A Eureka resident who usually works behind the scenes was brought center stage, and a business owner whose products advertised other businesses himself was given a resounding endorsement.
BJ Hillermann, 54, was named Eureka Citizen of the Year and Eddie Buck, 59, owner of Eureka Sign and Display, was named Eureka Businessman of the Year.
The pair were honored during Eureka Day in October. 1 Special place at the annual parade and awards ceremony.
The City of Eureka awards Citizen of the Year honors each year, and the Eureka Chamber of Commerce selects Businessman of the Year each year.
“BJ does a lot of the secrets of what he does that people don’t see and realize. He is a huge part of the community, always volunteering and giving back,” said Chuck Maher, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and owner of Realty Executives Premiere.
“(Barker) has always exceeded our requirements (meeting rooms using Barker for printing needs). He was just the logical choice for all businesses in Eureka.”
Maher nominated Hilleman for the Citizenship Award. Parks and Recreation Department coordinator Lizzie Roberds said Hillermann was the only nominee this year.
Chamber of Commerce executive director Krista Overstreet said Buck was nominated by Phil Zimmerman, 2020 Businessman of the Year winner and manager of Eureka Culver Restaurant. Four business owners were nominated for the award this year, she said.
Hillermann moved to Eureka in August 2005 and worked at Rural Commercial Bank as Vice President and Branch Manager for 9 years.
He has been instrumental in nominating potential recipients of the Citizenship of the Year award, but he struggled to come up with a name when city staff approached him this year.
Fortunately, Maher stepped in and nominated a nominee.
“It was a surprise,” Hilleman said. “It was unexpected.”
He said the job he enjoyed and the good education of his children kept him at Eureka.
Hilleman has three children, Clayton, 26, Emma, 23, and Riley, 14.
He is also president of the Eureka Lions Club, a member of the Elk Lodge and a member of the Eureka Chamber of Commerce.
He said he enjoys being a part of these organizations, and he said he found his six-year membership in Lions very rewarding.
“Every dollar they raise, they in turn donate it to charity,” Hilleman said. “Joining and participating was an easy decision.”
Buck said he didn’t believe he would be named Business Person of the Year when he first learned of the honor.
“At first I thought it was a gimmick,” he said. “I don’t think about awards.”
When he found out it wasn’t a joke, he said he was “flattered”.
“Then it was a bit of a shock,” he said.
Buck said he started his logo-making career when he was 13, crafting pinstripes and monogrammed cars by hand. He said he learned more about the business on the fly.
“I’ll hunt down people in the business and annoy them until they show me how to do it, or I’ll keep doing it until I figure out how to do it.”
Buck opened Fast Eddie Signs in 1981 and sold it in 1986. He regained the business a few years later when the new owner defaulted on the loan.
Buck then changed its name to Eureka Outdoor Advertising, but again in 1997 to Eureka Signs and Displays.
Buck said he ran the sign company from his former home in Hearn Springs, but moved the company to Eureka in 2005. The company is located at 134 S. Virginia Ave.
He said his company does everything, including signs, car packaging, wide format printing, banners and signs.
“I love the creativity and I love that it pays for my race car and my race car,” said Barker, who lives in Eureka. “I got into the business to revolve around cars.”
Buck said he has four restored race cars.
Buck said his company has two employees and is now hiring more.
Buck had four children, including Meghan Lupchman, 17-year-old Kevin Buck, who died in a car crash in 2010; Cody Woods, 21, and Spencer Buck, 18.
He is married to Chris Buck.