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Kalispell Chamber's 113th Annual Banquet Recognizes Local Leaders with Top Honors

November 9, 2017View for printing

The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce's Annual Banquet and Auction is regarded as the largest business event of the year in northwest Montana. Hundreds of local business and community leaders gather at the Hilton Garden Inn to recognize the successes of the chamber and its members before the organization details its agenda for the coming year. Equally as important, the attendees in the room are eager for the announcement of the recipients for the awards that honor several of the outstanding business and civic leaders in the Flathead Valley community.

This year's award recipients include:

46th Great Chief: Jim Oliverson

This year's recipient of the Great Chief award, Jim Oliverson, arrived in the Flathead in 1989 after serving the Ronan community at St. Luke Community Hospital. One of the visionaries of Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Jim loved each person affiliated with the hospital, whether they were wearing a white coat and stethoscope, janitor uniform, or patient gown, feeling the hospital should play a positive role to every person in the valley.

Over his 39 year tenure with the hospital, Jim served as Director of Human Resources, Chief Operating Officer, and Interim CEO, before serving as the Vice President of Community Relations for the last 20 years.

In addition to Jim's role with the hospital he has served, and continues to serve, on as many as 24 different state and local non-profit boards including the Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Polson, and Lakeside/Somers chambers of commerce, Kalispell and Whitefish Rotary clubs, the United Way, Montana West Economic Development, A.L.E.R.T, Montana Ambassadors, and numerous others.

"His involvement with what seems like every organization in the valley is unparalleled by any other member of this community." "Whatever the cause, whatever the reason-yes was always his main word," and "Jim was always the person that kept a steady hand on the tiller in the community, which was often not a very easy thing to do," said several of his nominators for this well-deserved award.

Jim is described as showing kindness, compassion, and gratitude towards everyone he meets. A leader who steers organizations from the background and modest about recognition, nearly everyone who knows Jim described him as a quiet, effective, kindhearted leader with a vision of progress and unmatched dedication to supporting others.

The Great Chief Award is the Kalispell Chambers oldest and most prestigious award and honors an individual's civic and volunteer spirit, which spans a lifetime and provides a legacy for the community. Through their efforts, the recipients of the Great Chief award have historically made the Flathead Valley a better place to live and work.

Jim's award announcement will be made by last year's Great Chief Award Winner, BJ Lupton of Snappy's Sports Senter.

Businesswoman of the Year: Pam Carbonari of Carbonari Associates, Inc., Kalispell Downtown Association, Kalispell Business Improvement District

Pam Carbonari is described as being "everything for Kalispell, every time" by her nominators for this award. The current director of the Kalispell Downtown Association and Kalispell Business Improvement District, Pam has been instrumental in attracting new, exciting businesses to downtown Kalispell and bringing the community together through programs like Thursday!Fest, Taste of Kalispell, Artwalk, and many other vibrant events.

In addition to her work, Pam holds community support positions on boards and committees such as Flathead CARE, the Museum at Central School, the Hockaday Museum, and the Flathead Food Pantry. Pam has also served countless hours for the City of Kalispell as Mayor, Center for Restorative Youth Justice, Montana Board for Crime Control and nearly 20 other organizations over the last 30 years.

Pam's award announcement will be made by last year's Businesswoman of the Year, Holly Jean Larson of the First and Main Building.

Businessman of the Year: Travis Sallee of Loren's Auto Repair

Since taking on the role of Director of Operations seven years ago for his family business, Loren's Auto Repair, Travis Sallee has doubled the production and revenue of the company, hired several additional employees, and has built the auto shop's reputation as one of the best in the Flathead.

Travis is currently the President/Chair of the Job Service Employers Council, which helps bridge the gaps between employers and state job services. Moreover, Travis is actively working with Flathead Valley Community College to develop an Automotive Apprenticeship program from the ground up after recognizing the need for advanced training and education required in the rapidly changing automotive repair industry.

Described as "having a big heart and deep conviction about serving his community," Travis is committed to serving the community in which he lives. In 2015 he started a program called Wheels To Thrive, where Loren's Auto Repair takes good-quality, used vehicles, fixes them up, and gives them away to deserving individuals in the community at no cost to the new owner.

Travis also spends his time volunteering for the Samaritan House and is an active member of the Flathead County Sheriff's Posse.

Travis' award announcement will be made by last year's Businesswoman of the Year, Susan Munsinger Pirrie of Western Outdoor.

Outstanding Contribution by a Chamber Member: Mike Nye, of Applied Materials PPC Business Unit

Mike served as the chairman of the Kalispell Manufacturer's Alliance, a division of the Kalispell Chamber, since 2015. During his time in charge, Mike helped grow the group's signature event Flathead Manufacturing Month from a three week program to a full schedule of manufacturing events that spans nearly two entire months.

Additionally, Mike could be seen at almost every chamber event, including luncheons, UNWINDs, award programs for up and coming young professionals, and also serves on the Board of Directors.

About the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau

Since 1904, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau has been a leading voice in strengthening our community and the business climate, with the goal of making Kalispell and the Flathead Valley an ideal location to live and work. The Chamber consists of 725 businesses and organizations, which employ over half of the workforce in Flathead County, Montana.
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