Business

Wawona Foods’ Bill Smittcamp wins Fresno chamber’s top award

Bill Smittcamp was named the 2017 Leon S. Peters Award winner in a surprise announcement Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 at Valley Children’s Hospital, where he serves as chairman of the board.
Bill Smittcamp was named the 2017 Leon S. Peters Award winner in a surprise announcement Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 at Valley Children’s Hospital, where he serves as chairman of the board. Special to The Bee

The Fresno Chamber of Commerce has selected longtime businessman Bill Smittcamp as the winner of the 2017 Leon S. Peters Award.

Smittcamp, who heads Wawona Frozen Foods, a leader in the frozen food industry, said he was humbled to receive the same award that was given to his father, the late Earl Smittcamp, in 1993.

The annual award recognizes an individual for their accomplishments, leadership and commitment to the community.

“I am truly honored,” Smittcamp said, after being surprised with the news at Valley Children’s Hospital on Friday. “There is a tremendous group of individuals that have mentored me and that I have watched. I have so many to thank.”

Smittcamp serves as chairman of the board of trustees at Valley Children’s Hospital and is on the boards of the CSU Fresno Foundation, Central Valley Community Bank, Garfield Water District and Fresno Food Expo Advisory Committee.

Todd Suntrapak, chief executive officer of Valley Children’s Hospital, praised Smittcamp for his dedication to the organization. Smittcamp has served an unprecedented four times as board president.

“Every time we needed him, he said yes,” Suntrapak said.

Smittcamp said he owes much to the hospital and the community it serves: “I love this place and I am blessed that I am able to give back.”

Surrounded by former award winners, Smittcamp said he felt as though he did not deserve the honor. To which Judge Robert Oliver quickly replied, “Objection, overruled.”

Blake Smittcamp, one of three Smittcamp children, said he is proud of his father and mother, Linda, for the work they do in the community.

“We see the work he does and the time he puts into the things he is involved in,” Blake Smittcamp said.

As head of Wawona Frozen Foods, Bill Smittcamp has turned the company into the largest frozen peach processor in the U.S., processing more than 75 million pounds of peaches and 20 million pounds of strawberries and other fruits.

The Peters award, established in 1984, is named for the former owner of Valley Foundry and Machine Works. Peters was a noted philanthropist in Fresno and the central San Joaquin Valley.

A formal presentation will be held at the Valley Business Awards Luncheon on Feb. 9.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob

Valley Business Awards Luncheon

When: Feb. 9

Where: Fresno Convention Center

Awards: The Leon S. Peters Award will be presented during the luncheon; also, the Zinkin Awards in Entrepreneurship, which include the Harold Zinkin award, the Rising Star award and both the College and High school entrepreneur awards

Past recipients of the Peters award include: Stan Oken, Ray Steele Jr., Richard “Dick” Caglia, John E. Horstmann, Peter Mehas, Dr. Peter P. Peters, Joe Williams, Lou Herwaldt, Bill Jones, Sid Cox, Bud Richter, O. James Woodward III, Samuel Reeves, Octavia Diener, Robert Oliver, Frederick Ruiz, Anne Speake, Larry A. Shehadey, Claude Laval III, Robert Carter, Richard Johanson, James Hallowell, Lou Gentile, Earl Smittcamp, Helen Smades, William Lyles, Martin Nelson, Joe Levy, Frank Caglia, B. Franklin Knapp, James B. Mayer, Robert Duncan, Lewis B. Eaton

Details: Fresno Chamber of Commerce, www.fresnochamber.com or 559-495-4800

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