What: Davis Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award presentation
When: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 6
Where: Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St.
Tickets: $20 for Chamber members, $30 for nonmembers, available at davischamber.com or 530-756-5160
The three Youmans brothers and their father meet once a week to discuss the family business: the Hallmark Inn at 110 F St.
Reed Youmans handles marketing and personnel; John Youmans takes care of accounting; Julian M. Youmans oversees construction; and their father, Julian R. Youmans, who brought the family to Davis in 1967, is retired but still participates in the family’s business decisions.
The Youmans family’s hard work renovating Hallmark Inn and re-invigorating F Street has earned them the Davis Chamber of Commerce’s 19th annual Bill Streng Business of the Year Award, an honor they did not see coming.
“We were surprised and grateful,” John Youmans said recently at the Chamber’s offices, where he and his brother Reed were briefed on next week’s Community Luncheon, when the Chamber will formally present them with the award at the Odd Fellows Hall.
The Business of the Year award is judged on creativity and innovation, socially responsible and ethical business practices, ongoing support and promotion of the community and demonstration of excellent customer service.
The Youmans family ventured into the hotel business when they bought the Ramada Inn in 1998, a motel with a large driveway through the front of the building.
“Sheer stupidity,” John Youmans joked. The following years of dramatic renovations, which include structural and aesthetic changes to the hotel, have been exhausting.
“I think we’re about done,” Reed Youmans admitted. His brother agreed: “We’ll rest a minute.”
The Youmanses, who also own Drake, Anderson Court and Lexington Apartments, took out the Ramada Inn’s driveway and replaced it with usable space, which required rebuilding the property’s structure. They went on to make environmentally friendly improvements, replacing the hotel’s fluorescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights, installing low-flow shower heads and toilets and donating lightly used items to local nonprofits.
The Cool Davis Foundation named Hallmark Properties an “Eco-Hero” and awarded them the 2014 Cool Solution Award on Sunday for those efforts.
Apart from internal improvements, the Hallmark Inn also has impacted the local community.
The hotel has partnered with Rotary, Soroptimists, International House, Yolo Basin Foundation, Davis Bike Club, the Mondavi Center and the UC Davis athletics department. The hotel’s soaps and shampoos are honey-based, and a percentage of sales from those items go to support honey research at UCD.
“The committee was most impressed with Hallmark’s continued, steady support of a variety of community organizations — big and small,” said Rose Cholewinski, owner of SwimAmerica and chair of the Business of the Year Committee. “Take a look at the various posters, programs and inserts around town — Hallmark’s name is on many of them.”
F Street has become increasingly busy thanks to businesses like CREAM that occupy the hotel’s ground floor, where guest rooms used to look right onto the street. Two new retailers — Putah Creek Winery and Exclusive Wireless — have plans to move in. The winery’s tasting room will open Saturday.
“Their contribution to the beautification of F Street and increased opportunity for small retailers has made a big impact on the downtown,” said Kemble Pope, the Chamber’s CEO, in a statement. “It’s apparent these local owners take pride in our community.”
The improvements have “transformed” the 100 block of F Street, said Reed Youmans, who had the idea to renovate his hotel’s ground floor into commercial space. “We’ve worked hard at it.”
The Chamber’s award also rewards excellent customer service, which comes down to hiring the right employees, Reed Youmans said. “We hire happy people,” he pointed out.
“We really stay out of the way,” John Youmans chipped in. “You hire the right people and try not to interfere.”
One of those “right people” is general manager Marisa Schaffer, who is credited with leading the staff and satisfying guests’ needs through the long process to upgrade the hotel.
“We have high expectations,” John Youmans added.
The Chamber’s Community Luncheon to celebrate the 19th Bill Streng Business of the Year Award will take place Tuesday, May 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St. Tickets are $20 for Chamber members and $30 for nonmembers and are available at davischamber.com or 530-756-5160.
Past winners of the Chamber’s Business of the Year award are Davis Farmers Market, Yolo Federal Credit Union, Woodland Healthcare, Brooks Painting, Carbahal & Company, Fleet Feet Sports, Davis Ace Hardware, First Northern Bank, University Honda, Coldwell Banker-Doug Arnold Real Estate, Nugget Markets, The Davis Enterprise, Pyramid Construction, Davis Waste Removal, Novo Nordisk Biotech, Mortgage Resource Network Team at Comstock Mortgage, Cunningham Engineering and AgraQuest.