Business Person of the Year

Rotary member Daniel Johnson smiles with business owner Mike Egan on Thursday at Mike's Pub in Hibbing. Egan was named this year's Business Person of the Year by the Hibbing-Chisholm Breakfast Rotary Club.

HIBBING — When Mike Egan first moved to Hibbing years ago, he was told, “Don’t try to be a Ranger. You won’t ever be accepted as a Ranger.”

The words of warning would only spur him on as he established multiple business ventures and staked claim to multiple community roles before eventually “retiring.” Today the 65-year-old owns Mike’s Pub - Bar 417 and the Moose Event Center. Over the years, he has served as the vice president of Hibbing Little League, board chair of Miracle League of the Iron Range, president of the Hibbing Economic Development Authority (HEDA), president on the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and is currently a Hibbing School Board member, among other accomplishments.

From bringing live entertainment to hosting charity events and extending veteran support, Egan’s extensive community impact has not gone unnoticed. That’s why members of the Hibbing-Chisholm Breakfast Rotary Club named him Business Person of the Year.

On Tuesday morning, Dan Johnson, a longtime Rotary member and owner of D.I. Johnson, Ltd., stood before a crowd of fellow Rotarians and community members in the Hibbing Park Hotel to award Egan a plaque and welcome him into an “elite group” of former recipients.

“Elite, not because of name, status, or who you are, but more so because of what you are and the way you conduct your daily life,” Johnson said.

The Hibbing-Chisholm Breakfast Rotary Club, which was chartered in 1988, is comprised of a group of area leaders dedicated to sharing their talents and resources with locals through service projects and initiatives. The Business Person of the Year award began in 1999, and only non-Rotarians are considered. Johnson explained candidates must meet the following criteria:

• They demonstrate a commitment to the community.

• They use their vocation or expertise to further community welfare.

• They have earned the respect of their peers and subordinates — not just respect due to name or position — and exhibit humility.

In other words, Egan in a nutshell.

“Mike, take pride knowing that this award is recognition of creating legacy by making our community a better place,” Johnson said. “The man you are today is a direct result of you staying focused on doing what's right and not necessarily doing what's popular.”

Johnson continued, “Success isn't always financial, authoritative power, prestige, nor status. Success is an approval of the face in the mirror. You do what you can to help others and inspire them to make the world a better place. That is what we call commitment to our community.”

Egan is now the 20th recipient of the award. The mover and shaker, who earned a business and marketing bachelor's degree from St. Cloud State and a pipefitter and plumber’s license from Dunwoody Technical School, told the Hibbing Daily Tribune this week that he was “stunned” when he learned he of his selection.

“I was surprised — really surprised,” Egan said. “The people and community events I’ve been involved with, they’ve been mostly related to the youth, so that’s been very rewarding for me.”

During the presentation, Johnson read congratulatory emails from Rep. Julie Sandstede and state Sen. David Tomassoni. Locals Scott Hanson and Rich Lees and Hibbing Mayor Rick Cannata all spoke to share stories of Egan and the positive influence he has made on them personally, as well as their families and the community as a whole.

Cannata has known Egan for 30 years and told the HDT that Egan was a great choice for the award. “He’s always cared about Hibbing and tried making Hibbing a better place,” Cannata said. “Not just with his business, but with the things he’s done with his volunteering. With baseball, I coached with him and my oldest boy met him when he was 11 years old and Mike took him in to help him coach — he was in a wheelchair. … He’s a real ambassador for the town.”

Laurio Brown, owner and broker of 1st Realty-Rangewide, Inc., was another speaker at Tuesday’s event. He who echoed the kind sentiments about Egan as he later told the HDT, “Mike Egan has given back more than he has received by being involved in so many community programs — from coaching baseball and football, umpiring baseball, sponsoring numerous teams and events, working to bring the Miracle Field to Hibbing, and now he is a school board member.”

Brown continued, “On the business side, Mike has owned and operated a sports store, a bar, a plumbing business and managed several businesses. Now he is the owner/operator of Mike's Pub, adding another bar next door, putting in a gaming room, and purchasing the former Moose Club Building which gives him three kitchens, a conference room, two banquet halls to go along with a beautiful bar/restaurant. On top of that he has opened ‘Up North Lettering’ which handles letter jackets and more for our local communities. Whew! Where does he find the time? He is well deserving of this award.”

Terry Tilton, president of the Breakfast Rotary Club, explained that many nominations rolled in for the 2020 award. One measure members use to decide is by examining if the nominees’ values holds up to Rotary’s “four-way test.” This includes asking: Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Is it the truth?

Egan passed with flying colors.

Johnson noted that many of the previous 19 recipients were from "sleeper" businesses which “make a tremendous contribution to a community, yet no soapbox exists to make it publicly known.” And it is those quiet contributions that make Hibbing a better place.

“Your core values are such that you value what, not who you are, and create opportunities

for people to be the best they can be,” Johnson said. “Honesty is a choice, not an action. Simply put, traits that people admire and respect.”

He also hailed Egan’s “substantial commitment of resources” to resurrect a former business that otherwise might still be dormant.

Despite the fanfare, Egan remained humbled as he told the HDT, “We just make it so it’s comfortable for people to come in and enjoy themselves. Our slogan is good food, good times, so it works out pretty good.”

He added, “I may not be from the Range, I may not be born and raised here, but I still feel like part of the Range. The people and the friends that I have here now will be my lifelong friends, and it’s really rewarding for me. That part I really like.”

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