The Western Building Material Association has awarded Tom Sliter, owner of Sliters Lumber and Building Supply, the annual Distinguished Dealer Award.
The honor is given to association members who demonstrate outstanding and distinguished service to the building and material industry.
However, those who know Sliter know that his dedication does not end with the building industry. He is well-known throughout the valley as one who continually gives back to the community without question or hesitation.
"He does just about everything," said Kendra Dalke, an accounts specialist for Sliters Lumber. "He's very involved."
Sliter was chosen for the award because of his continued involvement in the Somers community, through donations to charity projects and his involvement with the Somers Company Town Project that strives to preserve the history of the town. Sliter assisted the Town Project group in restoring a steam locomotive that now sits at the end of the Rails to Trails pedestrian/bike path. He also has donated time and supplies to build a pavilion to house the train.
Sliter was pivotal in helping the group bring the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus to Somers for the first time in 73 years.
"I was sitting in my office one day, and he comes in out of the blue and said 'the circus is coming!' — just like that," said Sliter's son, Andrew, speculating that the circus will come back again in 2015 thanks to his father's hard work. "It was an amazing event, and he was able to help make it happen."
Sliter also has been involved with the annual building of unique playhouses. Each year, the playhouses are constructed with supplies donated from Sliters Lumber and Building Supply, and are completed in an original style, modeled to look like anything from ice cream parlors to blacksmith shops. The playhouses are displayed at the Flathead Home and Garden Show and Kalispell Center Mall. They are raffled off, with all the proceeds benefiting the Nurturing Center.
Sliter was born and raised in the Flathead Lake area, and graduated from Valparaiso University in 1969. Following college, he became a systems engineer for the International Business Machines Corporation in Chicago before returning to the family business in 1979.
According to his son, Sliter always has been a modest man, but his entire staff understands why Sliter was chosen for the award.
"We may not be all about grand innovations, or anything big like that, but we're consistent," Andrew Sliter said of Sliters Lumber and Building Supply. "The company has always been about setting a higher standard for our customers, and delivering unwavering service."
The store was founded by Everit and Neils Sliter in Somers in 1924. Over the years, the company has added a building supply store in Bigfork and a hardware store in Lakeside.
The Western Building Material Association is a regional trade association serving building material dealers throughout Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
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