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Chamber Awards

March 27, 2021 - 6:00pm
posted by Press Release in Chamber Awards, chamber of commerce, news.

Livestream courtesy of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

March 5, 2021 - 1:36pm
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Chamber Awards: Ag Business of the Year, L&M Speciality Fabrication

March 5, 2021 - 11:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in livestream, video, Chamber Awards, Tammy Hathaway.
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Chamber Awards: Interview with Tammy Hathaway, Geneseean of the Year

March 2, 2021 - 1:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in umm, chamber of commerce, Chamber Awards, livestream, video.
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This is the first in a series this week of interviews with this year's winners of awards from the Chamber of Commerce, starting with UMMC, winner of the Service Award for 2020. We'll be talking with President Dan Ireland.

March 7, 2020 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, news, crossroads house, Chamber Awards, batavia.
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Jeff Allen, director of Crossroads House in Batavia, will receive an award tonight from the Chamber of Commerce at the Geneseean of the Year. The awards dinner is at Quality Inn & Suites.

March 7, 2020 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tompkins Bank of Castile, business, batavia, news, video, Chamber Awards.
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Tompkins Bank of Castile is Genesee County's Business of the Year. Tompkins will receive the award tonight during an awards dinner at Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

March 7, 2020 - 10:00am
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Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship has been named the Special Service Recognition of the Year award winner by the Chamber of Commerce. The volunteers of Purple Pony will receive the award at the Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner tonight Quality Inn & Suites.

March 7, 2020 - 9:53am
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MY-T Acres, located off Lewiston Road in Batavia, is Genesee County's Agriculture Business of the Year. The Call family will receive the award at the Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner tonight Quality Inn & Suites.

March 3, 2019 - 4:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chamber Awards, chamber of commerce, news, notify.

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It was a celebratory evening at the Quality Inn and Suites on Saturday as the Chamber of Commerce honored local businesses and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the community. 

For more on each award winner, click on the story links below:

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Dan Fischer, emcee.

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Jay Gsell, emcee, with the "Genesee Is Great Already" (GIGA) hat that he introduced at the event and gave to each honoree.

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Tom Turnbull, president of the Chamber of Commerce.

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Bob Stocking and Penny Arnold.

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Larry Webster and Mike Davis representing Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

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The Harrower family, Genesee Lumber.

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Jim McMullen and Sue Schuler representing the Rotary Club of Batavia.

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Videos, produced by Paul Figlow, were used to introduce each award winner.

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Bob Stocking's hat.

March 1, 2019 - 11:51am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Chamber Awards, pembroke.

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Editor's note: The  2018 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet will be held Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

The phrase “pay it forward” is a bit overworked, but there’s no better way to describe the manner in which Corfu’s Bob Stocking goes about the business of community service and volunteerism.

Stocking, 83 and getting younger every year, is the 2018 recipient of the Geneseean of the Year award from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

He will be honored at the chamber’s 47th annual Awards Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on March 2 at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road in Batavia.

Nominated by longtime friend and neighbor Penny Arnold, Stocking (who has lived in his Angling Road farmhouse since 1945) has made a difference in the lives of people of all ages – from the children who have found their way as 4-H Club members to the elderly who have found comfort and friendship in HomeCare & Hospice, Genesee Cancer Assistance, Mercy Flight and Crossroads House.

Through it all, he raised a family as a top-notch tractor-trailer driver for 41 years, endured the death of his 48-year-old son, John, to a hunting accident in 2008 and now, with the help of his daughter, Tracy, takes care of his wife of 63 years, Donna, who has health problems.

Stocking also has assumed the role of helping those who need to clear out their homes due to the loss of a parent.

Every day brings a new adventure, a new challenge to the Stocking household, and Bob continues to be up to the task.

“Over the years, people have helped us,” he said. “The first auction barn dance that we did was for Hospice, which had taken good care of my mother when she passed away. I wanted to do something to repay them.”

So, putting his words into action, Stocking agreed to chair an annual fundraiser at Bontrager’s Auction Barn on Wortendyke Road – this year’s event to benefit Crossroads House is set for Oct. 12 and, as you would expect, Bob plans on selling the bulk of the 225 available tickets.

Stocking, per Arnold’s nomination, jumped into it feet first.

“In the beginning the (Bontrager) employees agreed to share the chairing of this event, but Bob always seemed to take on the task,” she wrote. “There have been five wonderful events which have helped (the agencies listed above) … Chairing this event is no small task. Bob held meetings at his home and delegated many of the tasks, but has had his hands into many of the aspects of the event.”

