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Monday, Jan 30, 2023
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Online Exclusive: VICA Adds Five New Inductees to Hall of Fame

The Valley Industry & Commerce Association inducted The Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, Gelson’s Markets, Los Angeles Pierce College, Spectrolab and Ritchie Valens, to its San Fernando Valley Business Hall of Fame, recognizing their contributions in shaping the Valley. The formal ceremony was held at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City June 18 with NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman as the master of ceremonies and the participation of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. More than 300 Valley business owners and community members gathered for the event. “All of the inductees into the Business Hall of Fame have left a significant mark on the Valley’s culture, history and economy,” said VICA Chair Greg Lippe. “Recognizing their impressive achievements is a tradition that VICA hopes to continue for many years to come.” The San Fernando Valley Business Hall of Fame was created by VICA in 2008. This year’s inductees join Bob’s Big Boy, Daily News of Los Angeles, Bob Hope Airport, The Voit Companies and William Mullholland. “I think both my parents would have been outstandingly proud to have seen their hotel be honored tonight by VICA and being surrounded by such outstanding businesses,” said James Crank, accepting the recognition for The Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. His parents, Beverly Garland and Filmore Crank started the hotel on seven acres of land purchased from Gene Autry in 1970. “I’m very honored to be here tonight and carry on a legacy from my parents who were just thrilled to be in the Valley and just thrilled to provide a place where people could come to enjoy the Valley.” The hotel’s General Manager Bert Seneca was also present to accept the recognition. Donna Tyndall, Senior Vice President-store Operations, and Heesook Nelson, Sr.Director, Store Operations, were on hand to accept the recognition on behalf of Gelson’s Markets. “Obviously I think it’s a great company,” said Tyndall who began bagging groceries at Gelson’s after graduating high school, and has worked with the company for 36 years. “I had the privilege of knowing Bernie and Gene Gelson both as a child and then as a worker at the store, and then as a manager. Bernie and Gene taught us a lot of good values,” she remembered. Gelson’s Markets was started by brothers Bernard and Eugene Gelson. They opened their first store in Burbank in 1951. The company later moved their offices to Encino and now operates a total of 18 stores, employing about 2,200 employees. “It’s really gratifying to see the connection that Pierce College has established with the business community and the support we’ve gained over the last number of years for our role in developing and supporting the economic development, and the workforce development in this community,” said Bob Garber, President of Pierce College. A lot has changed since Pierce College was founded as an agricultural school in 1947, he said. The school now has a student population of 25,000 students enrolled each semester and is a recognized leader in college transfer programs and career training fields that include automotive, nursing, and veterinary and manufacturing, among many others. “Any award is nice to have but it’s particularly gratifying to be recognized by VICA for the economic vitality they’ve brought to the Valley, I truly mean that,” said David Lillington President of Spectrolab, a supplier of solar cells and panels to the space industry. Spectrolab is also a supplier of the world’s brightest 30 million candle power airborne searchlight to law enforcement agencies, U.S. Coast Guard, and military forces around the world. “With the help of the San Fernando Valley and surrounding communities we’ve been able to grow on an outstanding resource of human power and intellectual talent and it’s really made us an international company. We do business in about 6 of 7 continents,” said Lillington, who has worked for the company for 25 years. Ritchie Valen’s sisters Connie Lemos and Irma Norton accepted the recognition on behalf of their brother. “I’m sure Ritchie would be very proud to receive this award,” said Connie, adding that the family lost Ritchie when he was 17. “He had 8 months to do what he did, he wrote 22 of the 33 songs he recorded, and during those 8 months he toured California and the United States appearing twice on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand,” she said. Valens also toured Canada and Hawaii and appeared in the movie Go Jonny Go. Posthumous awards to Valens include a biopic of his life “La Bamba”, and a U.S. postage stamp. He also has a recreation center and a swimming pool named after him in Pacoima. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. “Ritchie has taken us on an incredible journey; his only lasted 8 months, but ours has lasted 50 years,” she said. Quoting Ritchie’s manager, she added: “No one in the history of rock and roll has accomplished as much in such a short time as our brother Ritchie.”

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