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Black Diamond Awards honor some of Big Sky’s finest

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The 26th Annual Black Diamond Business Awards were presented on June 29 at the Montage. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

Business owners and community leaders gather for 26th year to recognize the Black Diamond Award winners


In a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit and community, the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce hosted its 26th Annual Black Diamond Business Awards Dinner at the Montage Hotel in Big Sky. Against the backdrop of the Spanish Peaks to the north, the event brought together remarkable individuals and local businesses that embody the essence of the vibrant community. As the evening commenced with a reception overlooking the landscape, a sense of camaraderie and purpose filled the air, setting the stage for a night of recognition and appreciation.

At the heart of the Black Diamond Awards lay the shared mission of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce: “To set the table with key partners that bring resources and ideas together to empower and champion our members to succeed in business and enhance the overall vitality of the business ecosystem,” chamber CEO Brad Niva said during the introduction.

Dinner was a three course meal served to the room of community leaders. Niva said, “Every year this event continues to grow. We have over 200 [attendees].” 

Attendees share food and drink before the awards ceremony. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

Among the winners, emerging entrepreneur Emily Burke received recognition for her contribution to the Big Sky community through Big Sky Thrift. Anna Johnson, director of business development with the chamber, said that Emily’s passion for affordable shopping and recycled clothing led her to create a successful business that not only fulfills a community need but also gives back through volunteerism and grants.

Emily Burke (second from right) was recognized as Big Sky’s top emerging entrepreneur. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

Expressing her gratitude, Burke said, “We need an affordable, accessible and eco-friendly shopping option in our town… I have unlimited volunteer support, amazing donations and incredible shoppers. So whether you shop, donate, or volunteer at Big Sky Thrift, it all contributes and goes back into our community. So thank you so much.” 

Sarah Gaither Bivins, who works at the Big Sky Community Food Bank, was honored as the nonprofit person of the year. Niva said that her dedication to advocating for the workforce and enhancing food security has made a significant impact on the Big Sky community. 

Sarah Gaither Bivins, second from left, was recognized as Big Sky’s nonprofit person of the year. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

Acknowledging the existence of a food bank in a town like Big Sky, Gaither Bivins said, “We have so many awesome nonprofit organizations in this town… I think we all wanna live in a world where we don’t have to have a food bank… yet we do here in Big Sky and we have for 10 years now.” 

Gaither Bivins highlighted the growing demand for their services. 

“I had to purchase 50% more food than last year,” she added.

Tallie Lancey, broker with Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty, was recognized as the business person of the year. Johnson said that Lancey’s infectious smile and her active engagement in nonprofit boards have made her a deserving recipient of this award. Her dedication to making Big Sky a better place and serving as a resource for new residents is commendable, Johnson added. 

Tallie Lancey (middle) was recognized as business person of the year. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

Overwhelmed with gratitude, Lancey said,”I find myself absolutely at a loss for words to say… I am surrounded by mentors and friends and incredible leaders. I am absolutely at a loss for words. So I think I’ll just say what Claire [Thayer, Lancey’s assistant] taught me to say earlier today. And that is, thank you.”

First Tracks Tire Service, which Niva called a business that redefines excellence in the auto industry, was awarded business of the year. Their passion, innovation and commitment to customer satisfaction have set them apart in the Big Sky community, Niva said. 

First Tracks Tire Service co-owners Tanner Dunlap (middle left) and Chris Phillips (middle right) were recognized for business of the year. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

Tanner Dunlap, co-owner of First Tracks Tire Service said, “As I look around the room, I see many, many of our customers here that I very much appreciate. The Big Sky community has been absolutely amazing to us and we wanna give 100% of that back to you guys. And we thank you so much for this award… We’re looking forward to many, many more years of service for all of you here. And the big thank you on this list worked for many on this list.”

The Chet Huntley Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Andy Dreisbach. Katie Grice, chair of board of directors, said Dreisbach has made significant contributions to the Big Sky community as a business owner, parent and volunteer. Dreisbach’s innovation, leadership and resilience make him a true example of forward thinking and he actively shares best practices with other businesses, Grice said. 

