Posted March 26, 2007
Since 1959, the students of Alpha Kappa Psi, the Professional Business Fraternity at Idaho State University, have been awarding the Idaho Business Leader of the Year award to those whom they find worthy of the title. Every year, the members of Alpha Kappa Psi send out hundreds of nomination forms throughout the state. After the receipt of the nominations, the members research the candidates and then, using the College of Business’ Simplot Decision Center, choose the best candidate. The selection is based on four criteria: leadership in the business community, community service, education support and ethics in the business community.
Out of all the nominations received, the members of Alpha Kappa Psi chose Jim Johnston, a sales agent for The Home Specialists, in Pocatello.
When asked what his reaction was to the news, Johnston said, “I was extremely surprised. When I look at the quality of the people who have received this recognition in the past, I was just very, very awestruck.”
Past recipients of this award include prominent Idaho business leaders like J.R. Simplot, Park Price, Don Aslett, Michael Mooney, and Frank Vandersloot. Recent recipients also include Chris King, president and CEO of AMI Semiconductor, Inc.; Ed Dahlberg, president and CEO of St. Luke's Regional Medical Center; and last year, Dwayne Hagadone, owner and CEO of The Hagadone Corporation.
Those interested in hearing Johnston speak may join students at ISU on March 28, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., in the Bengal Theater. A banquet will be held in Johnston's honor the evening of March 29 at the Stephens Performing Arts Center.
Johnston is the first realtor to be honored with the award.
“I feel there is a responsibility that goes with being the Idaho Business Leader of the Year,” said Johnston.
He also said he hasn't quite figured out exactly what that responsibility is. He has started and owned many companies in the past, such as Citizen's Community bank, but at this point in his life, he is just a salesperson for The Home Specialists.
Johnston will be on campus March 28 and 29 speaking to classes and to the student body. He is also bringing his partner and son, Greg Johnston, as well as five executives from Citizen's Community Bank. They include Ralph Cottle, president and CEO; Dan Heiner, vice president of Commercial real-estate; Marty Doncose, who is in charge of real-estate finance; Amy Rhodes, who is in charge of management training; and Carol Shwartz, who is the CFO. “They will provide a very broad presentation in the classes and do some great things in talking about what is important in the financial world,” commented Johnston. When asked what he himself might say to students, Johnston said that every student he comes in contact with on that Wednesday and Thursday will either buy, lease or rent a home in the near future.
“I really have something to tell them,” said Johnston. “I can give them some pretty good council on what to look for, and as a real-estate professional I think I have some practical information to share.”
Johnston also talked about the importance of having a positive attitude.
“I am planning on sharing with the students the importance of attitude. I meet people every day who are so down in the mouth and so discouraged and so negative that it's not even fun to be around them,” said Johnston. “I really think that you can accomplish a whole lot more, even if you are not endowed with great brain power, if you have good attitude and a fairly decent education, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”
Johnston said that the position he is in now he owes to a good attitude.
Johnston is also currently a “Chief” for the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce.
Johnston said he loves to get involved, lend a helping hand and make a difference. He spends a great deal of time doing volunteer work, because he wants to give back to the community that has been so good to him; a sentiment often shared by those named Idaho Business Leader of the Year.
Johnston has been involved in a host of volunteer organizations. Currently, he serves as the national director for a 1.3 million-member realtor organization; he is a member of the board of directors for the local Boy Scouts of America; he is on the Executive Committee of the Idaho Association of Realtors; and he is a current board member of the Idaho Civic Symphony and many others.
For questions about the Idaho Business Leader of the Year Award, contact Brandy Jensen at IBLOY@isu.edu.