Competitors unite at City of Hope event

Orlando, Fla. -- The stage of the 2012 City of Hope “Spirit of Life” event featured one brand new honoree, several more industry icons and 30 years of memories for the hardware/homebuilding group.

Convening for the good of the California-based cancer treatment and research center, executives and supporters filled a banquet room at the Rosen Plaza Hotel here on the eve of the International Builders' Show to honor the man of the hour: Ace Hardware's Ray Griffith. The president and CEO of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based hardware co-op accepted the 2012 Spirit of Life award.

Griffith drew applause with his comment on the importance of social missions for all business, beyond market share and profit margins. “[Corporations] should possess a soul and a commitment to leave something behind that has a chance to help make the world a better place,” he said. 

The 30th Anniversary event included the appearance of many past honorees, and also a special master of ceremonies: The Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who told the story of a former colleague whose life was extended by the work of the doctors and researchers at City of Hope.

Generally, it was a night were cooperation won out over competition. 

Marcus called to the stage a host former Spirit of Life honorees and industry titans, with no clashes. Among those who posed together for a 30th anniversary photo were Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank and former Handy Andy chairman Ron Rashkow. 

As the 2011 Spirit of Life honoree, Craig Menear welcomed attendees to the event and praised the work of City of Hope. “The progress that this organization makes continually, year after year, truly is remarkable,” said Menear, Home Depot’s executive VP merchandising.

City of Hope is a California-based treatment and research facility -- soon to celebrate its 100th year -- dedicated to finding cures and new treatments for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. The 2012 event raised $770,000.

Other past honorees in attendance were Bruce Merino, former sr. VP for Home Depot; Pat Farrah, co-founder of Home Depot; Dave Hodnik, former CEO Ace Hardware; Bill Patterson, former president HomeBase; Mark Baker, Orchard Supply Hardware CEO; Alan Barry, Masco; Paul Hylbert, Kodiak Building Partners; William Foote, USG; and Willam Farrell, the American Hardware Manufacturers Association.