Awards & Events

Shenango Valley Chamber Presents Phoenix Awards

SHARON, Pa. – Programs like the 2018 Phoenix Awards provide a “measuring stick for our entire business community, emcee BreAnna Griffin said.

The Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce marked the 14th annual presentation of the awards Thursday as it honored 11 businesses and organizations at the Corinthian Banquet Center downtown.

“Today’s event is as much about celebrating traditional success as it is about celebrating the people and companies that give back and inspire others to do the same,” said Griffin, who last year received the Entrepreneur Award.

The Phoenix Awards celebrates the “best and brightest in our business community,” added Sherris Moreira, the chamber’s executive director. This year’s recipients include manufacturers, restaurants and not-for-profit entities:

  • Trailblazer Award: Peggy Mazyck, Visit Mercer County, Sharon.
  • New Business Startup Award: Lulu Beans Café, Sharon.
  • Entrepreneur Award: Michele Ohl, Gowns of Grace Inc., Hermitage.
  • Innovation Award: Regenex Corp, West Middlesex.
  • Growth Small Manufacturing: Omega Inc., West Middlesex.
  • Growth Large Manufacturing: Jones Performance Products, West Middlesex.
  • Growth Small Service: Select Metal Litho, Greenville.
  • Growth Large Service: G.W. Becker, Inc., Hermitage.
  • Nonprofit /Service Organization Award (Large): Buhl Community Recreation Center, Sharon.
  • Nonprofit /Service Organization Award (Small): Rotary Club of Sharon; Beautification Award: Frangakis Family Trust, Greenville.

Interviews with several of the honorees demonstrated why they were selected for Phoenix Awards.

Regenex Corp., which received the Innovation Award, is enjoying “fantastic” demand for its products, said Jim Tabaka, president, following the awards program. Started in 1992, Regenex buys plastic scrap from vinyl window manufacturers and other manufacturers, and recycles that scrap into accessory extrusions for windows.

Tabaka attributed strong business to the uptick in the economy, as well as the new Tidewall product line the company began manufacturing in recent years, which is used to prevent erosion.

The barrier product is going “a lot to the East Coast,” as well as to Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas. “We do some international shipments as well,” Tabaka  said.

The honoree in the Growth Small Service category, Select Metal Litho, is seeing growth in demand from its existing customers, said Brandy Hammerschmidt, director of corporate services. The firm’s printing lines produce decorative cookie and cracker tins, general line three-piece cans, pails, and sanitary ends for the food packaging industry.

“We’re also increasing the food grade that we can do at the facility. So we’re seeing new business with customers that we hadn’t seen in the past, just because of qualifications and upgrades in our equipment,” Hammerschmidt said.

Select Metal Litho is overhauling two of its existing production lines and a third is slated for overhaul soon, she said. The company also has shifted from a paper-based system to one based on iOS devices. “We’ve overhauled everything as far as technology is concerned,” Hammerschmidt remarked.

Lulu Beans Café, which opened in downtown Sharon in December, features a fast casual, health-conscious menu. The restaurant is filled with an eclectic array or artwork, vintage pieces and custom-designed items.

“We wanted to show people that eating right could also be fun and exciting and fulfilling,” owner Jen Krezeczowski said.

The concept behind the menu “was really about finding healthy, fresh foods that still tasted good,” she remarked.

“We’re in the process of building a large covered patio,” Krezeczowski continued. Other plans for the café and coffee house include a new breakfast menu in the next few weeks, classes, events and “doing some really fun things as well,” she said.

Gowns of Grace Inc., the Entrepreneur Award honoree, was created after founder Michele Ohl’s daughter, Matilda Jane, who was born premature in June 2015, died the following month. The day she died, Ohl was given an angel gown – a tie-back dress made from donated wedding, prom or homecoming dresses — by the nurses of the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Matilda’s angel gown is more precious to my family than we can put into words,” Ohl said.

The gift inspired her to create angel gowns from donated dresses that are then donated to NIC units and children’s hospitals around the world. “These gowns are a way for families to have a material possession while they process their grief,” she said.

Businesses such as those honored Thursday “help make the Shenango Valley move forward,” state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-7 Mercer, said.

Also honored were the graduates of Leadership Shenango, which he called “our future here in Mercer County.”

Pictured at top: Honorees Michele Ohl, BreAnna Griffin and Jen Kreczowski and Sherris Moreira, Shenango Chamber executive director.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.