Ten businesses and organizations have been named finalists in the 19th Annual Prism Awards, a local initiative to honor excellence.
The ten, as well as the other nominees, will be honored at a banquet Wednesday, 6:00 pm at Sunrise Park & Banquet Center in Millbury. Chrys Peterson, news anchor for WTOL-Channel 11, will be the Master of Ceremonies.
The program, which is sponsored by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce, is open to all businesses located in an area encompassed by East Toledo on the west, Oregon on the north, Oak Harbor on the east and Gibsonburg on the south.
Tickets are $50 and a table of eight is $400. RSVP to Sarah Beavers at 419-693-5580.
The finalists are:
Black Swamp Bird Obs., Oak Harbor
The mission of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory is to inspire the appreciation and conservation of birds and their habitats through research, education and outreach.
That outreach includes hosting the Biggest Week in American Birding, an 11-day Spring festival entering its third year. The festival last year attracted some 64,000 visitors to the Lake Erie marshes. These visitors, who come from as far as Kenya, Australia and Japan, spent as estimated $29 million.
The Observatory has banded more than 500,000 birds in order to study migration habits. This is the largest banding operation in North America and one such foray on West Sister Island was featured on the popular television show Dirty Jobs.
D.R. Ebel, Northwood
Dennis Ebel and his son Dennis Jr. take the long view when it comes to business. Their philosophy is, “We want you to be our customer now and 20 years from now.”
Providing customers with high quality products and service for police and fire departments is paramount. So much so that Dennis has included his home phone number on his business card.
The company’s newest product is a “plug n play” harness for use on emergency lighting for police vehicles.
The Ebels also value community service and as many as seven employees are involved in a number of projects supporting the Oregon/Northwood Rotary Club, Northwood Schools, Mercy Health Partners and the Challenger Learning Center.
East Point Physical Therapy, Oregon
Dan Walendzak invested in the community where he was raised. In 2003 he and a partner opened their first office on Navarre. Three years later, he purchased the practice and moved it to Dustin Road. At that time he had one employee. Today, he employs seven.
Walendzak attributes the growth to treating employees and patients like family. He takes pride in creating a fun and uplifting environment for patients who typically attend sessions two to three times a week. He has expanded to offer athletic enhancement programs and a super-pulsed infrared laser for light therapy.
East Point participates in the Quest Program and has relationships with Owens Community College and the University of Toledo to introduce physical therapy to young people.
Financial Stability Program, East Toledo
This joint program between the East Toledo Family Center and Lutheran Social Services provides financial coaching to hundreds of individuals who have fallen on hard times during the Big Recession.
Financial coaches undergo a five-day intensive training session to help clients reach financial literacy, set realistic, financial goals and enhance accountability.
The coaches partner with banks, employment agencies, utilities and social service agencies to help clients restructure debt, manage expenses, access money-saving social services and tap into educational and job opportunities.
One on one coaching is used as well as educational workshops. Clients are also introduced to programs for rent assistance, housing referrals and healthy diets.
Jeffers Crane, Oregon
Jeffers Crane, founded in 1948, was briefly owned by the Fondessy Family before being sold to All Erection and Crane Rental in 1995. All Crane is the largest privately held crane rental company in North America.
Jeffers rents cranes both with and without an operator. The company was the only crane supplier to the Veterans Glass City Skyway Bridge project. The four-year project employed hundreds of construction workers. Jeffers also supplied the cranes for the Hollywood Casino.
Jeffers sent cranes to aid in the relief and clean-up effort after the June 5 tornado hit Lake Township and parts of Ottawa County. It also is assisting BP-Husky Refining with its newest construction project and provides cranes for the wind turbine industry.
Miracle League of NW Ohio, Walbridge
The philosophy of the Miracle League volunteers is simple: Every child deserves a chance to play baseball.
Jeff Barton’s dream to give those with special needs a chance to enjoy and learn from our nation’s pastime started in 2006, upon the birth of his son. Within three years, Barton had secured a site for the field in Northwood’s Brentwood Park and the city and numerous volunteers built the dugouts, erected fencing and landscaped the field to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. When the ribbon was cut in 2009, Miracle League had two teams. Today, there are six and the mission has been expanded to provide the baseball experience to adults with special needs.
Players are assisted with a buddy on the field and they perform in front of their parents, siblings and friends.
Serenity Farm, Luckey
A pet can help its owner through emotionally difficult times. The staff at Serenity Farm Equestrian Center knows this. Their fleet of certified therapy dogs provides emotional and educational benefits for those with special needs.
Another unique program, equine-assisted counseling services, has been offered since 2001. Mental health professionals from as far away as South Africa and Norway have traveled to Serenity to learn more.
The organization also prides itself on “unplugging” from modern technology to allow clients to build better emotional and therapeutic bonds with the animals, free of interruptions from texting, ring-tones, and cell-phones.
This mission of using animals to help with physical therapy and mental health has wide community support. Last year, volunteers contributed more than 6,000 hours to that mission.
Simply Green Lawn Service, Oregon
In three years, Simply Green has grown from zero customers to more than 900. The reasons are the company returns all customer calls within 24 hours, stresses customer service and uses only phosphorous-free fertilizer.
Phosphorous is believed to be the main contributor to the algae problem in Lake Erie.
Two years ago, Simply Green teamed up with Warnke Enterprises. Warnke refers its landscaping clients to Simply Green for lawn and weed feeding and Simply Green refers its weed and feed customers to Warnke.
Owner Rick Jaques also finds time to stay involved in the Oregon community. He has been president of The Oregonian Club, board member of the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce and on the board of zoning appeals for the City of Oregon.
Therapy Works, Oregon
Deanna McComish, physical therapist and athletic trainer, opened Therapy Works in 2000. She began providing physical therapy services for injured workers and athletes, working with each patient to fashion an individualized treatment plan.
This personal touch and the light-hearted banter of an engaging staff makes patients feel comfortable during what can be a difficult rehab time. The approach has proven to be successful as Deanna, in 2003, opened her second location in Holland. She brought on board Jeff Swartz, a physical therapist and seven-time Ironman Triathlon finisher. One of his specialties is providing employers with pre-placement testing and ergonomic studies to reduce workplace injuries.
The company is active in the community and has been a supporter of Oregon Fest for the past five years.
First Federal Bank, Oregon
First Federal is a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Defiance Financial Corporation. In 1999, the bank adopted a Customer First program, a standard of behavior that defines how employees treat customers. The program includes these practices: answer all voicemails by end of day, find a solution without delegating responsibility to someone else, make eye-contact when a customer walks in, answer a telephone in three rings or less, introduce the customer to another employee when transferring the call and thank customers for their business.
Does the approach work? In a recent two-week period, the bank referred 366 mortgages to its lenders and took 276 applications.
Bank employees also support Ohio Reads, Feed the Team and art camps for disabled children.