Hilltop Packs honored with McCracken Legacy Award
Written by Creative Content Writer Steve Barrett
Hilltop Packs LLC and Hilltop Packs Coffee Company were awarded the 2022 McCracken Legacy Award during the Greene County Chamber of Commerce’s recent annual banquet.
Melody Longstreth, Chamber executive director, said this prestigious award is presented to a Greene County business or organization that has demonstrated ambition, profitability, growth, sound business planning, customer satisfaction and management of people.
The business or organization also demonstrates commitment to social responsibility and exemplary community involvement, as well as a positive social and/or economic impact on the community and exemplary civic community leadership, Longstreth said.
Prior to this award being created, the chamber awarded an Organizational Distinguished Service Award to a local non-profit who demonstrated a lasting change to the well-being of the community.
Longstreth said this award, which was presented from 2004 to 2015, was retired in 2016 and the award was renamed and expanded to include businesses in 2016.
Previous McCracken Legacy Award recipients include: Waynesburg Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4793 and its Auxiliary, along with General Wayne Pup Tent No. 33 and its Auxiliary (2021); Fox Ford (2019); EQT (2018); Waynesburg University (2017) and First Federal Savings and Loan of Greene County (2016).
The award is named in honor of Jack McCracken, a well-known and respected local businessman who was the first Distinguished Service Award recipient in 1988. Two of his sons received the award – Jeff McCracken in 2012 and John McCracken, who received the award posthumously in 2013.
Jack McCracken’s granddaughter Elissa received a special Distinguished Service Award in 2012 when she was a contestant in the Miss America Pageant.
Jeff McCracken said selecting Hilltop Packs to receive the 2022 McCracken Legacy Award was not a difficult decision.
“My Dad was always involved in the community and felt blessed that Greene County provided him and his family with a good living, and he would often say that if you have a successful business then you have to give back to the community,” he said.
“Ben McMillen personifies that belief. When the pandemic struck, he stepped up and began creating masks for the community. And from there, he created his vision for Hilltop Packs and never gave up,” he continued. “He believes in himself, his company and his employees. He is very creative and he always continues to seek ways to improve Greene County.”
Hilltop Packs received the award during the Chamber’s 34th annual Membership Banquet, which was held on Oct. 27 at Valley View Farm in Waynesburg. Accepting the awards were Ben McMillen, owner of Hilltop Packs LLC, and Bridget Vilenica, co-owner of Hilltop Packs Coffee Company. Ben and Bridget were also presented with honorary citations from the Greene County commissioners, state Rep. Pam Snyder and state Sen. Camera Bartolotta.
In addition to the presentation of the McCracken Legacy Award, the event also showcased the recipients of the Chamber’s 2022 Distinguished Service Awards, John Brodak, who received the award posthumously, and Jack and Peggy Rock.
Reflecting on receiving the honor, Ben McMillen said he is humbled and deeply appreciative of the recognition, and he commended his employees for their dedication and hard work.
“This award is a huge reflection on everyone who works their butts off here,” he said. “We have a great, crazy crew that’s just as nuts as I am, just as passionate about what we do and make here. I believe in providing a work environment that is flexible, family friendly and even fun, while at the same time strongly believing that everyone here wants to do the best job possible. This prestigious honor by the Chamber proves to me that we’re doing something right.”
Bridget Vilenica said she is proud of the honor and loves what the coffee company offers to the community.
“I love being an owner and part of Hilltop Packs Coffee Company because of the customers,” Bridget said. “We have so many ‘regulars’ and being able to greet them by name and catching up on what‘s new while waiting on them is invaluable.”
Christian Wilson, graphic artist / production manager, said he feels “extremely proud” to work for Hilltop Packs, not just because of the products being made but also because of the company’s commitment to community.
“We have a dedicated group here that helps hikers all over the world, and will also stop whatever we are doing, whether we are busy or not, to go support local businesses with their grand opening or just pitching in with whatever they need help with,” he said. “That should speak volumes about what this business is actually trying to do – we are all dedicated to helping our fellow man.
Customer Service Manager Jen Caldwell said Hilltop Packs provides a positively unique environment.
“Before I started working here, I never really felt valued by an employer,” she said. “That changed when Ben brought me on board. It’s nice knowing that when you work here you not only have people who care about your family, they treat you like family.”
Shop Supervisor Amanda Phillips said a big component of the business’s success is teamwork.
“Everyone who works here brings their own specific and unique talents and skills to the table, and those skills are combined to create something special because we’re all committed to doing the best we possibly can here,” she said.
Operations Manager Amie Johnson said she feels it is easy to understand why Hilltop Packs would be nominated for this award.
“We have amazing bosses who are family oriented and want what is best for everyone they know,” she said. “Everyone at Hilltop Packs has a family, most of them who live in Greene County, which makes it easy for our company to want to help others around us.
“We want the future of Greene County to be bright,” she continued. “Receiving this award is so humbling. We know that we are making an impact – something our kids can look up to.”
Business-to-Business Manager Brandon McMillen congratulated Ben for his efforts.
“It was a great honor to see Hilltop Packs receive this award, and it was an even greater honor to see my brother be recognized for all the good he does for everyone, and for all his incredible hard work he does, day in and day out,” he said.
Creative Content Writer / Cut Shop Operator Steve Barrett attributes the accolades that the company receives to Ben’s vision.
“From day one, Ben has had a very specific idea of what he wanted to do with Hilltop Packs, and those ideas and goals have never wavered,” he said. “What makes him unique as a Greene County businessman is that he wants to see other businesses succeed and encourages and supports others. He believes in working with other businesses to elevate the area, not working against them. You rarely see that.”
Dave Calvario, executive director of Community Foundation of Greene County, is a frequent customer at Hilltop Packs. He said the award is a deserving honor.
“What Ben and Bridget have done for, and to, our community and county is nothing short of amazing,” he said. “Their entrepreneurial spirit, vision to see what is possible, and their passion to follow through on their dreams is truly a gift they have been blessed with. Between Hilltop Packs and Hilltop Packs Coffee, they have 14 full-time employees in under three years. You must stop by and see their operation in person. Words cannot do it justice.”