Arnold went on to write about Stocking’s many hours on the phone and spent delivering tickets, and has turned the event into one that people look forward to and raises quite a bit of money for the designated causes through ticket sales, donations and a pie auction.

“Todd Jantzi (of Bontrager’s) has been great to us by donating the facility and helping in other areas,” Stocking said. “Other businesses donate to us and it has become a very successful event. Last year, we raised $5,000 for Crossroads House and we’re going to do it again.”

Stocking said the main reason he does this is “because all the money stays in the county.”

“It’s important to me that we help those in Genesee County,” he said. “With some things, you never know where the money goes.”

He said that a couple he met in Tops Market one day came up to him and thanked him for running the dinner-dance at Bontrager’s.

“They told me that they got some of the money that was donated to Genesee Cancer Assistance for gas and other expenses. That meant a lot to me,” he said.

Stocking’s generosity has touched young people who have participated in horse shows through 4-H at the Genesee County Fair by giving them and their animals rides to the shows in his horse trailer, providing accessories for training and donating trophies to the fair that were won by Tracy during her years showing horses.

“We used to have 25 horses and 25 cows,” said Stocking, who also operated a tack shop, “but now we have a dog and a cat.”

Stocking was active in the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department for many years (he’s a lifetime member) and once donated a steer to its carnival to raise money.

In her nomination, Arnold wrote that Stocking, who became a grandfather figure to her daughter, Danielle, is “honest and trustworthy … someone that always helps out other people but doesn’t do it for the acknowledgment … he does it from the heart.”

When he was contacted by a chamber employee, Stocking said he didn’t realize he had won, but thought he had been nominated.

“I never expected anything like this in my entire lifetime,” said Stocking, who said he will have 14 people, including son, Robbie, who lives in Virginia, at the ceremony. “It’s a big, big honor to have something like that. I just do it to help people.”

March 1, 2019 - 11:46am
posted by Mike Pettinella in Chamber Awards, news, business, batavia, Genesee Lumber.

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Editor's note: The 2018 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet will be held Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

John Harrower said he recalls a story that his late father, Robert, told him about how Genesee Lumber got started way back in 1928.

“My grandfather, a pioneer in his vision and thinking, shook hands (on the deal) with the former owner of what was Franklin Street Lumber at the time, and he (the seller) said, ‘Good luck, it’s a dying business.’ ”

Today, that “dying business” is alive and well – continuing to serve Genesee County and, in recent years, Erie and Monroe counties – as both a contractor yard and retail outlet.

It’s doing so well, in fact, that it is being honored as the 2018 Business of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and will be recognized as such at the chamber’s 47th annual Awards Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on March 2 at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road in Batavia.

“We are very honored and humbled to receive this award,” Harrower said, speaking for his wife, Leslie; sons, Michael and Eric, who are both in the business, and his employees.

Genesee Lumber was nominated by Batavia John Riter, who praised the Harrowers for their “vision, willingness to bet on the community and commitment to success” as key elements in the company’s ability to expand considerably in recent years.

“Their success has contributed to the community’s success in a variety of ways, not the least of which is an expanded workforce,” Riter wrote in his nomination letter.

John and Leslie purchased the company from Robert in 1994, but John actually worked for his dad as a child before coming on full time after college in 1983. Leslie, an accomplished business person in her own right, came on board in 1987.

Robert Harrower, well-known for his efforts as a Rotarian and on several community boards, passed away last June at the age of 84.

The origins of Genesee Lumber are best captured in John’s words:

“The company was started in 1928 by my grandfather, Harold Harrower, who was a traveling salesman and a lumber dealer. He wanted to own a lumber yard one day, and he called on this place – the old Franklin Street Lumber – and ended up buying it.”

John said the business prospered through the Depression and World War II, and was supported by three big silos, which kept Harold busy during the winter months. “A big source of revenue, and the fuel supply was coal,” he noted.

In time, the coal aspect went away, the silos were removed and the business became known as Genesee Lumber Company Inc.

Robert Harrower worked beside his dad and uncle as a child. In 1963, he bought out his father (who retired) and owned the business until selling it to his son and daughter-in-law 25 years ago.

John Harrower said he sees himself as a combination of the two – a bit of a risk taker like his grandfather and a sense of conservatism, more like his father.

“Yeah, I think I have some of my grandfather in me in that we took a leap of faith about 15 years ago to venture outside of Genesee County,” John said. “We added four or five buildings, and while continuing to be very heavy in the retail business (in Genesee County) we have expanded those avenues into Monroe and, especially Erie County.”

