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BusINess » Business Communications Consumer Health Care Transportation » Biz Buzz, Fall 2010

Biz Buzz, Fall 2010


NICU coming to local hospital this fall

A neonatal intensive care unit is scheduled to open in the fall at Saint Anthony Medical Center, 1201 South Main Street.

The 12-bed unit, slated to open in November, will be housed in the hospital’s maternity department, called the Birth Place. Staff will include neonatalogists and specially trained nurses.

“This is something we have wanted for years,” said Carol Schuster, vice president of patient services. “With our number of annual deliveries now up to around 1,600, we are able to justify the need and better serve our parents and their babies.”

The addition will help to reduce the number of infant transfers to other hospitals, which also will serve to reduce stress for parents, Schuster said.

For more information, call 219.757.6368.


Valpo law professor honored for consumer work

A Valparaiso School of Law professor has been honored by a national group for his work in consumer rights. The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys this week named Alan White a recipient of its 2010 Champion of Consumer Rights award. White is one of seven recipients of the award, including four members of Congress.

White is widely recognized as an expert on predatory mortgage lending and mortgage foreclosures. He a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Consumer Advisory Committee and has testified on the government’s response to the foreclosure crisis before a House committee. White was named National Association of Consumer Advocates Consumer Attorney of the Year in 2004.


Get the current time, temperature from The Times

After a brief disconnection, The Times Media Co. now operates the former Hammond time and temperature telephone number. The 219.933.9000 system was restarted April 27 after The Times was able to pay to operate it and install equipment at its Munster office.

“This is an extension of The Times providing information to the community in still another manner,” said William Nangle, executive editor of The Times.

The time and temperature are gathered from GPS satellites and equipment installed at The Times’ Munster office, which measures the temperature from the office’s roof.
Mercantile National Bank started the Hammond time and temperature service in 1978. Harris Bank took over the service after it bought Mercantile, which was based in Hammond.

Since August 2006, the service has received more than 12 million phone calls. Before Harris took the service down more than a month ago, the line was receiving more than 200,000 calls per month.


Acura dealership coming to Merrillville

Chicago suburb-based Muller Acura is expanding into Northwest Indiana with a flagship dealership planned to open in spring 2011, a company official said.

The company, with Honda and Acura dealerships in Highland Park, Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates, broke ground Wednesday on a 30,000-square-foot dealership on eight acres at 3209 U.S. 30 with capacity for up to 500 vehicles, Muller Acura of Merrillville President Glenn Muller said.

Acura officials identified a need in Northwest Indiana for an Acura dealership and selected Muller from a field of competitors to operate it, Muller said.

The Merrillville site was chosen from among several alternatives for its visibility and convenience to customers, Muller said.

“It’s somewhat of a dealers’ row,” with other auto stores nearby, Muller said. “We found the right piece of property and the right location in what thought is the perfect place.”

Plans are to design the dealership as an Acura flagship store, designed to look like the lobby of a luxury hotel with a cafe, quiet sitting areas and a tiled service floor, Muller said.

Acura executives John Mendel, executive vice president of U.S. sales for Honda and its luxury brand Acura, and Jeff Conrad, vice president of U.S. sales for Acura, were in town for the groundbreaking.

Sales of Acura have risen in the past year based on the auto’s reputation as “a smart luxury car,” Muller said. “In this economy, it’s the right car.” Construction on the dealership is expected to get underway by the end of May, Muller said.

Information on the dealership is available at

Centier Bank President and CEO, Michael Schrage. (Photograph by John L. Luke.)

Centier Bank President and CEO, Michael Schrage. (Photograph by John L. Luke.)


Centier best place to work in Indiana

A Merrillville-based bank has been selected as the best place to work in the state of Indiana.

Centier Bank topped 41 other large Indiana companies to win the 2010 Best Places to Work award, presented by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a moment you dream about and it’s a dream come true,” Centier President Michael Schrage said. “It’s one of the highlights of my career and my life.”

The 700-employee company was honored for its “sense of family” among employees and for following through on Schrage’s pledge that no employee would be laid off despite the economic downturn. The company was also praised for the on-site employee facilities at its Centier Centre corporate headquarters at 600 East 84th Avenue, Merrillville, including a free exercise room and inexpensive cafe with healthy dining options.

Presenter Gerry Dick, whose Inside Indiana Business column appears in The Times, said Centier also deserves special recognition for its involvement in community activities in Northwest Indiana.

When Centier was announced the winner of the Best Places to Work award at a ceremony in downtown Indianapolis, Schrage and nine Centier executives cheered wildly and threw blue Centier ballcaps into the air.

“It is a dream of every young boy that’s grown up in Indiana to go to Indianapolis, especially from up in Northwest Indiana, and win a state championship,” Schrage said.


FFC Fencing Co. opens third location

FFC Fencing Co., headquartered in Cedar Lake, has opened a third branch in Brookston to serve the Lafayette and West Lafayette areas.

