HAGERSTOWN — Talking to a roomful of business leaders, J. Randall Thompson, the president and chief operating officer Boonsboro-based Thompson’s Gas & Electric Service, recited his mantra.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been,” he said.
Thompson was the keynote speaker Tuesday evening for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission’s annual “Celebration of Business.”
More than 40 businesses celebrating milestone anniversaries — a multiple of five years — were recognized. Representatives from the companies picked up a plaque, then stopped for a handshake and a photo with EDC Executive Director Timothy R. Troxell.
The anniversaries ranged from five years, like AeroSys Inc. and United Bank, to 140 years, like Redland Brick Inc.
Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the honorees had more than 2,000 combined years of business service in the community, offering jobs and opportunities.
“My hat’s off to that,” he said.
The state is doing what it can to help local governments improve their business climate, said Dominick Murray, the assistant secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
Terry Baker, the president of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, said the commissioners focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s what’s on their mind.”
In his keynote speech, Thompson touched on the elements of good leadership — recognizing potential, building up employees — and how it can make a good business better.
He said his own business started small, with 10 employees, and has grown into the 19th-largest propane company in the nation.
He encouraged business leaders to be sales people for their communities, rather than leaving it to the government to do all the work.
Thompson noted that growth sometimes isn’t along the obvious path, citing a personal example of how he has branched out from propane into wine. He and his wife are working with Dave Collins to open the Big Cork vineyard in southern Washington County.
Nearly 240 people attended Tuesday’s dinner at Fountain Head Country Club, the largest turnout in the event’s 14-year history.
This year’s honorees include:
Blue Seal Feeds Inc.
General Dynamics Information Technology
Hagerstown Aircraft Services Inc.
Staples Distribution Center
Apparatus Repair & Engineering Inc.
Clean Earth of Maryland LLC
GTS — Welco
Cassidy Trucking Inc.
Fire-X Sales & Service Corp.
Merkle Response Management Group
Snavely’s Garden Corner Inc.
Caldwell Manufacturing Co.
River City Farm & Pet Supply
Winebrenner Transfer Inc.
Glessner Alarm & Communications
Harry Kahn Associates Inc.
Office Suppliers nc.
Saputo Cheese USA Inc.
Antietam Tree & Turf
B.P. Lesky Distributing Co. Inc.
Nassau Broadcasting — WWEG/WARK
Maryland Metals Inc.
Hagerstown Broadcasting Co. Inc. — WJEJ
M &T Bank
M.S. Johnston Co. Inc.
Ellsworth Electric Inc.
Berwick Offray LLC
Martin Storage Co. Inc.
Beachley Furniture Co. Inc.
Foltz Mfg. & Industrial Supply Co. Inc.
Redland Brick Inc.