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PAST CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AWARD WINNERSAthena Award1996 Eldridge Consulting1997 Met Place Properties LLC1998 Girl Scouts of Appleseed Ridge Inc.1999 Judy Gilbert2000 United Way of Greater Lima2001 Violet Meek2002 Alberta Lee2003 Lima Allen County Academy of Medicine2004 Spherion2005 Dr. Lee Snyder, president of Bluffton University2006 Jon E. Rockhold, director of external relations, OSU-Lima2007 Cheryl Morgan, Rea and Associates2008 James Reber, CEO, St. Rita’s Medical Center2009 Karel Oxley, Lima City SchoolsEmerging business of the year2004 Yellow Tuesday’s Hair Club2005 Meeting Place on Market2006 Adrian Gabbiano’s Hair Salon & Designing Associates2007 Heartlight Pharmacy Services2008 FAST2010 Blass Residential ServiceMinority owned business of the year2003 Vogarts Salon2004 Jones-Clark Funeral Home2005 Law Office of Farley K. Banks2006 Dr. Will Ellis, owner, Infectious Diseases Inc.Category eliminated for 2007Culturally diverse business of the year2008 Sarah Ricks, Sarah Ricks’ Treasure Co.2009 George Ricks, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network2010 Sal Alkhatib, LazeezaNonprofit of the year1998 Lima/Allen Council on Community Affairs1999 Girl Scouts of Appleseed Ridge Inc.2000 Goodwill Industries2001 Marimor Industries Inc.2002 Lima/Allen County Neighborhoods in Partnership2003 American Red Cross2004 Children’s Developmental Center of Lima2005 Lima Family YMCA2006 Allen County Council on Aging2007 United Way of Greater Lima2008 Lima Symphony Orchesta2009 Equestrian Therapy2010 Health Partners of Western OhioSmall business of the year1989 Tom Ahl Buick Inc.1990 Kewpee Hamburgers1991 Gooding1992 Gasdorf Tool & Machine Inc.1995 Lima Allen County Paramedics1996 Hardy Financial Group1997 Buckeye Charter Service Inc.1998 K&K Supply1999 Smith Boughan Inc.2000 Folsum Somerville Insurance2001 Fat Jack’s Pizza2002 WCOIL2003 Chiles & Sons-Laman Funeral Home2004 Stolly Insurance Group2005 Happy Daz2006 Pajka Eye Center2007 Wannemacher Trucking2008 Pack Pharmacy2009 Trisco Systems Inc.2010 DeHaven Home and Garden ShowplaceNone for 1993, 1994Women-owned business of the year2003 Seddelmeyer Travel Concepts, Chris Seddelmeyer2004 Nitza’s, Karen Barrington2005 The Cut and Color Crew, Taffy Colley2006 I Do Windows, Lisa Kroehler2007 Sign Pro, Michelle Sterling2008 Promo Hits!, Melinda Bowden2009 Johnny A’s Grill and Spirits, Stacey Stose2010 Intermedia 3, Maggie WannemacherSOURCE: Lima/Allen County Chamber of CommerceLIMA — When it comes to launching and sustaining a successful business, each owner has his own secret recipe for success. But for the finalists in this year’s Small Business of the Year awards, the key ingredient is people.The Lima Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards will take place Wednesday at the UNOH Event Center. Among those to be honored are business owners Robert Sielschott, Eric Wiechart and Mark Niemeyer. The three run very different businesses, but their challenges are similar. Each admits his business lives or dies on the people he hires.“Quality and service is such a huge, key factor to business, and that means finding good employees that want to learn this kind of trade,” said Niemeyer, owner of Lima Millworks. “It’s a challenge to find people who want to learn and jump on board.”Like almost all business owners, Niemeyer started out as one of those employees with a desire to learn more. He was working in the millwork shop at the former Lima Lumber store. When the business closed in 1983, Niemeyer decided to take the plunge and buy the millwork portion. Over time, the business grew, eventually moving to its current East Road location, where he employs 28 workers. Despite years in the industry, Lima Millworks is unknown to most people. Most of its work comes from building custom cabinetry for three large nursing home companies, one of which owns more than 500 facilities. “We kind of have a niche market, so for us we have not found competition that’s willing to take all the steps for service and quality we have,” Niemeyer said. “We don’t have a whole lot of competition, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have to always provide a quality product and great service.”That combination is also key to Wiechart’s business, All Service Glass. The company was founded in 1975 and had two other owners before Wiechart bought the operation 11 years ago. Since then it has expanded, purchasing Taylor Glass six years ago, a Kentucky company in 2010 and Keller Glass earlier this year. The company now has 35 employees in Ohio and 28 in Kentucky, and every one of them gets the sermon on the importance of customer service and getting it right.“The whole world has compressed. There’s no room for error, no room for fluff, no room for mistakes,” Wiechart said.Like Niemeyer, Wiechart depends on workers willing to learn a trade. And once he finds good workers, he invests time and money to make them better. But even finding them can be tricky.“For me, it was just put it up on the bulletin board, put an ad in the paper and that’s it. I realized I’m not reaching anyone under my age,” Wiechart said. “We really had to change the way we look for people.”For Sielschott, the goal is not just finding young talent but making sure that talent is rewarded for success. He started R.E. Sielschott CPA in 1982 with the goal of creating an accounting practice that offered quality work, full disclosure of fees and access to the senior staff. His commitment to that practice means long hours and hard work for staffers. It also makes it tough to find accountants who are willing or able to keep up. “The position of CPA partner (here) is very demanding, and finding those who wish to commit to practicing in this style is a challenge,” Sielschott said.Finding good partners is tough but not impossible. The company, now named Sielschott, Walsh, Keifer and Regula, Inc. CPAs has four partners, and all were younger than 32 when they earned the title.“We have met the challenge by discounting factors such as age and making partnership accessibility based primarily on a willingness to commit extreme efforts to the team and a personality that thrives on interaction directly with small business owners,” Sielschott said. You can comment on this story at www.LimaOhio.com.

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