Chamber of Commerce honors distinguished business owners, citizens
LYNDONVILLE — The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce honored several businesses and community members on Thursday during the 21st annual awards dinner.
About 120 people attended the event at the White Birch Golf Club in Lyndonville. The event had a theme, “Linking Business with Community.”
Darlene Hartway, Chamber executive director, said the honorees all give back to the community that supports them.
“They are wonderful examples that business is bigger than revenues and profit margins,” Hartway said. “They understand the power they have to bring positive, measurable change to both the community and to their businesses.”
The following were recognized (Most of the write-ups were provided by the Chamber):
Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr. Dan Schiavone
Dr. Dan Schiavone, a Holley dentist, graduated from Holley in 1986. He opened his dental office in Holley in 2000 after a major transformation to a former hardware building in the Public Square.
Schiavone’s key to success in the dental business is re-investing, adding technology, delivering his product with great customer service and staying involved in the community. He sees his practice growing through the utilization of new technology and an “in-house” business style.
Schaivone has been involved in the community. A former Clarendon volunteer firefighter, he also served as Holley’s mayor and is currently president of the Holley Development Corporation, which has worked to find new life for distressed properties in the village.
Schiavone also sponsors and volunteers for the Holley June Fest and Night of Lights, and also donates to community causes through the Holley Rotary Club and Holley Central School.
Schiavone also spends a week each year as a volunteer on a dental trip to the Amazon in Peru. He has done that for more than a decade.
He praised all the award winners for running successful businesses, which he said is a challenge in Western New York and New York State.
Business of the Year – Western New York Energy
Western New York Energy started production 12 years ago at its ethanol plant on Bates Road in Medina. The company employs 50 people.
Originally designed to produce 50 million gallons per year of fuel-grade ethanol, the company has increased production capacity to about 60 million gallons per year.
It will grind 20 million bushels of corn this year and produce more ethanol per bushel of corn than ever before. In addition to producing clean burning ethanol that saves people money at the pump, WNYE produces high quality co-products such as distillers’ grains for animals, feed grade corn oil for feed or biodiesel, and raw carbon dioxide processed into beverage-grade carbon dioxide.
The company spent $90 million building the ethanol plant, and has since invested another $15 million in what is one of the most efficient ethanol plants in the country.
Tim Winters, a Medina native who is the company CEO, said the ethanol plant buys as much local corn as possible, which has helped local farmers. The company also donates to many community causes, and helps reduce gas prices.
“Most people don’t realize all the good that we’re doing right in their backyard,” he said.
Agricultural Business of the Year – H.H. Dobbins
H.H. Dobbins started as a small family farm in 1905. It is now a vertically integrated apple growing, packing, storage and sales organization with offices in Lyndonville and Yakima, Wash., and customers from around the world.
The company has 75 employees in Lyndonville, with most from Orleans County, said Aaron Schifferie, human resources manager for Dobbins.
“I don’t know what H.H. Dobbins would be without Orleans County,” he told the Chamber crowd.
The company continues to have very dedicated employees locally in a “very tight labor market,” Schifferie said.
Dobbins provides a stable workforce for a great team of associates who are extremely loyal and dedicated to the success of the company and being a productive member of the community. The company’s future plans include expansion of its orchards, and grower base to support sales increases of 30 to 40 percent. It has achieved success with their pledge, “No matter our source, we promise the highest quality with a commitment to food safety, the community and the environment.” H.H. Dobbins has been a trusted fruit handler, manager and marketer providing exceptional work in the Orleans County community since 1920.
New Business of the Year – Milk & Honey
The New Business of the Year is presented to Milk & Honey in Albion. Courtney Henderson, the buisness’s owner, combined her love of shopping with her desire to do more for herself and other women in her community when she opened a boutique specializing in women’s and children’s clothing.
Knowing that “It feels good to dress good,” she strives to provide women a local option to shop for themselves, family, friends and children. Her background in business and photography are very visible in her trendy shop located in Albion, and on her company website.
Henderson serves as the interim president of the Albion Merchants Association and as a beginning Girl Scouts troop leader. She is also a very busy, raising three active children who are involved in dance, karate and other activities. Her future plans include helping develop a program to help low-income, unemployed or women of need with dressing for prom, school, interviews or work.
“I have received great support from the community on a daily basis,” Henderson said.
Phoenix Award – Zambito Realtors
The Phoenix Award goes to a business that not only gave a vacant building a complete upgrade but also implemented a new approach to office space.
The Zambito family opened a real estate brokerage in the fall of 2007. Driven by the core values and tireless work ethic instilled by their mother, Rita, the Zambitos eventually grew enough to purchase the building at 339 N. Main St. and expand their office space.
The business continued to expand and last year, Zambito Realtors closed over 400 transactions with over 30 licensed agents. With plans of eventually utilizing the North Main Street space as a full-service event venue on the Erie Canal, the Zambitos turned their attention to a long-vacated garage space on Maple Ridge Road, and replaced the office space on Main Street with a smaller, efficient, modern floor plan.
