PROVIDENCE – Providence Business News recognized its 12 Business Excellence Award winners Thursday night at the Providence Marriott Downtown in front of a crowd of more than 200 people.
Keynote speaker John E. Taylor Jr., chairman of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, parent of Twin River and Newport Grand casinos, was the keynote speaker at the 16th Business Excellence Awards program.
Taylor, who congratulated the winners, talked about how Twin River was able to get voter support for its Tiverton casino proposal by engaging with the citizens of the community often and in a respectful manner.
“We listened to them. We are constantly talking with or listening to our customers,” Taylor said. “Listening is seemingly a pretty basic tool, but in today’s social media-dominated world, it is sometimes overlooked.”
When they decided that Tiverton was the best place for a new casino to replace Newport Grand, they didn’t go to the citizens with a fully formed plan, he explained. Instead, he said, “we embarked on an 18-month long conversation in kitchens and backyards, oftentimes one-on-one.”
What they heard was incorporated into the plan.
For example, when people said that there was nowhere for people who went to the casino to stay, they added a hotel; when people said they would like a live music venue, they added that; when they said that they liked the look of Tiverton’s town library, they designed it in a similar style; and when they said they didn’t want big, bright signs lighting up the area, they put it in the woods, with no such signs, he said.
Then, after many of these meetings, they came up with drawings and had charrettes. Only after those did they put a full plan forward, Taylor said.
Taylor said they learned lessons in the process, such as “listening is never easy. You must be prepared to act when messages are difficult” and “citizens want to believe that their opinions matter.”
Edward O. “Ned” Handy III, president and chief operating officer of The Washington Trust Co., winner of the Corporate Citizenship award, also spoke. He thanked family and colleagues, and said that growing up in a diverse, supportive community on James Street in Providence helped him understand how important it is to give back.
H. John Keimig, president and CEO of Healthcentric Advisors, won the Business Leadership award.
Keimig said he was happy to be recognized – and surprised. His staff nominated him without his knowledge.
He added that everyone must always be striving to improve, using a quote from Babe Ruth to illustrate the point – “Yesterday’s home run doesn’t win today’s game.”
Keimig said that “the achievement of organizational success is directly related to the quality of the team.”
Keimig also praised the event.
“This event is what is right about Rhode Island,” Keimig said.
The other Business Excellence Award winners are:
Community Involvement, Pawtucket Red Sox
Enterprise Company, Shawmut Design and Construction
Large Company, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
Mid-size Company, Ximedica
Small Company, Province Mortgage Associates
Not-For-Profit Organization, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau