Chamber of Commerce man, woman and businesses of the year to be celebrated

Narrowing nominees down from 18, a panel of previous recipients chose Frankie Gallagher and Jim Hart as San Benito County Chamber of Commerce Man and Woman of the Year.

The San Benito County Chamber of Commerce announced Jim Hart and Frankie Gallagher as its Man and Woman of the year. The Chamber also selected three Businesses of the Year—Galaxy Self Storage, Margot’s Ice Cream Parlor and Intero Real Estate Services. Mike Fisher, owner of Fisher’s Delicatessen, was named Rising Star Entrepreneur and Pierce Real Estate was Chamber Champion.

The winners will be honored and receive their awards Jan. 27, 6 pm to 11 pm, at San Juan Oaks.

According to Juli Vieira, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, there were a record number of nominations, 18 for Man and Woman of the Year, and 11 for Business of the Year.

"Past recipients individually looked over all the nominees and then came together to cast their votes,” she said. “This year, it was really tough and it took five rounds of voting to narrow it down to the two winners.”

Vieira said past recipients include Ann Baccala, Dorothy Root, Al Centmayer, Paul Bertuccio, Herman Botelho, Renee Holthouse, Howard Harris, Herman Fehl, Mary Damm, Denise Cauthen Wright, Barbara Cosio and Will Sutton.

She said chamber members can nominate anyone from the community; they don’t have to be members of the chamber themselves. Nominees are notified and if they want to be included in the process, each submits answers to a number questions about themselves, including personal background, community involvement, awards they have received, goodwill gestures that benefitted the community. There’s even one that asked, “If money and logistics were no object, what creative thing would you like to do for our community to improve the quality of life of its residents?” Also, they must submit three personal references.

Vieira said Gallagher and Hart were excellent choices of people who give back to the community. She said she has known Gallagher for years and wasn’t surprised to see that she was chosen as Woman of the Year.

“Frankie has been involved with community organizations ever since moving to Hollister,” she said. “She has given her time and energy to a number of causes and organizations, as well as personal contributions to help fund causes she believes in.”

Before being nominated, Vieira did not know Jim Hart.

“He has been giving to the community ever since moving here in 1976,” she said. “I was amazed at how much and how long he has given his time to the community. He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club for 29 years and is a charter member of the San Benito High School Key Club, contributing to it for 30 years.”

Pierce Real Estate is a particular standout in the community and for good reason, said Vieira, and was named the Chamber Champion. Ray and Peggy Pierce have worked in real estate since 1990 and founded the company in 2012. The have been involved in many community programs, including the Community Pantry, the Park Commission, San Benito County Board of Realtors, Knights of Columbus, the high school band, and the Immaculate Conception Church, as well as the Chamber of Commerce.

The following information was provided by the Chamber of Commerce in their news release announcing this year's winners in other categories.

Rising Star Entrepreneur of the Year:

Mike Fisher,  Fishers Restaurant- After attending the Cordon Bleu, Mike Fisher came home to Hollister and established Fisher’s Catering in 2014 and a year later opened Fisher’s Restaurant in Downtown Hollister. Fisher’s Restaurant and Catering showcases the best food and wine in San Benito County.  This concept of a fresh menu using the best local ingredients was new to the community but has quickly won the locals over and surprises visitors. 

Businesses of the Year:

Intero Real Estate Services- Intero Real Estate was established in 2002 and the Hollister Office was the second to open. They work to meet the differing needs of their clients. Intero supports many local organizations through its own foundation. 

Galaxy Self Storage- Galaxy Self Storage opened in November 1998. Since then they have supported many community programs. 

Margot’s Ice Cream Parlor- Margot started making candy in the 8th Grade. As an adult she started Kayla’s Kandies and was looking for a place to sell it commercially. In 1996 she and her family opened Margot’s Ice Cream Parlor in San Juan Bautista where they now sell Lappert’s Ice Cream along with Kayla’s Kandies.

The awards will be given out  Jan. 27, during the Chamber Annual Awards Dinner at San Juan Oaks, where this year’s theme is “Margaretville Jimmy Buffet Style.” Congressman Jimmy Panetta and Assemblywoman Anna Caballero are scheduled to be at the event to present awards from their offices. The event is open to the public and tickets cost $65 to benefit the Chamber of Commerce. For information or to purchase tickets visit the Chamber’s website,, call 831-637-5315, or come by the office at 243 6th St., in Hollister.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]