The new space on Maple Ridge would eliminate personal desks, 1,000 square feet of space and all personal offices. This July, Zambito Realtors opened its second office in Niagara County on Wrights Corners.
Zambito has seen growth of over 20 percent in sales volume year-to-date.
Mark Zambito, Rita’s son and co-owner of the business, said the family is grateful to work in the Medina community, where many entrepreneurs are making big investments.
“The infusion of growth and energy has been amazing,” he said.
Community Service Award – John “Jack” Burris of Hands 4 Hope
It was about four years ago when Jack Burris started Hands 4 Hope with a mission: “To serve as God’s Hands in the streets, sharing the love and grace of Jesus Christ to reflect His glory.”
Burris, with “Clifford the Big Red Truck” by his side, serves Orleans County, rain or shine, on Saturdays. The Hands 4 Hope Van can be seen all around the county, providing food and other necessities to those in need.
The truck is out the first Saturday of the month in Medina at Starr and Orient streets, the second Saturday at the Holley Public Square, the third Saturday at the Hoag Library in Albion and the fourth Saturday at the Lydun Drive apartments in Albion.
Burris has also provided additional service at Christ Church Community Kitchen in Albion.
Burris said the ministry has been dedicated volunteers and donors. He used his acceptance speech to solicit help from the Chamber crowd. He asked for drop-off sites for donated socks. Dr. Dan Schiavone agreed to be a drop-off site in Holley, while the Bank of Castile will accept socks in Medina. In Albion, 39 Problems on Main Street and the Sewing Box in at the Arnold Gregory Office Complex will be sites.
Small Business of the Year – Albion Ace Hardware
Albion Ace Hardware set out over 13 years ago to find the perfect home and settled in Albion, where it thrived. Each year, Ace Hardware has consistently added employees, contributed more money to the tax base and has had a greater impact on the community as a whole.
It plans on continual growth as it looks forward to the next decade. Ace Hardware conducts extensive research to enhance its product base. It is a local business, run and staffed by local people.
Business Person of the Year – Greg Reed, executive director of the Orleans County YMCA
The Chamber recognized Greg Reed, director of the Orleans County YMCA, as the Business Person of the Year.
Reed was hired as the Y’s executive director in 2017. He had been working in Denver, where he worked in middle and high school physical education and developed state-sanctioned athletic program from the ground up, while being the No. 1-ranked school in Denver during his time. Since leading the Orleans County YMCA, membership has increased by over 43 percent. Reed has secured more than $200,000 in grant funding and tripled the services, programs, and partnerships now available to the community through the Y.
He’s led with humility and courage, and has embraced the growing process of trial and error. In the next five years, Reed is aiming for the YMCA to be a community hub for wellness and to be a fiscally self-sustaining entity.
Reed said the GLOW YMCA has been a great resource for the Orleans County Y, and many community members have been dedicated to the organization’s success.
“I have an amazing staff that deals with all of my crazy dreams,” he said.
Reed is impressed with the rural community, how so many organizations and businesses are working hard to engage local residents. A busy local calendar, including on weekends, shows just how committed the local businesses and organizations are to connecting with people.
“The community is invested in its growth,” he said. “It’s hard to run programs and events because there is always something happening in the community.”
Hidden Gem Award – The Cabaret at Studio B in Albion
This year’s Hidden Gem Award award goes to the Cabaret at Studio B, which opened in 2013 on East Bank Street in Albion. Amy Sidari has hosted many professional singers and other performers at the show. This summer she welcomed six bus tours for shows by Gary Smboli, an Albion vocal teacher and musical director who is an accomplished performer himself.
Sidari started Gotta Dance by Miss Amy as a one-room dance studio in 1997. In 2001, she turned garage space into a dance studio.
Sidari has gone above and beyond to include all forms of art within her dance studio, including singing lessons, guitar lessons and piano lessons.
Sidari and her team have brought in tourists from all over, drawing them to well-known and well-publicized productions. Often featured in the Cabaret performances are artists such as Phyl Constable, Josie Waverly, Ron and Nancy Onesong, and Jimmy Mazz, among others.
As Sidari would say, “Why not in Albion?” For the tour buses this summer, Sidari took the initiative to include several of Albion’s downtown businesses as well. She wants to help the other businesses succeed.
The buses would arrive at 39 Problems and have the opportunity to shop and walk around downtown before the show began.
Employer of the Year Award – Takeform
The company started in 2003 with nine workers and now has 200. Takeform designs signs and creates architectural graphics for many hospitals and other businesses.
The company last year completed a 15,500-square-foot expansion to an existing 30,000-plus-square-foot building on Maple Ridge Road. It has been experiencing a 27 percent growth rate, and sees more growth in the future.
Takeform’s expansion in Medina included a patio area for employees. The company is sensitive to a work-life balance for employees, and wants them to succeed at their jobs and in their personal lives, said Ellen Eaton, director of Recruiting and Employee Experience for Takeform.
The company has a philosophy of hire right, train right and treat right, she said.