Angela Brandt Havre Daily News email@example.com
Editor’s Note: With information from MSU News Service
BOZEMAN Havre’s own Duck Inn Inc. is a 2006 Montana Family Business of the Year. The corporation’s president and CEO William Dritshulas Jr. Said he accepted the award in honor of his father and his employees. “We have a lot of wonderful and dedicated workers. I’d be really stupid if I thought I did it by myself,” Dritshulas said today. The recognition was announced at the Montana State University College of Business State Farm Insurance Family Business Day held recently in the Gallatin Gateway Inn. Duck Inn received the top award in the category for businesses in operation for 50 years or more. Dritshulas and wife, Judi Dritshulas, attended the ceremony along with operations officer for the company Janna Faber, Duck Inn general manager Brent Giachino, who has work with the family for more than 30 years, and 30-year employee assistant manager Trudy Meyer. “It was just an awesome experience. It was neat to see other family businesses doing well” Faber said today. “We all felt honored.” At the awards, William Dritshulas Jr. Spoke about the history of the company, the work ethic his father instilled in him and how Duck Inn wouldn’t be what it is today without his key employees. “My father, who didn’t speak English then, worked his way over here in pursuit of the American dream. He taught me to work hard and believe in free enterprise,” said today in a phone interview. Duck Inn Inc was founded by William Dritshulas Sr. In 1932 under the name Billy’s Meat Market and Grocery. Dritshulas, who emigrated from Greece to the United States in 1908, homesteaded in Chinook, where he also worked for the Great Northern Railroad. He supplied the market with meat from his farm and his store quickly became a well-known business on the corner of 13th Avenue and First Street. Dritshulas converted a small building from his farm into the original Duck Inn Tavern by attaching it to the market. The business expanded in 1949 to include a small diner and in 1950 a three-unit hotel was built.
William Dritshulas Sr. Died in 1967 and his son succeeded him as CEO and president. “He started with a grocery store and now the Duck Inn is a corporation owning several other businesses,” Dritshulas said. The business has grown to include the Duck Inn Tavern and Casino in 1972, the Mediterranean Room Supper Club and the Olympic Grand Ballroom both in1977, the Vineyard Patio and Lounge in 1985 and the Emporium Food and Fuel Store and Havre Casino in 1998 . Duck Inn Inc. employs nearly 100 people. The company’s plans call for succession to the third generation, which will include son, John Bania, and cousin Faber as owners and managers. More recent ventures for the Dritshulas family include an Irish tavern, which is being constructed on the old Corner Bar lot on Seventh Avenue and First Street in the former Havre Refrigeration building. Murphy’s Pub, named after Bania’s old pet dog, is expected to open about the beginning of the new year and will be run by Bania. The Dritshulas family also owns the Best Western Great Northern Inn Hotel and are building the 150-room Boothill Executive Suites Hotel; an 18,000- square-foot, six-store mall; and a restaurant on a six-acre site adjacent to the Montana Department of Transportation facility on U.S. Highway 2 West. Other state businesses receiving 2006 Montana Family Business Awards were: Davidson Home Furnishings and Design of Billings in the very small business category (fewer than 10 employees); and Finnicum's Furniture and Hardware of Sidney in the small business category (10 to 30 employees); Combs Enterprises of Ennis in the large business category (more than 50 employees. The Sieben Ranch of Cascade won the Judge's Special Recognition Award. “It is wonderful to be able to recognize exemplary family businesses that have all shown a commitment to customer service, family values and diversification to satisfy the needs of their markets, often in challenging situations,” said director of the Montana State University College of Business State Farm Insurance Family Business Program Nancy Dodd, who also is an MSU professor of management. “Family businesses are central to the economic vitality of Montana, and the businesses that are honored are perfect examples of why and how family businesses contribute to our communities, our state and our nation.”