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Tom Brown named Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year

Tom Brown is the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce's 2012 Citizen of the Year.

Tom Brown is the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce's 2012 Citizen of the Year. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

Tom Brown’s business is people. That was clear last night, when the chairman of New Hampshire Distributors was named Citizen of the Year by the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.

“He’s a very passionate person, a very caring person and I see that very much in how he deals with people,” said his son, Chris Brown. “You see that in the things he gets involved in with (Concord) Hospital or some of the other things, paying forward and very pleased to have been successful and very caring and very passionate.”

Brown, 68, serves on Concord Hospital’s board of trustees and has been a prominent supporter of local organizations such as the Concord Boys & Girls Club and Concord Youth Hockey.

Brown had a knee replacement at Concord Hospital yesterday and was not able to accept his award in person at the Grappone Conference Center last night. The chamber’s 93rd annual dinner was originally scheduled for Oct. 29 – the night Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. The event was rescheduled, but Brown already had the knee replacement scheduled. The Citizen of the Year award is typically a surprise for the recipient, but Brown gave an acceptance speech last night through a video filmed in advance of the event.

“New Hampshire Distributors has a motto and a thing they live by that says making friends is our business,” Brown said in the video. “That, along with selling the product that we do, makes it very unique to be in the marketplace. We not only sell the product to the retailer but we work very hard to go back in the evenings and in our spare time to connect with the actual consumers and do some sampling and build relationships.

“And it’s that kind of commitment that has got us involved in great organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, like the Concord Boys & Girls Club, Concord Hospital and several others that we have partnered up with in sponsorships.”

Brown has served on Concord Hospital’s board of trustees for more than a decade and “been involved in a myriad of projects,” said Mike Green, the hospital’s CEO.

“Tom is somebody who is deeply committed to this community, and he demonstrates that commitment through his engagement and his philanthropic support,” Green said.

Brown is the founding chairman of Concord Hospital Trust, the hospital’s fundraising branch. Among other projects, he helped the hospital raise money for its Payson Center for Cancer Care.

Outside the hospital, Brown has played a role in capital campaigns to build the Capitol Center for the Arts and the Grappone Conference Center. He also established a celebrity NASCAR driver golf tournament that benefits the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“He’s a local guy who’s done well – extremely well – but it’s never gone to his head, certainly,” Green said.

Brown has lived in Concord since age 5 and is a “good old hometown boy,” said longtime friend Jane Berwick, a former chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce who was named Citizen of the Year in 2002.

She said Brown and his wife Margie are “a great team” and have always been dedicated to their city.

“When I was raising money for the Capitol Center for the Arts I went to him because
. . . I needed help on contacts, information and other people that might be able to help us out with what we were trying to accomplish,” Berwick said.

“And he’s always been more than helpful with that information.”

Chris Brown attended last night’s event to accept the award on behalf of his father.

“I just want to emphasize to people that he’s tremendously appreciative of the honor,” Chris Brown said before the event yesterday. “There are a lot of people in this tightly knit community that are deserving of this award.”

After a 44-year career at family-owned New Hampshire Distributors, Tom Brown handed over control of the company this summer but will continue to serve as chairman of the company’s board.

He began working at New Hampshire Distributors for his father-in-law, Jim Hayes, in 1968.

The company represents national brands of beer and other beverages and sells them in New Hampshire.

“Being a Bud-man is unique to our business,” Brown said in his video speech. “Because of the community involvement and the way we work retail in the marketplace, we are the Bud-man. And that stays with you 24-7.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in line at the bank or at the doctor’s office or church or wherever you’re at. You’re the Bud-man, and it is truly a gratifying situation to be recognized in that way.”

Chris Brown, now president and chief operating officer, runs the company with two cousins, Grant and Tyler Kelly.

“My father . . . really was the heart and soul of New Hampshire Distributors, the glue that kind of kept things together,” he said.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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