North Channel Chamber changes Leadership, presents Awards

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

It was a bittersweet night for Outgoing President Ronny Dwairy. The owner of Bestway Oilfield, Inc. in Channelview has led the chamber to new heights during his reign as leader of the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce.

“You know, a lot of times after you do a big job or a tiring job, you say, thank goodness, this is over. This was completely the opposite,” he said. “I’m going to miss it. I didn’t want it to be over. This is just such a great association and the best people that are involved in this chamber. So a little sad, to be honest, but I’m so grateful for the time I had.”

Last Friday night, the chamber swore in a new president, board, and officers, and then dished out several community awards to deserving businesses and individuals that continue to make the community vital and vibrant.

Dwairy and his company have been members of the chamber for 10 years, and the family’s company a part of the community for three decades.

“We wanted to get involved and find ways for giving back and thanking this community,” he said.

Four years after joining the chamber, he was elected to the board and has ascended to the presidency.

“It’s been a lot of fun. We just show up, have fun, do work for the community, and meet new people,” he said.

His parents were born in Nazareth, Israel, and he was born in Houston and attended Deer Park High School, becoming a first generation Texan.

He’s most proud of being able to network businesses within and without the walls of the chamber, and raise money to give scholarships and sow seeds in the future of the community.

Dwairy said he was also proud of the chamber for enduring the pandemic, and the community continues to thrive, including his own business.

“We have six locations, opening a new one in Canada in February, and with existing locations in Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania,” he explained.

During the pandemic, when the energy sector took a nosedive with 30 percent less demand, Dwairy had temporarily moved to Odessa to oversee the expansion of one of their facilities that finished in April of 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning to rage.

“I’m most proud that we were able to keep all of our employees with no layoffs during COVID, keeping our team together,” he said.

That move paid off, especially this past year when they were able to hire an additional 100 people. That growth has not only helped the community but also Dwairy, who has opened up his pocketbook to give back financially to the Chamber and other organizations in the community.

“As a board member for another two years, I can still be involved in chamber activities. I’ll keep coming until they kick me out the door,” he laughed.

Incoming President Bill Palko will finish his second six-year term as a board member leading the organization. He has also been the chairman of the board for the foundation twice.

“We are so fortunate that COVID didn’t really affect us as far as membership and we’re still growing,” he said.

Palko said he wants to continue the chamber’s success in remaining a vital place to live, work, and play.

“The vision for 2024 is to continue to attract businesses, families, add new communities, and keep our school districts in a growth pattern,” he said.

Palko has had opportunities to leave the area but refused.

“I’ve lived here all my life, and even with changing demographics, we remain a very tight knit community that works and grows together,” he said.

He graduated from North Shore in 1973 and is amazed at how the community remains strong even in the face of so many obstacles.

“I’ve raised my two kids who both graduated from North Shore, and I have no reason to leave. I still like the community and the people here. I’ll stay and do my part,” Palko said.

Here’s the list of award winners:

2024 Board of Directors— Ronny Dwairy, Ramon Garza, Chad Moody, Dr. Tory C. Hill, Robert Perez, Wanna Giacona, Darnald Kimble, Anna Clark, Bill Palko, Erin Kerr, Jim Wadzinski, Ken Wimbley, Erika Koehler, Dr. Allatia Harris, Dr. Alexander Okwonna, Elvira Granados, Nelson Espitia, and Judge Joe Stephens. Not pictured Dana Nino, Rubin Shah, Pedro Garcia, Ian Adler, Emily Conklin, Lon Squyres, and Linda Tijerina.

Incoming Board President— Bill Palko

Outgoing Board President— Ronny Dwairy

Chamber Board Member with Six Years of Service— Mike Williams

William C. Palko Scholarship— Jennifer Gutierrez, Channelview HS graduate and San Jacinto College student, $5,000

North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation Scholarship— Meah Godfrey, North Shore Sr. High graduate, San Jacinto College student, $1,500

North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation Scholarship— Cesar Alexandro Lago Alvarez, North Shore Sr. High graduate, San Jacinto College student, $1,500

Small Business of the Year Award—City Fire Protection, Robert Perez and Melissa Campos

Large Business of the Year Award—LyondellBassell Channelview plant

Ambassador of the Year—Traci Galyean of Courtyard by Marriott Houston Northeast

Board Member of the Year Award — Chad Moody, Arkema, Inc.

Committee Member of the Year Award— Jim Wadzinski, Community auto dealerships

Dr. Ed Lehr Chairman’s Award— Mo Siddiqui, Bestway Oilfield