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Pradel honored at Chamber of Commerce event

Naperville Mayor George Pradel capped off a career in public service Friday when he was awarded the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Pradel said he was “humbled” to receive the award, but was philosophical about its meaning. “I have mixed emotions,” he said. “Lifetime Achievement awards sort of represent the end of your career.”

Pradel began his career in public service with four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, before a career with the Naperville police force and being mayor since 1995.

Owning a hot dog stand led to him joining the Naperville Chamber in 1967, but deciding to concentrate on his career in law enforcement, he left the business to the employees.

He credited his wife, Pat, for supporting him when he decided to concentrate on law enforcement and later when he ran for mayor. “She’s the one that should be the focus,” Pradel said.

The annual event was held at the Bolingbrook Golf Club, and drew 400 Naperville-area dignitaries decked out in their finest attire.

The overall winner of the Naperville Area Small Business of the Year was Design and Promote, which also won first place in the Business to Business category.

First place in the Business to Consumer category went to Reebie Storage and Moving.

The winner in the Professional category was Sikich, LLP.

Showalter Roofing Service, Inc., took first place for a service business.

Kids Matter won in the not-for-profit category.

“You have to have a smart team,” Bruce Jones, founder of the Internet marketing firm Design and Promote that helps local and national businesses expand their brand names. “Figure out who the right ones are to work for you and go from there.”

Showalter Roofing Service, Inc., took first place for a service business.

“We all know the risks we take being in business,” Dale Showalter said, stressing that the current business environment was especially stressful.

Kids Matter, the organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth make good life decisions, took top honors in the Not-for-Profit category.

“Everything we do connects us to all of you,” IdaLynn Wenhold told the audience.

The Small Business Awards dinner began in 1998 and is the Chamber’s biggest event of the year, but the focus of this year’s evening was definitely the man who became known as “Officer Friendly” during his tenure with the Naperville Police Force.

“He’s the perfect choice (for the award),” Chamber President and CEO, Nicki Anderson, said. “He’s an advocate for business and the community and for helping others…he’s a logical choice.”

Gary Pradel wanted people to know how genuine his father was.

“I’m proud of him and I just want people to know that he really does love the people in this town. What you see is what you get.”

Carol Pradel echoed her brother’s sentiments, especially regarding her father’s love for Naperville and its residents.

“This is a man who has devoted his whole life to Naperville,” she said, drawing a big laugh from the audience when she joked, “he will visit you in the hospital whether you want him to visit or not.”

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