Congratulations to this year’s Barc Simpson Community Hero Award winners. Simpson Strong-Tie has nine company values, with the eighth being Give Back. The award encourages the spirit of giving and gives recognition to our employees for doing valuable work in their communities.
Our founder, Barclay, was a dedicated philanthropist and the Barc Simpson Community Hero Award was created in 2015 to commemorate his life of giving back. The award recognizes employees who exemplify similar values through their dedication to community service. Each year, up to five nominees are chosen for the award. Awardees receive a $3,000 donation to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Awardees will also be recognized with a Community Hero Award plaque and jacket.
As we recognize this year’s recipients, we thought it would be the perfect time to remember the work and contributions of our previous participants as well.
2022 Barc Simpson Award Winners
Employee: Marty Downs (Pleasanton, CA)
Marty is an engineering technology supervisor based in Oregon. Marty established the Ashland Wrestling Club, a nonprofit youth sports organization. He has served as the Treasurer on the Board of Directors, as well as having been head coach for the middle school and youth wrestling teams. Thanks to Marty, the program now has 60 kids all learning not just about wrestling, but also about self-discipline, good sportsmanship, and working hard.
Employee: Shayne Honea (McKinney, TX)
Shayne has been a Simpson employee for 26 years. He is currently Employee Lead in the Fabrication department. Outside of Simpson, Shayne is a volunteer firefighter with the Farmersville Fire Department where he lives. He has been volunteering there since 2017 and currently serves as the captain, for which he was nominated by peers.
In his nomination, Shayne said, “Besides making a difference in other people’s lives, being a volunteer firefighter has made the biggest difference in my life. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve my community.”
Employee: AJ Johnson (West Chicago, IL)
AJ has been with Simpson for 19 years. She started in Customer Service in 1999 and in 2016 moved to Outside Sales. As of last December, she is now our Associate Product Manager for Concrete.
AJ volunteers with Saving One Life Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Chandler, Arizona, where she works tirelessly to help save animals. Saving One Life helps control the stray cat and kitten population by gathering up strays, getting them rehabilitated and matched with their “furrever” homes. Not only does AJ spend time at the organization’s adoption center helping to care for felines, she is also a member of the TNR Team, which humanely traps, spays or neuters and returns cats to the “wild.”
Employee: Steve Zanco (Riverside, CA)
Steve has the honor of being the first Simpson Strong-Tie employee to receive the Community Hero Award twice! Steve has been with Simpson for 19 years and is the Inside Sales Manager in Riverside. Steve is the founder of Skatepark Respect — a nonprofit organization that brings local communities and cities together with the common goal of cleaning and maintaining skateparks for skateboarders of all ages. He has also served as board member, executive director, and president. With Steve’s help and vision, the organization has hosted cleanup events at over 80 skateparks in 10 different states and across six countries.
Meet Our Past Winners
Employee: John Creamer (Vancouver, WA)
John is an associate cold-formed steel specialist and has been with Simpson Strong-Tie for over 7 years.
John does volunteer work through Heritage Church, of which he has been a member for the past 15 years. Over the years, Heritage Church has hosted many events to feed and clothe members of the community. Four years ago, John was asked to take the lead in organizing the Thanksgiving dinner for the fire department of Vancouver, Washington. John took the event and ran with it! That dinner was the first of what turned out to be an annual “first responders’ dinner.” Initially, the dinner was provided only for the Vancouver fire department, but in 2019, John expanded it to include the local 911 center and Clark County Fire and Rescue. This event has now become a family tradition that includes John, his wife and daughters, as well as several members of Heritage Church.
Employee: David Drab (West Chicago)
David is a senior chemist who joined Simpson Strong-Tie in 2015. David’s teenage son has autism and is very passionate about the performing arts. Because of his son’s passion, the principal of his son’s school introduced David to the Dekalb, Illinois Children’s Community Theatre Penguin Project.
David’s work with the Penguin Project has been impressive. Not only does he provide volunteer support well above the 20 hours expected of each family every season, he also introduced the program to his work family in the West Chicago branch. Led by David, the team at the branch built all the set pieces and props for both the 2018 and 2019 productions of Mary Poppins Jr. and Hairspray Jr. Many of these young men have behavioral challenges, so David’s patience and willingness to help have been invaluable. In addition to the Penguin Project, David has also volunteered as an American Chemical Society Science coach, assisting teachers in developing science curricula for classrooms with autistic students.
