AWCI’s Pinnacle Award

May 2009

Michael Chambers, president of J&B Acoustical, Inc., in Mansfield, Ohio, is the 2009 winner of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry’s most prestigious and elite honor, the Pinnacle Award. Chambers was honored at AWCI’s Convention during the AWCI Awards Presentation Brunch in Nashville, Tenn.

The Pinnacle Award is presented annually to the individual who most merits our industry’s recognition, an individual who has given unselfishly of his or her time and energies to benefit the AWCI and the industry. Not only are the candidates evaluated on their dedication to the industry, but on their civic and community work and the excellence of their companies.

Chambers, who has a long history with AWCI and the industry, was born into a family of lathers. His father, Donald J. Chambers, was a third-generation lather who started J&B Acoustical in a barn on June 9, 1957. Chambers started working at his father’s company when he was just 8 years old and took over the helm when he was 31. He was soon joined by his brother-in-law, Ken Navratil, in running the family business. In 2007, they celebrated the 50th anniversary of what has become J&B Commercial Construction Finishes. They are now beginning the process of transitioning the business over to the next generation—Mike’s sons, Jonathan and Joel, and Adam, who is Navratil’s son.

Today J&B Acoustical Inc. specializes in many aspects of the commercial construction process. Acoustical ceilings, metal framed drywall partitions, flooring and exterior insulation and finish systems are the main phases of work performed by J&B. The company’s Classical Glass division pre-fabricates and installs curtain wall and storefront glass and glazing systems. J&B also fabricates standard and custom hollow metal framed door and hardware systems.

A Lifetime Member of AWCI, members of the J&B family have been playing a role in the association since 1963. Following in his father’s footsteps, Chambers became AWCI’s president in 1994 (his father was AWCI president in 1977, and he won the Pinnacle Award in 1990; brother-in-law Navratil was the association’s president in 2003).

Beginning in the 1980s, Chambers served on many AWCI committees, often serving as chairman or vice chairman. He was involved with AWCI’s Audit Committee, Young Executives’ Council, Membership Committee, Academy Council, Blue Ribbon Insurance Committee, Ways and Means Committee, CICE Project Liaison Committee, Carpenters’ Apprenticeship & Labor Liaison Committee, General Education Committee, Lifetime Membership Committee, Labor Management Executive Committee, Group Health Insurance Task Force, Budget Committee, Publications Committee, Executive Compensation Committee, Continuing Study Committee, and the Laborers’ Union Liaison Committee, among others. To this day, Chambers can be found participating on AWCI’s industry committees or volunteering to assist with other projects.

On the home front, Michael and Carol Chambers have been married for 36 years. They have three children, Jonathan, Elizabeth and Joel, and four granddaughters: Madelyn, Zoe, Mae and Kit.

Sailing has been one of his passions since he was 10 years old. Chambers continues to sail on the same lake on which he learned, and he and his son, Jonathan, can still be found there every Sunday afternoon in the summer, no matter what the weather. (Diehard sailor that he is, Chambers has been known to sail on a frozen lake in an iceboat.) He also has been commodore of the Mohican Sailing Club—twice. Soon he expects to introduce his grandchildren to the sport.

Although they have lived in the same house for 35 years, the Chamberses are world travelers. They have been sunburned in the tropics and chilled in Iceland. They have experienced the adventure of a zip line in Costa Rica and climbed on the Great Wall of China. They could spend hours talking about the wonderful and unique memories they have with their AWCI Continuing Study Committee family of friends.

Besides sailing and traveling, Chambers enjoys spending time in his second favorite state, Maine, where he loves to hike and kayak in the summer and go downhill skiing in the winter. Other things that bring him great joy are music and live theater.

"A good part of his budget is spent on concerts and plays,” says Carol Chambers. "He leads a rich life when it comes to entertainment.”

Chambers also finds joy in giving back to his community and church. While his children were growing up, he coached girls’ soccer and basketball. He rarely missed any of his own children’s sporting events or extracurricular activities. Like many dads, he sat in many stifling gymnasiums and on many frigid bleachers to let his little superstar wannabes know that he cared. He always thought trying your hardest while having fun was the way to go in whatever you do.

For many years, he has sponsored a child in Guatemala and Columbia through the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. He also sponsors inner-city children at a local summer camp. He really loves kids and would love to see them all have what his children enjoy.

Chambers sat on the school board at his church and is president of the Monsignor Dunn Foundation for Education. He is a member of the board of directors at Richland Bank, MT Business Technologies, Inc. and the Mansfield Art Center. He recently joined the board of directors at MedCentral Hospital as well. He is a proud financial supporter of many community organizations, including the Renaissance Theater, Kingwood Center, Malabar Farm and the Friendly House. He is also on the advisory board for the Spartan Field Sports Complex. Michael and Carol were also recently inducted into the Hall of Fame at their church for service given to the church and school.

"He is a very involved person—and I have only known him as such,” says daughter Elizabeth Daniels. "From coaching and our school activities growing up, to now being invited to sit on boards and attend countless local fundraisers, he has always had a packed schedule. My husband and I admire their involvement—and sometimes envy their social calendar!”

Says Carol Chambers: "It will not surprise me if you hear the words integrity, loyalty, compassionate, generous, and yes, funny, when other people describe him. He can be the toughest guy I know and the most gentle. I remember talking with one of our kids when they were little trying to explain that it doesn’t matter what you look like or how big you are on the outside, it is what is inside that matters the most.”

Their response: "Daddy is the biggest little man I know.”

Many thanks to Carol Chambers and Elizabeth Daniels, who made great contributions to this article.