He said the company owns a fleet of a dozen trucks and 10 forklifts, features a large showroom area to “give people a feel of what they could envision for themselves, no matter the size of the project that they have going on.”

The Andersen Windows line has been a key part of the company’s offerings for about 60 years. “They (Andersen) are, if not No. 1, No. 2,” he said.

Genesee Lumber also carries siding, metal roofing, top quality shingles, the Trex decking product, storm doors, windows and more.

“We also do a large amount of interior packages – styles, color, paint grade option or also a stain finish product,” John said, “and a wide array of exterior door options, and patio doors (with a) great selection. It’s quite an expansive line.”

John said Genesee Lumber has several skilled sales and service employees in the areas of kitchen cabinets and countertops – “not our main line, but we can do pre-built or custom cabinetry,” he said.

Much of the expansion has occurred under John and Leslie’s watch.

“We tore down an old building and a house and put up this nearly 10,000-square-foot warehouse – that mostly houses windows and doors,” he said. “We cut lumber, plywood and have a shop for custom painting.”

John said that they take on a lot of lumber by rail, with one railroad car holding more than four tractor-trailer loads.

“Rail helps reduce our costs quite a bit. It reduces the freight tremendously, which we can pass on to our contractor and customer base,” he said, adding that the majority of the lumber comes from Canada or the West Coast.

The Harrower family continues to be active in the community, as both John and Leslie have served on the Genesee Area YMCA board (Leslie is a former president) and as volunteer coaches for a variety of school and youth sports.

Per Riter’s nomination, “John and Leslie have been great ambassadors in that they are always friendly and welcoming to people who are new to the community, including Liz (his wife) and myself.”

John said he embraces what he calls “the hometown spirit.”

“Nothing comes near it,” he said. “We like to see people within the community; we’ve made a lot of friends and have had a tremendous amount of support from the community. And, for that, we’re very grateful.”

March 1, 2019 - 11:42am
posted by Virginia Kropf in Rotary Club of Batavia, business, Chamber Awards, batavia.

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Editor's note: The 2018 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet will be held Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

As Batavia’s oldest service club prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, it will be honored by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce with the Special Service Recognition of the Year on Saturday.

Rotarian Christopher White stressed the importance of the Rotary Club of Batavia in the community when he nominated it for the Chamber award.

“Founded by local businessmen looking for camaraderie and an opportunity to give back to their community, the Club has made meaningful contributions, not just financial, but of their time, talent and expertise to make Batavia a better place to live,” White wrote.

Rotary’s contributions to the Batavia community include support of Batavia Concert Band, Genesee County Youth Bureau Community Garden, Genesee Cancer Assistance, Crossroads House, Genesee Symphony Orchestra, GO ART!, Fourth of July Picnic in the Park, Genesee/Orleans ARC and United Memorial Medical Center.

And they support local youth in ice hockey, minor league baseball, Boy Scouts, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), YMCA Camp Hough and the YMCA Summer Adventure Program. 

The Rotary Scholarship Program provides $18,000 each year to high school students from Batavia, Notre Dame and Genesee Valley Educational Partnership.

Rotary also gives local high school students a chance to spend a year abroad, and has hosted foreign exchange students looking to experience life in the United States and Western New York. Two of these students, one from Australia and the other from Denmark, are in Batavia now and attended a recent meeting to tell of their experiences at Algonquin Provencial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Rotary has also provided youth leadership training to many local high school and college students through Rotary International. And they support the world by continuing to raise funds from club members to support Rotary International in its quest to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.

Batavia Rotary hosts the annual girls’ and boys’ high school basketball tournaments, the annual Father’s Day Fly-in Breakfast at Genesee County Airport, the annual Beerfest and raffle, and the Memorial Day Flags and Flowers Sale.

Not to be forgotten are the Rotary shows which were put on for so many years.

White noted that many of the current 75 Rotary members sit on boards of local organizations and nonprofit agencies, lending their support and knowledge to them. They can be found making an impact outside of the Club itself, he said. Members range in age from 28 to 88 and all believe in the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.”

Batavia Rotary was founded in 1919 by Batavia businessman Carlton M. Sleight, who had only lived in the city little more than a decade, according to William F. Brown Jr. in his book "Service Above Self: The Story of a Rotary Club."

