Chamber honors businesses, community leaders during awards event

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 23 October 2021 at 6:57 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Orleans County Chamber of Commerce award winners gathered for a group photo after their recognition Thursday night at White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville. Seated, from left, are Lora Partyka from Partyka Farms, Legislator Ken DeRoller, Natasha Wasuck from Lockstone, Attorney Lance Mark, Rachel Kaiser from Wildwood Lake KOA Campgrounds, and Ellen Eaton from Takeform. Standing, from left, are Jeff Partyka from Partyka Farms, Jim Minner from Virtual Polymer Compounds, Justin Bruce from Bent’s Opera House, Marco Rivas with Oak Orchard Community Health, Robert Batt as Business Person of the Year, Rob Kaiser from Wildwood Lake, and Jim Nowaczewski from HeBrews Coffee.

LYNDONVILLE – Representatives, employees and friends of this year’s Orleans County Chamber of Commerce’s business award winners gathered at the White Birch Golf Course Thursday night to celebrate the successes of these nominees.

Winners recognized were Takeform, Business of the Year; Partyka Farms, Agricultural Business of the Year; HeBrews Coffee, New Business of the Year; Bent’s Opera House, Phoenix Award; Oak Orchard Health, Community Service; Lockstone, Small Business of the Year; Robert Batt, Business Person of the Year: Virtual Polymer Compounds, Employer of the Year; Wildwood KOA Campgrounds, the Hidden Gem; Ken DeRoller and John DeFilipps, Service to the Community; and Lance Mark, Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chamber director Darlene Hartway welcomed guests, saying, “We are here to spotlight just a few of our successful businesses.”

Marc Shurtz, head of Orleans Community Health, presents the Business of the Year Award for Takeform to Ellen Eaton, director of Human Resources.

She said the year started off again as a trying one for businesses, still having to deal with restrictions and constraints with the Covid pandemic. She commended the businesses who took adversity and turned it into the positive.

Chamber president Bryan DeGraw added his praise for the local businesses and individuals who have done, and continue to do so much for this county. He acknowledged major sponsors – Bank of Castile and Apex Clean Energy/Heritage Wind, Platinum sponsors; Takeform, Mark &Graber and Baxter, Gold sponsors; Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Silver sponsor; and Ontario Shores, Hinspergers Poly Industry and Albion Agencies/Seaway Insurance, Bronze sponsors.

DeGraw recapped the year, saying it started slowly, still dealing with Covid, and the decision was made to cancel the annual legislative luncheon and the spring Home and Garden Show. In June, they resumed Chamber After Hours events, with a tour of Orleans County’s first robotic dairy at the VanLieshout Farm in Barre. In July, they finally held the legislative luncheon. He shared the joy of having the Orleans County 4-H Fair return, with record-breaking attendance. In August, the Chamber hosted their annual Wine and Garden Walk at Robin Hill Preserve in Lyndonville.

He added the Chamber is looking forward to serving, representing and enhancing business growth in Orleans County.

The first award of the evening was Business of the Year, which was presented to Takeform by Marc Shurtz, representing the 2019 winner, Orleans Community Health. Ellen Eaton, director of Human Resources, accepted the award.

Hartway explained Takeform makes industrial signs, with customers who not only include local and regional businesses, such as Medina Memorial Hospital, but others as far-reaching as the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. She said Takeform saw their most successful year to date in 2020.

Mark Zambito, right, presents the Phoenix Award to Justin Bruce, general manager of Bent’s Opera House. Orleans County Chamber director, Darlene Hartway, looks on at left.

Chamber board member Dave Gagne presented the Agricultural Business of the Year Award to Partyka Farms in Kendall. Accepting the award with Lora were her husband  Jeff and sons Scott and Steven. The Partyka farm which was started with 150 acres has now expanded to 800 acres.

New Business of the Year was awarded to Jim Nowaczewski, who opened HeBrews Coffee in Medina during the summer after opening a site in Albion in November 2020. The award was presented by Michelle Waters from the Tree House, the previous winner.

Hartway said some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.

“Jim is one of those people,” she said. “His hard work and determination brought him to where he is today.”

The Phoenix Award is presented to an individual or individuals who have successfully repurposed an existing facility for their business in Orleans County. This year’s winner is Bent’s Opera House in Medina.

Mark Zambito, the 2019 award winner and Chamber board member, presented the award to Justin Bruce, general manager of Bent’s. Bruce said Roger and Heather Hungerford were not able to attend, but said the restoration was undertaken with the ultimate goal that the project would grow Medina, grow Orleans County and grow Western New York.

Elisa Chambery from Supportive Care of Orleans presented the Community Service Award to Oak Orchard Health in Albion. Marco Rivas, chief compliance officer, accepted the award on Oak Orchard Health’s behalf.

Rob and Rachel from Wildwood Lake KOA Campgrounds receive the Hidden Gem Award from Orleans County Chamber president Bryan DeGraw.

The Small Business of the Year Award is presented to a business with 50 or fewer employees, which has sustained significant success throughout the year. This year’s award was presented by Gagne to Natasha Wasuck from Lockstone in Albion. Wasuck and her husband John Hernandez have turned a former auto repair site into a wedding and events venue by the Erie Canal.

Robert Batt, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, was named Business Person of the Year. The award was presented by DeGraw. Batt was recognized as an individual who has had outstanding accomplishments within his own business and has made notable contributions to the local business sector.

The Hidden Gem Award goes to a business that has made a positive contribution to tourism in the county, Hartway said. Chamber board treasurer Rachel Hicks presented the award to Rob and Rachel Kaiser from Wildwood KOA Campgrounds.

Kelly Kiebala, director of Orleans County Job Development Agency, presented the Employer of the Year Award to Virtual Polymer Compounds in Medina. Representing the company was Jim Minner.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual with a long-term record of outstanding business achievements. Hartway presented the award to Medina attorney Lance Mark. Mark has lived in the county for 43 years and watched it evolve, he said. He called it a great, great county and predicts “The best is yet to come.”

Dean Bellack, left, presents Ken DeRoller with a Service to the Community Award.

The final award of the evening was Service to Community, and was presented by United Way director Dean Bellack to two individuals – both county legislators – Ken DeRoller and John DeFilipps. DeFilipps was unable to attend, and his award was accepted by legislator Bill Eick.

Bellack called DeRoller a “doer.”

“He is an asset to anything he associates himself with,” Bellack said.

DeRoller said it has been a pleasure to serve Orleans County. He called it, “A great place to live, play and work.”

Hartway said “service to the community” is an understatement when it comes to these two men.

“They have both made significant and lasting contributions to our community,” she said.

The evening ended with a basket raffle fundraiser.