The area’s top businesses and executives are basking in their awards from Cornerstone Alliance and the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce. The organizations held their annual Business Recognition meeting as a breakfast meeting for the first time today at the Mendel Center on the campus of Lake Michigan College. Colson Group USA received the Manufacturing/Distribution Large Business Award from Cornerstone Alliance, Pero Family Farms Food Company LLC was honored with the Food Processing Large Business Award, and former LMC President Dr. Bob Harrison received the Merlin Hanson Exemplary Business Leader Award. Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce named United Federal Cedit Union its Large Business of the Year, with the Entrepreneur of the Year awards going to Whightman & Associates and Lindberg/MPH.
Here is the full list of awards from both organizations.
Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce:
SILVER STAKE AWARD WINNERS
Silver Stake Award winners have either created 25 new jobs, or increased sales or unit volume by 25%, or expanded their facilities by 10%, or increased capital investment by at least $100,000. The Silver Stake recipients were:
• Prism Environmental Services
• B&L Information Systems
GOLD STAKE AWARD WINNERS
Gold Stake Award winners have either created 50 new jobs, increased sales or unit volume by 50%, expanded facilities by 25% or increased capital investment by at least $200,000. The Gold Stake recipients were:
• Pearson Construction Company
• LakeHouse Restaurant & Bar
PLATINUM STAKE AWARD WINNERS
Platinum Stake Award winners either created 100 new jobs, increased sales or unit volume by 100%, expanded facilities by 50%, or increased their capital investment by at least $300,000. The Platinum Stake recipients were:
• Williamson Employment
• Mid-West Family Broadcasting
• Abonmarche Consultants Inc
• Honor Credit Union
• United Federal Credit Union
• Elwood Staffing
• Wightman & Associates, Inc.
• Mosquito Squad of Southwest Michigan
• OnStaff USA
• Express Employment Professionals
ENTREPRENUER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Manufacturing Sector) recognized Lindberg/MPH
Lindberg/MPH, a division of parent company Thermal Product Solutions, LLC supplies capital equipment to a diverse customer base representing automotive, aerospace, defense, materials processing, die casting, electronics, commercial heat treating, agriculture and transportation.
The company went through two acquisitions which strengthened the resources and offerings they provide to their customer base. And, no reductions in staff occurred during this time. Lindberg/MPH has partnered with Lake Michigan College and developed an on-site training curriculum for blueprint reading and welding skills to their staff.
Steve Kempowski, VP of Operations of Lindberg/MPH and accepted the award.
ENTREPRENUER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Commercial Sector) recognized Wightman & Associates, Inc.
For almost 70 years, Wightman & Associates, Inc. has delivered first-class engineering, environmental, architecture, and survey services. They embody the entrepreneurial spirit which is evident in the longevity of their employees; many serving over 40 years. They have grown their staff from 70 in 2014 to 90 in 2015. In June, 2015, Wightman & Associates brought the family back together as they merged Wightman Environmental.
The Wightman team has worked with Western Michigan University’s Civil Engineering program, mentoring annual senior design projects.
Steve Carlisle, Director Engineering accepted this award.
LARGE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD
United Federal Credit Union was the recipient of the 2015 Large Business of the Year Award.
2013-2015 were strong and exciting years for United Federal Credit Union (UFCU). They provided UFCU members with new products; their communities received an unprecedented amount in charitable giving. And, the credit union embarked on a multi-phase building project focused on supporting their future planned growth. UFCU’s commitment to the community is evident in the financing they have provided to more than 150 Berrien County businesses. Their member satisfaction rating is over 94%. Gary Easterling, United Federal Credit Union’s President and CEO accepted the award.
CORNERSTONE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE GREEN BUSINESS AWARD
The Green Business award recognizes an organization that incorporates green initiatives into their workplace including reuse, recycles, reduces and rethinks; show sustainable energy and water conservation and creates awareness on green issues. This year’s recipient, Wightman & Associates, has made a company-wide commitment to implement green initiatives which include:
• Reduced consumption of plastic cutlery, Styrofoam cups, as they replaced them with ‘real dishes’ including silverware, glassware.
• Composting coffee grounds instead of simply throwing them in the trash. Wightman & Associates recently built an on-site compost bin for their garden.
One of Wightman’s biggest green initiatives happened in the summer of 2015. The Wightman GREEN Team suggested a community garden. The focus of the Wightman GREEN team is developing sustainable and environmentally conscious purchasing and operational practices throughout the organization. 16 Wightman staff members tended eight 4’ x 8’ raised garden beds. Together, they worked before and after work, or during lunch breaks. These staff members were able to foster a greater sense of teamwork from their participation in the garden into their daily work.
