Marty Pay is a man of many hats.

In addition to running his own insurance business for the past 45 years, 28 years in Tehachapi, the Marine Corp veteran dons a Santa hat twice a year for Toys for Tots, in July and December, and again for the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting event.

When he isn't spreading holiday cheer, Pay has been found in the past serving as a board member for the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, the Kern County Association of Insurance and Financial Planners and was the founding chairman of the Family Life Pregnancy Center.

For all his humanitarian efforts to make Tehachapi a great place to live, Pay of Marty Pay Insurance has been named Small Business of the Year for 2019 by the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Tehachapi News.

"Marty Pay and his staff at Farmers Insurance continually give back to our community and we are honored to recognize them as Tehachapi’s 2019 Small Business of the Year," said Ida Perkins, Chamber president.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Pay was a local delegate to the Republican Party State Convention, and also served on State Senator Jean Fuller's Small Business Advisory Board. Presently, he is a professor at the University of Phoenix, and was named Faculty of the Year for 2018, an award decided through student vote.

"But beyond that, he and his company have always had the mentality of giving back," wrote Sally Periman Lawrence in her nomination letter. "His humanitarian efforts reach beyond Tehachapi, but his heart is in his home town."

Pay said he was humbled by the nominations, and honored by being chosen for the award.

"It represents an office that loves the community because we love Tehachapi," said Pay. "It's just a great place to be."

Coming from Sherman Oaks, Pay decided to move to Tehachapi in 1990 to raise his children in a smaller town.

Said Pay, "It's funny, because most of my friends said I would last six months in a small town because I'm a beach kid — always have been."

Pay said he has never looked back because Tehachapi is one of those cities that gives to people, and he has enjoyed giving back.

Another asset Pay chalks up to moving to Tehachapi is that he has had a lot more opportunities to do things he wants to do, such as being a radio talk show host from 1988 to 1993, which he said he loved.

Pay has also worked closely with local charities such as the Make a Wish Foundation, Wounded Warriors, Honor Flights, Tehachapi Cancer Foundation, Pancreatic Cancer Foundation and the Don't Ever Forget Them (DEFT) program which he raised over 10,000 Christmas cards for veterans in nursing homes last year.

Overseeing a staff of five employees, Pay says his current employees are the best he has ever had.

Asked what it's like to work with Pay, office manager Ginger Patz, said, "Actually, it's not like working with the boss ... it's like working with family, but in a good way. I think we all work really well together, and we all love Tehachapi, so we put our heart and soul into it."

Ginger's daughter, Amber Patz, joined the staff as a customer service representative three years ago.

"I love working here, it's a great job," said Amber.

As a customer service representative for the past two years, Sonya Torres said it has been an honor to help her customers to understand and work with their policies.

Said Torres, "He's like family. I've known him for 25 plus years, and now to work for him, it has been a pleasure."

According to Carolyn Wiles, who also nominated him for the award, Pay has been invited to be the keynote speaker for several civic organizations.

"Marty and his team love Tehachapi and continue to be active participants in making our community a great place to live," wrote Wiles in her nomination letter.

Pay said the secret to being a small business owner is being loyal to both your customers and your staff.

Said Pay, "If you take care of your customer, then your customer will take care of you."

Marty Pay Insurance is located at 212 W. F St., and can be reached by calling 822-6800.

Marty Pay Insurance will be recognized at the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce Installation & Recognition Gala to be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Villa La Paz at the National Chavez Center, 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Rd., in Keene.

In addition, Linda Carhart will be recognized as the 2019 Tehachapi Citizen of the Year and Terra-Gen Operating Company as the Large Businesses of the Year.

The evening will begin with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6 p.m. with installation and awards ceremony immediately following.

The cost is $60 per person. Reservations are required by Thursday, Jan. 24, by calling the Chamber at 822-4180.