AS his business grew over 40 years, John Butko never for a moment considered leaving Albury-Wodonga to pursue better business opportunities.
John and his wife Carolyn established JC Butko in 1976 and on Saturday his contribution to the Border was acknowledged when he was named the 2016 Chamber Business Awards’ hall of fame recipient.
"Can I say, as a very passionate supporter of the Albury-Wodonga region, how proud I am to receive this award," Mr Butko told guests at the awards presentation at the Albury Entertainment Centre.
He had special praise for his wife who worked long hours behind the scenes to ensure the business and their young family thrived.
“Whilst the journey has had its ups and downs, all the hard work has been worth it,” he said.
"It has helped us provide considerable employment to local people in the region, and at last count the business has employed over 1000 people over the 40 years.”
His Ukrainian parents came to Australia in the late 1940s and were processed through Bonegilla.
Mr Butko became an apprentice fitter and turner, and was named Albury-Wodonga’s apprentice of the year in 1972. Six weeks after they married in 1976, John sold his home and with Carolyn set up JC Butko engineering in Wodonga.
He rented a shed and invested heavily in machinery, frequently working until the early hours of the morning. Carolyn often brought dinner and their young children down to the workshop in the evening to see him.
"To start a new business and have it succeed is very demanding and time consuming, none of what we have achieved could have been done without the total support and backing of family,” he said.
"Albury-Wodonga is a great place to live. Clean air, water, snow, plenty of good, affordable residential land close to town. A great place to raise a family. We are very happy to keep our business here in Albury-Wodonga."