Jim Oliverson has accumulated a long list of accolades over the years in a decorated career in western Montana. On Thursday night at the annual Kalispell Chamber of Commerce awards banquet he added another one: Great Chief.
“Great Chief” is the oldest and most prestigious award the Kalispell Chamber bestows at their annual awards banquet. It recognizes someone for their robust sense of service to their community and civic contributions.
Oliverson worked at Kalispell Regional Medical Center for 39 years in various capacities. He was director of human resources, chief operating officer and interim chief executive officer before his 20-year stint as vice president of community relations.
He’s also worked with dozens of nonprofits over the years, including chambers of commerce up and down the Flathead Valley, Kalispell and Whitefish Rotary Clubs, the United Way and Montana Ambassadors.
This year’s Great Chief award was given to Oliverson by last year’s Great Chief, B.J. Lupton of Snappy Sports Senter.
The Chamber of Commerce also gave out awards for the Businesswoman and Businessman of the year.
The first award went to Pam Carbonari of Carbonari Associates, Inc. According to the Kalispell Chamber, her nominators described her as “everything for Kalispell, every time.”
That may seem like a lot to live up to, but Carbonari keeps busy. She’s the current director of both the Downtown Association and Kalispell Business Improvement District. In those roles she’s been key in beginning new programs, like the Taste of Kalispell, Artwalk and Thursday!Fest.
She also holds positions on boards and committees of Flathead CARE, the Museum at Central School, the Hockaday Museum and the Flathead Food Pantry.
Last year’s award winner, Holly Jean Larson of the First and Main building, gave her the award.
The Businessman of the Year award was given to Travis Sallee of Loren’s Auto Repair. Seven years ago he became director of operations of his family business, Loren’s Auto Repair. Since he took the helm production and revenue have risen 100 percent. Sallee also serves as president of the Job Service Employee’s Council, which helps bridge the gap between employers and state job services.
He’s also been working with Flathead Valley Community College to get an automotive apprenticeship program off the ground to help prepare workers for entry into a rapidly changing automotive field.
In 2015, he began a program called Wheels to Thrive, where his business takes quality used vehicles, fixes them up and gives them to deserving folks in the community for free.
Sallee’s award will be presented by the Businesswoman of the Year from two years ago, Susan Munsinger Pirrie of Western Outdoor.
The Outstanding Contribution by a Chamber Member award was given to Mike Nye of Applied Materials PPC Business Unit. He’s served as chairman of the Kalispell Manufacturer’s Alliance since 2015.
He’s played a pivotal role in helping grow Flathead Manufacturing Month from three weeks to almost two months. He is also a regular participant in most other chamber programming.
Reporter Peregrine Frissell can be reached at (406) 758-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.