Employee: Missy Joseph (Columbus)
Missy is an order entry clerk at the Columbus branch and has been with Simpson Strong-Tie since February 2020. Missy is being recognized for her outstanding commitment to the inner-city youth in her community. Nine years ago, Missy and her husband started an organization they named the Cap City Athletic Association because they wanted to see the community unified in supporting youth development in athletics and academics. Not only is Missy a founder of Cap City Athletic Association, she also serves as a board member, secretary and treasurer, along with performing day-to-day operations such as events scheduling and securing sponsorships and donations for sports equipment.
Missy says, “My husband and I have our own back story of living the life that most of these youth do currently. Our goal in life is to be who we needed as kids.”
Employee: Denise Gomez (Riverside, CA)
Denise is on the Inside Sales team in Riverside and has been with us for over 16 years. Denise volunteers with the Fontana High School Marine Corps ROTC program. Her son joined the program in 2006 just a few months after he was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. He began competing with the drill team, requiring long weekend days which negatively affected his strict dietary requirements. As Denise tells it, her son would often come home to tell her he shared his lunch with fellow cadets. She didn’t know how to respond, so her husband said, “Well, I guess we are going to have to feed all of them.” What started as a way to help their son turned into a life-long commitment to the ROTC program.
Employee: Jeff Bornemiss (Columbus, OH)
Jeff is a regional sales manager for Columbus and has been with Simpson Strong-Tie going on 17 years. Jeff was honored for his work with the Cure JM Foundation.
Beyond all the volunteer work he was doing with the Lions and involving his family, Jeff decided to organize a charity golf outing to benefit Cure JM. As part of his nomination for this award, Jeff said, “Over the last few years, legacy has become increasingly important to me. In my world, legacy is something put on me by my faith. I hope, through my story, some of us decide to create a legacy by impacting one person who can’t help themselves. In truth, we can all change the world one loving act at a time.”
Employee: Marshall Cunningham (Columbus, OH)
Marshall received the Community Hero Award on behalf of the Y-Men’s Service Club of Marion, Ohio, which he joined with his son nearly four years ago.
The Y-Men’s primary service project is building wheelchair ramps for families and individuals at or below the poverty level. Marshall uses several days of personal vacation time every summer to build the ramps. Marshall is the Club’s first Vice President, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, and Chairman of the Sunshine Committee, which orders gifts or sends cards for members who are sick or hospitalized. Besides his work with the Y-Men, Marshall was a founding board member of Habitat for Humanity of Marion County and its first president and construction manager. He’s also led several camping trips for the youth of his church.
Employee: Maryann Eaton (Riverside, CA)
Maryann joined the Riverside team in 2014. In 2018, Maryann’s husband Stan was diagnosed with ALS. Since then, she’s become a major player in raising awareness for this disease in her community. There is no cure for ALS, so research through funding is crucially important.
Maryann has taken on the responsibility of coordinating two of ALS of Orange County’s largest fundraisers, the Drive Out ALS Golf Classic and the Walk to Defeat ALS, which together raise over $390,000. Maryann has done all of this while working at Simpson and caring for her husband as he battles this disease.
Employee: Annie Kao (formerly Riverside), VP of Engineering*
Annie has been with Simpson Strong-Tie for over 12 years. She received the Barc Simpson Community Hero Award on behalf of her work with the Santiago Hills Elementary School PTA located in Irvine, California. Annie has gone above and beyond in her work with the PTA, including stepping into a leadership role as Co-Chair for the organization’s biggest fundraiser, the Jog-A-Thon, which raises over $40,000 for Santiago Hills Elementary. She spent months of time planning this event two years in a row. In addition to that event, Annie has spent time in the classroom as a room representative two years in a row, and she was recently serving in that capacity in two classrooms this year. She is also a Yearbook representative and serves on the Spirit Wear Committee.
* Annie Kao was promoted to Vice President of Engineering, located at the Home Office. Prior to that, she was Engineering Supervisor in Riverside, where she received the Community Hero Award.
Employee: Billy Viars (McKinney)
Billy is our Technical Training Manager in McKinney. Billy has been with the company going on 23 years! Billy is being honored for his work with Keeper of The Game, an organization dedicated to servant leadership and making the game of baseball accessible to those with special needs. Billy was a founding donor of the organization over five years ago. Working with Keeper of The Game, he has volunteered with coaching clinics, fundraisers, equipment, clothing, food and other supply drives and more.
