Entrepreneur of the Year Award & Business Hall of Fame

Thursday, April 11, 2024
11:30 AM

Odessa Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
305 E. 5th Street


In order to emphasize the importance of Odessa’s small business community, the Odessa Chamber of Commerce honors one individual each year as Entrepreneur of the Year. Additionally, the Odessa Chamber of Commerce inducts one or more individuals into the Business Hall of Fame.

Entrepreneur of the Year – John F. Landgraf

John Frederick Landgraf was born September 20, 1950, in Silsbee, Texas, to Jean and Lester Landgraf. He is the eldest of seven children. After having graduated from Silsbee High School in 1969, he attended Texas A&M University and obtained a degree in Civil Engineering and a commission in the United States Army in 1973. Mr. Landgraf received many awards and recognitions while in the Corps of Cadets and a student at Texas A&M University.

John went to work for the consulting engineering firm of Schrickel, Rollins and Associates, Inc. in Arlington after completing Army commitments in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. While at SRA, John gained valuable work experience in the design of residential and commercial development projects as well as municipal projects. In 1978 he moved to Odessa to take a position with the Public Works Department with the City of Odessa. In 1979 John and Murray A. Crutcher, Jr. formed the consulting engineering firm of Landgraf, Crutcher & Associates, Inc. to serve the West Texas region, and from 1982 to 1989, the metroplex area with an office in Dallas.

As President and Vice-President of LCA, John has been the principal in charge of residential community projects spanning thousands of acres, as well as commercial land developments, water and wastewater treatment plants, large paving and drainage projects, landfills and large ranch surveys. John has served as a member and officer of many technical organizations. He was a past Branch President of the West Texas Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Chapter Director of Permian Basin Chapter of TSPE and a member of NSPE, Professional Engineers in Private Practice and the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors. John maintains current registration as a Professional Engineer as well as a Professional Land Surveyor.

During his professional career, John has received several honors, including Young Engineer of the Year 1982 and Outstanding Engineer of the Year 1992 for the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, Permian Basin Chapter; Outstanding Young Men of America 1978 and 1986; Rising Star of Texas by Texas Business Magazine, 1987; Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, 1988; Boss of the Year – American Business Women’s Association Black and Gold Chapter, 1988; Odessa Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame, 1999; Heritage of Odessa Foundation Community Service, 1995; and Outstanding Citizen of the Year, 2004.

John spends much of his time in service to his community, his church and higher education. He has served as President and Board Member of Odessa Cultural Council, Odessa Optimist Club, Odessa Chamber of Commerce, Ector County Emergency Committee District and Main Street Odessa. He has served as campaign chairman of the local March of Dimes, the Oil Barons’, Odessa United Way, Texas Commerce Bank of Odessa Board of Directors and the Texas Assembly of Art Councils Board of Directors.

Not only has he continued to serve his alma mater, Texas A&M University, he has contributed many hours of time to other educational endeavors. John serves or has served on the Texas A&M System Chancellor’s Century Council Advisory Committee, the George Bush Presidential Library Committee at TAMU, the 12th Man Foundation Board of Directors, and the Associates of Former Students of Texas A&M University. He has also served on the Corps of Cadets Development Council at TAMU, president of the local A&M Club serving as the West Texas Area Representative of the Association of Former Students. His other educational interest include serving on the President’s Advisory Council for the University of Texas Permian Basin, the Board of Visitors at the McDonald Observatory, and the Adult Literacy Council Board of Directors. He chaired a division of the Superintendent’s Strategic Planning Committee for Ector County Independent School District and has served as Vice-President of the Education Foundation.

John also served on the Board of Directors of the Permian Basin Area Foundation and was past President of the Board of Trustees of Permia Care. He also served as President of St. Mary’s Parish Council and has served on various committees, including the Parish Council at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. He also served as Assistant Scoutmaster for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Troop 77.

John is married to Beverly and they have three children, Mary Louise, Brooks, and Elizabeth, and six beautiful grandchildren.

Business Hall of Fame – Willie Balerio Jr.

Willie Balerio Jr. is a proud Odessa native who has called the West Texas city his home for 54 years. He attended Permian High School, where he excelled academically and graduated in 1987. With a strong work ethic and a passion for the automotive industry, Willie started working at the age of 15 and has been involved in the field ever since.

Together with his wife, Delma, Willie owns and operates The Original Dent Shop, an automotive collision repair center that specializes in car and truck accessories and custom auto restyling. Willie and Delma are committed to providing their customers with quality workmanship and exceptional service, and they pride themselves on creating a personalized experience for each client.

In addition to running his business, Willie is an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. He currently serves as a school board member for St. Mary’s Catholic school and a Texas State council member for Knights of Columbus. Willie’s passion for serving his community also led him to serve on the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Finance Committee in the past.

