November 27, 2013 - The Orion Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has selected Joe Zimmer, owner of Culver's of Lake Orion, as its 2013 Business Person of the Year.
The award will be presented at the Chamber's Holiday Luncheon on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at King's Court Castle in Canterbury Village, 2325 Joslyn Road, in Lake Orion.
Each year, the Chamber recognizes an outstanding professional who not only runs a successful local business but also reflects commitment to the local community through charitable giving and volunteer efforts. Honorees are members of the Chamber who make contributions to the long-term success of other local businesses and community organizations.
"We are so grateful to have Joe's serving heart and spirit in Lake Orion," said Dawn Neely, President, Orion Area Chamber of Commerce. "In addition to his business expertise, his dedication to the community is evident in everything he does."
"I'm truly humbled by this honor," said Zimmer. "I love this community."
Since opening his Culver's restaurant in 2008, Zimmer has given back $125,000 to the community through fundraisers and donations. The popular classic car events at Culver's have raised money for various Lake Orion school activities.
Zimmer is a Lion's Club member and founded the local Kiwanis Club, as well as the Key Club at Lake Orion High School, which encourages students to give back to the community. Culver's also hosts Friday morning Coffee Club networking gatherings for local business people.
A resident of Orion Township for more than 30 years, Zimmer has owned and operated several restaurants in the township.
His Culver's franchise is tops in the region, which includes the 20 Culver's stores in eastern Michigan.
A focus on customer service drives business success, says Zimmer. His restaurant is a two-time winner of the coveted Ruth Culver's Hospitality Award.
"To me, hospitality is the number one key in our industry," he said. "I love to meet and greet our guests. I like to make sure that every guest who chooses Culver's leaves happy. It makes me feel good when I see other people feel good. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Culver's of Lake Orion has 48 employees. "I love working with them. I work seven days a week. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my two days off. It doesn't seem like work to me, because it's what I enjoy doing," says Zimmer. "I have a passion for people. I've tried retiring twice, but that didn't work very well."
Born in South Bend, Indiana, Zimmer has lived in Michigan most of his life. He attended Richland High School near Kalamazoo, where he was captain of the track team, a state champion half-miler, football star and homecoming king.
He attended Western Michigan University, joined the Delta Chi fraternity, and graduated with a marketing degree and minor in general business.
Early in his career, he worked for General Foods and was also vice president of personnel, training and development for Big Boy Restaurants, Inc.
Joe and Sue Zimmer have been married 44 years. They have three daughters who have graduated from Lake Orion High School, as well as four granddaughters. Their first grandson is on the way.
When he's not working, Joe enjoys spending Sunday afternoons on Lake Orion with his family.
Zimmer is the fifth Chamber member to be recognized as Business Person of the Year. Previous recipients were:
2012: Larry Buss, Jet's Pizza M-24
2011: Neal Porter, Vette Products
2010: Kathleen Klein, Waste Management Eagle Valley Recycling & Disposal Facility
2009: John Cooper, Golling Buick GMC
In addition to being honored at the holiday luncheon, Zimmer will be recognized as part of the Orion Area Holiday Lighted Parade on Dec. 7. Photos of the Business Persons of the Year will also be displayed at the Chamber's new office at 46-B West Shadbolt in downtown Lake Orion.
Tickets to the Dec. 5 luncheon are available through the Chamber's website: orionareachamber.com.