Biz Buzz, Spring 2010
>> NORTHWEST INDIANA
Area businesses named as top small businesses
Task Force Tips of Valparaiso was recently named a Small Business of the Year Finalist by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Omnitech Systems of Valparaiso was named a semi-finalist for the same award.
A South Bend-based company that provides friction welding technology and services was honored as the state’s Small Business of the Year by the Indiana Chamber. Manufacturing Technology Inc. was chosen from a field of dozens of nominees from around the state. MTI and other top small businesses were recognized at the recent annual awards luncheon held in downtown Indianapolis.
A fourth-generation family-owned business, MTI primarily builds machines that carry out the friction welding process (the solid state joining of two parts using frictional heat and applied force to create a forge-quality weld). MTI also sells the only line of frictional welders worldwide that includes all three major variations: rotational linear and stir.
The Small Business of the Year award is open to all Hoosier companies with 250 employees or fewer.
>> LAKE STATION
Allstate agency opens new office in Lake Station
Allstate Insurance Co. has opened a new office. Owned and operated by Allstate Exclusive Agent Jerry Gasch , the Gasch Group is located at 3525 Central Avenue, Suite D, Lake Station.
For more information, call 219.962.4947.
Wellness center opens in downtown Schererville
Drs. Chris and Diane Hayes of Hayes Family Chiropractic Clinic recently opened a new Hayes Family Wellness Center, 11 E. Joliet St., in downtown Schererville.
The doctors specialize in chiropractic, acupuncture and massage services. Chris also has training in recovery options for children on the autism spectrum.
A grand opening is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, which will include tours and refreshments. For more information, call 219.864.8284.
Project connects students and businesses
About a dozen local business owners and managers of corporations took part Tuesday in the Purdue University Calumet-Hammond High School Oral History Project.
This year’s topic, The Making of American Businesses, allowed Hammond High School history students to interview the business owners and managers about what it is like to operate a company and how the current economic situation affects them.
“This allows students to connect with local business owners,” PUC education supervisor Norma Coleman said. “And most students don’t know about any business that’s not in a mall.”
Students learned from Hammond Fence Company owner George Huskisson that his business was steady despite the economic crisis thanks to repeat customers and a big demand for fences since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The students also were pleasantly surprised when they discovered how much Huskisson enjoyed his job.
“Many people tend not to like their jobs. So when you find someone who does, it’s a unique thing,” junior Joshua Tobar said.
Huskisson said it was important to participate in the project because the students who interview the business owners are the work force of tomorrow.
“If they have an impression at their age that people hate their job, it’s got to be something to tell them not every job is horrifying to get up every morning and go to work at,” he said.
Students also interviewed attorney and WJOB radio station co-owner Alexis Vazquez Dedelow.
“This project was worth it because we got to know an owner of a business in the community,” junior Brisa Moran said.
Ten HHS classes were involved in the project that included interviews and presentations with companies ranging from Walmart to The Hokey Spokes, a bike-safety lighting company in Gary.
This marks the sixth year of the oral history project developed by Purdue history professor LaVada Brandon, who saw it as an innovative and exciting method for teaching. Projects of various topics have also taken place at Gavit Middle School and Roosevelt and West Side high schools in Gary.
Merrillville dealer adds Dodge
A Merrillville Chrysler dealership has added Dodge to its portfolio of new vehicle brands it has for sale.
Cary Bosak, president of Bosak Chrysler Jeep Dodge, said the addition of Dodge was “a long awaited union.” Customers also can have their Dodge products serviced at the dealership as well.
Located at 3111 W. Lincoln Highway, the dealership is in the third-generation of family ownership after being opened as Bosak Motor Sales in 1928. It became a Chrysler dealer in 1936.
The Bosak family also owns and operates Bosak Honda in Highland.
>> MICHIGAN CITY
Esmark buys University Park steel service center
Chicago-based Esmark Inc. recently bought a University Park, Illinois, firm and, with the acquisition, it has returned to the steel service center and distribution business. Esmark said it paid $10 million for Amtex Steel Inc., which specializes in flat-rolled and bar products for light manufacturing and durable goods industries. The deal includes plant assets, real estate and Amtex’s rail line facilities.
The facility’s more than 70 employees are expected to be retained, and Esmark plans to expand the workforce by adding commercial sales and plant staff. The company’s new name will be Chicago Steel & Iron, and it will be a subsidiary of Esmark Steel Group. Thomas Modrowski will be the chief executive officer of Esmark Steel Group. Esmark’s steel service center business began in 2003 with a facility opening in East Chicago.
Governor honors longtime local businesses
Staying in business is never easy. Especially when times are tough. Valerie Steil is a small-business woman who knows this firsthand.
“It gets to be more and more challenging as the world keeps changing,” Steil says. Steil has owned Marc T. Nielsen Interiors in Valparaiso for nine years.
But Steil’s business has a long tradition to rely on. Marc. T. Nielsen Interiors has been designing rooms in the homes of Chicago and Northwest Indiana residents for 85 years.
The trick, Steil says, is to have happy customers.
“We try to give the best service, the best design, that we can.”