Sleight had attended a Rotary meeting in Elmira, while living and doing business in Canandaigua, and Brown believes that his visit may have inspired him to form a club in Batavia. On March 13, 1919, Sleight invited 25 business and professional men to meet at the Holland Club with Dr. John H. Ready from the Rochester club to learn how to form a Batavia unit.

The group was so enthused that, two months later, a dinner meeting was held at the Batavia Club to discuss the reports of committees working on bylaws and a constitution. Officers were installed May 26 at the Odd Fellows Temple (the former St. James Episcopal Church on Ellicott Street). More than 200 Rotarians attended from Rochester to Niagara Falls and enjoyed a five-course dinner served by the Eastern Star. 

Batavia became Rotary International’s charter No. 491.

Batavia dentist Joseph Rowbottom is a 50-year member of Batavia Rotary, along with Dave Schwartz and Don Iwanicki.  

Rowbottom first became exposed to Rotary after moving to Corfu. When he was a freshman in dental school, he had a friend whose fiancee’s mother knew a dentist in Corfu who was retiring. That turned out to be Guy Patterson and Rowbottom bought his building. (Guy Patterson's daughter was the famous swimmer Greta Paterson, who swam across Lake Erie in 1955.)

In 1966, the Vietnam War was heating up, and Rowbottom didn’t want to be drafted, so Patterson agreed to hold the building and Rowbottom enlisted. He served two years in the military and after returning home, started attending Rotary meetings with dentist Patterson. 

“I’ve been coming ever since,” Rowbottom said. “I continued to block off time on my schedule from noon to 1:15 p.m. so I could attend Rotary. I’ve always had a lot of fun at Rotary. I also liked the Buffalo Club, but they were so formal.”

Rowbottom said his friends challenged him in the beginning to propose that women be allowed to join Rotary. At the time, the Batavia Jaycees were thrown out of the organization for accepting a female member. He proposed Rotary welcome in Terry Carauna, the dean of Business at Genesee Community College.

“They didn’t accept her and I almost got thrown out of Rotary,” Rowbottom said. “Today, we would be in a world of hurt without women. This club could not function as it does without women.”

One of the newer, younger members is Pam Sivret, who joined in 2017. Her sister, Teri Yasses has been a member since 1994 and Sivret has helped her with the fly-in breakfasts and Rotary shows. 

When Yasses said Sivret should join, she did.

“I love the friendship and how we are all very like-minded,” Sivret said. 

She was the first winner of a Rotary Youth Leadership Award to become a Rotary member. She won the award in 1990 while a student at GCC.

Lori Aratari was working for Triple AAA when she joined Rotary. 

“They encouraged us to be part of our community and get involved,” Aratari said. “I explored the service clubs locally and Rotary stood out.”

She has chaired fundraisers and is in her second term on the board.

“I’ve made amazing friends through Rotary and my husband enjoys participating in Rotary events,” Aratari said.

March 1, 2019 - 11:38am
posted by Virginia Kropf in Chamber Awards, business, agriculture, upstate niagara.

Editor's note: The  2018 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet will be held Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., a dairy cooperative owned by 340 farm families located throughout Western New York, will be honored March 2 as the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s Agricultural Organization of the Year.

“On behalf of our member-owners, especially those located in Genesee County, we are honored to be presented with this award by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce,” said Keith Telaak, senior marketing manager of Upstate Niagara Cooperative. “We are grateful of this recognition and are proud to be a part of the Genesee County community.”

Upstate Niagara Cooperative is a result of several mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations of local dairy processors over the past 100 years, as dairy farmers realized the need for increased efficiencies to be able to grow their businesses and compete in the changing marketplace, Telaak said.

In 2006 Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative consolidated, bringing together two of the nation’s top dairy cooperatives. Its history, however, goes back even further.

Some of Upstate Niagara Cooperative’s family-owned farms have been in existence for more than six generations, according to Telaak.

The cooperative operates seven manufacturing facilities – three fluid plants (Buffalo, Rochester and Williamsport, Pa.), with their main office in Buffalo; two cultured facilities (West Seneca and North Lawrence); one cheese plant in Campbell; and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia. The Membership Office is also located in Batavia, Telaak added. 

“Our mission is to serve each one of our customers the highest quality dairy products and services, in order to market milk and maximize returns for our dairy farmer owners, while providing a rewarding environment for our employees,” Telaak said.

“Our commitment to quality dairy products extends to every stage of production, from the farm to the consumer. The success of our cooperative begins with the passion and dedication of our farmer-owners to work hard every single day to produce the highest quality milk.”

