NORWAY — Rupert and Suzanne Grover, co-owners of Grover Gundrilling, received the 2016 Freedom & Opportunity Award at the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s annual luncheon.

According to center’s website, the award is given to someone “who has best demonstrated a core commitment to the principles of freedom and opportunity that serve to improve the economic well-being of (the state).”

Krysta West, director of communications for the center, said the award committee is comprised of members of the staff and board of directors.

“Between those people, they get a pretty good gauge of whose making waves in the conservative party,” West said.

According to a video of the event, Matt Gagnon, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, told the audience, “So often, we believe that the business leaders we see in the news are those that really drive the Maine economy,” and that “our lives are shaped by politicians … because they are who we see, and who we associate with the success and failures for our political parties and ideologies.”

He said, “The reality is there are people out there driving prosperity in the state and providing real opportunities for people that you rarely hear about.

“They’re the people quietly providing support to their fellow citizens and ensuring that they live good lives, contributing to the state with no fanfare,” Gagnon said. “They’re the people who truly give us freedom and opportunity. This year, we’re recognizing two of those people: Rupert and Suzanne Grover.”

Gagnon said the Grovers got their start in business as the owners of Pleasant River Motel Cabins in Bethel in 1972. In 1983, they started Grover Gundrilling, a precision deep hole drilling company serving customers in the United States, Canada and Europe.

The Grovers were instrumental in the founding of Boxberry School in 2003, which has “set educational standards for the rest of the state that we should all pursue and follow,” Gagnon said.

The Boxberry School is a private elementary school in Harrison that helps students “identify and nurture academic and creative potential in an environment that embraces each child’s natural enthusiasm for discovery.”

The Grovers also played an important role in bringing the Oxford Casino to the county, Gagnon said.

“Also, they do everything together,” he said. “There’s no better example of love and teamwork that I can think of than the Grovers.”

He also lauded them for “how they live their lives outside of (business),” pointing out that they have volunteered at the Oxford Hills Helping Hands Food Pantry, Oxford Hills Growth Council, and the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce, among other places.

Rupert Grover said he and his wife were “greatly honored to receive the award,” but believed “there are many other people who deserve it more than we do.”

Suzanne said, “Forty-eight years ago, Rupert and I started a journey. We were young and ambitious, with lots of college debt, and were determined to take a shot at the future.

“We were very naive, but we trusted each other to carry the weight,” she said. “Our businesses in Western Maine let us know that we had to be a part of the community.”

She thanked the center for the award.

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