Chamber of Commerce Honors Entrepreneurs, Community Members

Eduardo Landa
GREG GILL, center, president of Lee & Associates, was named Entrepreneur of the Year, an award sponsored by City National Bank and presented by Michael Walker, left. Long Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Gordon, right, was the master of ceremonies.

The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce honored local entrepreneurs during their City National Bank Entrepreneur of the Year Award Luncheon at Hyatt Regency on April 19.

The first award presented was the 2018 Long Beach City College Shaun Lumachi Rising Star Award. The recipient of the award was Jay Patel, president of Westcoast Warehousing, Trucking and Management, Inc.

Born in Zambia, Patel attended the University of the Pacific hoping to become a pharmacist. However, he went on to open a knitting mill called Dynatex Fabrics in 1991. After selling that business he opened his current business Westcoast Warehousing in 1997. Over the years Patel has continued to grow his business by adding new divisions to it, such as trucking and fulfillment.

“I just wanted to take a minute to thank my staff, employees and family for supporting me day and night,” said Patel.

The next award presented was the Chick Fil A Community Spirit Award. The award is presented to a business or community member who makes a difference in the community. Past recipients include Long Beach Philanthropists Mort & Susan Stuhlbarg, former California first couple Gloria & George Deukmejian, local Long Beach accountant Blake Christian and many others.

This year’s award recipient was community member Justin Rudd. He was responsible for starting a monthly 30-minute beach cleanup. He also has created about 60 events. Some of these events include the Long Beach Touch-A-Truck, the Long Beach Turkey Trot and the Haute Dog Howl’oween Parade.

John Howard, owner of the Chick-Fil-A location in the Long Beach Towne Center presented him with the award. He talked about how he and his wife were able to sponsor some of Rudd’s visits to Africa where he went to help AIDS orphans.

Justin also has a nonprofit organization called Community Action Team that works to “promote social well-being among the general public.”

“There’s three things I like to focus my non-profit on animals, the environment and people,” said Rudd.

The United Parcel Service received the 2018 Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt Corporate Citizen of the Year Award, which recognizes businesses that support community service.

“UPS has a legacy of connecting and improving communities,” said Blake Christian past Community Spirit Award recipient.

Tom Cuce, president of the South California District accepted the award. He thanked his UPS partners around the world and the 27,000 employees in Southern California.

The final award of the luncheon was the City National Bank Entrepreneur of The Year Award presented to Gregory R. Gill, president of Lee & Associates Los Angeles/Long Beach.

Gill graduated from UCLA with a BS in Economics but before that he was already in the real estate business since the age of 19. He was working multiple jobs, such as a commercial real estate broker with Matlow-Kennedy Corporation and acquiring & repositioning multifamily residential properties.

“Greg has formed lifelong partnerships and alliances with real estate owners, distinguished financial institutions, trust companies and developers throughout the Los Angeles, the South Bay and Orange County Markets,” said Michael Walker, executive vice of regional banking, City National Bank.

Aside from his role at Lee & Associates Gill is the founder & CEO of GRG Brokerage and Development Services.

When receiving the award Gill attributes his success to looking for different challenges.

“Sometimes you have to see an opportunity where other people only see problems,” said Gill.

 He talked about how his grandmother would match his savings in order to raise money and buy a couple of shares or things of that nature.

He ended his acceptance speech by encouraging others to follow their dream and never give up.

“Be a winner, embrace it, adapt to it and always be on the winning team,” said Gill.



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