Upstate Niagara’s high-quality dairy products have earned several first-place awards at dairy competitions, including their Bison French Onion Dip and light sour cream. They are marketed to consumers throughout the country.

Their products include milk, flavored milk, yogurt, dip, sour cream, cheese and ice cream marketed under the Upstate Farms, Valley Farms; Intense Milk for consumers looking for a healthier way to indulge; Bison; and Milk for Life. 

“We are also a private label manufacturer of dairy products for many of the largest retailers throughout the country,” Telaak said. 

Today, Upstate Niagara employs more than 1,400 people in their offices, manufacturing facilities and distribution network. 

Batavia was chosen as the site for the Membership Office because of its central location to member farmers in Western New York, Telaak said. Mike Davis is plant manager of the Batavia plant.

January 15, 2019 - 12:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, Chamber Awards, news, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 47th Annual Awards Ceremony which will be held on Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites, Park Road, Batavia.

This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism. Tickets are $50 per person or a table of 10 for $450.

The evening begins at 5:30 with hors d'oeuvres, entrée tables & cash bar (no formal sit-down dinner is to be served). The Award Program starts at 7 p.m. where dessert and coffee will be served. 

This year’s honorees are: 

  • Business of the Year:    Genesee Lumber Company Inc.      
  • Agricultural Organization of the Year:    Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc.   
  • Special Service Recognition of the Year:   The Batavia Rotary Club
  • Geneseean of the Year:   Bob Stocking, of Corfu
March 2, 2018 - 11:49pm

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This is the fifth in a series of five stories about the honorees at this Saturday's annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is being held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

Pouring concrete is a young man's game, said Tom Baltz, co-owner of Baltz Concrete Construction in Pavilion.

"We have a lot of knowledge and ability to keep (the business) running, but I certainly couldn't go out and do concrete anymore," said the 64-year-old Baltz. "We have a lot of tough guys. You have to be tough to do concrete work."

Baltz employs between 40 and 50 people regularly, usually more in the summer. They have to work in all kinds of conditions. This isn't school where you can count on a few snow days during the winter. A Baltz construction worker works in the hot and the cold, the wind and the rain, the snow and the bright light of an August afternoon.

"They're working outdoors in all possible conditions," Baltz said. "We only took one weather day off this winter. They're out there in the mud and the water and they still have to think clearly and get a job done, and get a job done in a manner that it's going to stand up. It really is an amazing thing what these guys are capable of doing and what they're willing to do to get the job done."

It's been 45 years since Tom's dad, Robert Baltz, started the company, which his three sons eventually took over. Since then it's continued to grow and increasingly become a bedrock business of the community.

That's why Baltz Construction was selected by the Chamber of Commerce at the business of the year.

"I was only 19 when I started," Baltz said. "I came home from college and got out in the sun and got working, I just put my head down and did it. To be honest with you, I just never looked back. I just loved the physical work of it."

Baltz Construction specializes cast-in-place concrete. In other words, Baltz workers go to a construction site and fill casts with concrete, rather than bring in pre-poured castings. 

Clients include schools and factories.

"If it's concrete, we do it," Baltz said. "We don't do a lot of residential work because that's kind of a different gear than what we're set up to do. We have bigger equipment with more overhead, so we don't do a lot of residential unless it's a large job."

Robert Batlz was working for the B.R. DeWitt Corp. driving a cement truck when it struck him that maybe that was the kind of work he could do for himself.

"He saw a lot of concrete being poured and thought it looked like an opportunity so he decided to give it a try."

He started out with small jobs on the side but by 1973, Baltz Concrete became his full-time job.

That's when Tom went to work for him.

In a couple of years, Robert Baltz bought the Howard Brown Precast Company and Tom's brothers went to work for him there and Tom ran Baltz Concrete.

When the precast company was sold to Kistner, Baltz Concrete became the business of Tom and his two brothers.  

When one of the brothers wanted out, Tom and his brother Nicholas decided to make James Logdson a partner.

"James was looking for a summer job when he came to work for Baltz Concrete," Baltz said. "He worked one summer, he graduated, but he impressed us a lot. I talked my brothers into chasing him down and making him an offer to come to work for us. That was in the 1980s. He's been with us ever since."

Baltz said the company has always valued its employees and they try to treat them right.

"We take jobs that are anywhere within an hour-and-a-half of Pavilion," Baltz said. "We don't go much further than that because we need our people to be home every night. We hire family men. It's important that we get them home every night to be with their families."

They also support some of their after-work hobbies. They might sponsor stockcar or go-kart or some other activity.