Andy Dreisbach (second from right) received the 2023 Chet Huntley Lifetime Achievement Award. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

Reflecting on his journey and community involvement, Dreisbach said, “I remember when I first got to Big Sky and someone said, ‘Well, are you a volunteer?’ I said, ‘Well, we’re not incorporated. I think you have to volunteer… I think that’s what it means, you know, giving selflessly to your community.'” 

Dreisbach encouraged others to contribute, adding,”And I remember reading a tattoo on a man’s arm the other day. [The tattoo] said, ‘Who cares? Give more.’ And then I thought about it for a while and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s really easy to come up with excuses… So all I ask is of all us out there to give what you can.'”

The nominees for the various awards showcased the wealth of talent and dedication within the Big Sky community. The ceremony was a true celebration of their achievements and the vibrant spirit of Big Sky.

Full list of nominees

Nonprofit person of the year: 

  • Anna Shipley, Moonlight Community Foundation
  • David O’Connor, Big Sky Community Housing Trust
  • Julie Edwards, Arts Council of Big Sky
  • Kimberly Hall, Greater Gallatin United Way
  • Kristin Gardner, Gallatin River Task Force
  • Mariel Butan, Morningstar Learning Center
  • Ruthi Solari, Yellowstone Club Community Foundation
  • Sarah Gaither Bivins, Big Sky Community Food Bank
  • Whitney Montgomery, Big Sky Community Organization

Emerging entrepreneur: 

  •  Andrea Saari & Denise Wade, Big Sky Adventures & Tours
  •  Benjamin Axe, The Waypoint
  •  Dylan Thornton, Hale Creative Consulting
  •  Emily Burke, Big Sky Thrift
  •  Jennifer Fitzhugh, Thorn Apple Baking Co.
  •  ̈Kaley Burns, Big Sky Natural Health
  •  ̈Megan Porter, Moving Mountains
  •  ̈Tanner Dunlap, Fist Tracks Tire Service
  •  ̈The Tran Family, Big Sky Noodles & Scoops
  •  ̈Twist Thompson. Blue Buddha & Tres Toros

Business person of the year: 

  • Ece Walkup, Big Sky Print & Ship
  • Erik Morrison, Lovestreet Media
  • Jennifer Fitzhugh, Thorn Apple Baking Co.
  • Jeremy Harder, Big Sky School District 72
  • John Delzer, Delzer Diversified Incorporated & Café 191
  • Kaley Burns, Big Sky Natural Health
  • Kara & Ben Blodgett, The Rocks Tasting Room
  • Mandy Hotovy, The Wilson Hotel
  • Monica Duling, Laundry Liberator
  • Sydney Desmarais, Lone Peak Veterinary Hospital
  • Tallie Lancey, Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty
  • Tanner Dunlap, First Tracks Tire Service
  • Twist Thompson, Blue Buddha & Tres Toros

Chet Huntley Lifetime achievement award: 

“Honoring a person who has, over a period of time, provided leadership and their personal touch to building our Big Sky Community,” according to the chamber. 

  • Al Malinowski, Gallatin Partners
  • Andy Dreisbach, Cornerstone Management Services
  • Brian & Mary Wheeler, Big Sky Resort & PureWest Christies’s Real Estate
  • Eric Ladd, Outlaw Partners
  • Hans Williams, Yellowstone Club
  • Jackie Robin, Former Hungry Moose Market & Deli owner
  • John Haas, Haas Builders

Business of the year: 

  • Ace Hardware
  • Big Sky Build
  • Big Sky Natural Health
  • Big Sky Resort Area District
  • Blue Buddha Sushi
  • First Tracks Tire Service
  • Moving Mountains
  • Outlaw Partners
  • Peak Skis
  • Snow Country Limousine
  • The Rocks Tasting Room & Liquor Store
  • The Waypoint
  • Thorn Apple Baking Co.
  • Wellness in Action

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