Butech Founder Among Those Honored by Salem Chamber

SALEM, Ohio – John R. Buta’s contribution of buying and preserving the Salem Golf Club led to the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce holding its 77th annual meeting in the upstairs ballroom at the club. It also led to him being named the chamber’s Citizen of the Year.

Presenting the award, Brian Whitehill, first vice president of the chamber, noted that Buta has lived in Salem most of his life. After attending MIT under the E.W. Bliss Co. scholarship, where he received his degree in mechanical engineering, Buta worked for the E.W. Bliss Rolling Mill division. He later became vice president of Paxon Machine Co. in Salem. 

In 1985, he founded Butech as a one-man engineering and consulting firm. Over 38 years, Butech grew to be the fifth largest employer in Salem with nearly 300 employees. Buta was also involved in a number of organizations and schools.

“Perhaps John’s most significant gift is the room we are all gathered in today,” Whitehill said. “With the club facing a bleak and uncertain future, John stepped in to purchase and revitalize the Salem Golf Club. In doing so, he preserved a Salem landmark. Through John’s confidence in himself, he built one of the most reputable businesses in the area. Through his generosity, he left his handprint of betterment to his fellow citizens of Salem.”

Accepting the award on his father’s behalf, Jock Buta said the company has expanded through the years, becoming Butech Bliss and adding additional facilities to the mix, including the old Salem Tools, Sekely Industries, Lehmann Mills Inc. and Solartec Inc. facilities.

Greg Yaskulka, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce president, gives the Non-Profit of the Year award to George W.S. Hays, executive director of the United Way Services of Northern Columbiana County.

Leadership was a big part of the efforts of the United Way Services of Northern Columbiana County, the recipient of the Non-Profit of the Year Award. In addition to all the work the United Way already does in the area, including raising an estimated $6.5 million in funds in the past 25 years, the United Way stepped up when a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine on Feb. 3.

“2023 saw the agency go above and beyond what was thought to be even possible,” said Greg Yaskulka, chamber president. “The United Way Agency responded immediately to the train derailment in East Palestine and remained on site for weeks.”

Additionally, the EP Road2Recovery 5K Walk/Run raised $170,000 for the schools, robotics, music, fine arts and community sports organizations.

Executive Director George W.S. Hays said for 51 years the local United Way’s mission has been to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities, and he went on to list as examples so many programs that positively affect lives of people from all walks of life in the area.

Margaret Ann Howells accepted the Heart and Soul Award in the honor of her late husband, Jack Howells.

Frank Zamarelli, the current reverse raffle chairman, presented an award in honor of Jack Howells, who led the charge for the reverse raffle every year. According to Zamarelli, even when Howells was in Florida, he would man the phone and manage the ticket sales without giving anyone a chance to say no. Margaret Ann Howells, his widow, accepted the Heart and Soul Award from the chamber.

Caron Richey founded Printworks of Salem LLC in 2002 and said she has not only grown her business over more than two decades, but she has emphasized the importance of having passion and integrity. Printworks was named the chamber’s Small Business of the Year.

The Large Business of the Year was given to True Value of Salem for caring for the community, not only with dedication to improving neighborhoods, but by giving back to organizations that give to the local community, according to Shelly Bergman, chamber second vice president, who presented the award. Those include the Salem Super Cruise, the Beautification Committee donations and materials needed for organizations such as the schools, churches and the Salem Community Theater, as well as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Humane Society and local veterans organizations.

Pictured at top: Members of John Buta’s family hold the 2023 Citizen of the Year award and proclamations accepted on his behalf. From left are Susan Buta, Jock Buta, Gray Buta, Sally Buta, Mike Scott, Rebecca Guappone, Bob Buta and Ewing Buta.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.