Willie’s dedication to his work and his community has not gone unnoticed. The Original Dent Shop has received numerous accolades, including several Best of the Basin awards, Odessa American’s Reader’s Choice award, and an official City of Odessa proclamation claiming August 18th as Dent Shop Day.

Through his business and community involvement, Willie has become an integral part of the Odessa community, and he is well-respected and admired by those who know him. He is a shining example of what it means to be a dedicated and passionate member of one’s community.

When he’s not working or volunteering, Willie enjoys spending his spare time restoring antique cars, competing in BBQ cook-off events, and cheering on his favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Delma, for 32 years, and together they have three children, Mabi, Esperanza, and Gianna as well as a granddaughter, Ivy Rae.

Business Hall of Fame – Steve Barron

Steve Barron was born in Abilene in 1951. The family moved to Odessa in 1962. Steve graduated from Permian High School in 1969, and then attended college at Southern Methodist University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. He then pursued a law degree at Texas Tech University School of Law, receiving his Juris Doctorate in 1977. At the invitation of longtime Odessa attorney, Jimmie Todd, Steve returned to Odessa in January 1979 as an associate attorney. The firm has grown over the years, and now operates as Todd, Barron, Thomason, Hudman, Bebout & Rodriguez, P.C. Steve is a partner in the firm and currently serves as its President. Following the lead of its founder, Jimmie Todd, the firm is committed to providing quality representation reflecting the highest degree of professionalism and integrity to residents of Ector, Midland, and surrounding counties. When asked why he chooses to practice law in Odessa, Steve stated, “Odessa has been my family’s home since 1962. The people here are the best. I love Odessa.”

Steve has been an owner and active participant in the family business, Barron Service Parts Co., which owns and operates jobbing businesses under the NAPA Auto Parts banner.

Steve is an active volunteer at Connection Christian Church, formerly First Christian Church. He currently serves in various capacities on the boards of several charitable organizations, including Odessa Parks Foundation, J.C. Ferguson Foundation, Permian Basin Area Foundation, West Texas Heritage Holdings and the Dan & Hermine Hemphill Charitable Foundation. Steve has also had the privilege of serving on several boards over the years including United Way of Odessa, Easter Seals Committee for the Rehab Center, Ector County Bar Association, Region 15 Grievance Committee – State Bar of Texas, Habitat for Humanity, Midland-Odessa Business & Estate Council, Permian Basin Area Foundation 2006-2015 and UTPB Development Board. Steve has been recognized with several awards including Heritage of Odessa Foundation, Community Statesman Award in Law; Ector County Bar Association, Mentor Award; Elder Emeritus, Connection Christian Church; and Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation.

In his off time, Steve enjoys classic cars, gardening, travel and spending time with grandchildren. He has been married to his sweet wife, Susan, for 42 years, and they are the proud parents of three children, Bradford, Matthew and Meredith, and the proud grandparents of nine wonderful grandchildren.

Business Hall of Fame – Stacey L. Brown

Stacey graduated from Permian High School in 1982 and Texas Tech University in 1986 with a degree in accounting. She is a CPA and worked in public accounting before becoming a staff accountant at Odessa Regional Medical Center in 1991. She worked her way up to CFO, COO, and in 2009 her current role of President. She expanded her leadership to include Scenic Mountain Medical Center in Big Spring in 2020.

Stacey oversees all aspects of hospital operations including quality, patient experience, strategic planning, physician recruitment, financial, and day-to-day operations. Along with her valued leadership team, she has led two expansions of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and just completed a $20M renovation of the West Campus. She has added or expanded service lines including Dialysis, Adult and Pediatric Hospitalist Programs, a six bed ER Fast Track area, a high-risk Obstetrics Unit, an Electrophysiology Lab, a Laborist Program, and will soon be opening the region’s first dedicated Obstetrics ED. She expanded the Perinatal Center into Midland and opened 3 Complete Care primary care locations including Eastridge, Midland, and North. She recruited at least fifty physicians of various specialties to Odessa including Nephrology, OB/Gyn, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery, Podiatry, General Surgery, Hospitalists, Family Practice, and Internal Medicine. The hospital has achieved quality designations including Chest Pain Accreditation, Stroke Certification, ISO 9001 Certification, NICU Level III as well as Maternity Level III Designations, along with other quality awards from Leapfrog and Healthgrades.

Stacey has been active on local boards including the Odessa Chamber of Commerce serving on the Executive Committee for 8 years and is past Board Chair, Grow Odessa, Harmony Home, Camp Fire, March of Dimes, and the Permian Basin Area Foundation. Awards include Tenet Outstanding CFO Awards, Women of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest, The Athena Leadership Award, and the Heritage of Odessa Foundation Community Statesman Award in Business.