As part of his nomination for this award, Billy said, “Three things have been part of my family forever – my faith, baseball, and Simpson Strong-Tie. I cherish the opportunities to share baseball with those in need so that they can experience the joy it has brought to me in life. We enjoy knowing that we are making a difference.”
Employee: Romina Yeganeh (Pleasanton, CA)
Romina is a member of our IT department as our ERP & Finance Applications Manager. With three other friends, she created Solid Ground International, an international nonprofit organization helping survivors of human trafficking. SGI has established two transitional housing facilities for women in the Philippines and is about to launch another in the Dominican Republic.
Along with founding the organization, Romina serves as Treasurer, responsible for the financials of keeping the organization running and solvent. Because of this work, SGI has been able to help nearly 50 women out of a life of human trafficking.
Employee: Sharon Garland (Pleasanton, CA)
Sharon is our Office Services and Facilities Manager at our Pleasanton office and has been with the company for nearly three years.
Sharon serves as an administrator for New Hope Christian Fellowship’s public programs, coordinating and overseeing volunteers for all of the organization’s community-service programs, which include serving hot meals every week to homeless and low-income families, providing clothing and grocery bags of food to families in need, scheduling weekly medical and dental exams and procedures for those without insurance, counseling services for married couples, grieving parents, individuals with substance abuse issues and others who have survived human trafficking.
Employee: Justin Fox (Stockton, CA)
Justin has been with Simpson Strong-Tie for over nine years. About 3½ years ago, Justin was approached by the coach of his son’s little league team to help coach and create enough teams to field a league. Justin says he discovered a new passion in volunteering to help kids in his community grow by learning the game of baseball. He has supported, coached, trained and mentored more than 40 boys over the past four seasons.
Going further, Justin decided to start a Select Baseball Club with three other coaches to continue this work year round. He also sits on the board of the Club and has been involved in every aspect, including obtaining insurance and practice locations.
Employee: Zack Harrison (Columbus, OH)
Zack is the Plant Superintendent in Columbus and has been with the company for 14 years. Zack has recently been very involved with the Cure JM Foundation, after his older daughter, Sydney, was diagnosed with Juvenile Myositis in 2015.
Zack is an active member of the Tri-Village Lions Club, where he has served on the Lions board and has actively participated in numerous fundraisers and service projects since he started in 2012. Not only has he helped the Lions Club raise over $10,000 for Cure JM, his support for the organization goes beyond just caring for his daughter. Along with his wife, Sandi, Zack has stepped up to start and lead a brand-new chapter for Cure JM, holding the first-ever Ohio Cure JM event in Columbus.
Employee: Joanne Fahel (Canada BC)
Joanne spent over 650 hours of her time in 2016 caring for animals through the Maple Ridge SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). She is so dedicated to this cause that the organization has entrusted her with the keys to the building, so she can spend evenings managing the facility and caring for the most vulnerable animals needing special attention.
Commenting on her motivation, Joanne says, “I love animals, and I love to give back to my community. The SPCA does some amazing work; they are so good to the animals. They do a lot to raise money for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and they struggle a lot as we have a very small location. I want to be a part of protecting and enhancing the quality of life for all types of animals.”
Employee: Doug Montgomery (Columbus, OH), Regional Warehouse Manager
Organization: Tri-Village Lions Club
Doug has been a member of the Tri-Village Lions Club in Columbus since 2010. He has served in the roles of 3rd, 2nd and 1st Vice President and most recently President for 2015-16. He has also co-chaired an eWaste collection project for the past two years and received the Lion of the Year Award in 2015.
Doug devotes numerous hours to a wide array of projects and fundraisers, including meal service at a local homeless shelter, cleaning gutters for elderly residents, collecting books for the Get A Book/Give A Book project, and standing on street corners to collect funds to support the club’s philanthropic projects. Leading by example, Doug’s efforts resulted in the club logging over 1,300 hours of community service in one year.
Employee: Ryan Swenson (Riverside, CA)
Ryan has been involved with the C.A.T.T. (Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe) Community Project for over five years. The Community Project is the non-profit arm of the C.A.T.T., and Ryan has spent numerous hours of his own time with the project, including serving on the board as Vice Chairman and assisting with various build and repair projects including the Victory Highway Eagle Monument base, Truckee Bike Park fence, snow shed for the Truckee Railroad Society, interior paint project for the Family Resource Center, and more. Ryan also assists with fundraisers and received a Volunteer of the Year Award.
