December 21, 2018 - 11:22 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Mathias “Matty” Matoian - an American business owner of Armenian descent -thought he’d been summoned to meet Fresno State’s president Joseph Castro to advise his friend on university business.
But the meeting was a ruse to lure the unsuspecting Matoian to an ambush by friends and family organized by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, who revealed that he is the 2019 winner of the chamber’s top business honor, the Leon S. Peters Award for business leadership and community service.
Matoian, 75, is the longtime owner of OK Produce, the fruit and vegetable distribution business started in 1950 by his parents, Charles and Ann Matoian. Matty Matoian joined the family business after graduating from Fresno State in 1965, and took over leadership of the company in 1979.
The Peters award is akin to a lifetime achievement award in Fresno’s business community and has been presented each year since 1984. It is named for longtime businessman, civic leader and philanthropist Leon S. Peters, the son of Armenian immigrants who rose to business success as the owner of Valley Foundry & Machine Works. The award criteria recognize a recipient’s business accomplishments as well as personal and public service and philanthropy to the community.
Matoian said he was stunned when Castro ushered him into a boardroom in the university’s library to be greeted with applause from prior Peters award winners, including retired Fresno County Superior Court Judge Robert Oliver and last year’s recipient, caterer Jim Pardini. “Oh, my God, whoa,” he said after the event. “As soon as I saw Bob Oliver and Jim Pardini, then I knew something was up.”
“It’s an unbelievable experience to be able to receive this award,” he added. “It’s kind of cool looking around at all of these successful people and then you get to be a part of that.”