Companies honored with this year's Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award share a love for running a business in Stark County.

JACKSON TWP.  Business Excellence Awards recipients shared a common theme as they received their honors last week:

Community support makes Stark County a great place to start and develop a business.

The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce presents the awards annually and seven area companies were saluted May 1 during a dinner program in the Conference Center at Kent State University Stark campus.

Bob Vitale, founder and and chief executive officer of Midwest Industrial Supply in Canton, summed it up most succinctly. “It's genuinely a great place to live,” he said of Stark County.

Since starting Midwest in 1975, Vitale has relied on the expertise, abilities and ingenuity of accountants, bankers, lawyers and other business professionals as he developed a company that provides customers across North America environmentally safe industrial products for dust control, soil stabilization, surface management, anti icing and rail lubrication.

“They made surviving successfully for 43 years possible,” Vitale said of the business community.

The tale is similar for MAC Trailer, based in Alliance. Michael A. Conny started repairing trailers in a garage in 1993. A loan from his mother got him started. Guidance from area business professionals and elected officials helped the company grow to 1,200 employees at facilities in Ohio and three other states.

“Our community helped build a large company,” Conny told the packed room while receiving the honor.

Other companies accepting awards this year were Don DeVille, owner of DeVille Apartments & Builders in Jackson Township; Katherine Gessner Duplay, director for strategic planing and policy at MCTV in Massillon; Mike Kappel, founder and CEO, and Mike Wheeler, general counsel, for Patriot Software in Jackson Township; Randy and Kristy Pero, owners for Pero Dairy in East Canton; and Tim Sanders, co-owner of Progressive Auto Group.

Robb Hankins, president and CEO of ArtsinStark, presented the Business for the Arts award to Kempthorn Motors. Hankins noted that Kempthorn always has been committed to downtown Canton, as well as to helping the arts community.

Eric Kempthorn accepted the award and said he sees a lot of hope building in Canton in part because of the success of area businesses that are being managed by second, third and fourth generations of the founding family. “We are excited to be part of it,” he said.

Scholarship winner

The seventh Business Excellence Award Scholarship was presented Abbey Anderson, a senior at Louisville High School.

Anderson's essay examining the proper role of government in regulation of business helped her win the honor. Robert E. Roland, managing partner of Day Ketterer, who presented the award, said the selection committee also considered Anderson's academic record and school activities.

Roland said 27 essays were submitted. “There were some really amazing thoughts that came through in our essays,” he said.

Anderson's take? She concluded her essay with: “A well intentioned regulation may have unintended consequences, and we need to realize this sooner than later. Providing smart, limited, and cost-effective regulation is the proper role of our government in business today.”

Realtor partners with warranty company

Cutler Real Estate has entered a strategic partnership with 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty to provide warranties for new properties and system and appliance warranties for pre-existing houses.

The partnership will enhance the buying and selling experience, and elevate the home ownership experience, according to an announcement issued by Culter. Andy Camp, president of Cutler Real Estate, said the firm is excited to be working with 2-10 and anticipates a long, successful partnership.

Since 1980, Aurora, Colo.-based 2-10 has provided warranties and service contracts for more that 5.8 million new and pre-owned houses. Cutler Real Estate began in 1947 and after years of serving the Canton and Akron area, has expanded to greater Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.

Stark County Humane Society benefits from donation

Waikem Subaru donated $16,598 to the Stark County Humane Society through Subaru's annual "Share the Love" campaign in December.

During the campaign, $250 is donated for every new Subaru that is purchased. The donation is the largest Waikem Subaru has made. Along with the donation, Waikem Subaru held an adoption drive with the Humane Society.

The Humane Society is one of several community non-profits that Waikem Subaru works with during the year. Others include Second Chance for Animals, Perry Helping Perry, the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, Stark Parks, and several of the area's school districts. Nationally, Subaru has donated more than $115 million to charity during 10 years of the Share the Love event.

Adrian Waikem, third generation Waikem family member and sales manager at Waikem Subaru, said the dealership enjoyed working with Humane Society and appreciates the community support. "Every time we ask the community to help us support projects, they step up and help us go above and beyond what we could even expect," Waikem said.

New vehicle sales climb in April

Car dealers in Northeast Ohio saw sales increase during April, according to the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association.

Dealers reported selling 22,073 vehicles during April, up 8.9 percent from 20,266 sold last year. Despite the gain, sales through the first four months are down 1.9 percent, with 80,431 vehicles sold so far this year compared with 82,010 sold in 2017.

Sales figures reported by Northeast Ohio dealers are bucking the national trend, said Louis A. Vitantonio, the association's president.

Northeast Ohio dealers are hoping for another strong year in sales, Vitantonio said. The association expects sales will top 264,000 units in 2018, which would be about 1.7 percent lower than the 268,713 units sold last year. Solid economic growth and high consumer confidence should help keep sales high, the association predicts.

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