The Granby Chamber of Commerce honored Jen Burkhart-Wundt as its Business Person of the Year and Jim Hall as Humanitarian of the Year at the Chamber’s 15th Annual Awards Banquet at Holcomb Farm in March. The chamber also recognized Evans Automotive as New Business of the Year and presented a special Community Service Award to Ralph Johnson upon his retirement as owner/operator of ABC Pizza.
Burkhart-Wundt was cited for her contributions to Granby’s business community and her leadership as Chamber president and Celebrate Granby chairperson. She has served many years on the Chamber Board of Directors and was president in 2014 and 2015. During her tenure she led the chamber through a difficult economic time and worked hard to regain membership and financial stability. Burkhart-Wundt is the Vice President of Operations at Arrow Concrete Products, a company founded by her grandparents in the 1950s. She follows in the footsteps of her father, Curt Burkhart, who was honored as Granby’s Business Person of the Year 11 years ago. Arrow Concrete employs over 60 people and sells precast concrete products throughout New England. Burkhart-Wundt has served on the Board of Directors of the National Precast Concrete Association and is currently on the Board of Directors of the New England Precast Concrete Association. A 1988 graduate of Granby High School, she earned a degree in Finance from Babson College. Burkhart-Wundt was recently married to another chamber past president, Scott Wundt, who received the same honor five years ago.
Jim Hall was honored as Humanitarian of the Year for his lifetime of service helping wounded servicemen, their families and military widows. A 56-year member of the American Legion, Hall has served as Grand Marshal of Granby’s Memorial Day Parade for the last 50 years while also serving as Adjutant of the Granby’s American Legion Post 182. The legion’s trust fund has assisted needy military families in the community and erected memorials honoring Granby’s veterans. In the legion, 2018 marks its 100th anniversary having been formed immediately after World War I.
Born and raised in Simsbury, Hall served in the Naval Seabees during the Korean War and subsequently was selected to serve in President Dwight Eisenhower’s White House in a security position. In 1961 Jim and his new bride, Margaret, moved to Granby and started a family, raising three children who matriculated through the Granby school system. He spent 37 years working for Met Life before retiring early at age 59. Notable projects of the legion in recent years include a Memorial for Richie Evans and fellow servicemen killed in Afghanistan, and refurbishment of the World War I Memorial in Granby center. Hall also donated over 300 Christmas trees from his farm to the Granby Lions Club.
The chamber recognized Evans Automotive and its co-owners, Dean Evans and Steve Couchon, for making a difference in the community. The company, located on Route 10, opened in June of 2016 after they purchased the property from Tire King. It is a full-service repair and used car facility, as well as a licensed emissions repair shop. Evans previously worked as a mechanic at Avon Acura for 20 years and is an ASEA certified master technician on Honda, Acura and domestic vehicles. He and wife Jody have two children who graduated from Granby high school. Before teaming up with Evans, Couchon spent 30 years as a commercial and residential painter. A graduate of Bentley College, Couchon spent his formative years in Alabama and Michigan before moving to Connecticut 25 years ago. He and his wife Maria have three children and reside in Tariffville.
The chamber also honored Ralph Johnson with its Service Recognition Award to commemorate his 39 years as owner of ABC Pizza, a Granby institution. Johnson’s dedication to the Granby community is evident in the many lives he touched, employing more than 200 Granby high students over the years and providing pizzas to school organizations and athletic teams. Prior to entering the pizza business, Johnson worked for 18 years for the original Simsbury Bank and Trust Company as manager of the Granby branch and was responsible for helping the Granby Chamber stay solvent following a local scandal. A native of Canton, Johnson and his wife Joan have two children, Paul Johnson and Sheri Clifford, who helped manage the business. Now retired, Johnson, 77, leaves behind many lasting memories and friends and a legacy of service to the community. Due to health problems, Johnson was unable to attend the awards ceremony, so his daughter accepted on his behalf.