Dean Huseman, Branch Manager, will be responsible for overseeing the sales and installation of fence, deck and railing projects. FFC Fencing Co. also has locations in Cedar Lake and Valparaiso to serve customers in the areas of Northwest Indiana, Northeast Illinois and Southwest Michigan.

For more information, visit or call 219.696.7646.


New EPA regional administrator named

An environmental attorney from the Illinois Attorney General’s office will become administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said Wednesday Susan Hedman was selected by President Barack Obama to lead the region encompassing Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 tribal nations.

Hedman will report directly to Jackson and manage activities of Region 5, which is based in Chicago. Regional administrators also are expected to promote state and local environmental protection efforts and serve as a liaison to government officials. They are also expected to ensure the EPA’s efforts to address environmental crises are rooted in three values: science-based policies and program, adherence to the rule of law and transparency, the agency said.

Hedman has served as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s environmental counsel and senior assistant attorney general since 2005.


Portage office becomes part of Re/Max Affiliates

Re/Max Hometown Professionals recently has become Re/Max Affiliates of Valparaiso’s second Porter County office, located at 6214 U.S. 6 (in front of Menard’s).

“Affiliate agents from either location will have full access to either facility. This expansion affords our agents the ability to cross service our clients at their convenience with the best tools in the industry,” owner BruceAnn Singleton said.

Re/Max Affiliates specializes in residential and investment real estate in Northwest Indiana.

For more information, e-mail, call 219.764.2187 or 219.548.9020, or visit

Energy Diagnostics co-owners Jerry and Karen Thatcher. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks.)

Energy Diagnostics co-owners Jerry and Karen Thatcher. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks.)


Company wins prestigious EPA ‘green’ award

Jerry and Karen Thatcher are saving the world one house at a time. They are the founders and co-owners of the Valparaiso-based Energy Diagnostics Inc. and have recently received on behalf of their company an EPA Energy Star award.

The Thatchers founded the energy engineering firm 19 years ago in their home. Today the business is still home-based but boasts 13 employees as well as two satellites located in Illinois and Michigan. It works with builders and homeowners to design energy-efficient and cost-effective products for buildings.

After the needs of the builders and homeowners are determined, the company works with manufacturers to design products that meet the costumers’ specifications. Their products are certified by the EPA’s Energy Star Program, the National Association of Housing Builders Green Program and the U.S. Green Building Council LEED program.

Among the projects in Northwest Indiana the firm has worked on is The Village in Burns Harbor, advertised as the first NAHB Green Sub-Division in the country.

“We were involved in all of the energy-efficiency aspects of the buildings there,” said Jerry Thatcher.

Energy Diagnostics was selected for an EPA Energy Star Award for the impact they have had on the green building market. They were honored alongside major corporations such as PepsiCo, Whirlpool and Ford Motor Co.

According to Jerry Thatcher, the company retains 95 percent of its existing Energy Star Label customers and continues to add another 50 percent to its base through the steady addition of new builders as clients.


Schilling Lumber acquires Edward Hines facilities

Schilling Lumber has recently completed its purchase of the Mokena, Illinois, facilities of the former Edward Hines Lumber Co. The lumber yard and showroom is located 1/2 mile from the Interstate 80 LaGrange south exit at 9900 191st Street.

Schilling also has a lumber yard and showroom in St. John and a distribution center in Cedar Lake.

For more information, call 888.365.6005 or visit


Clean Air Car Check emissions sites changing hours

All seven Northwest Indiana Clean Air Car Check vehicle emissions testing sites and Drive-Thru Renew partial service license branch locations will operate Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The sites will be closed on Mondays and Sundays.

Representatives from Clean Air Car Check’s customer service hotline will be available to assist customers by phone Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Clean Air Car Check/Drive-Thru Renew sites are located at: 1231 Gostlin Street, Hammond; 232 S. Ivanhoe Court, Griffith; 325 Sullivan Street, Hobart; 755 North Industrial Drive, Crown Point; 3901 West Fourth Avenue, Gary; and 2503 Beech Street, Valparaiso.

For more information call 888.240.1684 (toll-free from Indiana area codes) or 219.661.8269 or visit


State business portal wins international award

The Business Services Division of the Indiana Secretary of State’s office won an international award for its online business document portal.

The International Association of Commercial Administrators gave its 2010 Merit Award to the Business Services Division, saying the portal improves efficiency and customer service in government administration.

More than 6.5 million images of corporate documents, business filings and other registrations on file with the division are available for free through the online portal at

Before the 2007 creation of the business portal those documents, now accessed hundreds of times a day, were only available in person in Indianapolis or through the mail.

When we designed the online portal, we spoke with Hoosier business owners about how the Business Services Division can provide better, faster and cheaper service,” said Secretary of State Todd Rokita, a Munster native. “The result is an award-winning online service that empowers more entrepreneurs.”

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