Stacey is married to Michael and together they have five children: Courtney Gerig, Madison Ross and husband Austin, Savannah Gerig, Aidan Brown and Alex Brown. She is anticipating the arrival their first grandchild in the fall. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and traveling as well as enjoying friends and family at her lake home on Possum Kingdom Lake.

Business Hall of Fame – Dr. Mathew B. Furst, M.D.

Dr. Matthew B. Furst, M.D. is a respected plastic surgeon and a proud Odessa native. Born in 1960, he has lived in Odessa for most of his life, attending Permian High School and later earning his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of North Texas. He continued his education at Texas Tech University, where he received his Doctorate in Medicine in 1987.

Dr. Furst’s passion for surgery led him to pursue a residency in general surgery at Creighton University, where he trained for several years before moving to the University of Michigan in 1992 to specialize in plastic surgery. He completed his residency in 1994 and has since been board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He is an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and is committed to providing compassionate, competent, and high-quality cosmetic and reconstructive care to patients in the Permian Basin.

Dr. Furst has always felt a strong connection to his hometown, which is why he chose to establish his practice in Odessa. He takes pride in serving the people of his community and has been honored to receive the Heritage of Odessa Foundation Award for Excellence in Community Service for Health and Science. He has also been recognized as the “Best of the Basin” for plastic surgery for seven years in a row, a testament to his dedication and commitment to his patients.

In addition to his work as a plastic surgeon, Dr. Furst is actively involved in his local community. He currently serves on multiple medical committees at Medical Center Hospital and has served on several boards as Past Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Medical Center Hospital, Past Chief of Staff at Medical Center Hospital, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at Texas Tech University in Odessa.

Dr. Furst has been married to his wife, Suzette, for 39 years. Together, they have three children, Maggie, Emily, and Abigail, and two beautiful grandchildren, Elliot and Jack.

Business Hall of Fame – Ben Montgomery

Ben Montgomery was born in Midland in 1953 and moved to Odessa in 1956. He graduated from Permian High School in 1971 and pursued higher education at both the University of Texas and Baylor where he majored in Business and Accounting.

Ben started his career in 1974 at Carr Well Service Inc. where he worked for 20 years. His career began as the S.O.B (Son of the Boss) and he worked his way up the ranks to become Vice President before leaving the company in 1994.

In 1998, Ben Montgomery established his own business, BCM & Associates, which specializes in providing equipment, labor, and expertise for plugging and abandoning oil and gas wells in the Permian Basin. The company is recognized as the “Oilfield Undertaker” for its ability to bury non-producing wells. With 80-85 employees, BCM prides itself on its commitment to exceptional service and environmental stewardship, protecting aquifers and land. When asked about his decision to conduct business in Odessa, Ben stated that he chose to do so because it is his hometown and happens to be located in one of the world’s largest oil and gas fields. In addition to BCM, Ben also owns Circle B Pipe and BTM Realty.

Outside of his work, Ben is actively involved in the community and his church. He served as a Deacon and Elder for Westminster Presbyterian Church, where he was highly regarded for his contributions. Ben is also known for his philanthropic work in the community, providing assistance to local organizations, charities, and schools.

Ben is a pillar of the Odessa community, known for his hard work, dedication, and commitment to giving back. His contributions to the oil and gas industry and philanthropic work have made a significant impact on the community, and his legacy will continue to inspire others for years to come.

In his spare time, Ben enjoys flying his Cessna 182, destination golf with his wife, and Saturday morning golf with his buddies. He has been married to his sweet wife, Tammy, for 20 years and they have been blessed with six children, Alison, Abigail, Melinda, Marcia, Amy, and Benjamin, and seven beautiful grandchildren.

Previous Entrepreneur of the Year Recipients

  • 2022 – Robert M. Chavez
  • 2020 – Mike Withrow
  • 2019 – Kevin Slater
  • 2018 – Billy Bassett
  • 2017 – Dr. Jayaram B. Naidu
  • 2016 – Austin Keith
  • 2015 – Kirk Edwards
  • 2014 – Les Littlejohn
  • 2013 – Scott Sibert
  • 2012 – Collin Sewell
  • 2011 – Larry Feeler
  • 2010 – Jane & Mark Knox
  • 2009 – Toby Eoff
  • 2008 – Trina Moralez
  • 2007 – Frank Deaderick
  • 2006 – Larry G. Lee
  • 2005 – Herbert Graham
  • 2004 – C.R. “Dick” Saulsbury
  • 2003 – Dr. Sudhir P. Srivastava
  • 2002 – Don Wood & Jack Wood
  • 2001 – Sam Holloman
  • 2000 – Fred D. George
  • 1999 – B.L. Crenshaw & Harvey Page
  • 1998 – C. Richard “Dick” Sivalls
  • 1997 – John Bushman
  • 1996 – Wanda Jones
  • 1995 – Bill Massey
  • 1994 – Clay Wood
  • 1993 – B.R. “Barnie” Jones
  • 1992 – Bob Barnes
  • 1991 – Bobby Cox
  • 1990 – James O. Reese
  • 1989 – Dane Widner
  • 1988 – David Boutin

