Chamber honors businesses, residents for work to better community
ALBION – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce honored local businesses, entrepreneurs and community members for their work to build a stronger community during the 18th annual awards banquet for the Chamber on Friday. Nearly 200 people attended the event at Tillman’s Village Inn.
The following were recognized:
- Business of the Year: Freeze Dry Foods of Albion.
The company took over the former Lipton’s plant in Albion in 1999 after the former Ontario Foods (now Associated Brands) left Albion for a bigger plant in Medina.
Freeze-Dry has steadily grown in the past 17 years, overhauling the plant and adding new product lines. It has 60 workers that make freeze dry food products. (The company removes moisture and oxygen from meats and food to prevent the products from deteriorating at room temperature.)
Karen Richardson, company co-owner and president, said Albion has been a good fit for the company, which is based in Oakville, Ontario.
She thanked “a very supportive community,” including local economic development leaders, for helping the company grow and invest in Albion.
- Lifetime Achievement: Gabrielle Barone (vice president of business development for the Orleans Economic Development Agency).
Barone has worked for the Orleans Economic Development Agency for nearly 15 years, and has had a role in many of the economic development projects around the county, putting together deals and lining up infrastructure for companies.
Barbara Waters said Barone has always been a hard-worker since she was a kid growing up in a family business in Medina.
“She is humble,” Waters said. “She is poised, articulate and a lovely lady and friend who is an inspiration to all woman.”
Barone has shown a drive and enthusiasm to better the community throughout her career, said Waters, who accepted the Lifetime Achievement last year on behalf of her late husband, Robert Waters.
Barone praised the team at the Orleans EDA, local municipal officials and the business owners for bringing many of the projects to reality.
“Achievement is a joint effort,” she said. “Achievement is about partnering.”
Barone said many economic development projects are years in the making.
“At the core of achievement is persistence,” she said. “I always felt better when I gave it one more try.”
- Phoenix Award: The Print Shop, owner Ken Daluisio.
An eyesore on East Center Street was radically revamped by Daluisio, who expanded his Medina business into what was a dilapidated storefront, a former laundromat at 124-126 E. Center St.
On March 19, 2015, Daluisio took possession of the former laundromat building. One year and one day later, a vastly improved building was ready for The Print Shop.
When doing renovations for the expansion, Daluisio needed 13 dumpsters to haul out laundry machines and dryers, as well as the old floor, ceiling, partition walls and other debris. It took seven dump truck loads to remove bricks and dirt from the basement. The building was stripped down to four bare walls and then rebuilt with new floor, a roof, electrical system and other upgrades. Daluisio’s brother John managed the construction project.
Daluisio said the renovation follows Kathy Blackburn’s work at Meggie Moos and other work on East Center Street.
“We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community,” he said. “It’s a whole new neighborhood on East Center Street.”
New Business of the Year: Brushstrokes Studios of Medina (owners Tim and Crystal Elliott).The Elliotts last November opened the new business at 409 Main St., the former home of The Journal-Register in Medina.
At Brushstrokes, customers can paint their own ceramics and glass. The Elliotts have brought a new family friendly activity to the community, and have expanded classes.
Co-owner Tim Elliott thanked the dedicated customers at Brushstrokes and urged the community to “shop small” and support locally owned businesses.
- Community Service Award: Lions Clubs in Orleans County (Albion, Clarendon, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina).
The five clubs do a range of community service projects, from running festivals to providing scholarships. They serve food at local events and collect medical supplies and used glasses for people in need.
Albion has the longest-lasting Lions Club. It started in 1924. Clarendon has the most recent charter with a club that started in 1998. The five clubs combined have about 200 members with Kendall the largest with 61.
Tom Minigiello, president of the Kendall club, accepted the award that will be presented the Lions district.
“It’s very important to give back to your community,” Minigiello said. “Do your part and it will make our community better.”
- Community Service Award: Cindy Robinson of Medina.
Robinson has been president of the Medina Business Association the past decade and has been instrumental in running many of the MBA’s popular events, including wine- and beer-tastings, and the Olde Tyme Christmas celebration.
She also is a downtown business owner with the English Rose Tea Shoppe, and serves with other organizations, including the Orleans Renaissance Group, the Chamber of Commerce, and Medina Historical Society.
Robinson encouraged everyone to find a way to volunteer with at least one organization. She said that would build a stronger community with more events and opportunities.
- Agricultural Business of the Year: Root Brothers Farm in Albion.
The Root family has been farming in Orleans County since 1852. Today, Robin and his brother Scott Root work about 5,000 acres. The two brothers have been farming together since 1970. There are now six generations of Roots that have been farming in Orleans County.
The brothers have had many lean years, Robin said, but they weathered the storms with help from friends and family.
“You could have a million dollars, but it’s better to have a million friends,” Robin told the Chamber crowd.
He and his brother are the son of the late Pierson Root, a former Orleans County Farm Bureau president. Robin said their father had good advice and helped the brothers during one tough stretch in the early 1990s.
“My dad was a hell of a man,” Robin said. “I really appreciate it.”
The brothers grow corn, cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes and other crops in a diversified operation.
- Business Person of the Year: Ward Dobbins, owner of H.H. Dobbins in Lyndonville.
Dobbins has led the apple packing and sales company in Lyndonville to expansions. The site handles about 1 million bushels of apples a year, with on-site capacity for up to 300,000 bushels.
Dobbins has 75 employees. The company was started by Ward’s great-grandfather. Ward joined the business 30 years ago. He is active in many of the industry associations.
Ward said the company works with some of the best apple growers in the world.
- Small Business of the Year: Paper Boys (owners Ryan Pritchard and Chasen Lee).
Pritchard and Lee opened an office supply business about six years ago after the former Garlock’s Office Supply store in Medina closed.
Pritchard, 31, had been living in Boston for six years when Garlock shut down. He teamed up with Lee, 28, to establish PaperBoys, the new office supply store.
The business at 509 Main St. has expanded to develop web sites and lead small business classes.
Pritchard and Lee say the office supply business remains very important for PaperBoys, but the business has expanded its services for small businesses by building websites, and helping the local businesses use social media and e-mail marketing to attract and keep customers.
With its expanded line of services, the business is now PaperBoys Media, and calls itself ‘The Agency for the Underdog.”
Pritchard thanked the Chamber, Medina Business Association and local businesses for working with PaperBoys.
“We are not successful unless all of the small businesses are successful,” Pritchard said.