Awards & Events

Shenango Valley Chamber Presents Phoenix Awards

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SHARON, Pa. – One of the nominees for this year’s Phoenix Awards fell into so many categories that officials with the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce decided to create a new category to recognize the individual and his company. Greer Hayden, president of HHSDR Architects/Engineers, was named recipient of the Trailblazer Award at the Shenango chamber’s Phoenix Awards luncheon.

The awards were presented Thursday at the Corinthian Banquet Center downtown. The honorees provide a “measuring stick for other businesses in the community to strive for and to be inspired by,” said Sherris Moreira, executive director of the Shenango Valley chamber.

“Today’s event is just as much about celebrating traditional success as it is about celebrating those people and companies that are giving back and inspiring others to do the same,” affirmed Ketaki Desai, executive director of the eCentre@LindenPointe in Hermitage, who served as emcee of the event.

“I look at this room and it’s filled not only with our history but our future,” remarked state Sen. Michele Brooks, R-50 Jamestown. “We have exciting times ahead of us in Mercer County,” she continued. “Yes, we have been through some challenging times, but all of you have embraced those challenges.”

The audience of about 250 viewed brief videos of each of the honorees.

Trailblazer Award: HHSDR Architects/Engineers
In receiving the first Trailblazer Award, HHSDR’s Hayden said, “What used to be a simple and straightforward design-bid-build process has become more complex, and so we’ve had to adapt.” Designs now incorporate features that contribute to protecting the environment and provide long-term conservation benefits to building owners.

Since he became president in 2000, the firm has invested in its technological capabilities, sought new markets and worked to expand its existing ones. Relocating its Meadville office to downtown Pittsburgh “has paid great dividends for us,” Hayden noted.

Growth Small Service Award: Buhl Park Corp., Hermitage
In his video, Tom Roskos, executive director, took viewers on a tour of Buhl Park and highlighted its various features.

Darting from place to place, Roskos spotlighted the outdoor recreational park’s café, golf course and driving range, disc golf course, garden areas and the various facilities available for rental, including four shelters.

“There’s lots to do in 2017, and boy, do we move fast around here,” he said.

Growth Large Service Award: Lakes at Jefferson/Nugent Group, Mercer
This category recognized the newly opened 70,000-square-foot complex that features 22 independent living suites and 43 personal care suites.

The continuing care community “was built to provide piece of mind, exceptional accommodations and extraordinary care,” said the video’s narrator.

“Obviously, you are invited to visit or to stay,” John Nugent, chairman of the Nugent Group, told the audience as he accepted the award on behalf of the company.

New Business Startup Award: Hope Center for Arts and Technology, Sharon
“We don’t make a product. We are building hope, one person at a time and one soul at a time,” said Tom Roberts, executive director.

The center replicates Bill Strickland’s educational model developed in Pittsburgh more than 40 years ago. Its mission is to create training programs that mentor students, break cycles of poverty, create productive citizens and drive economic growth by training students in technical and soft skills required by regional employers, Roberts said.

The center began offering youth arts programs in 2015, and is in the process of converting a former school building while it pursues its license for adult students.

Entrepreneur Award: Breanna Griffin, Anytime Fitness of Hermitage
The 21-year-old Griffin went from purchasing her first gym membership at Anytime Fitness during her first year at Youngstown State University to now owning the franchise.

“I started coming late at night when the gym was empty because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and before I knew it, I was addicted,” she recalled.

One day, she skipped class and came to the gym instead, found that it was hiring and got a job there. Then the opportunity presented itself for her to purchase the business.

“That day, in May of 2016, I began the process that would change my life forever,” she said.

Innovation Award: Food-to-Waste Energy Facility/Hermitage Municipal Authority
The Hermitage wastewater treatment plant has operated since 1955, but over the past decade began accepting food waste and expired food products, treating about 150 tons per month, said Tom Darby, manager. “We are the only wastewater/food-to-waste energy facility in the state of Pennsylvania,” he said.

