Clovis Chamber Holds 2019 Salute to Business Luncheon

Greg Newman, CEO of Clovis Chamber, addresses the crowd at the 2019 Salute to Business Luncheon on Jan. 29, 2019. (Photo by Ron Sundquist/Clovis Roundup)

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, members of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce gathered to honor local business leaders at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District. During the yearly Salute to Business Luncheon, awards were given to those whose achievements make our community special.

Sponsors of the luncheon included: Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Donaghy Sales, MSI, Moore Than SEA, Wawona, and Republic Services.

Approximately 350 people were in the audience, including a winner from a contest sponsored by the Clovis Roundup. The winners were determined by a vote of small business owners during the Chamber’s Andiamo’s Lunch Connect.

First Place: Cindy Knutson, Knutson Jewelers; Second Place, Winona Caves, Unique Construction; Third Place, Marty Watt, The Original 4th Street Antiques.

Unfortunately, neither Caves nor Watt were able to attend the Salute to Business Luncheon.

Guests enjoyed a delicious lunch provided by Classic Catering and entertainment by Clovis North High School Chamber Singers.

The awards ceremony began after outgoing 2018 Board Chair, Jimmy Dunn, turned over the Board Chair position for 2019 to Matthew Grundy from Habitat for Humanity.

Chamber Ambassador of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award:

Ellie Huston

Ellie Huston is known throughout the local community as the “Duchess of Clovis.” Her community involvement began when she owned Fashion Crossroads in Old Town Clovis and became involved with the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. She has been a Clovis Chamber Ambassador for the past 30 years, sat on the Clovis Chamber Board of Directors for over 25 years, and volunteers in many community organizations –– including B.O.O.T., Clovis Tourism, and Hind’s Hospice.

“Ellie is an inspiration,” says Diana Hunnicutt, Membership Director and 2018 Ambassador of the Year, as she introduced Huston as the first person to receive the Chamber Ambassador of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award.

Huston was visually touched to be the first person to win the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“My first assignment as a volunteer was the 5 a.m. shift helping the vendors get set up,” she remembers. “As I like to tell everyone, I got promoted to the Beer Garden…I’ve been chairing the Beer Garden for some 20 odd years now.”

About volunteering, Huston says, “It’s the right thing to do. You make time to do the things you want to do.”

Einar Cook Leadership Award:

Dwight Kroll, Director of Planning, City of Clovis

For over 37 years, Dwight Kroll has shared his visionary inspiration with the city of Clovis, originally as Assistant Planner, and, for the past decade, as Director of Planning.

It’s been said he not only thinks, but lives outside-the-box. Our community is fortunate to be the recipient of his genius: the pathways between buildings throughout Old Town; the revitalization and development of Clovis’ trail system; the design of Centennial Plaza; the entertaining Taking it to the Streets Urban Design Festival; and the tiny homes program that turn underused areas into attractive living spaces are just a few results of the Kroll touch.

“It’s a community that makes this possible,” he says. “We’re not done yet. As a team, which is what Clovis is, has a lot more to do and exciting things to do in the future. I really look forward to working with you all.”

Businessperson of the Year:

Pat V. Ricchiuti, P-R Farms

Pat Ricchiuti is an outstanding agriculture leader and philanthropist.  Seven years after graduating from Fresno State with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business and Plant Science, he was named California Young Farmer of the Year and later served the Fresno Farm Bureau in a variety of roles.

As a key leader in local, state, and national agriculture associations, Ricchiuti received a wide range of awards throughout his nearly 40-year career. Currently, he serves as President of P-R Farms, Inc., Palomate Packing Company, Inc., Enzo Olive Oil Company, and Enzo’s Table. His companies have won wide recognition: P-R Farms, Inc. is the Agricultural Business of the Year by Baker, Peterson and Franklin, CPA, LLP, and “Industry of the Year” by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.

With his wife, Vinci Petrosino Ricchiuti, Pat received accolades for his educational work, including awards from Fresno State, Clovis Schools. and St. Agnes.

“Family and relationships are so important,” says Ricchiuti. “We need to recognize and support youth, the next generation, and bring them along, to help them in every way…and to give back.”

Business of the Year:

Republic Services

The Republic star logo is made up of five “R”s that stands for company core values: Respectful, Responsible, Reliable, Resourceful and Relentless.

Proud to be serving Fresno County for over 40 years with high quality residential and commercial waste disposal and recycling needs, Republic Services’ number one priority is safety above profitability. The customer experience follows at a close second.

General Manager, Keith Hester, credits the 95 employees at Republic Services with providing outstanding customer service.

“We receive a lot of accolades for our quality of service and that is because we employ the best people,” he said.

The Clovis Chamber is planning to expand their membership base by providing networking and educational value to help members expand their businesses. New additions include the enhanced membership directory on the Chamber’s website, the Community Lifestyle guide, and the digital magazine, The Chamber Review.