In addition, Ryan is actively involved with the Nevada chapter of the AGC (Associated General Contractors of America) Community Service Fund through the CLC Construction Leadership Council and Community Outreach Committee. The Committee has held pet supply and food drives, and Ryan picked up, sorted and delivered donated items to the receiving nonprofit organizations. He also assisted with refinishing a deck for Awaken Reno, a safe house for victims of sex trafficking.
Employee: Terry Busha (McKinney, TX)
The scope of the volunteer efforts of Terry Busha, branch controller in McKinney, is unique. In addition to assisting with construction at Habitat for Humanity jobsites, he provides strategic planning, administrative counsel and financial expertise.
Terry began volunteering with the North Collin County Habitat for Humanity seven years ago. He started as a treasurer and is now the board president! He creates processes for policies and procedures and is involved in property closings and various negotiations for the North Collin County Habitat. His knowledge has been instrumental in helping the organization sell assets, which has reduced debt and improved long-term cash flow for the North Collin County Habitat affiliate.
Employee: Nick Varien (Columbus, OH)
As a volunteer mentor, Fastener Sales Representative Nick Varien has made a significant difference in the life of a 16-year-old boy who lacked a consistent male role model. By spending quality time each week for three and a half years with T.J., his mentee, Nick has helped T.J. grow into a confident and motivated young man.
Nick volunteers through Kids ‘n Kinship, a nonprofit organization that provides friendships and positive role models to children and youth ages 5 to 16 who are in need of an additional supportive relationship with an adult. In addition to being a mentor, Nick has staffed the Kids ‘n Kinship table at community events educating the public about mentoring, participated in various trainings, and contacted financial and in-kind donors to support the program.
Employee: Lisa Chumbley (McKinney, TX)
Lisa Chumbley honors our military forces with her volunteer efforts. She is a dedicated volunteer and vice president of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Post #550 in Pilot Point, Texas, and is actively involved with many of their programs.
Lisa’s participation with ALA extends to laying wreaths on soldiers’ graves at Arlington Cemetery, sending care packages to deployed troops, helping with preparations for a new World War I museum, ensuring that nursing home residents have Christmas presents and collecting toys for a local children’s hospital.
Employee: David Cox (McKinney, Texas), Master Electrician
David Cox, master electrician, believes in doing what you can, when you can, where you can. He applies this basic philosophy to his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) to make a profound impact.
David’s donated expertise is valued at approximately $30,000 each year. He wires all the new homes built in the area or trains apprentice electricians on the techniques of wiring a home and oversees each job. He also serves as a house leader, meaning he manages volunteers throughout a build.
“If it weren’t for a Simpson Strong-Tie project, I might not have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, says David. “The Simpson Strong-Tie culture is key to encouraging volunteerism.”
Employee: Tim Ellis (Pleasanton, CA)
Since becoming a volunteer at the Los Angeles Animal Care Center in Agoura Hills, California, in 2010, Strong-Rod® systems and Strong Frame® moment frame Product Manager Tim Ellis has had a significant impact on the lives of animals. He is vice president of Healthcare for Homeless Animals (HHA), which provides medical care for homeless animals and keeps many from facing euthanasia in county shelters.
After being honored with the award, Tim said, “I share this award with the countless thousands of shelter volunteers who put their emotions on the line and spend time away from their families to give these homeless animals a voice,” says Tim. “To win this award in Barc’s name makes it an extra special honor.”
Employee: Terry Ferris (Canada, NB)
Technical Sales Rep Terry Ferris helps where he feels he’s most needed. His specialty is organizing and playing live music benefits for a variety of causes, something he does 10 to 12 times each year.
Many of Terry’s efforts help those in difficult circumstances. His events have benefited a couple who both have cancer, a family devastated by a fire, and an individual who faced the loss of their spouse. He’s a perennial fundraiser for causes such as the Good Samaritan Food Bank and a local chapter of the Women’s Institute.
Employee: Lloyd, George (Brampton, Ontario)
As a longtime volunteer for Scouts Canada, the country’s leading youth organization, Customer Service’s Lloyd George has made a significant impact on the lives of youth in his area. He provides them with unique opportunities to learn more about the world around them, develop new skills and create lifelong friendships and memories.
“Words can’t express my sincere gratitude for being chosen as one of the inaugural recipients for the Barc Simpson Community Hero award,” says Lloyd. “It was great to watch the video with Sharon Simpson talking about the award and what it would have meant to Barc, and it’s a great feeling to know that he would have approved. My group will use the donation to help educate youth on how to become strong members of their community, and how to give back.”