In recognition of its longevity, Gov. Mitch Daniels honored Marc T. Nielsen Interiors and 96 other Indiana businesses that have managed to keep going, no matter what, for more than half a century.
“I’m sure that you’re proud of the history that’s in your business, as Indiana is proud of it, too,” Daniels said.
In addition to Mark T. Nielsen Interiors, several other region businesses were awarded the Governor’s Century Business Award and the Governor’s Half-Century Business Award during a ceremony under the brilliant skylight in the north atrium of the Statehouse.
They include, from Lake County: Hammond Machine Works Inc., 101 years in business; Sickinger’s Jewelry, 81 years; and Don Bales Inc., 50 years; from Porter County, Valparaiso First Insurance Inc., 87 years; Grieger’s Motor Sales Inc., 50 years; and from LaPorte County, Fenker and Co. Inc., 106 years; Tonn and Blank Construction, 87 years; and Carlson’s Drive-In, 62 years.
The century-award honorees received a foot-high crystal vase, handed to them by Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. Half-century honorees were presented a framed certificate.
South Shore CVA wins Silver Adrian Award
The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International has recognized the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, with a Silver Adrian Award for web marketing excellence in the 53rd annual award competition.
The Adrian Awards is the largest travel marketing competition globally.
The Visitors Authority was honored for its 2009 email marketing campaign. From the campaign, the Visitors Authority is able to measure the number of people visiting for events and increase visitation to local attractions, events and restaurants during their stay. The campaign also surveys visitors to receive feedback and address issues.
This year’s contest attracted nearly 1,100 entries, with entries judged by top executives from all sectors of the industry.
>> CROWN POINT
Bank names Crown Point branch manager
Ashlin Hadden has been named branch manager for the newly-constructed Crown Point office of First Savings Bank of Hegewisch, 1351 E. South St., at the corner of Joliet Street (U.S. 231) and 113th Avenue.
As branch manager, Hadden will manage all aspects of daily operations including staff hiring and training, account servicing, retention and new customer development.
“This is an exciting time at First Savings Bank of Hegewisch,” Hadden said. “The Bank is known for developing strong relationships in every community we serve and we are committed to doing the same here,” she said.
First Savings Bank of Hegewisch has grown to more than $525 million dollars in assets since opening in 1914.
The Crown Point banking center is the bank’s newest full service office and joins eight other offices in Indiana and across the Chicago southland area.
For more information, call 219.663.3100 or visit FSBhegewisch.com.
>> NORTHWEST INDIANA
PNC forms local chapter of Sigma Beta Delta
Purdue University North Central’s College of Business announced the formation of a local chapter of the Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society.
The PNC Chapter recently inducted its first chapter members in the PNC Library Student Faculty building. Approximately 10 years ago, Sigma Beta Delta was created as a business honor society for institutions with regional accreditation. Sigma Beta Delta has now established more than 248 chapters in 46 states, with one international institution.
PNC is the first and only chapter of Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society in Indiana.
Hobart insurance agent honored by state group
Richard L. Smith, of Smith Insurance Agency in Hobart, received the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana 2009 Agent of the Year Award. Smith was honored on Nov. 14 in an awards ceremony at the IIAI annual convention. The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding performance and achievement of an individual who is an agent member of the IIAI.
This individual must be a licensed agent and contribute to the agency’s performance through production and/or other management activities. In addition to his strong performance in his agency, the award recognizes Smith’s outstanding professional and industry involvement, participation in IIAI and serving his community. The award is sponsored by Encompass Insurance Co. in Indianapolis.
The IIAI is a trade association representing more than 800 independent insurance agencies in Indiana. The association was formed so insurance agents and insurance consumers have a unified voice in government and can share common goals and information. Among the numerous services IIAI provides to its membership are more than 100 continuing education seminars across the state annually.
MonoSol announces expansion
MonoSol LLC, the world’s leader in water-soluble sustainable films and solutions, announces the next phase of its expansion program to increase production capacity at its global manufacturing facilities in Northwest Indiana.
MonoSol expects to increase capacity for water-soluble film manufacturing by more than 20 percent in 2010 and an additional 20 percent in 2011.Headquartered in Merrillville, the company has manufacturing facilities in Portage and LaPorte and Hartlebury, England.
“MonoSol’s investments will be greater than $20 million over the next two years, and the expansion initiative will include adding significant resources at our 16-acre, expandable LaPorte … facility,” said David DeVoll, vice president, commercial director of substrates.
“For the past five years, MonoSol has developed technology that has grown worldwide consumer and commercial demand for water-soluble films and solutions. This increasing demand has been met by consistently and methodically increasing capacity at our manufacturing sites in the United States and England,” said P. Scott Bening, president and CEO.
Growth is being driven by advances in market areas such as unit-dose packaging, composite fabricating and MonoSol’s unique new dust-abatement product, TerraLOC.
Since 1953, MonoSol LLC has been the world leader in specialty water-soluble polymer-based films. MonoSol offers a wide range of water-soluble packaging films for unit-dose applications for agricultural chemicals and consumer products, mold-release films, transfer printing, embroidery support films, water-soluble laundry bags, edible films and TerraLOC, a unique dust abatement system.