Chamber honors community leaders
Two Rivers Convention Center was a circus Friday night.
Thanks to the theme of this year’s annual Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce banquet, hundreds of local businessmen and businesswomen had an excuse to wear clown noses, balloon animal hats and laugh the night away as the Chamber reflected on 2012 before honoring two local businesses and two individuals to start 2013.
Dalby, Wendland & Co., P.C., a local certified public accounting and consulting firm, was named Business of the Year.
Allen Unique Autos LLC received the Small Business of the Year award.
Betty Bechtel was named Citizen of the Year, and Joe Burtard was named Young Professional of the Year.
Bechtel and Burtard weren’t told in advance of their awards.
“These guys can really keep a secret,” Bechtel said. “Where’s my husband?”
The crowd laughed after giving her a standing ovation.
Bechtel has served on numerous boards throughout the region in a variety of areas including the Cinema at the Avalon and the Glade Park Charter School.
In addition, Bechtel, who retired in 2011 from the law firm she founded with Michael Santo, has been Chair of the Mesa County Economic Development Council, the Business Incubator Center and the Grand Junction Area Chamber. She also has volunteered through School District 51’s 500 Plan and is a trustee for Colorado Mesa University.
“Thank you so much,” Bechtel said. “This is a wonderful award. I love my years in Grand Junction. It’s a great place to raise your kids, have a profession and be a part of.”
Like Bechtel, Burtard was surprised Friday night.
“I’m really unprepared for this,” said Burtard in his trademark cowboy hat. “I’m a little embarrassed because there are other young professionals in this community more deserving than me.”
Not only is Burtard the spokesman for the Ute Water Conservancy District, he also runs a small business, JR’s Carriage Service. He coordinates the Western Colorado Children’s Water Festival and is a certified auctioneer.
Unlike Bechtel and Burtard, both business-award winners were notified in advance of Friday’s banquet but that did not make them any less honored.
Tammy Allen, owner of Allen Unique Autos, delivered an emotional speech about her love of family and Grand Junction, calling the opportunity to run a small business “a dream.”
Allen Unique Autos employs 13 full-time and 19 part-time people and has been in business more than two years at 2285 River Road.
Allen Unique Autos includes an auto museum, event facility and chauffeur business.
“Thank you so much,” Allen told the audience. “I love being here, and I love Grand Junction.”
Grand Junction has been the home of Dalby, Wendland & Co. since it moved into its 464 Main St. location in 1948. The business has expanded through the years, with offices across Western Colorado, employing 95 people. Several dozen affiliated with the company were in attendance Friday night.
Walter Dalby and Wes Wendland, the men behind the firm’s existence, would encourage those in 2013 to “enjoy your work, be your best and give back to your community,” President Steven Carver said.
In addition to being successful local businesses, Allen Unique Autos and Dalby, Wendland & Co. were recognized for the active roles each plays in supporting a multitude of local nonprofits and/or charitable causes.