2018 Montana Business Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

MSU BILLINGS FOUNDATION NEWS— The MSU Billings College of Business and the MSU Billings Foundation presents the 2018 Montana Business Hall of Fame. This annual scholarship fundraising banquet recognizes Montana businesspeople who exemplify leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit.

The 2018 inductees are Sarah Calhoun, Bill Ballard, and Bob and Penni Nance.

Honor hese exceptional business leaders on Oct. 11 during the Montana Business Hall of Fame Banquet, beginning at 7 p.m. at Northern Hotel in Billings. Ticket sales and table sponsorships for the event benefit MSU Billings student scholarships and are matched by the Sam and Judy McDonald Endowment. In 2017, 20 scholarships were funded in the amount of $2,000 each. Continuing this year, the Foundation hopes to fund 10 scholarships to match 10 from the endowment. Table sponsorships are available for $1500, and individual tickets are $150 each.

“This event is unique in that it honors businesspeople not only because of their excellence in business but also because of their philanthropy in the community. As an added benefit, table sponsorships pay for new scholarships. We have College of Business alumni in more than 140 businesses in Yellowstone County, and we are proud to provide them with qualified graduates,” said Interim Dean Ed Garding of the College of Business.


Sarah Calhoun, Red Ants Pants
Inductee Sarah Calhoun

Sarah Calhoun has nearly two decades of leadership experience in both the non-profit and small business sectors, working in the outdoor education industry before founding Red Ants Pants in 2006. Tired of wearing men’s work pants that didn’t fit, Calhoun designed pants that would fit, function and flatter working women. Red Ants Pants are made in the USA, based out of White Sulphur Springs, MT, where the storefront, distribution center and international headquarters all reside in a historic saddle shop.

To show support for the hard-working side of Montana and beyond, the Red Ants Pants Foundation was born in 2011. The Foundation supports women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities – the three things most important to Calhoun and the Red Ants Pants community. That same year the Foundation launched its first program, the Red Ants Pants Music Festival, which takes place annually during summer.

Calhoun has been called a revolutionary figure in rural business today and a powerhouse of inspiration for women in business. As she rises to the top echelons of success, she pays it forward by actively encouraging and mentoring other entrepreneurial women.


Bob & Penni Nance, Nance Petroleum
Inductees Bob and Penni Nance

Bob and Penni Nance, community leaders and long-time philanthropists, have shared their gifts for over 40 years throughout Montana. Both served on multiple local and regional boards, giving time, dollars and energy to their passions. Their generous philanthropy includes the Bob and Penni Nance Pediatric Unit at Billings Clinic, the Bob and Penni Nance Infusion Center, and a major gift toward the educational and technological needs of Billings Catholic Schools.

Bob Nance enjoyed a distinguished career in the oil and gas business as President and CEO of Nance Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration and development company he founded in 1970. He has received numerous awards and induction into the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Hall of Fame in 2004. Bob and Penni own the Diamond N Ranch outside of Billings where they breed APHA Horses and offer a full-service training business for the equine connoisseur.


Bill Ballard, Ballard Petroleum
Inductee Bill Ballard

Bill Ballard is well known for his business savvy and generosity to the Billings community. His renowned career began when he joined partner Bill Cronoble to form Balcron Oil Co. in Billings in 1963. After selling the company, he formed Ballard Petroleum in 1992 to develop leases, and grow assets and reserves. He remains chairman and CEO, still actively working with his sons Dave and Jeff. Ballard Petroleum employs 30 people in Billings and 17 in Gillette, Wyo.

Ballard was instrumental in developing a geology degree at Rocky Mountain College. Many of the program graduates stay and work in Montana, employed by Ballard Petroleum. He is passionate about quality healthcare and education, offering major financial support to Riverstone Health, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and Rocky Mountain College.

Ballard has served as director on Billings Clinic and Rocky Mountain College boards for decades. He also served on the boards of the Rotary Club and the Montana Petroleum Association.

Keynote speaker Jeffrey Holsinger
Jeffrey Holsinger, Volunteers of America Northern Rockies

Special guest Jeffrey Holsinger, CEO of Volunteers of America Northern Rockies since 2002, will highlight the Montana Business Hall of Fame banquet as the keynote speaker. His entrepreneurial nature has guided the growth and impact VOANR has managed during his tenure. Under his leadership, VOANR has grown to over $20 million in services and broadened its geographic footprint to encompass Wyoming, Montana and Western South Dakota. Prior to joining VOANR, Holsinger served three years as the director of operations for Rehabilitative Enterprises of Northeast Wyoming. He also worked 10 years as an affiliate executive director for Associated Marine Institutes serving violent youthful offenders through both residential and non-residential rehabilitative programming.

Holsinger’s professional passion builds organizations through empowered leadership that embraces a social entrepreneurial spirit through the passionate delivery of human services. His personal interests are spending time with family and enjoying outdoor activities, such as bird hunting and fishing.

Past inductees into the Montana Business Hall of Fame are:

  • Ian Davidson
  • Sam McDonald (posthumously)
  • Chris Nelson
  • Bill Oftedahl
  • Mike Schaer
  • Don & Marilyn Floberg
  • Greg Gianforte
  • Tom Scott
  • Karen Fagg
  • Terry Payne
  • Nick Wolter
  • Nicki and Rick Larson
  • Bill Johnstone
  • Bill Coffee

For additional information or to sponsor tables and purchase individual tickets, please contact the MSU Billings Foundation at (406) 657-2244 or foundation@msubillings.edu.


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