The lobby of a historic bank celebrating its 150th anniversary was the perfect spot Wednesday to recognize a Walla Walla hardware store in the midst of its own milestone year.

L&G Ranch Supply True Value was named Business of the Year during the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Business Awards Showcase presented by Baker Boyer Bank.

The Isaacs Avenue store, launched in 1969, just completed a major remodel in its 50th year, co-owner Rick Gerling told the crowd. That may explain why people dropping in can’t find anything, he quipped.

Notwithstanding that, the operation’s commitment to professional excellence, business growth and community are the reasons it was selected for the award, presented by Columbia Rural Electric Association in the lobby of Baker Boyer’s Main Street branch.

Gerling, who accepted the award alongside brother Steve Gerling, lauded the loyalty of the community and staff.

“Our customers and our employees are the reason we are still in business,” he said.

The award was one of eight presented during the 13th annual awards. The ceremony recognizes entrepreneurialism and its reach throughout the community.

“The core of a growing and vibrant community is entrepreneurship. It is education. And it is charity,” said Baker Boyer President and CEO Mark Kajita in opening remarks.

He said the four most powerful words for anyone to hear are: “I believe in you,” which was also the take-away of the night.

For its award, L&G was nominated alongside Rack and Maintenance Source, The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Other categories, winners, sponsors and nominees were:

Agribusiness of the Year, presented by Hayden Homes: Cordoba Technologies. Cordoba was the only nominee in this category.

Duane Wollmuth Catalyst Award, presented by PocketiNet: Walla Walla Public Schools. Other nominee: Gold Star Families Monument Fort Walla Walla.

Nonprofit Organization of the Year, presented by Mercy Corps Northwest: Walla Walla Alliance for the Homeless. Other nominees: 100 Women Who Care, Better Together of Walla Walla, Doughty Home for Veteran Women, and Yeehaw Aloha.

Startup Business of the Year, presented by America’s SBDC Washington: The Touring Company. Other nominees: Walla Walla Steak Co., The Barn B&B, and InTown Ventures.

Workforce Development Award, presented by the city of Walla Walla: Whitman College. Other nominees: Walla Walla Community College, WorkSource Walla Walla and Sherwood Trust.

WIB-Woman of Influence, presented by Academy Mortgage: Grace Reynolds of Handmaid Cleaning. Other nominees: Leah Wilson-Velasco of the Walla Walla Symphony and Jennifer Glynn of Doughty Home for Veteran Women.

Young Entrepreneur Award, presented by the Port of Walla Walla: Sara Wiberg of Joyful Creations. Wiberg received a $300 prize as an investment in her balloon art business.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.