The Clovis Chamber of Commerce paid homage to business leaders for their dedication to the the community during Thursday night’s 2018 Membership and Salute to Business Dinner at Classic Catering in Old Town Clovis.
Among those honored throughout the evening were Carole Lester, Executive Director of Business Organization of Old Town Clovis (B.O.O.T.), Hedrick’s Chevrolet and former CUSD Superintendent, Dr. Janet Young.
First up was Lester, who was recognized as the 2017 Business Person of the Year. As Executive Director of B.O.O.T., she organizes unique events throughout the year, like the Farmers Market, Wine Walk and Craft Beer Crawl among others, to attract more people to visit, shop, and enjoy the charms of Old Town Clovis.
“I am thrilled to receive this award,” Lester said. “Old Town is my passion, it just means the most to be and to be recognized for that all we’ve done – not just me but the B.O.O.T. staff and board – is very meaningful.”
This year, in addition to its regular annual events, B.O.O.T. is introducing a pair of farm-to-table dinner events down Pollasky Avenue. Featuring a four course meal catered by restaurants of Old Town, the “Spring Dinner” is set for April 22 while the fall “Harvest Dinner” is scheduled for Oct. 14.
Hedrick’s Chevrolet was honored next as the Business of the Year with Owner/General Manager Brett Hedrick in attendance to accept the award.
“It was funny because I was called on by the Executive Director, Greg Newman,” Hedrick said. “He and the board wanted to have a meeting with me right at the beginning of the year and I was trying to close out last year, so I said ‘let’s wait a couple weeks’ because I thought they were trying to sell me a program. Then, he said ‘Brett, we need to meet today [to break the news to you].’ So, I was very surprised, thankful and happy about it.”
Hedrick credits his hard-working staff of 105-plus employees for making the award possible.
“The award goes to the staff,” Hedrick said. “They’re what makes us a good company, a good place to deal with, a good place to work. ”
In 2000, Brett and his father, Bill, bought Hallowell Chevrolet and changed the name to Hedrick’s Chevrolet in 2005. As a family-owned business, Hedrick’s Chevrolet strives to prioritize employee happiness, customer satisfaction, and excellence in service.
“I had an employee retire the other day at 80 years old and she says, ‘Brett, one of the best things about working at a company that is family-owned is that they care about the people,’” he said. “Sometimes big corporations don’t realize that there are people with families, people with medical problems and other issues, and a family business understands that kind of thing.”
The ceremony concluded with a standing ovation for a former educator in Dr. Young. For her commitment to education as a former Superintendent of Clovis Unified School District, Dr. Young was awarded the prestigious Einar Cook Award for Excellence.
“Einar Cook’s legacy is one that resonates throughout this community, so I extend my deepest gratitude to the Clovis Chamber of Commerce for your graciousness in giving me this award. It feels unimaginable that I would be standing here receiving that award,” Young said during her acceptance speech. “When you look at the list of prior recipients and their achievements in our community, I honestly do not feel worthy. They are in a league far above me but I just want to say that I’m so grateful.”
She echoed that serving as Superintendent from 2011 up until her retirement in June of 2017 was the greatest honor of her life: “Next to being the daughter of my parents, the greatest honor of my life has been serving as the Superintendent of the finest school district right here in the heart of the finest city in the nation.”
During her 39-year career at Clovis Unified, Young also held positions of Teacher, Learning Director, Principal, Director of School and Community Relations, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, and Associate Superintendent of Human Resources for the District’s approximately 6,000 employees and more than 42,000 students.
Other leaders honored were Peggy Davis as Ambassador of the Year, Gary Honeycutt as Director of the Year and John Lebeiko of Sol-Tek Solar as Volunteer of the Year.r.
Prior to the awards ceremony, the Chamber swore in its 2018 Board of Directors and outgoing Board Chair, Layla Forstedt of Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau, passed her gavel to incoming Chair, James Dunn of California Health Sciences University.