A big nod from MSU
Editor’s Note: Much of the following content was taken from documents written by Rebekah Matovich regarding the 2017 Montana State Business Family Award
Forty-four years ago, George Matovich bought Davis Thriftway in Columbus and entered the grocery store world with virtually no experience.
Hard work and a commitment to his core values quickly translated into a successful business model that continues to thrive today in the form of Matovich IGA & Stillwater Family Pharmacy.
The business, which is now run by second and third generation Matovich men Paul and his son, Mike, is the recipient of the 2017 Montana State Family Business Award. Presented through the MSU Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship program, the award recognizes seven family businesses each year. The family was presented with the award in early October on the MSU campus.
QUICK & CONSTANT GROWTH
Within two years of buying the 5,800-square foot store, business doubled and remodel plans added an additional 3,000 square feet of floor space, which included produce coolers, a large walk-in cooler and meat coolers.
In the past 20 years, the store has been upgraded an average of every three years, and is currently a 32,000 square-foot supermarket and pharmacy.
George Matovich had three children, all of whom worked in the store in some capacity at various times. His middle son, Paul, returned to Columbus in 1987 to rejoin the family business, at which time he also added a pharmacy. When Paul found himself without a pharmacist, it was his middle son, Mike, who left a job managing one of Costco’s busiest pharmacies in the country to come join the family business.
Mike Matovich quickly expanded services and became a statewide figure in the pharmaceutical world. In addition to his work at the store’s pharmacy, Mike offers his services to the hospital, sits on a national board for independent pharmacies, pioneered a business of uniting independent pharmacies in the state (Montana Family Pharmacies), consults for several health care entities and is actively involved in the Montana Pharmacy Association. In 2015 he received the Excellence in Innovative Award from the Montana Pharmacy Association. Mike’s wife, Rebekah, currently sits as the vice president of the Board of Pharmacy and works as a pharmacy technician at the store.
Paul Matovich was honored as the Stillwater County Business Person of the Year in 2001 and has twice received the IGA USA International Retailer of the Year award.
MORE THAN JUST BUSINESS
Supermarket and pharmacy services aren’t the only products the Matovich family provides the community. Always service oriented and community-involved, the family donates to almost every local organization as well as gives financial support for the Stillwater Youth Center, the Columbus Community Foundation, Stillwater Billings Clinic, the Museum of the Beartooths, the Stillwater County Library, 4-H and the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch.
The store has also launched campaigns to fight hunger through a ribbon program, the proceeds of which were given to Project Hope.
George Matovich’s core values are credited with the long-standing success of the store are still practiced.
“We feel strongly that our core values are what makes this business thrive: To treat each of our customers as family and how we would like to be treated; to have integrity in everything; to go above and beyond in all we do; and most of all, to be grateful for what we have and good stewards to that which we have been given,” wrote Rebekah Matovich in documents relating to the award process.
ABOUT THE AWARD
Established in 1994 as an outreach program through Montana State University Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship (JJCBE), The Family Business Program offers education and information to the backbone of many Montana businesses, those that are owned and managed by families of Montana. The annual seminar and awards luncheon, usually held in the fall, has reached out to hundreds of businesses and provided education and fact based information to thousands of participants.
The Family Business Program is the only program like this statewide and provides recognition to pioneering and successful family businesses through the Montana Family Business of the Year Awards Program. This program allows small businesses to share ideas and concerns common to most small businesses.
To be eligible, nominees must be headquartered in Montana. For the medium-sized category, the business must have 30 to 50 employees.
Judging criteria includes business growth and success, innovative business strategies and practices, contributions to the community and industry, longevity, family-business linkage, succession preparedness and multi-generation family business involvement.
Sunshine Apiary was honored in the program’s first year, back in 1994.