Wightman staff, Ben Baker, Landscape Architect and Chris Brayak, Architect.
EXCELLENCE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD RETAIL SECTOR
Michigan’s Great Southwest is fortunate to have two Jimmy John’s locations: One is located in Benton Charter Township owned by Rick Molitor; and the other is located in the City of St. Joseph owned by Debbie Sailor. The culture that both stores have established and instilled into their qualified staff, offers the highest integrity and level of customer service to their guests, and the greater community
Deb Sailor and Rick Molitor accepted the award.
EXCELLENCE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD SERVICE SECTOR
Edgewater Bank started under the name Industrial Building and Loan in 1910 as a state-chartered mutual savings and loan association. In 1938, they converted to a federal charter and in 2005 was renamed Edgewater Bank. They are distinguished by their personalized customer service, localized decision-making and employee commitment to volunteerism in their communities.
President, Rick Dyer accepted the award.
2015 AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR
Jo Farrell was named The Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year for 2015. The Ambassadors are comprised of local business professionals that volunteer their time to the many Chamber events. She has attended every Chamber event in 2015 and is a valuable member of the Ambassador team.
COLSON GROUP USA RECEIVES MANUFACTURING/DISTRIUBTION LARGE BUSINESS AWARD
The Colson Group is the largest manufacturer of caster and wheel products in the world. The company has operations in 14 countries and consists of nine major global operating units. Colson Group USA is the largest operating unit of the Colson Group. Brands of the group are some of the most trusted and highest quality in the industry—Albion, Colson, Shepherd, Jarvis, MedCaster, Pemco, Faultless and Bassick. The company is nearing completion of the build out of its new national distribution center in St. Joseph, MI. This new 170,000-square-foot facility opened in January, 2016; and works in tandem with Colson Group USA’s manufacturing facilities, which are located in Albion, MI, St. Joseph, MI, Jonesboro, AR and Monette, AR. Colson Group USA also has distribution facilities at Dallas, TX and Chino, CA. 102 personnel work at the St. Joseph distribution center, with roles varying from sales and marketing to purchasing to assembly and distribution. The goals of the new distribution center are to enhance customer service through faster and more reliable order fulfillment, increase dependability of inventory planning and provide for a single point to consolidate shipments of Colson Group USA’s caster brands. Kevin Osborn, V.P. Operations, Colson Group USA accepted the award.
PERO FAMILY FARMS FOOD COMPANY, LLC RECEIVES FOOD PROCESSING LARGE BUSINESS AWARD
Pero Family Farms Food Company, LLC, has over 18,000 acres of family farms throughout the United States and a branded specialty packaged producer and marketer of fresh vegetables. Pero Family Farms Food Company, LLC is a sales, marketing and distribution group and part of the agricultural corporation headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida. The company is family-owned and was founded in 1908 with additional locations in Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.
In 2015 they announced the expansion of its existing cold storage and distribution facility to a state-of-the-art fresh-cut vegetable operation in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The expansion is expected to be complete late 2016, and will create additional employment opportunities benefitting the local community. An increase in national demand for the company’s packaged fresh vegetables, as well as the recent introduction of new wide ranges of vegetable side dishes and snacks, spurred the decision to expand the plant to Benton Harbor. The expansion will benefit customers, employees, and the Berrien County community. Alphonso Chavez, General Manager, Benton Harbor Facility accepted the award.
Dr. ROBERT HARRISON RECEIVES THE MERLIN HANSON EXEMPLARY BUSINESS LEADER AWARD
Dr. Robert Harrison is a true advocate of education, the community and economic prosperity. His career at Lake Michigan College began in 1999 as dean of business services, and in 2009 he was named President of the college. In January, 2016, he traded his suit and tie in for a more casual outfit as he enjoys retirement.
According to Dr. Harrison, his role as President for Lake Michigan College was to be the primary cheerleader, and an enabler for the success of both the students and staff. “It was my responsibility to create an environment to showcase the skills and talents of the student body and employees, and then get out of their way,” said Dr. Harrison.
During his tenure, he worked diligently to secure a $17 million capital outlay grant from the State of Michigan. These funds will be used to upgrade the Napier Campus including the renovation of 50 classrooms, two lecture halls, and updating the HVAC system.
“We focused on what offers value to the college as a whole and the entire region, said Dr. Harrison. This is a wonderful community, and is home to my family.” Dr. Harrison’s service to the community certainly embodies the spirit and intent of this award.