2001: Gary Rust

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