Processed waste is blended with wastewater sludge to generate methane gas which is then burned to generate electricity that is fed into the electric grid, allowing the plant to offset its monthly electric bill by up to $20,000 per month. Additionally, the biosolid byproduct is given to agricultural operations such as farmers and landscapers, thereby cutting waste disposal costs.

Growth Small Manufacturing Award, Solar Atmospheres of Western PA, Hermitage
Solar Atmospheres is one of the largest vacuum brazing and commercial heat-treating companies in the United States, said Bob Hill, president. It primarily serves the aerospace, medical device and power generation markets.

“As a commercial heat treater, we essentially provide services that add significant value to our customers’ parts by thermally processing them in primarily a vacuum environment that is totally devoid of oxygen,” he said.

The company, which started in 2001 with four employees in a 16,000-square-foot facility, has invested more than $50 million and grown to 55 employees in a 70,000-square-foot facility.

Large Growth Manufacturing Award: Miller Industries, Hermitage
Miller Industries, which has been building car carriers since 1967, has expanded many times and now operates out of a 225,000-square-foot building, reported Dan Sebastian, vice president. “We now have the largest car-carrier manufacturing plant in the world here in Hermitage,” he remarked.

The recently expanded plant, which produces 20 carriers per day, added a plasma cutter, one of several tools it acquired to reduce production time, as well as a modern paint shop. With 260 employees, the company has distributors across the country and in France, England and Japan.

Nonprofit/Service Organization Award (Small): Mercer County Mentoring, Sharon
Mercer County Mentoring was started three years ago and is operated by Steve Landman, executive director. It provides free mentoring services through a variety of programs and volunteer opportunities for juniors and seniors in high school, he said.

Nonprofit/Service organization Award (Large): Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern Ohio, Sharon
Starting with the $53,997 raised by the O’Brien Children’s Memorial Fund in 1981, the foundation has grown to six affiliate foundations serving Lawrence and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania as well as Trumbull County in Ohio, said Kyle English, executive director. These affiliates have more than 700 member funds that contain roughly $83 million.

The funds received more than $9 million in revenue in 2016, which “speaks to the astounding generosity of the people and businesses throughout the region who simply want to help other members of our community,” he said. Last year, the foundation granted more than $6.2 million for charitable causes throughout the region.

Beautification Award; Jim Landino, Sharon
Jim Landino, owner and founder of Recon LLC/JCL Development, took the money he realized from the sale of his company, Sunbelt Transformer Inc., an electrical equipment supply firm, and purchased several downtown Sharon properties for rehabilitation.

His properties include the former Buhl Armory and Applegate buildings. “We will continue to do the things in Sharon we feel are important for it to grow,” Landino said.

Also recognized at the luncheon were participants in the 2017 Leadership Shenango program. Since the program began in 1995, more than 400 people have participated, said David Grande, chamber board liaison.

“We try to give them a nice, well-rounded view of what the Shenango Valley is like,” he said. “We’re hopeful that it’s the beginning of their involvement in the community.”

Graduates of this year’s program were Kimberley Billings, Shelby Ditman, Jodi Doddo, Amanda Noca and Courtney Uhl, all of Primary Health Network; Ethan Duncan, Buhl Regional Health Foundation; Allison Engstrom, Penn State Shenango; Nicole Jones, the Arc of Mercer County/MCAR; Barbara Hawkins, First National Bank of Pennsylvania; Jordan Linck, PNC Bank; Thomas Meyer, Synergy Comp Insurance; Nicole Monville, Pennsylvania Dance Co.; Lauren Moyer, Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County; Julie Norris, Buhl Park Corp.; Scott Pino, Sharon Regional Health System; Joel Ristvey, Hermitage Police Department; Mandy Shina, Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Robert Winner, Evans, Garvey, Lackey & Ochs.

In addition, three members of the class – Engstrom, Monville and Moyer – were selected by their peers as having distinguished themselves by excelling in terms of participation, leadership and mentoring.

Pictured at top: Sherris Moreira from the Shenango Valley Chamber, Breanna Griffin, winner of the Entrepreneur Award, and J. Greer Hayden, winner of the Trailblazer Award.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.