In a surprise announcement at the 20th Annual Marvin S. Gilman Superstars in Business Awards Luncheon, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce awarded the esteemed Gilman Bowl to its namesake’s daughter Martha Gilman. The award, presented in conjunction with the Chamber’s Small Business Alliance, is kept secret until the event.
Martha has played a critical role in the activities of the Small Business Alliance, being a long-standing member of the Board of the Alliance and as a member of the State Chamber Board of Directors for over a decade. Since its inception in 1998, Martha has relentlessly committed to making the annual Superstars Luncheon a moral and financial success. Her tireless efforts in logistical planning and development/fundraising for the annual event continues year after year and is a testament to her parents’ admired example.
“One of the things I love most about this program and hold with me each year is the memory of seeing my mother’s pride when she would attend the luncheons. The Hotel du Pont was one of my father’s favorite Delaware landmarks, and so it is very special to our family to hold the awards luncheon in the Gold Ballroom. I’m honored to carry on their good work in this way, and even more so to bring my son, Brett, in as part of their legacy,” said Martha in a recent interview for the Chamber’s magazine, Delaware Business.
She and her father went into business together, founding Gilman Development Company, a land development and homebuilding firm. Additionally, she co-founded Cornell Management along with her father and brother, Peter. Cornell Management, in conjunction with Gilman Development, builds, owns and manages rental housing. Martha and Marvin were also instrumental in creating The Delaware Housing Partnership (DHP), which provides families with affordable and comfortable housing as homeowners or as renters. The Gilman family’s efforts have given approximately five hundred families in all three counties the ability to lead a better quality of life with homes in which to raise their families.
Leading the charge on Gilman Bowl nominations each year, it was a big but important task to make sure she would be surprised. A fake script was even crafted to keep her in the dark. It wasn't until a video she thought was about the 20th anniversary played that it became clear, with her son, Brett, and several colleagues making the announcement. Click here to watch the announcement; and click here to watch the Facebook Live video from the event. DSCC President Mike Quaranta was joined by Senator Chris Coons, along with Martha's family, to present the award.
The Gilman Bowl was established to recognize those who exhibit exceptional small business leadership. It is named in memory of Marvin S. Gilman, who served as an exemplary leader and a paragon of small business and philanthropy in Delaware. Martha has, and continues to, serve her community in various ways. Her involvement includes the 21st Century Childrens’ Fund, a nonprofit that gives grants to children in need so that they can participate in extracurricular and developmental activities that would otherwise have been beyond their financial reach; as well as the Delaware Community Fund, the Rotary Club of Wilmington and the Homebuilders Association of Delaware.
The program included keynote remarks from Scott Kammerer of SoDel Concepts.
"Building something from nothing isn't for everyone, but I wouldn't trade it for anything," said Kammerer in sharing the story behind SoDel's inception, challenges overcome, accomplishments made and the success yet to be had.
The event also honored eight outstanding companies as Superstars in Business and Award of Excellence winners. Winner videos and event information can be found at www.dscc.com/superstarsinbusiness.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.