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story.lead_photo.caption Jennifer Schneider, owner of Outbound Physical Therapy, thanks the audience Wednesday October 24, 2018, after winning the Small Business of the Year Award during the Jefferson City Chamber Exceptional Employee Award Luncheon at Capitol Plaza Hotel. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

Outbound Physical Therapy and Rehab took home the big prize Wednesday at an annual business event in Jefferson City.

The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce honored four local businesses and four local residents at its annual Small Business of the Year and Exceptional Employee Luncheon at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Outbound Physical Therapy won the Small Business of the Year award. Amber Brondel, marketing and communications manager for the United Way of Central Missouri, won the Exceptional Employee award.

Outbound Physical Therapy owner Jennifer Schnieders employs seven people at the clinic. Schnieders said it felt great to finally win the Small Business of the Year Award after being named a finalist in 2015.

"It's exciting," she said. "It's something we've been nominated for the past four years, so you wonder each year, 'Is this going to be the year?'"

More than 25 businesses were nominated for the Small Business of the Year award. Four, including Outbound Physical Therapy, were named as finalists in late September. Other finalists included: Hollon Family Chiropractic, Independent Living Resource Center and Wash Authority Professional Exterior Services.

Derrijk Hollon and Hilary Wendell serve the chiropractic needs of Jefferson City residents from the Hollon Family Chiropractic office at 751 W. Stadium Blvd. The nonprofit Independent Living Resource Center provides support for individuals with disabilities from its office at 1760 Southridge Drive. Wash Authority Professional Exterior Services at 1305 Southwest Blvd. washes houses, buildings and roofs.

Outbound Physical Therapy provides services primarily to patients who cannot drive or rely on other people for transportation. Schnieders created the business in 2012 with Jason Woods.

For the first three years, Outbound worked with patients only in their homes, offices or at public places like the YMCA. In 2015, Outbound opened its clinic at 1739 Elm Court. Today, the company sees about 130 patients per week, including about 30 weekly visits in places outside of the clinic.

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"We had a lot of patients who were elderly and could not driving anymore, but they were not necessarily home-bound," Schnieders said. "We grew so much that I either needed to hire an army of (physical) therapists so we could get to everyone we needed to get to, or have a clinic where the people that could come to us could come to us."

The chamber also gave away its Exceptional Employee award at the event. Brondel began working at the United Way 31/2 years ago.

At the United Way, Brondel serves as the manager of the group's marketing efforts, manages the local chapter's social media accounts and plans events. The United Way of Central Missouri employs six people, so Brondel and her staff have to do a lot with few resources.

"I feel very grateful and I'm just humbled to be on the list of nominees," she said. "It is truly an honor. We live in a great community and I'm just proud to be part of it."

Ann Bax, United Way of Central Missouri president, spoke warmly about Brondel in a video played before the event.

"Amber epitomizes what the United Way of Central Missouri is all about," Bax said. "She has a servant's heart, and that's what it's really all about."

A Wardsville native, Brondel married her high school sweetheart. The couple now has a house here.

With her roots firmly planted, Brondel said she's looking forward to growing with the United Way.

"It's very rewarding work," she said. "I wanted something that was bigger than just me and the workplace."

Twenty-four candidates were nominated for the exceptional employee award and the chamber named four finalists in October. Mandy Thomas of C&S Business Services, Logan Gratz of Gratz Real Estate and Auctioneering, and Rebecca Peters of Align Chiropractic Clinic also were nominated for the Exceptional Employee award.

The luncheon preceded the Chamber's annual business and lifestyles expo at Capitol Plaza. About 100 vendors set up booths inside Capitol Plaza for the trade show, said Missy Bonnot, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce director of economic development.

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