Two well-known Willow Glen residents were recognized last week for their contributions to local commerce and their communities.
They were among eight prominent business leaders honored at the Silicon Valley Organization’s annual flagship event April 20 at the San Jose Marriott Hotel.
Third-generation family business owner Bert George, who runs Joseph George Fine Wines on Meridian Avenue, was presented the evening’s highest honor, the Distinguished Business Leader of the Year Award, which is given to “an individual who has demonstrated long-term excellence in both business and civic engagement,” the organization said in a statement.
Nominees are key local business figures with a track record of community involvement and philanthropic support. Silicon Valley Organization President Matthew Mahood told the Resident that “this year, it was pretty clear who we thought should be the recipients of these awards.”
One of George’s best qualities, Mahood said, is how “he engages on multiple issues” without expecting anything in return, “just because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.”
“I’m in Rotary and whenever there’s an opportunity–let’s say somebody donates to the general membership, ‘Here’s two tickets to the Sharks playoff game tonight, we’re going to auction these off’–the first person to always bid is George, and usually he’s the last to bid,” Mahood said.
Longtime Willow Glen resident Mike Blach of Blach Construction was honored as Business Man of the Year. Mahood praised the construction company’s steady growth over the last several years–one of the requirements for award recipients–and its decision to move to San Jose, which he called “a significant step for (Blach’s) business to grow.”
“First and foremost is that he has successfully run and grown a business here in San Jose,” Mahood said.
Just as important, Mahood added, is Blach’s reputation as “the guy who gives back to his community” through his involvement in Rotary Club, by supporting a number of Catholic charities including Sacred Heart, and by partnering with organizations such as NextFlex to support the local entrepreneur economy.
Though the two men have made their marks in different fields, Mahood said they share much in common.
“What stood out most in their cases is both of these gentlemen are locally raised and grown,” Mahood said. “They’re both running family businesses that are both well-known in the community, who have been here for multiple generations. They’re both highly engaged in giving back to their community.”