Business of the Year award recipients honored by Watertown chamber

Krafft Cleaning services’ Lynn E. Krafft, left, and Justin Krafft receive the For Profit, Fifty or Fewer Employees Business of the Year Award Thursday from Kylie Peck, president of Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce at Savory Downtown. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

Krafft Cleaning Services’ Lynn E. Krafft, left, and Justin Krafft receive the For Profit, Fifty or Fewer Employees Business of the Year Award Thursday from Kylie Peck, president of Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce at Savory Downtown. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

With roots in the city that go back to 1915, RBC Wealth Management was among the 2015 Business of the Year award recipients honored Thursday by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce.

Staff members from RBC — acronym for Royal Bank of Canada — were applauded by an audience of about 160 people as they received the award in the large for-profit category during an awards luncheon hosted by the chamber at Savory Downtown.

Other awards went to the Children’s Home of Jefferson County (nonprofit, more than 50 employees), Krafft Cleaning Service (for-profit, 50 or fewer) and the United Way of Northern New York (nonprofit, 50 or fewer). Coyote Moon Vineyards of Clayton took home the Farm & Craft Market Vendor of the Year award, which recognizes vendors for their accomplishments at the Watertown market on Washington Street.

Before RBC Wealth Management entered the picture, the Watertown brokerage firm was launched in 1915 as Foster & Adams, said Cyril Mouaikel, branch director, during his acceptance speech. The firm later changed hands to Tucker Anthony in 1978 before it was taken over about 15 years ago by RBC. While the branch has 12 employees, Mr. Mouaikel said, RBC employs more than 85,000 companywide.

Planning for growth, the branch moved last year from downtown into a newly constructed building on Route 11 in the Washington Street Business Park. It is now ranked among the top 10 branches of RBC, based on productivity and profitability. Mr. Mouaikel, who credited the expertise of the firm’s staff for its success, said employees are required to give back to the community by serving on boards of organizations.

Though RBC is a global organization, Mr. Mouaikel said, it allows branches to exercise control over their operations. “When it comes to decision making, it is totally decentralized. Most decisions are done here in Watertown, and I attribute that to a lot of the success we’ve had over the years,” he said.

The Children’s Home of Jefferson County, which has about 225 employees, is operating for its 157th year and is the longest-running nonprofit in the community, said Karen Y. Richmond, executive director of the Watertown organization. Mrs. Richmond, who has served at the nonprofit for 32 years, said it provides a wide range of services to children, adults and families.

About five years ago, she said, the organization expanded by acquiring the Community Clinic of Jefferson County as an affiliate. As a result, the clinic “now takes care of 2,000 clients in the community,” she said. “The organization by itself has put in over $1.5 million into the operation of this clinic to keep it sustainable.”

The United Way of Northern New York in Watertown, which will celebrate its 95th birthday in September, serves nonprofits across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Robert D. Gorman, chief executive officer, said the organization’s mission is centered on financial support of nonprofits that advocate for people in need.

Employers are often tasked with finding assistance from the nonprofit community when their employees make poor choices, Mr. Gorman said, such as abusing alcohol. He said the United Way supports nonprofits as an avenue to “help people who have made bad decisions get back on their feet.”

Mr. Gorman added that the organization recognizes that nonprofits are good for business. For example, “anytime you see somebody whose house is on fire, that’s somebody’s employee,” he said. “And that’s why we support the Red Cross, because we know they can help that employee get back to their job and concentrate on it.”

Lynn E. Krafft, owner of Krafft Cleaning Service in the town of Pamelia, said the 45-year-old family-owned business takes pride in the cleaning services it provides in the community. He attributed the success of the 40-employee business to always “finding the best way” to operate.

And he offered a piece of business advice to the audience: “Learn how to do it right because you respect the outcome you choose to achieve.”

The Ambassador of the Year award went to Joyce M. Bradley, co-owner of Abbey Carpet, while Jill Parker received the Chamber Board Member of the Year award. The luncheon was sponsored by M&T Bank, Westelcom, Rose & Kiernan, NNY Business Magazine and the Watertown Daily Times.

By Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times