Previous Business Hall of Fame Honorees

  • Gordon Allbright
  • Roy Allen
  • Arthur Ray Anderson
  • Lavon Anderson
  • Perry Anderson
  • Ed Barham
  • K. Barlow
  • Barney Barnett
  • Ronnie Lee Barnett
  • C. Bassett
  • Billy Bassett
  • Don Bennett
  • Oliver “Ollie” F. Blank
  • Shelby Bogan
  • Mac O. Boring, Jr.
  • Jim Breaux
  • Buz Browning
  • Terry Bryant
  • Don Bullock
  • John Bushman
  • Jim Butler
  • Charles L. Carlson
  • Robert L. Chappell
  • Raymond Chavez
  • Robert M. Chavez
  • Troy Chesnut
  • John Cooper
  • Ann Crenshaw
  • Lisa Crenshaw
  • Paul Crump, Jr.
  • Murray A. “Drew” Crutcher
  • Frank Deaderick
  • Peggy Dean
  • Jerry Debenport
  • Paul B. Dobbs
  • Dubb Duff
  • Emery Eckel
  • Kirk Edwards
  • Bill Elms
  • Roy Elsner
  • Tommy Ervin
  • Robert Fair
  • Gary Felker
  • A.B. Finch
  • David Fitzgerald
  • Ronny Flowers
  • Vern Foreman
  • Mike Forrest
  • Phil Fouche
  • Lois Fowler
  • Nick Fowler
  • Nathan C. Galloway
  • Fred George
  • Richard “Dick” Gillham
  • Roy Gillean
  • Ben Glast
  • Robert J. Glast
  • James B. Goates
  • Rufina V. Gonzalez
  • Manuel E. Gonzalez, Jr
  • Orman Gorman
  • Herbert Graham
  • L. “Woody” Gregory
  • Balie L. Griffith
  • Gary N. Haner, P.E.
  • Bentley F. Hawley
  • Judy Hayes
  • Leldon Hensley
  • Daisy Bell Hester
  • Bill Hext
  • “Bro” Hill
  • Lionel “Tito” Hinojos
  • Ted Hogan
  • Daniel J. Hollmann
  • Sam Holloman
  • Josefina Hooker
  • Dan Huffman
  • Joe Hurt
  • Rodney Hurt
  • Sajjadul Islam, M.D.
  • Herbert Itz
  • Herbert L. Johnson
  • Larry Johnson
  • Fred M.“Mickey” Jones
  • E. Jones
  • Ron Kirby
  • Bill Knighten
  • Mark Knox
  • Maxine Laird
  • John Landgraf
  • John Late
  • Lonnie Lawrence
  • D.W. Leach
  • Nelda Lee
  • Curtis Lewallen
  • Les Littlejohn
  • Kenneth & Jo Lunceford
  • Ben Mancha
  • Bill Massey
  • Norlene Ervin McBride
  • Tom McMinn
  • Larry L. Melton
  • Mark Merritt
  • Elizabeth T. “Liz” Midgley
  • Laura Willis-Myers
  • SC “Trey” Myers
  • Larry Molinar
  • Harold Moore
  • Trina Moralez
  • Ruth Morrison
  • Jayaram B. Naidu
  • D. “Bill” Noel
  • Bill Nyborg
  • Alex “Buck” Ogilvy III
  • Mickey Olliff
  • Jesse Owens
  • Harvey Page
  • M.C. Parekh
  • Charles Perry
  • Efrain Ramirez
  • Bill F. Rea
  • Louis Rochester
  • Ted G. Roden
  • Tom “Pinkie” Roden
  • E. G. Rodman, Sr.
  • Sony Roethmeyer
  • R. “Dick” Saulsbury
  • W. “Woody” Sewell
  • Shafer
  • Ravi Shakamuri
  • John H. Sheets
  • Eddy Shelton
  • Liz Shelton
  • John Ben Shepperd
  • Scott Sibert
  • David Simpson
  • Richard “Dick” Sivalls
  • Monnie Sparkman
  • W.E. Stewart
  • Ray Stoker
  • Denise Swanner
  • Jack Tidwell
  • Jimmie Todd
  • Nalin Tolia
  • Virgil Trower
  • Craig Van Amburgh
  • Bessye Cowden Ward
  • Don Williams
  • Jane Williams
  • John Willis
  • Homer Windham
  • Mike Withrow
  • Clay Wood
  • Joe Young