"You get involved with the people you work with in a ton of different ways," Baltz said. 

There's a lot of charity support flowing out of Baltz Concrete. They sponsor youth baseball, soccer, softball, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, the Pavilion Community Chest and the Arc of Genesee Orleans.

"Being part of the town and being in a position to do something, you feel like you have the opportunity to help and helping always makes you feel better," Bartz said.

Both Tom and Nicholas are married. Tom and his wife don't have children. Nicholas is a stepfather to the children of his wife, but he and his wife are also parents to three foster children they plan to adopt. 

"So he has many children," Baltz said. "He lives and breathes for them, that's for sure."

What makes the company successful, Baltz acknowledged, is its people.

"We're not like a factory," Baltz said. "There's not a lot of equity in equipment. Most of the equipment we use has little or no market value. When all is said and done, with this place, if we shut it down, there's more worth in the building and the driveway then there is in the equipment.

"With our company, it is the people who are the only real value."

That's why some of the best employees in the company, such as Logsdon, have become partners.

The two new junior partners are Jaret Geitner and Jeremy Trzieceski.

The best workers, Baltz said, are the ones who have a dedication to their job and take pride in what they do. Those are the people who get promoted.

"When you have pride, you do something right for its own sake," Baltz said. "You don't do it for your boss or for your company. You do it for your own pride. You can teach a guy to do a job right but you can't teach a guy to care about his job."

The guys who care are easy to spot, Baltz said. They're the ones who see the boss working with estimating software, so they go home and play with it just to see if they can figure it out. 

"You know who the ones are that wake up in the middle of the night and think, 'Wow, did I get that measurement right?'"

That's why those employees get a shot at being a partner.

"There is a self-motivation in certain people that you have to recognize because if you don't recognize those people, they will go someplace else quick enough."

March 1, 2018 - 6:46pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in The Firing Pin, bergen, news, Chamber Awards, business.

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This is the fourth in a series of five stories about the honorees at this Saturday's annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is being held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

The Firing Pin in Bergen is a friendly place to visit. Owner Brandon Lewis is a big reason why. Open and gregarious, he's eager to help his customers and ensure when they come to use the range they do so safely and get the most enjoyment from it as possible.

The store is brightly lit, clean and well-stocked.  

It's no wonder, the Firing Pin was selected by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce as the Innovative Enterprise of the Year.

Lewis, the owner, said he was humbled to receive the award.

“When you go into business, you never know what’s going to happen,” Lewis said. “To be recognized for the work you do is the icing on the cake. It can’t get better than that.”

Lewis started planning to open The Firing Pin in 2011. He wanted to offer a facility with a full range of products and services, that was not a typical gun shop. He felt it was something the community needed, and the public responded well to the business.

“We cater to those who are afraid of guns, and those who use guns,” Lewis said. “We cater to every skill level. We’re a destination for anyone who is looking to be better.”

The facility, located at 8240 Buffalo Road, was built in 2013 and opened in 2014.

Lewis went to Alexander High School when he thought of the idea of running his own place. The idea took time to develop, so he went to St. John Fisher College.

He took a job at Gander Mountain, and decided he wanted to open a place that gave more training, the right training, and safe training.

Lewis is an eagle scout, a certified NRA pistol and rifle instructor, a certified GLOCK Armorer and a black belt in Taekwondo.  

“Everywhere down south there are gun shops and ranges,” Lewis said. “It is popular down south and it’s something I felt we needed.”

The Firing Pin is open seven days a week, Monday from noon until 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. They offer group rates, memberships and firearm rentals, in addition to one-on-one training with NRA certified instructors.

More information and pricing can be found here.

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February 28, 2018 - 3:18pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Geneseeans of the Year, William Kent Inc., Chamber Awards.

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This is the third in a series of five stories about the honorees at this Saturday's annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is being held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

Renowned purebred cattle auctioneer William “Bill” Kent says there’s a straightforward explanation for his Town of Stafford company’s nearly half a century of success.

“It’s pretty simple, really. I said to the kids, 'don’t fib and don’t do anything wrong, or it will come back to bite you,' ” said Bill, who founded William Kent Inc. in 1970 and has since turned it over to his son, Dave.

Bill, Dave and Dave’s son, Josh, spoke about the business and its role in the community in light of the family being named Geneseeans of the Year for 2017 by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a heck of an honor, and certainly unexpected,” said Dave, who joined forces with his father in 1976 after graduating from St. Bonaventure University. “We’re very pleased.”

