Matty Matoian is informed he won the Leon S. Peters Award Thursday at Fresno State. Photo by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
The Fresno Chamber of Commerce announced Mathias “Matty” Matoian as its winner of the 2019 Leon S. Peters Award, recognizing business leadership and philanthropic work.
In 1979, Matoian took over leadership of OK Produce, a fresh fruits and vegetable distributor founded by his father Charles Matoian in 1950 out of a small cold box in Downtown Fresno.
In 1986 Matoian led OK Produce through an expansion to a new facility, and the company grew into one of the leading produce distributors in Central and Northern California.
Matoian’s sons, Chad and Brady joined the company in 1998 and 2000, with Matty retiring from OK Produce in 2008, but still continuing to carry on the family tradition of giving back to the community.
The Leon S. Peters Award is awarded to those who share the vision, creativity, and giving spirit of the Peters — a beloved Fresno businessman, civic leader and philanthropist who died in 1983.
Retired Superior Court Judge Robert Oliver, also a Leon S. Peters Award recipient, said that Matoian shares the business leadership and charitable spirit of Peters.
“The Leon Peters Award honors someone who emulated the virtues of Leon S. Peters. Business success with integrity, community involvement and philanthropy — Matty has done all that,” Oliver said. “He has taken a business that his mother and father started and took it to a whole new level and put it to a place where now his sons are running it. That doesn’t happen by accident.”
Past recipients of the award include Jim Pardini, Bill Smittcamp, Richard “Dick” Caglia, Sid Cox, and Stan Oken.
Matoian says he is honored to be a recipient of the award and continue the spirit of Peters, who he said was a friend of his father, Charles.
“This is the highest award you can win,” said Matoian. “Every past recipient has been a great person, and for me to be included, I never thought id be nominated for something like this. Because of what I’ve done for charity since I’ve retired symbolizes the award of Leon S. Peters.”
Matoian has been charitably involved with many foundations and organizations including Community Medical Centers, Children’s Hospital, Break the Barriers, and Poverello House.