Photo courtesy of Jen Rodriguez.
Photo courtesy of Jen Rodriguez.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna


On Sept. 12, the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce hosted its Centennial Celebration, an annual event recognizing its woman and man of the year, business of the year, and to present its Lifetime Achievement Award. 

In addition, the night at Leal Vineyards served Saffron Artichoke chicken with Potatoes au gratin and a side of salad to the guests. Music and a raffle drawing were also part of the event, according to the event invitation.

Honored as outstanding role models to the community and for their volunteer service were the Chamber’s woman and man of the year, Mickie Solorio-Luna and Jim Gillio.

Solorio-Luna said she was grateful to have been recognized by the chamber specially because there were several people who were qualified as well.

“The presentation given by the Chamber of Commerce was informative, a huge thanks to the volunteers who helped” she said.

The Chamber’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Awards, honoring their recipients’ legacy and commitment to the community, were given to Tiffany Ford, Graniterock and McKinnon Lumber. 

“This award takes many lifetimes to build and we call it a Lifetime Achievement Award but it’s truly generations of lifetimes,” Graniterock Director of Marketing Keith Severson said. 

He added Graniterock was thrilled to be part of the community.

“Graniterock has been literally and figuratively a part of the foundation of the community in San Benito County for over 121 years,” he said.

He also noted that the event included “We Built this City” by Starship at the end of the event dedicated to the three Lifetime Achievement Honorees.

Companies in seven categories also received awards for Business of the Year. All were recognized for overcoming obstacles and providing top customer service to their customers. 

  • Large Business of the Year: Teknova 
  • Green Business of the Year: Pinnacles Recreation Co  
  • Small Business of the Year: Savage Designs  
  • Service Business of the Year: Enterprise Academy of Martial Arts  
  • Entrepreneur Business of the Year: Calavera Coffee  
  • Agriculture Business of the Year: B&R Farms, LLC   
  • Nonprofit of the Year: Community FoodBank for San Benito County

Owner of small business award Savage Designs Shannon Imbronone said “We appreciate it, we are beyond blessed by our friends, family and customers. We are just very grateful. We were surprised.” 

Overjoyed, she said the night “was amazing. It was a beautiful night, they made an amazing job on it, everything was perfect.”

Sarah Nordwick, the community engagement and development director of the nonprofit winner Community FoodBank of San Benito said, “We are very honored to receive the award. It truly goes out to every donor, volunteer, customer, grower, farmer, grocer, business, staff member who have had their hand in Community FoodBank for over 30 years. They put the Community in Community FoodBank.”

Jim and Mari Rossi, owners of B&R Farms, said they credited their team—Rick , Debbie, Danny , Rosa and all of their farm employees— for this recognition. 

“When you believe in heritage, generations of hard work, deep roots, and the great taste of good quality food, that’s called agriculture,” Mari said. 

“It was a great honor,” said John Barrett, owner of McKinnon Lumber Company, on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. “It was unexpected. A wonderful award to recieve.” He added that the event was “awesome” and that it was great to see familiar faces and meet new people. 

“I had a good time,” he said. 


Other related BenitoLink articles:

McKinnon Lumberyard dates back to early Hollister

Tiffany Ford sells to Greenwood Chevrolet

The BenitoLink Internship Program is a paid, skill-building program that prepares local youth for a professional career. This program is supported by Monterey Peninsula Foundation AT&T Golf Tour, United Way, Taylor Farms and the Emma Bowen Foundation.


Help us bring on more interns! As a local nonprofit news organization, BenitoLink needs community support to continue developing important local programs like our youth and Latinx intern training program. You can keep it going strong by going to our BenitoLink donation page.