Over the years, several members of the Kent family have participated in the auctioneering, appraisal and real estate brokerage firm, including Bill’s wife, Jean, and daughters, Debbie and Connie.

Currently, Bill (at 85 he’s still on the job), Dave and Josh, who came into the business in 2006 after attending Cornell University, handle the day-to-day responsibilities, with assistance from trusted employees Mike Cody and George Heins.

The family was nominated for the award by Stafford neighbors Rick and Jane Scott, who said the Kents are “well known for their community spirit, love of agriculture and generous nature. They deserve to be recognized not only as a business but for all they do in this community and beyond.”

The Kents have displayed their generosity through the numerous benefit auctions they conduct (at no charge) for civic organizations and charities, rarely turning down a request.

“Dad has always done this, and it is one of the ways we can give back,” said Dave, a former New York State Auctioneer of the Year.

In 1971, Bill gave of his time and talent to run the first Genesee County Fair auction, and the company has been involved ever since.

“Kids raise and sell their 4-H project animals at the Fair, and we help them out,” Bill said, adding that they also participate in the Wyoming County 4-H.

He then went on to name other organizations that have raised funds through their benefit auctions – churches, Kiwanis Club, Batavia Business Women, Le Roy and Stafford historical societies, Salvation Army and Hunter’s Hope, Spirits & Skivvies underwear project, plus many more.

Josh, whose children, Landon, 10, and Ainsley, 7, could be destined to join the business someday, said he has embraced his grandfather’s philosophy.

“Western New York is a fairly tight-knit community, and to be in business for any length of time, you have to treat people right,” he said.

Bill said the business has changed over time – “we used to sell 5,000 cows per year, now it’s a lot of machinery and real estate auctions and sales” (and consulting) – but they’re available to “help out where we are needed.”

That was the case when Bill presented auctioneering for a “show and tell” session at the Le Roy Nursery School, where his grandson, Riley, was a student.

“That was more fun than making money,” he said, with a laugh.

“I asked the kids to just do what I do, counting 1, 2, right up to 10. Then I gave them the little microphone and asked each one to come up and count. One little girl was so shy; she hid behind me, clutched my leg and counted really softly. That was something.”

Photo: David Kent, Josh Kent, and Mike Cody.

February 27, 2018 - 5:10pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Batavia Cross Training, news, Chamber Awards.

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This is the second in a series of five stories about the honorees at this Saturday's annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is being held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

When Jessica Pratt saw a chance to own her own gym, she took it and she hasn't looked back.

Batavia Cross Training has become not only a popular fitness spot for her customers, it's become an important part of Genesee County's charitable community.

This Saturday, the gym will be recognized by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce with a special Service of the Year Award.

Pratt said she was shocked and honored by the award.

“I’ve only owned the gym for two and a half years,” Pratt said. “It’s very humbling to be noticed already. I didn’t expect that.”

Pratt was approached by the old owner two and a half years ago, and said he was moving to Buffalo, and gave her the opportunity to take the gym over.

“I guess I was a risk-taker,” Pratt said. “I committed to it and we’ve done well. It has been my life ever since.”

Batavia Cross Training provides a different type of fitness for anyone and everyone, Pratt said.

The fitness program is for individuals who are committed to improving their fitness, whether it be to lose weight, run a marathon, or have endless energy. Through the program, members are taught to develop nutrition plans, set and reach goals, and how to maintain motivation. The program is for people of all ages, backgrounds and fitness levels. 

The gym is located at 34 Swan St. in Batavia and offers classes at various points throughout the day. There are different types of membership, including yearly, month to month, and trials. 

“I don’t do this to win awards,” Pratt said. “I do this because I like it and have fun.”

Pratt is 30 years old and lives in Le Roy. She said the community is so involved in helping Batavia Cross Training succeed.

“All of the businesses in Downtown Batavia and in Genesee County have helped out immensely,” Pratt said. “Even those donating to other events have been amazing.”

Pratt said she loves coming up with new ideas and running with them.

“I just want to keep doing what we’re doing and keep coming up with fresh, new, fun ideas,” Pratt said. “I want to keep moving in a good direction.”

Pratt wanted to thank the community and Batavia Cross Training Community members.

“I’m very happy to be able to help them and to have them support me every day,” Pratt said. “They’re the ones that are giving back. I put on the event and come up with the crazy ideas and they just support me. I love them all.”

