Growing up, there was no need for Jim Gutzler to go job hunting. He knew what he would be doing, and that is join in the family business — Highland’s Tru-Buy.
“At the age of 14, he jumped right in stocking shelves, helping customers, pricing merchandise and anything and everything that was needed to keep the business running smoothly as it had since 1978, when his family purchased it,” said Tricia Buehne, the incoming chamber president, who presented Gutzler with the Business Person of the Year Award at the Highland Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner on June 21.
“(Tru-Buy) still remains a family business today, as many of the family remain in or have joined this successful hometown supermarket,” Buehne said.
And Gutzler is an important part. He knows his products, from meat to the fruit of the vine.
He is an expert as in a judge at the Jakey in June expert barbecue festival.
“(He) is also a connoisseur of fine wine and has often been asked to help with wine tasting,” Buehne said.
In addition to all the time he puts into the family enterprise, Buehne said that Gutzler is “definitely a ‘giver’ and a ‘doer’ among the community.”
“(He’s) always willing to step up when asked to serve or donate his time or talents,” she said.
He has been involved in many civic organizations and clubs. The list includes:
▪ Member of the Highland Optimist Club since 1995/past president;
▪ Past president of the Highland Sportsmen’s Club;
▪ Member of the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree
▪ Charter member of the VFW Post 5694 Men’s Auxiliary;
▪ Member of the Sons of the American Legion;
▪ Member of the Helvetia Sharpshooters; and
▪ Member of the Highland Moose Club.
“While being in the Optimists, he started a new club in Bethalto. As a member of the Knights of Columbus, he is charge of all of the supplies for fundraisers — and there is a lot, Buehne said. “In the VFW and the Sons of the American Legion, he has worked in the poker stand for 30-plus years, and that is no bluffing. In other words, Jim is active and involved, and that is what makes a good Business Person of the Year.
“On any given weekend, you can find a community organization barbecuing outside of Tru-Buy to help raise funds for their cause. Jim helps them out with getting supplies, and of course, a prime location to sell from.”
Gutzler was born and raised in Highland.
“He has planted his roots here and has helped grow a successful business,” said Buehne.
He has been married to his wife, Lori, for 38 years and has two children and three grandchildren and enjoys spending time with them, whether it be camping or going to their farm.
“Jim is the epitome of what the Business Person of the Year Award is all about. His work ethic, community involvement and overall caring for his community make this town a better place to live and do business. Highland is a better place because of Jim and what he has brought to this community…,” Buehne said.
“Highland is a great city. It’s amazing,” Gutzler said. “I’m not sure why anyone would ever want to leave. I appreciate all the support I’ve been given. This city is just amazing.”
About the Award
The Business Person of the Year Award is presented to a local business person who has shown outstanding performance and success in his/her industry and a “beyond-the-call-of-duty” dedication to Highland. In addition to holding a leadership role in his/her company, the honoree has actively participated in service organizations, governing boards, and other civic committees, promoting growth and development for all Highland businesses.