HANFORD — The Hanford Chamber of Commerce recently announced its 2017 Business of the Year award to Mr. Appliance and Nonprofit of the Year to Kings United Way.
Mr. Appliance owner Dylan Conner said the business started with his father, Larry Conner, in 1980 as Conner's Appliance. Then it was his father in a truck doing service calls for appliance repairs, Dylan Conner said.
Conner said as a kid he used to drive around with his father in the summer helping him do service calls so that he could spend time with him. As Conner got older, he eventually began working for his father and completing service calls as well. In 2003, Conner’s father handed the business over to him and the company grew as he hired more people.
In 2008, Conner said he was approached by the Mr. Appliance company to franchise his business. From there, Conner said he expanded to Fresno, Visalia and Tulare; bought a franchise in Monterey; and also bought businesses in San Jose, Santa Cruz, and Gilroy.
Conner said success has come from managing money and time well, but also treating others well — customers and employees. He said he treats people the way he would like to be treated; he does the right thing and fixes the mistakes he makes, something he said he learned from his father.
Conner said his team of employees working in the call center, office and out in the field is integral to the success of the business because they care about what they do.
“Without the team, we would not be where we are today,” Conner said of his team. “I would just be another guy in a truck.”
In order to support the local community, Conner said Mr. Appliance sponsors local sports teams and partners with the Ronald McDonald House in Madera by handling all its appliance repairs for free.
Receiving the Business of the Year award from the Chamber of Commerce is an honor, Conner said, and he’s proud to be a business owner in Hanford.
Kings United Way
Executive Director Nanette Villarreal said Kings United Way was established in 1966 as the Hanford Aid Group, with the mission to raise money for nonprofit agencies in Kings County. In addition to that work, she said the organization expanded to include other services including 2-1-1 services and homeless management programs.
Fedieson Landicho, the 2-1-1 manager, said the program is a dialing code — like 9-1-1 or 4-1-1 — where people can call and find information on food pantries, homeless shelters and mental health counseling. He said it doesn’t matter if people call in the middle of the night or speak foreign languages, they will be able to talk to a live person on the phone about information for Kings County social or nonprofit services.
Along with the phone service and online information, Landicho has created a mobile app called Intelliful, which has the same information as 2-1-1. Villarreal said Landicho is an innovator in the 2-1-1 field and has spoken at national conferences on the program.
Director of Community Impact and Operations Lucia Orozco works in the homeless management information system department, a database of information on programs that serve the homeless population in Kings and Tulare counties.
Villarreal said Orozco also coordinates Project Homeless Connect with the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance, a one-day event where homeless people can receive needed services and be counted for a homeless census.
Villarreal gives credit for the success of the organization to Orozco and Landicho, who have been working there for many years.
“They both are well-known in their fields for the work that they have done,” Villarreal said. “I am super proud to be part of a team where we work together to get things done and have been quite successful at it.”
Villarreal said all the people in the organization are honored to be recognized by the chamber.
Orozco said the best part of working at Kings United Way is being able to work behind the scenes and make a difference in local residents’ lives. Landicho said he is proud of the growth the organization has shown. He said when he started his job in 2009 there were only three people and now there are 10 people.
“That just shows Nanette’s leadership and her ability to bring in resources and all the staff’s ability to execute and garner good will and reputation within the community,” Landicho said.
Also to be recognized at the 2017 Citizens and Business of the Year Awards by the Hanford Chamber of Commerce are Mike and Mary Johnston as Man and Woman of the Year and Jack Schwartz with the Lifetime Achievement Award.