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Alfred University presents Galanis Awards to five family businesses
10/08/09

ROCHESTER, NY — Alfred University honored five family firms from New York State during a banquet ceremony Wednesday afternoon at The Country Club of Rochester.

Dixon Schwabl, Otis Technology, PGM, SPSmedical Supply, and Suburban Disposal received Galanis Awards for Excellence in Family Business. The awards, now in their 10th year, are made possible by a gift to Alfred University from the families of Terry Galanis Sr. and Terry Galanis Jr.

Galanis Sr. is a 1940 graduate of Alfred University and founder of Sealing Devices, Inc., of Lancaster. Galanis Jr. is the president of Sealing Devices and a member of the AU Board of Trustees. Winners of Galanis Awards, presented since 2000, are judged on a number of criteria that the Galanises and Alfred University consider hallmarks of successful family enterprises: commitment to employees and the local community; innovation and foresight; and growth and stability.

Sealing Devices was founded in 1963 by Terry Galanis Sr. in the Buffalo suburb of Alden. The company, which manufactures and distributes o-rings, gaskets and seals, has enjoyed tremendous growth over the years and is now located in a state-of-the-art facility in nearby Lancaster.

Dixon Schwabl was founded in 1987 in Rochester, NY, by former broadcast journalist Lauren Dixon, who sought to create a full-service, multi-dimensional advertising agency. Today, the company offers a variety of advertising and public relations services to a local, regional and national client list of nearly 150.

Dixon Schwabl is a second-generation family business. Lauren Dixon is CEO and her husband, Mike Schwabl, serves as president. Two of the couple’s four children are employed at the agency — daughter Courtney is an account manager and son Jordan is associate production coordinator — and two others are studying marketing. The firm, which employs more than 75 people, supports several charitable agencies in the Greater Rochester area, including Thompson Health and Galliano Children’s Hospital. In 2007, the company implemented “Make It Happen Day,” a program in which employees can take a paid day off to volunteer for a not-for-profit organization of their choice.

“This award means so much, as we celebrate family businesses all over our great state,” Dixon commented. “Mike and I are blessed with four wonderful children. It’s a true gift to have your children want to carry on the family legacy.”

Dixon said her firm has been successful because it treats its workers as its greatest asset. “Our core values are to create a great place to work. Our employees are number one and that, in turn, makes our clients number one.”

Otis Technology was founded in 1985 in Lewis County, NY, by then 16-year-old Doreen (Williams) Garrett as a maker of gun cleaning equipment. Today, Otis, headquartered in Lyons Falls, NY, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of firearms maintenance systems.

Two generations of the Williams family are active in the business, with Doreen Garrett serving as president and CEO. Her sister, Denise Miller, is vice president of sales and marketing, and her brothers, Larry Williams and Nicholas Williams, are vice president of manufacturing and vice president of engineering, respectively. Their parents, Jerry and Lori Williams, have also been involved with the business in the past.

Otis Technology employs 144 people and supports numerous charitable organizations in Central New York, including the Lewis County Hospital Foundation, Hospice Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, United Way of Northern New York and various hunter education programs. The firm hosts an annual Community Service Day.

Garrett spoke fondly of being able to grow her business with her sister and brothers at her side. “It’s such a great pleasure to work with three siblings. My dad always told us, if you work together, you can accomplish anything.”

She said her business, like most family firms, places a priority on its workforce and the local community.
“It’s important to treat your employees well, give them Fortune 500 benefits, and to give back to the community,” she said.

PGM?(Precision Grinding and Manufacturing Corp.) was founded in 1967 by William C. Hockenberger as a contract machining company specializing in difficult-to-source parts and assemblies. Today, the company’s primary markets include the medical and aerospace industries, business systems, and the military.

PGM?is a second-generation family business. William Hockenberger is semi-retired and still serves as Chairman of the Board. Four brothers — Michael Hockenberger, CEO/President; Todd Hockenberger, corporate vice president, business development; Jeff Hockenberger, vice president of operations; and Doug Cauwels, chief financial officer — are members of the second generation actively involved in the firm. Members of the third generation work at the company during summers.

The company’s workforce includes 126 employed at the headquarters in Rochester and 55 more at PGM’s facility in Manchester, NH. PGM contributes to various charities in the Rochester area, including The United Way, Toys for Tots, Habitat for Humanity, and the MCC?Foundation.

Michael Hockenberger spoke of the importance of his employees, calling them “our most valued resource.” He credited his father with starting a business that he and his brothers are now entrusted with. “I thank him for giving us this opportunity,” Hockenberger said.

Founded by Nancy Hughes in 1988 in Rochester, SPSmedical Supply Corporation is prominent in the field of infection control, developing and manufacturing sterilization monitoring, packaging and recordkeeping products that are used around the world to prevent infection and contamination in critical environments. The company also offers educational programs aimed at the medical and dental industries, focusing on the importance of best practices for sterilization and infection control.

SPSmedical Supply is a second-generation family business. Nancy Hughes is president and her husband, Charles Hughes, serves as general manager and lead educator. Three of the couple’s children are actively involved in the company: Mariann Hughes is director of sales and marketing; John Hughes is sales analyst and international sales manager; and Andre Socola is a member of the sales and marketing team. Nancy Hughes’s brother, Gary Socola, is vice president of scientific affairs; her sister, Jackie Potter, works in the accounting department.

The firm, with offices in the Rochester suburb of Rush, employs 70 people and supports numerous Rochester area charitable organizations, including Camp Good Days & Special Times, local food pantries and youth sports teams.

Hughes said her business philosophy includes valuing the employees and creating an atmosphere where they enjoy their jobs and view their roles as key to the firm’s success. “Our motto is, ‘we don’t live to work, we work to live,’” she said.

Suburban Disposal was founded near Rochester in 1962 by Frank Esse as a waste collection firm. Today, the company provides waste disposal and recycling collection services to homes and commercial organizations in Monroe and surrounding counties.

Suburban Disposal is a third-generation family business. The founder’s son-in-law, Carl Grimm, joined the business in 1965 and acquired the firm in 1977. His son, Erik Grimm, joined the company in 1993 and currently serves as president. The firm has enjoyed continued growth over the years. In 1998, Suburban acquired Certified Document Destruction and Recycling, which provides information destruction, paper and electronic recycling services to organizations throughout Upstate New York.

Today, Suburban employs 55 people and is involved in numerous charitable endeavors the area, including The YMCA?of Greater Rochester.

Erik Grimm credited his employees for helping the business succeed. “Thank you for helping us do what we do every day,” he said.

More than 50 family firms have received Galanis Awards since 2000. Galanis Jr. said he’s not surprised with the quality of family businesses in the region, many of which have won or been nominated for Galanis Awards.

Terry Galanis Sr. said it is important to recognize family businesses, which provide so many jobs in a depressed region.

“Why do we do this?” he asked. “It’s very simply. What’s happened in New York State is all the big companies have left. What has been our savior? Private enterprise. You, the family businesses, have been the anchor here. The award winners represent people who care.”

Terry Galanis Jr. spoke of how the awards program has continued to grow over the years. “Every year, it just gets better and better, “ he said.