Perry Hand 2019 Walter M. Vine’s Free Enterprise Person of the Year


FOLEY - For 43 years, the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce has been awarding individuals who display the spirit of free enterprise with the Walter M. Vine’s Free Enterprise Person of the Year Award. During a celebratory luncheon on Fri., Sept. 20, the 2019 recipient was announced to be Perry Hand, past CEO and current Chairman of the Board of Volkert, Inc.

“It’s quite an honor, I’m just floored at this point,” said Hand as he received his award surrounded by family. “It’s a great honor for me to have received this recognition; it’s much appreciated.”

Today’s United States Economic System of Free Enterprise operates according to five main principles: freedom to choose our business; the right to private property; the profit motive; competition; and consumer sovereignty. It’s this system that the South Baldwin Chamber has been celebrating, and many of the previous winners attended the ceremony in honor of this year’s winner. Except for one or two occasions, the identity of the winner is kept largely a secret until the day of the award celebration. Only the ones who vote for the winner and the winner’s family are aware prior to the event.

In order to be nominated, one must still be active in the business community and the affairs of their business, have a good moral reputation, be active in community and civic affairs, and be committed to helping others, all which aptly describe Hand, said Chad Watkins of WAS Design, who presented the award.

Hand grew up in Alabama and attended Auburn University, coming to work in Mobile afterwards before establishing his own company in Gulf Shores. After becoming a business owner he entered into politics, serving on the Alabama State Senate. Afterwards, he returned to the business world and began expanding his company, as well as serving in a number of boards and organizations including the Mobile Chamber, the South Baldwin Chamber, the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, the Lion’s Club, and the Rotary Club.

“He has been instrumental and influential in representing Baldwin County in his professional, political and personal life, is a dedicated servant to both his profession and the public through leadership, and his business has demonstrated a commitment to the future of alternative delivery and asset management in the design, improvement, and maintenance of our nation’s infrastructure,” Watkins said.

The nomination process begins in July and closes in August, during which Chamber employees visit members and ask them to nominate someone they believe represents the spirit of free enterprise. Nominations are then compiled and past Chamber chairmen and former award winners review them, casting votes during a secret ballet to select the top three nominations. Out of these three, the person who finishes with the most votes from the board chairs, former winners, and chamber board members is proclaimed the winner.

For more information on the Walter M. Vines Free Enterprise Person of the Year Award, past recipients, and other chamber events, visit