Exeter business owners honored as man, woman of the year

David Nielson, owner of Nielsen & Associates Insurance honored as Exeter’s Man of the Year, Amanda Barbee, owner of On Point Pilates is honored as Exeter’s Woman of the Year

EXETER – The Exeter Chamber of Commerce, will honor two business owners who are committed to serving their community as the 2023 Man and Woman of the Year.

Exeter Chamber of Commerce will host the annual business and community awards celebration on April 22. This year David Nielson, third generation owner of Nielsen and Associates Insurance and fourth-generation citizen of Exeter will be honored as Exeter’s Man of the Year. And Amanda Barbee will be honored as Exeter’s Woman of the Year. She is the founder and owner of On Point Pilates Studio in Exeter and has lived in Exeter for a little over a decade. Both Nielson and Barbee said they have a heart for serving and helping others and Exeter is a great community for that.

“The giving of ourselves to the community is one of the greatest gifts we can share with our fellow men and women. Without volunteerism and without leading with a servant’s heart, we will become stagnant and stand to lose our uniqueness and quality of life,” Nielsen said. “It takes a community to raise a community, and I hope that we will always stay the course by banding together to do what’s right for us.”

This year’s banquet will take place at the Whitney’s Wild Oak Ranch located at 30162 Road 162 in Exeter. Tickets are $75 for general admission and $100 for V.I.P tickets. The VIP tickets include early admission at 5:30 p.m., with appetizers, drink ticket and a gift bag. In addition to Nielsen and Barbee, The Exeter Chamber of Commerce Annual Business and Community Awards will also be honoring the winners of the Beautification Award, Business Of The Year, Non-Profit Of The Year, and Heritage Award.

Man of the Year

Growing up in Exeter, Nielsen moved away to attend college at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In 2015, Nielsen moved back to Exeter to partner with his father Bill Nielson and be closer to home to spend more time with his family. Since then, he has dedicated much of his life to the service of Exeter and its citizens. He said there is something about Exeter that captures his heart, whether that be his family, life long friends, filling the shoes of those before him or even all the area has to offer.

“My parents taught me at a very young age to always give back to our community. I love people, I love giving and I don’t mind taking on leadership roles that serve our town’s and our people’s best interest,” Nielson said.

Nielsen grew up in Exeter and graduated from Exeter Union High School. He has helped out in the family business since even before he was in high school. Over the past 18 years, Nielsen has helped expand Nielsen and Associates Insurance. In that time he has also shared his time, talent and treasure for the betterment of the community.

As a Chamber of Commerce member, past board member, and president, he has served on the Fall Festival committee and other chamber committees. He is a current member and past president of the Exeter Kiwanis Club and actively participates in the club’s sought-out “Spirit of the Holidays” event every December that raises money for the youth of Exeter.

Additionally, as a graduate of Exeter High School’s class of 1989 and currently serves as the Treasurer of the EUHS Alumni Foundation. The Exeter Alumni Park adjacent to the school‘s district office was constructed with the help of funds previously raised by the foundation, Nielsen and Gabe “Mr. EUHS/Exeter.” Neilson also serves on several EUHS scholarship committees, in addition to managing his family’s scholarship fund, the Bill Springer football scholarship.  He supports local sporting programs, Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4-H fair projects and the high school’s agricultural department.

In 2014, Nielsen joined the Rocky Hill Triathlon committee and helped form Exeter’s first philanthropic triathlon, the Rocky Hill Tri. The Rocky Hill Tri welcomes over 100 athletes to Exeter and the money raised from the event supports the triathlon’s philanthropy objectives. Those objectives include building and maintaining playground structures and, most recently, Exeter’s first-ever disc golf course at Unger Park.  This year’s 2023 Rocky Hill triathlon will be held on April 22.

Nielsen said he takes pride in assisting his clients and earning the right to manage their insurance needs. He said he works seven days a week because if his clients are working, he is working.  He added that Exeter is a community where he is supported which allows him to give his whole heart in hopes of making someone’s day better.

“Their well-being is my well-being, and in any way I can be of help to ensure that their businesses, assets, health and family are protected, well, that brings me peace and well-being too,” Nielsen said.

Nielson is married to Tiffany (Smith) Nielsen who is a transplant from Solvang, Calif. She has been by his side for 15 years. As he continues to serve the community of Exeter, he hopes to support the perfect mix of new and old throughout the community.

“I also hope we not only hold onto our traditions but welcome new people and fresh ideas, which through collective cooperation, will continue the support of the people and community of Exeter as we face the challenges of our ever-changing world,” Nielsen said.

Woman of the Year

This year’s woman of the year is also a local business owner helping many individuals throughout the community. Several days after receiving the honor, Barbee said she was still in shock.

Barbee moved to Exeter 11 years ago when she felt Exeter was the perfect community to raise her two children. Since her move, she has grown to not only love the town of Exeter, but the business community and all the events that take place year around.

Barbee grew up in Porterville with a brother and younger sister, who was born with cerebral palsy. Growing up, she said watching her sister’s progress through physical therapy encouraged her to learn more about movement that heals. Several years down the road, after working as a physical therapy rehabilitation aide at Kaweah Delta for 14 years, Barbee decided to open her own pilates studio rather than become a physical therapy assistant.

“I felt a need in the [Exeter] community for my services,” Barbee said. “I always knew I wanted to help people through movement.”

With the skills Barbee obtained from working in the physical therapy department for so many years as well as her personal training background, it was the perfect combination to help those of all ages through the middle stages of their recovery process. On Point offers therapeutic pilates, functional movement and sport specific services. She said she wanted to empower people through movement and make individuals lives easier through what she had to offer. Clients range in age from 15 to 85-years-old and share a common goal: to grow their physical strength in a supportive environment while also becoming more aware of their bodies and movement patterns.

Barbee said she takes pride in assisting grandparents play a more active role in their family’s lives by helping them restore their balance, strength and endurance. While expanding her business over the past seven years, she has also given her time and talent to the community.

Barbee is a Chamber of Commerce member and she has served on the Fall Festival committee and the Holiday Downtown Open House committee. In 2022, she organized the first Movement Crawl, which is a fitness-based event that gives participants a chance to experience different types of exercise at Exeter’s different gyms and studios. She said it’s a healthier version of a pub crawl and a fun way to get the community involved in fitness. This year the event was held on April 1 and ended in a block party at Bellcraft Brewery.

Proceeds from the Movement Crawl, or MVMT Crawl, benefit Happy Trails Riding Academy, which offers therapeutic horsemanship to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Through the fundraiser, they raised enough to sponsor a horse for the academy, and last year they raised enough to sponsor a horse as well as tuition for a student. A sponsorship means they support a horse for a year including any cost of food, supplies and any other needs of the horse.

Barbee also enjoys being a regular guest speaker at Exeter’s MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. She shares tips for a healthy lifestyle and hosts a mini Pilates class to get moms moving. Barbee is also working on attaining her National Accredited Fitness Certification as a Master Trainer. This will allow On Point to be a hub for continuing education for other Pilates teachers. She is also working on growing her On Point team this year, with plans to hire other instructors to teach classes at the studio. Barbee is grateful for her students and clients, who allow her to share her passion of health and wellness, and trust her to be a part of their movement practices.

Barbee is a proud mother of Mason, 15, and Layla, 13. She thanks her parents and grandparents for their continued encouragement and for being wonderful role models who showed her the importance of serving the community. She said her fiancé, Ty Swift, is her sounding board and source of support.

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