Peter Baker, president and CEO of Watertown-based Crystal Rock Holdings Inc., has been named the winner of the 2011 Malcolm Baldrige Community Award, the Waterbury Regional Chamber's highest honor, the chamber said Monday.
The chamber also announced that Richard DuPont, president of Resource Development Associates LLC of Watertown, will receive its 2011 Leadership Award, and Francine Nido, assistant to the president and CEO of New Opportunities Inc., of Waterbury, will receive its annual Volunteer of the Year Award.
Baker, who heads a 97-year-old publicly traded company that distributes natural spring water, coffee and refreshments and office furniture and supplies to homes and offices in eight Northeastern states, is the 17th Baldrige Award winner. He and this year's other winners will be honored during the chamber's annual Malcolm Baldrige Chamber Awards banquet on Sept. 20 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
"A lot of very accomplished individuals who have a done a great deal to help this community have won this award in the past, and I'm just very humbled and honored to stand in their company," Baker said Monday. "Considering what this award is all about and who it's named after, this means an awful lot to me personally and to our company."
Crystal Rock was founded in Stamford in 1914 by Baker's grandfather, Henry Baker Sr. The company relocated to Watertown in 1988.
With $70 million in annual sales, Crystal Rock is the largest independent and third-largest company of its kind in the nation.
The chamber's top award is named in honor of the former U.S. secretary of commerce under President Ronald Reagan. A native of Nebraska, Baldrige served in Washington until his death in a 1987 rodeo accident.
A one-time Woodbury resident, Baldrige headed Waterbury-based Scovill Manufacturing Co. before joining the Reagan administration. He was renowned locally for his volunteerism and dedication to improving the local economy.
"For the last 17 years, it has been an honor to select an individual from the greater Waterbury business community who enhances economic growth, drives employment opportunities and is a leader in new business development," said Carmen Anthony Vacalebre, the founder of the Carmen Anthony Restaurant Group and the co-chair of the chamber's selection committee for the award. "Peter Baker epitomizes the award criteria of the Malcolm Baldrige Community Award.
"Mac once said, 'Entrepreneurs are dreamers that do.' Peter's entrepreneurial vision and commitment to our community mirrors that of the late Malcolm Baldrige."
Baker succeeds Neil M. O'Leary, the former police chief in both Waterbury and Wolcott and the endorsed Democratic mayoral candidate in Waterbury, as the Community Award winner. Past winners include Vacalebre; James C. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Webster Bank; Burton Albert, chairman of Albert Bros.; former state banking Commissioner John Burke; William J. Pape II, editor and publisher of the Republican-American; and former Gov. John G. Rowland.
In addition to his position with Crystal Rock, Baker, a Southbury resident, serves on the finance committee of the Waterbury Police Athletic League, and the board of directors of the Palace Theater in Waterbury. He served as chairman of the board of directors of the International Bottled Water Association in 1998 and 1999.
From 2003 to 2008 he served on the finance committee of the Chase Collegiate School, and was a member of the school's board of trustees from 1999 to 2008. He served on the board of directors of the Western Connecticut Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1998 to 2008.
In 2009, Baker was recognized as the Watertown Leader of the Year by the Watertown/Oakville Chamber of Commerce.
Dupont, a Watertown resident, is chairman of the chamber's manufacturing advisory council. He is also a member of the chamber's board of directors, and is chairman of the board of the Watertown-Oakville chamber, which is a division of the Waterbury chamber.
Dupont is a past president and active member of the Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut; and a former director of both the Waterbury Development Corp. and the Connecticut Apprenticeship Council. He is also a consultant to the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, the state Department of Labor's business collaborative, the Connecticut Community Colleges' SMART program, and co-chair of the Well Path, Behavior Health for Children & Families annual golf fundraiser. He is also a member of the Sacred Heart High School Advanced Leadership Committee.
Nido, a lifelong Waterbury resident, has been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels in Waterbury since the age of 12, and has been personally delivering meals since 1980. She also volunteers on the board of directors of the Waterbury chapter of UNICO National and will run later this month for the organization's national secretary's position. UNICO, which was founded in Waterbury in 1922, is the nation's largest Italian-American service organization.
Nido serves on several New Opportunities, Inc., committees, including those connected to its golf tournament, the Meriden Black Expo Scholarship, the Afro-Latin-Indian scholarship reception, Toastmasters, and the Basic Needs-High Impact Strategy Team. A 2008 graduate of the chamber's Leadership Greater Waterbury program, she has served on the leadership program's steering committee since 2009.
She has also volunteered with the chamber's Duck Day Race, annual Golf Tournament and Membership Drives.