Friday, November 8th, 2013
Bruns tapped for both chamber awards
By Amy Kronenberger
Mike Bruns, left, accepts the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year Aw. . .
ROCKFORD - For the first time ever, one influential Rockford resident was named both person- and business owner of the year by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.
Mike Bruns, owner of Mike Bruns Plumbing Heating, 132 W. Market St., accepted the awards Thursday during the 40th annual chamber banquet.
Bruns, 57, said he suspected something when he arrived at the banquet.
"I knew something was up ... so I figured I got business of the year," he said. "But I had no idea I would get person of the year too."
For more than 30 years Bruns served the community with his business.
"He donated the air conditioning for the Rockford Belle and does the maintenance there ... and has a humanitarian approach to (his) business," said Nancy Leighner, the 2012 Person of the Year Award recipient. "He will come to your home immediately when called if you feel it is an emergency."
As an advocate for the community, Bruns is a longtime sponsor of Children's Ball baseball team and in 2004 organized the first Shane's Crossing 5k run/walk with proceeds benefiting local causes. He is a member of the Sons of the American Legion, which assists in performing military rights for deceased veterans, marches in the Memorial Day parade and hosted Rockford's World War II veterans exhibit during the 1999 Rockford Days.
He is known for his musical ability too, having earned the nickname the "singing plumber." He is a member of the local bands Triad and Blind Date. Bruns and his band mates regularly perform at churches and nursing homes.
Bruns received the 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Laurels of Shane Hill and Maplewood of Shane's Village nursing homes.
Every other Sunday he hosts a prayer and worship service with the residents of Maplewood, where he sings and plays guitar. Led by his faith as a life-long member of St. Teresa Catholic Church, he has volunteered for many other services.
At the church, Bruns has served as a parish council member and now serves as an usher, choir member and church maintenance man.
A 1974 Parkway graduate and the third of 11 children in his family, Bruns was a proud member of the Parkway Panther football team that went 10-0 in 1973 and made the All MAC Team.
In 1982, he married his wife Vickie and started his own plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning business. He and his wife had three children, Erica, Brian and Nick.
Prior to receiving his awards, Bruns entertained the guests at the chamber banquet with his band Triad. Bruns was presented his person of the year plaque by Leighner and his business of the year award by Leah Hays, director of marketing at the Laurels of Shane Hill and the 2012 Business of the Year award winner.
Mercer County Commissioner Rick Muhlenkamp presented Bruns with proclamations for both awards. The evening's special guest speaker was Mercer County's economic development director Jared Ebbing who said the pride and sense of community found in Rockford and other communities in Mercer County are the biggest factors that draw new businesses to the area.