The Chardon Area Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the outstanding contributions of several businesses and individuals at its Annual Meeting March 14. The annual scholarship winners also were announced.
Connie Babcock, owner Wicked Woods Golf Club, where the event was held, was named the 2016 Business Person of the Year. The award was presented by Jonathan Schneider who praised Mrs. Babcock for her ability to refurbish the golf club and build a successful business in a relatively short amount of time.
“While the magnitude of fixing up The Wicked Woods might be a project too big for many people to tackle, Connie, who is known for her sense of style, took it on as a challenge,” said Schneider.
In March of 2016 The Wicked Woods re-opened its doors. Since then it has stayed in demand as a prime location for weddings, golf outings and banquets.
The Chamber also recognized two businesses. The Nest, owned by Stephanie and Kevin Talty of Chardon, was named 2016 Small Business of the year. Shiffler Equipment Sales Inc., was named 2016 Business of the Year. The Business of the Year awards are given to businesses which have made a significant contribution to the business community and/or accomplished outstanding business achievements.
The Nest originally opened in July 2013 at 520 Water Street in Chardon after the Taltys looked at the property on a whim. Hoping to get more traffic, the Taltys moved the store to its current location, 153 Main Street in the summer of 2014. Since then, the boutique has drawn hundreds of customers looking for specialty items including hand painted furniture, local handmade items, home decor, craft items and more. Showcasing her creative spark, Mrs. Talty expanded the business to include evening craft classes that often sell out. In 2015 the store was voted the “Best of the East for Home Decor” and voted #1 on the Cleveland Hot List for Best Furniture.
The second business to be recognized, Shiffler Equipment, is a family-owned operation located at 745 S. Street in Chardon specializing in facility maintenance, lighting and other projects. The company was founded in 1973 by John Shiffler’s parents and former teachers, Bill and Gloria Shiffler, who realized the desire for school professionals to have a one-stop shop for all their maintenance and hardware needs.
“What started in a residential garage has grown into a $20 million 27,000 square foot business servicing more than 150,0000 customers in the education, government and religious facility markets throughout North America,” Schneider said. “They employ more than 30 employees, many who live in Chardon and have been with the company for 12 years or more and are involved in the community.”
The Chamber next recognized the Red Key Network, a women’s networking group, as the 2016 Organization of the Year.
“The Red Key Network was founded in June 2011 by a small group of women who came together with a common purpose: to support each other’s needs and desires to grow as professional women living and or working in Geauga County,” Schneider said. “Most were entrepreneurs, but all were women who found that many of the unique needs of women in businesses were not fully supported by existing business networking organizations in the county. Since then the organization has grown substantially, achieving non-profit status and growing to more than 80 members.”
Red Key has also received attention from other groups. In 2014 it was named the Best Women’s Networking Organization in the Cleveland Business Connects Connectors Choice Awards and has been a finalist in that category for each subsequent year.
The Chamber’s Legacy Award was given to Joe Rodriguez, director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Chardon. The Legacy Award is given to a Chardon area business person or resident who has made a significant contribution to the community during his or her lifetime. Rodriguez was chosen because of his work with the city’s youth.
Rodriguez began working for the City of Chardon in 1982 as the pool manager and rose to the ranks of Parks and Recreation Director in 2001. Prior to that, he was the PE teacher and swim team coach at Euclid High School, retiring after 34 years. In his current role Joe organizes activities for the city’s youth and families. In 2016 he oversaw 10 programs during the summer including the ever popular Concerts in the Park and Movies in the Park, and nine sports programs in the fall. He worked early on as coach of the Chardon Swim Team and has expanded the city’s offerings to include basketball, volleyball, soccer, wrestling and tennis.
“Joe works closely with the Chardon School District to ensure that all youths have access to facilities and equipment to stay active and have fun together,” said Chamber President-Elect Jim McClintock, who presented the award. “His passion for the youth community in Chardon spills over to everyone he works with. He is invested in the kids he coaches and gets to know their families to truly understand the kids and help them grow and succeed. Many of the kids come back to talk to Joe, and he remembers them all.”
The Chamber recognized Chardon High School students Erick Jones and Madison Park, who each won a $1,000 college scholarship from the Chamber. The Chamber usually only chooses one award winner, but because of the record number of highly qualified applicants, the Scholarship Committee decided to award two.
Erick, the son of Brian and Yvette Jones of Chardon, plans to use the funds to study accounting at John Carroll University. A National Honor Society student, he has received numerous awards for his school and community activities and remains active as an Eagle Scout.
Madison, the daughter of Kevin and Tracey Park of Chardon, plans to study nursing at Ohio University. Also a National Honor Society student, she has earned varsity letters in cross country and track and volunteers in the NICU Department at Hillcrest Hospital.
The meeting also included recognition of the 2017 Board of Directors and Officers. In addition to Schneider and McClintock, they are Marci Mondello-King of Marci’s Hair on the Square, VP of Fundraising; Julia Dolsen of Shiffler Equipment, VP of Marketing; Steve Yaney, Past President; Keith Bales of D&S Automotive; Stacey Barlow of Home Savings; DD Coley of Consumer Tire; John Eltzroth of Effectium; Terri Findlay-Jones of Embassy Healthcare; Ford Fram of Western and Southern Life; Mary Glauser of Chardon Tomorrow; Patty Hall of Chardon Healthcare Center; Dr. Michael Hanlon of Chardon Local Schools; Debbie Mack of Lawyer’s Title; Diane Moore of S.A.M. Landscaping; Cathy Peters of Puroclean of Western Reserve; Dr. Tad Roediger of Roediger Chiropractic; and Debbie Tarr of Vocational Guidance Services.