Growing Business. Building Community.

Kalkaska Honors 2016 Citizen and Business of the Year

KALKASKA – A local office supply store and a long-time community businessman will be honored as the 2016 Citizen and Business of the Year for the Kalkaska community.

Advanced Office Supply is the Business of the Year in Kalkaska, while businessman and property developer Robert Murray will receive the Citizen of the Year award. Both will be recognized at the annual Kalkaska Luncheon on Wednesday, April 27, at the Kalkaska Church of Christ starting at 11:30 a.m.

Murray, whose real estate and property development background go back for decades in the Kalkaska area, was described by one nominator as the community’s “best cheerleader … always actively promoting the area for its recreational activities and local resources.”

Murray said those accomplishments have been the result of strong partnerships with other business people, village and downtown development officials, township representatives and others in the community.

“The nice thing about Kalkaska is that no matter what I’ve built it’s been welcomed with open arms. It makes a huge difference,” Murray said. “I have been very, very fortunate to have great relationships with the people I’ve worked with.”

Murray started in the real estate business in the mid-1970s at the old Ski and Shore Realty office and later bought the company. He continued working in real estate for several years and eventually sold his firm, known as Preferred Properties, to the Coldwell Banker chain in 2003. He developed numerous subdivisions in and around Kalkaska. When members of the community approached him several years ago about the need for a hotel/resort in the village, he developed the All Seasons Hotel & Resort where he remains a co-owner today. The hotel is among the Top 10 Finalists in the Traverse City Area Chamber’s 2016 Small Business Celebration.

Murray said Kalkaska’s business community has experienced “thick and thin” through the fluctuations of the regional economy. But there’s always been tremendous community support for institutions like Kalkaska Public Schools and the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center that keep the region moving forward.

“It’s a very close-knit community – everybody steps up to the plate when we need something,” he said. “I’m absolutely grateful for what the community has provided me the last 40-some years.”

Advanced Office Supply, located at 332 Cedar Street in downtown Kalkaska, is the 2016 Business of the Year. Owned and operated by Katina Banko since 2001, Advanced Office Supply was described as “great ambassadors of the community” by nominators who said the store is a “business hang out” where local residents and business people frequently gather.

“I’ve always sort of been an office supply nerd….I like to be organized and get things done,” said Banko, who also serves as a trustee on the Kalkaska Village Council. She also served on the Kalkaska Chamber Board before it merged with the Traverse City Area Chamber several years ago.

Advanced Office Supply offers a customer business center where clients can come in to use a computer, printer, get emails and take care of other business. The store also serves as a drop-off site for a local non-profit where locals collect winter clothes donations for area residents.

The company has diversified in recent years to include printing services and offers daily delivery service to communities throughout the area. “We have a really friendly atmosphere here,” Banko said. “We’ve been able to diversify over the years and been able to keep moving the business forward.”

Along with the award presentations, the business program for the Kalkaska Luncheon is entitled “A Framework for Growth and Investment in Kalkaska” and includes a presentation from local consultants Michael “Mac” McClelland and Sherwood Smith. Luncheon tickets are available by contacting Chamber Event Coordinator Andi Wagenschutz at (231) 995-7101.

About the Chamber

The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce started in 1915 and is Michigan’s third-largest chamber, serving nearly 2,000 businesses in the Grand Traverse region. It partners with government, nonprofit and other organizations on a wide range of programs and services to grow the area’s economy, protect the environment and enhance quality of life. Learn more at