Blodnick named Kalispell Chamber’s Great Chief
The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce’s top recognition honor - the Great Chief Award - was presented to retired Glacier Bancorp President Michael “Mick” Blodnick during the Chamber’s 114th banquet Friday night.
Blodnick is Kalispell’s 47th Great Chief. He began his banking career in 1978 as a teller with First Federal Savings and Loan in Kalispell, where he met his wife Kim. In the early 1980s, as the nation’s banks and savings and loan institutions were in crisis, Blodnick was a core member of taking First Federal public. He told the Glacier Bank story far and wide to stockholders, stock analysts and to other community bankers across the Rocky Mountain region. Blodnick’s original dream of Glacier Bank becoming a 12 billion in assets.
Blodnick served as the president and chief executive officer of Glacier Bancorp until his retirement in December 2016.
In addition to his banking career, Blodnick is well-known for his commitment to community, most recently having volunteered as co-chair for the $14 million expansion of Kalispell Regional’s Emergency Room department. He helped with the renovation of Legends Stadium in Kalispell. He has served on the boards of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, the University of Montana’s Grizzly Athletic Association, the University of Montana’s School of Business Advisory Board, the Flathead Valley Community College Foundation, and has been a staunch supporter of Kidsports, Special Olympics, the Hockaday Museum of Art, Museum at Central School, and numerous other organizations.
The Great Chief Award is the Kalispell Chamber’s oldest and most prestigious award and honors an individual’s civic and volunteer spirit, which spans a lifetime and provides a legacy for the community.
Blodnick’s award announcement was made by last year’s Great Chief Award winner Jim Oliverson, who recently retired from Kalispell Regional Healthcare.
Debbi and Dave Waldenberg, owners of Central Heating, Plumbing, Cooling, and Electrical, were named Businesswoman and Businessman of the Year. Those awards recognize individuals who are outstanding business leaders. All awardees, since the award’s inception in 1994, have made positive contributions to the local economy, use sound business practices with their clients, employees and vendors, and are well-respected among their peers and the Northwest Montana business community.
Respected by their employees and viewed as lead-by-example employers, the Waldenbergs have turned Central Heating and Cooling into “one of the most successful in the area by focusing on hiring good employees and providing them with the equipment, training, and mentoring to ensure outstanding customer service and satisfaction,” according to one of their nominators.
They have maintained a commitment to education not only in their company by providing employees with continued training and leadership opportunities, but also in the development of Flathead Valley Community College’s HVAC certificate program.
The Waldenburgs’ contribution to the community extends even further than providing outstanding employment for more than 30 full-time employees, as they’re both involved in supporting area nonprofits such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flathead County, Save A Sister, the FVCC Foundation Board, Montana Wounded Warriors and more.
Clint Ekern, owner and creative director of SkyVault, was named Member of the Year, an award that recognizes a business or individual who has demonstrated above and beyond contributions to helping the Chamber and community succeed throughout the year. SkyVault is a locally based videography company centered around helping area businesses break into video marketing and storytelling.
Ekern has continually demonstrated his commitment to advancing programs of the Kalispell Chamber as a longtime Chamber Ambassador, committee member for the Chamber’s high-performing development group for young professionals, Flathead Area Young Professionals and creative partner on compelling video creation to better communicate Chamber initiatives.