Chamber honors business people
TOM HOWARD Of The Gazette Staff | Posted:
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:00 pm
It may seem like a small innovation, but few had
done it before. Don Floberg made a habit of carrying
a Polaroid instant camera to snap pictures of the
houses he listed so customers would have the
opportunity to see what the property looked like.
“Nobody had done that before. I was making waves in
town by carrying this funny-looking camera,” said
Floberg, who founded a one-man real estate office
soon after moving to Billings in 1959.
my first office, I rented a construction shack for
the Buttrey Shopping Center,” at 13th Street West
and Grand Avenue. “It was the end of town in those
days,” Floberg said.
Marilyn Floberg moved to
Billings from North Dakota a few years later and
taught math. After she and Don were married in 1968,
she left the school district but didn’t entirely
give up teaching. In the early ’70s, the state of
Montana had begun to enforce licensing standards for
real estate agents, but many of the applicants
failed the exam. She developed a curriculum to help
prospective real estate agents learn the business.
Besides teaching real estate classes, she wrote a
textbook that was sold nationally and remained in
use for many years.
Fifty years later, the real
estate office, now known as Prudential Floberg
Realtors, has grown and prospered. And the Flobergs
have taken on a variety of community-oriented
causes, including education, health care and
The Flobergs are this
year’s recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award
for the third annual Roche Jaune Awards for Business
Excellence presented by the Billings Chamber of
Commerce. A reception takes place at 6:30 tonight at
the Alberta Bair Theater.
Here are the other
recipients of the Roche Jaune awards and reasons
given for their selection.
• Civic Leadership
Excellence. The Billings Police Department. “Despite
internal issues that may tend to overshadow this
department, it cannot be forgotten that these men
and women are tremendous and committed individuals
who serve and protect Billings residents and
businesses,” wrote the nominator.
Excellence. Don Gleason, a teacher and certified
trainer at West High, has helped students take care
of themselves for 27 years. “Don is a very humble
man and a kindred spirit who helps me and my
teammates with everything from tape jobs to family
therapy,” a nominator wrote.
• Businessperson of
the Year. Michael Schaer, owner of Computers
Unlimited, was honored for finding a unique niche in
the computer software market and is one of the great
success stories in Billings business. He was
instrumental in redeveloping the area surrounding
historic Montana Avenue.
• Healthcare Excellence.
St. Vincent Healthcare Northern Rockies Radiation
Oncology Center. The center was honored for the
compassion that its staff shows patients. “The staff
goes above and beyond to be sure fears are calmed
and the extra mile is taken,” a nominator wrote.
• Salesperson Excellence. Lee Humphrey, Edward
Jones, Downtown Billings. Humphrey was honored for
giving exemplary customer service and support.
Humphrey hosts monthly, free financial educational
seminars, which include guest speakers. He is also
active in a variety of nonprofit groups including
the Downtown Billings Association, the Chamber and
• Tourism Excellence. Western Romance Co.
received this award for its specialized
Western-style vacations. Jonathan, Dennis, and Norma
McNiven offer a variety of events, including
horseback riding and campfire dinners.
Service Excellence. The Boothill Inn and Suites
Front Desk Team. Shelli Mann, the general manager of
the Boothill Inn and Suites, submitted hundreds of
customer service reply forms that mentioned the
excellent customer service provided by the team.
• Employer of the Year. Whitewood Transport Inc. The
staff holds owners Mike Wilson and John Hanson in
high regard. Staff members are involved in many
trucking and carrier associations. But Whitewood
Transport also supports Eagle Mount, Special K Ranch
and other charities.
• Supervisor/Manager of the
Year. Mark Dawson of Century 21 Hometown Brokers,
“is constantly working to improve how he operates
our business,” a nominator wrote. Another wrote:
“His positive outlook on life creates a work
environment that makes you want to be the best you
• Youth Volunteer of the Year.
Volunteering at the Billings Clinic over the past
two summers, Damon Wanchena has contributed more
time to Billings Clinic patients than any other
youth volunteer. “He is dedicated, prompt and
accountable to all,” according to his nominator.
• Adult Volunteer of the Year. Dr. Steven Butler and
Lucinda Butler have dedicated countless hours to the
Rimrock Opera Company. They serve as president and
vice president of the Rimrock Opera Board, and their
efforts include finding sponsors to locating stage
furniture. They also help expose thousands of school
children to opera by coordinating school tours.
Agriculture Excellence. Butch Bratsky, senior
banking executive, Stockman Bank. Bratsky is
involved in a wide variety of agriculture-related
organizations, including the NILE, the Chase Hawks
Memorial Association, the Future Farmers of America
and the Billings Chamber/CVB Ag Committee. Stockman
Bank President and CEO Bill Coffee refers to him as,
“A local boy, a cowboy, a banker, a businessperson,
a community volunteer, a civic leader and most
importantly a true Montanan.”