Craig Chamber honors 2 local businessmen

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Darrell Camilletti poses after being named Businessperson of the Year as part of the Craig Chamber of Commerce’s State of the County 2011 event Wednesday night at the Holiday Inn of Craig. Camilletti has owned Mountain West Insurance & Financial Services for 13 years and has worked in insurance for more than three decades.

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Clint Gabbert accepts the award for Young Businessperson of the Year on Wednesday night at the Craig Chamber of Commerce’s State of the County 2011 event. Gabbert owns and operates The Jungle Pet Shop, 565 Yampa Ave.

Clint Gabbert and Darrell Camilletti had two things in common Wednesday night — both took home awards, and both almost missed out on being recognized in person.

Gabbert and Camilletti received distinctions during the State of the County 2011 event hosted by the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

Gabbert was named Young Businessperson of the Year, while Camilletti was honored as Businessperson of the Year.

Camilletti, owner of Mountain West Insurance & Financial Services, 100 E. Victory Way, said he had no idea he was going to win anything.

“It’s humbling and I’m very appreciative of being named Businessperson of the Year because there are a lot of great businesses around town,” he said. “We’ve got a great team, just a great bunch of people.”

Camilletti employs a staff of 32 — 24 in the central Craig office, with associates in Hayden, Steamboat Springs, Grand Junction, Meeker and Durango.

Camilletti, who has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado, started in the field in 1975 with Farm Bureau Insurance, working in management and sales for 22 years before starting Mountain West in January 1998. In July 2010, the company merged with Moffat Insurance Agency.

Camilletti said the clientele has been steady in the current economic climate.

“We have never had a year that we didn’t grow in sales, which is pretty unique, but it relates back to a phenomenal bunch of people that are part of the organization,” he said. “My job is made easier by the people I’m surrounded with.”

Camilletti said community involvement is an important part of representing his business. He has served on the Boys & Girls Club of Craig board and has contributed to Colorado Northwestern Community College and United Way.

He said he emphasizes community service to his employees.

Community involvement is also important to fellow award winner Gabbert.

Gabbert, owner of The Jungle Pet Shop, 565 Yampa Ave., is well known around Craig for orchestrating holiday light shows during Halloween and Christmas, part of an initiative to increase foot traffic for downtown Craig businesses.

Gabbert, 20, recently celebrated his first full year in business. The Jungle features a wide selection of animals for sale.

“I specialize in aquatics and reptiles, but we have birds and small animals, too,” he said.

Gabbert worked at Baker Drive Pets before opening his own store. He co-owns The Jungle with his mother, Leona, though he generally manages the shop himself, a venture which he said has been successful.

“It’s gone uphill since I opened,” he said. “Every day I’m breaking my own records, but I’m also getting in more stuff. When I opened, I only had about 12 aquariums, and now there’s like 30. That’s probably 80 percent of the business.”

For the immediate future, Gabbert plans to include a room for saltwater animals.

He said he plans to stick with the kinds of animals that have helped him bring in customers rather than bringing in larger animals like dogs and cats, which would require more space than is available.

The Jungle was voted best pet shop in 2010 as part of the Craig Daily Press’ Best of Moffat County only weeks after the store had opened.

Gabbert said receiving his award from the Chamber was not unlike the feeling he experienced last year because both honors were complete surprises.

The award came out of the blue for Camilletti, as well.

“I wasn’t even going to go because we had a company that was coming to Steamboat to meet with us, but I heard that (Gov. John) Hickenlooper was going to be there so I thought I’d go and listen to him,” he said.

Gabbert had not intended to go to the event at first, though he said he was glad his parents, who knew the honor was in store for him, persuaded him to attend.

Gabbert’s reason for not going was to take care of a shipment Wednesday night.

“The shop comes first,” he said.

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