JOHN Jay Santos, Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods and Triple J Payless SuperFresh & Truckload Store general manager, is the Saipan Chamber of Commerce 2022 Business Person of the Year.
Santos, who has been with Triple J for 17 years, received the award during the chamber’s annual gala at Crowne Plaza Resort on Saturday night.
The other nominees were Chamber President and Naked Fish Bar & Grill owner Joseph C. Guerrero, Paradise Dental Spa owner Dr. Nelson Krum, 500 Sails co-founder Emma Perez and Docomo Pacific Consumer Sales Manager Nicole Babauta.
Just a regular guy
In his remarks, Santos said it was an honor and privilege to receive the award. “I’m just a regular guy” he added, who didn’t feel he deserved it.
He then asked everyone to give the other nominees a big round of applause for all the great things they have done for the community.
He also thanked the past Business Person of the Year awardees as well as his wife, Joyce, to whom he has been married for 20 years.
He likewise thanked his four children, Aysia, Myles, Dylan and Aya, Triple J’s Robert “Bob” Jones, Jack Jones, Jay Jones, Mike Sablan, Mario Valentino, Fred Camacho Dan Murell and Jose Mafnas Jr.
Santos said he was very lucky to have fabulous and hardworking parents who taught him respect, humility, being responsible for your actions and not bringing shame to your family.
He remembered his father telling him during his high school graduation: “I don’t care if you become a ditch digger — just make sure that you are the best digger in the ditch.”
Santos attended Santa Monica College in California and worked for Guam Cargo Consolidators in Los Angeles, California where he was eventually promoted to station manager.
He then worked for Eagle Freight Services also in Los Angeles before moving to Saipan in 1994 and working for Marianas Napa as general manager.
In 1997, Santos joined the Pacific Islands Club as its purchasing manager. In 2003, he was appointed director of Customs Service in 2003 under the Babauta-Benavente administration.
He joined Triple J Saipan, Inc. in May 2006 as general manager for Hertz Rental Car on Saipan, Tinian, and throughout Micronesia.
He was named general sales manager of Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods in September 2007, and director of human resources for Triple J Enterprises in 2009.
Santo also serves on the board of directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Guam & CNMI and the Saipan Baseball League, Inc.
The Non-Profit of the Year Award was given to Kagman Isla Community Health which bested the two other nominees, the Marianas Alliance of Non-Government Organizations and the NMI Pickleball Federation.
Kagman Isla’s internist, Mohamed Khalil Salhi, MD, MBA, and other clinic staffers received the award.
Bistro Boyz won the Start Up of the Year Award. Entrepreneur Vincent “Ben” Babauta Jr. and Bistro staff received the award.
Paradise Dental Spa won the Small Business of the Year Award, and its owners, Dr. Nelson and Donna Krum along with their staff, received the award.
MANGO won the Chamber Member of the Year Award. Present to receive the award were the group’s executive director, Frances Sablan, Interim Operations Director Emma Perez, Development Director Laurie Peterka, Project Director Franco Santos, Training Manager Shawna Babauta, Program Coordinator Angelika Narvaez, Program Assistants Devine Pua and Shawn Davis.
In his remarks as chamber president, Joseph C. Guerrero thanked everyone for their determination and hard work as business owners in the CNMI.
“We have a new administration, new mayor and new Legislature, which brings a fresh wave of anticipation and hope that the progress and success of 2022 will continue,” he added.
Guerrero said the chamber “truly looks forward to working diligently” with Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Lt. Gov. David M. Apatang, the 23rd Legislature, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and all the stakeholders, “to push through the challenges [and] identify what can be promising times ahead.”