BY LINDSAY MCCOY
Times Bulletin News Writer
VAN WERT - The strength of Van Wert County's small businesses was highlighted Friday afternoon, as the 2013 Salute to Small Business Awards Luncheon was presented by the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, Citizens National Bank, and Times Bulletin Media. Business representatives from throughout Van Wert gathered for the event at Willow Bend Country Club. The day's winners included Miller Precision Industries, Pond Seed Company, Van Wert County Council on Aging, Brickner Funeral/Ambulance Service, F&S Floor Covering, DeShia, and Cool Machines.
"The entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained very deeply in our community," said Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council Representative Seth Baker, who welcomed guests and recognized the day's nominees.The first award, Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, was awarded to Jim and Laurie Miller of Miller Precision Manufacturing Industries for their business which grew into Van Wert three years ago. Miller Precision and the other finalists - Dark Horse Productions, CNT Computers, and Straley Realty - were each judged upon their business growth and evidence of contributions to aid community-oriented projects through the use of time and other resources.
Pond Seed Company received the Agricultural Enterprise Award for their business that has demonstrated sound business practices and leadership based on economic impact, marketing innovative farm practices, and dollar and time investment in the community.
"There is no better place than to be recognized in your own backyard," said Pond Seed Representative Fred Pond. Pond Seed saw its beginnings in 1927 when by Pond's grandfather founded the firm. The company has continued to make an impact within the Van Wert community. Pond acknowledged the other finalist in the category, P & L Fertilizer, as another quality company in the area.
Van Wert County Council on Aging was awarded the Charitable Non-Profit Award for its work helping the county's senior citizens. Other finalists in the category were the Wetzel Motor Cycle Club and the Salvation Army of Van Wert. This award was established to honor an agency for its innovation and leadership in offering human services within the community.
"The real winners are the people of Van Wert," said COA Executive Director Kevin Matthews. "We have great non-profits in Van Wert and everyone benefits from it."
Brickner Funeral/Ambulance Services received the Generations Award for their history as an established business which has been passed from one generation to another. The other finalist for this category was Collins Fine Foods.
F&S Flooring Covering was recognized as Downtown Champion in the category honoring businesses in the downtown area. Fettig's Flowers was also named as a finalist in this category.
DeShia received the award, Woman-Owned Business for businesses with a female majority owner. Other finalists in the category were Everybodies Therapeutic Massage, and Dr. Nichole Nygren.
"This community has been a huge part of our growth," said DeShia Owner, Karen Miller. "We started very small and have continued to expand. We appreciate the support from the community."
Cool Machines was honored with the Export/Import Excellence Award for their marketing all over the United States as well as overseas.
"Each of us has impacted or been impacted by a business represented here today," said Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Susan Munroe.
A finalist slide-show was produced by Vantage Career Center Senior Active Media Class and presented during lunch.
This year's Small Business of the Year Committee included Seth Baker, Nancy Sink, Darlene Myers, Kirk Dougal, Pat Ryan, Eva Yarger, Adam Ries, Jordan Miller, Cindy Leis, Larry Lee, and Susan Munroe.