MINOOKA – Many in the Grundy County business community gathered at Chapin's East in Minooka to recognize their peers at their annual dinner. The event was jointly organized by the Grundy Economic Development Council and the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
When GEDC President and CEO Nancy Norton presented the Welcome to Grundy County Award to Hoffman Industries, she said she saw the irony in presenting the award to a company founded and operated by lifelong Grundy County residents.
"Starting his business 38 years ago with one truck, Kevin Hoffman ... now has over 165 tractors and 400 trailers," Norton said.
The company's headquarters is in Channahon, but the award was recognizing their new facility in Coal City.
"They are a local success story, but Hoffman Transportation is also nationally recognized," Norton said.
Last year, the company won the National Tank Truck Carriers Outstanding Safety Award.
The Partnership Award was presented to Spaceco Engineering for their community presence and their participation with both the GEDC and other community organizations.
Tr-State Asphalt was named GEDC Business of the Year. It was recognized for the investment in and expansion of its Ashley Road facility in Morris.
"This is really the employees' award," Todd Weist, president and CEO of Tri-State Asphalt, said while accepting his award. "They have a love and a passion for everything they do ... We now compete against some of the biggest companies in the industry."
Christina Van Yperen, executive director of the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce, presented the chamber's awards alongside this year's Chamber Board Chairwoman Jaclyn Aldridge.
LyondellBasell was awarded Business of the Year, the same year it celebrates 50 years at its Morris Complex.
"Annually it generates about $260 million in the local economy," Van Yperen said. "In addition, in 2018, LyondellBasell broke ground on a $55 million investment of a new administration center, including an 89,000 square-foot operations center."
This year, the chamber presented two awards for Entrepreneur of the Year. The first went to John Callahan of U.C. Davis-Callahan Funeral Home in Morris. Callahan had worked as assistant funeral director for 16 years, and has owned the business for seven years. He told the crowd how he got into the business, a nontraditional route for the industry in that he didn't grow up with it being his family business. Instead, he dated a girl in his youth whose family owned a funeral home and he would go out on calls occasionally.
"Who gets to ride in the back of a hearse and talk about it?" he said.
The second Entrepreneur of the Year award went to mother-son duo Cathy and Craig Smith of Rolando's Furniture and Appliances in Coal City. In 2018, they, along with other Coal City and Diamond businesses, began the Coaler Business Alliance to help promote local businesses and events.
Grundy Area Public Action to Deliver Service was recognized as Organization of the Year. They were lauded for their plan to put themselves out of business. Grundy Area PADS works with areas churches to find shelter for homeless people in the area, but a program begun last fall searches for housing for their clients. The Rapid Rehousing program has so far placed 18 local homeless into permanent homes.
In addition to honoring area businesses, the chamber also recognized one of their own. Brandi Backulich was named Chamber Ambassador of the Year.