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February 27, 2018 - 5:01pm

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This is the first in a series of five stories about the honorees at this Saturday's annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is being held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

Quickly deflecting any kudos for herself, Bev Mancuso, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, said it’s the staff, volunteers, and community that should be applauded in conjunction with the agency’s selection as the Agricultural Business of the Year for 2017 by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

CCE, along with several other businesses, will be honored at the Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner on March 3 at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

“It’s the specialists and experts on the CCE staff who deserve the recognition,” said Mancuso, who is retiring from her position in June after 15-plus years at the East Main Street facility. “They’re the ones who are out in the field, literally. I do what I can to get them what they need to do their jobs.”

Mancuso also had words of praise for those who give of their time to help the agency reach its goal of “growing minds” through nontraditional, experiential learning.

“All of our internal programs are heavily dependent upon volunteers -- 4-H, Leadership Genesee, Master Gardeners. Much fundraising is due to our volunteers. We would be lost without them.”

She also spoke highly of the board of directors, also volunteers, who have been instrumental in building and maintaining a strong organization of employees “very passionate about their jobs.”

“I continue to be amazed with their (staff) dedication and commitment,” she said. “No one is here to just get a paycheck. It really is their calling in life – they live to be here and do this job, despite the funding cuts we’ve experienced over the past few years.”

Mancuso said the agency (there is one CCE in every county in New York State) primarily reaches the farming community – operations big and small – through its involvement with three regional teams – Northwest NY Dairy, Livestock and Fields Crop, Vegetable and Harvest New York.

Currently, 23 specialists from Cornell University interact with all segments of agribusiness, enhancing capacity and infrastructure through on-site farm visits, hours on the muck land, corn and soybean symposiums and newsletter blasts.

Highlights of the work of the three teams include:

-- NWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops: Several “Congresses” in the area of forage, calf/heifer, corn, soybean/small grains, as well as educational opportunities for growing malting barley, Ag workforce development and dairy calf managed housing and feeding systems.

-- Vegetable: A Batavia Field Day to capitalize on the increase in new farms in this area, soil health alliance summer field day, good ag practices farm food safety and research into wholesaling for small-scale vegetable growers, organic farming management and climate awareness.

-- Harvest New York: With a goal of spurring agricultural economic development, the focus is on dairy food processing and marketing, local food distribution and marketing, and farm strategic planning. Projects have been developed to promote the craft beverage industry, and to link Ag businesses with the WNY Tech Academy and GVEP BOCES culinary program.

The Master Gardeners program, coordinated by Jan Beglinger, has had a profound impact upon Genesee County residents, Mancuso said.

“On many occasions, someone will come in and want to start a farm, but don’t know what to do,” Mancuso said. “That’s when Jan gets involved. When you see those businesses start, that’s really cool.”

Last year alone, according to a CCE budget report, 71 Master Gardener volunteers donated 4,842 hours, worth $135,867 at current NYS value of $28.06 per hour to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County.

The CCE of Genesee County was nominated for the award by Christian Yunker, managing partner of CY Farms and a member of the Genesee County Agricultural Committee, said it’s easy to overlook the agency’s numerous benefits to the area.

“We in the industry many times take it for granted – the work that they do and their teams that provide such high value,” he said. “As producers, without that third-party expertise, we’d be left with only our vendors.”

Yunker said it was apropos that Chamber honor is being bestowed during the CCE of Genesee County’s centennial year.

“We believe that it is well-suited that during their 100th anniversary that they receive this award.”

March 5, 2017 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, Chamber Awards, business.

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At the Quality Inn & Suites last night, the Chamber of Commerce presented its annual local business and leadership awards. Here are photos and links to our stories from the past week about the winners.

Above, Charlie Cook, CEO of Liberty Pumps.

Chamber Awards: Business of the Year -- Liberty Pumps

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Bill and Joy Hume, owners of Foxprowl Collectables.

Chamber Awards: Foxprowl Collectables -- Entrepreneurial Business of the Year

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Owners of Stein Farms. Natasha Sutherland speaking, then on left, Jerrod Stein, Ray Stein, and Nathan Stein (Dale Stein was out of town and unable to attend).

Chamber Awards: Agricultural Business of the Year, Stein Farms

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Steve Foster and Tim Adams, owners of Red Osier Restaurant.

Chamber Awards: Special Service Recognition, Red Osier Restaurant

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Steve and Lisa Grice.

Chamber Awards: Geneseeans of the Year, Batavians Steve and Lisa Grice

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Tom Turnbull, present of the Chamber of Commerce, during his opening remarks.

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