Each year, the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation recognizes outstanding companies and individuals that have demonstrated success in business and have contributed to the growth and vitality of Ottawa County.
Awards are given in categories for small business (1 to 25 employees), medium business (26 to 100 employees) and large business (101 plus employees), business of the year, Bill Mack business leader, economic development partner, personal achievement, entrepreneur of the year, and volunteer of the year. A committee of OCIC Trustees reviewed and determined the award winners, who were honored in ceremonies on Wednesday at Camp Perry.
This year’s small business nominees were Loadmaster Trailer Company (Port Clinton), the Oak Harbor Hardware (Oak Harbor), and Tank’s Meats (Elmore). The 2013 award was presented to the Oak Harbor Hardware in the small business category. The Oak Harbor Hardware is in its fourth generation of ownership in the Hablitzel family and has expanded products and services significantly over the years. In 2013, the downtown Oak Harbor business completed and unveiled exterior renovations to their building which is a gateway to the downtown business district.
Medium business nominees were C Nelson Manufacturing (Oak Harbor), Happy Days Boating (Port Clinton) and Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi (Port Clinton). The medium business category award went to Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi. Nagoya opened its doors in Port Clinton in 2005 and provides a unique dining experience to customers that come from around the region. Since opening in 2005, Nagoya has expanded to a location at Levis Commons Shopping Center in Perrysburg and opened Nagoya-Sushi at the Bay in 2012 at The Keys on Put-in-Bay.
Nominees in the large business category were Baumann Auto Group (Port Clinton & Genoa), The Fitzgerald Family of Businesses (Port Clinton & Put-in-Bay), and United States Gypsum Company (Gypsum). The large business category award was presented to United States Gypsum Company. USG’s Gypsum facility is the second largest operation in the USG Corporation family and is one of the corporation’s most diversified plants. Recently, the company has invested significantly in capital improvement projects onsite to improve efficiencies and ensure a competitive advantage in the building products industry.
The OCIC Entrepreneur Award was present this year to Joe Badger, owner of JBI Corporation in Genoa. JBI Corporation was founded in 1982 with the vision of creating a company that looks for unique solutions to improving performance and reducing costs associated with manufacturing sealed lead-acid batteries. JBI Corporation today has evolved into one of the world’s leading full-service independent battery testing laboratories and is recognized and used by local, national and worldwide battery manufacturers, OEM’s, distributors and retailers.
The Bill Mack Business Leader Award recognizes an individual county business leader for their work and support of the community. This year, the OCIC recognized Bill Van Der Giessen for his private sector business successes and his work and dedication of time to public efforts. Most recently, Mr. Van Der Giessen opened the 1812 Restaurant and Rosie’s Bar & Grill in the historic Island House in downtown Port Clinton. Additionally, Mr. Van Der Giessen is a tall ships sponsor and supporter of the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial celebration taking place in late summer 2013.
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to long-time OCIC trustee and volunteer Dave Barth for his countless hours of work with OCIC on marketing and special events over the last 10+ years.
OCIC’s Economic Development Partner award was presented to the Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport. Over the last 18 months, significant investments have been announced and completed, including the expansion of air services with Griffing Flying Services and the opening of the Liberty Aviation Museum & Tin Goose Diner.
OCIC’s Personal Achievement Award was presented to Marv Booker for his vision and creativity for new development opportunities that have been realized on Put-in-Bay over the last six years.
The Business of the Year Award was presented to The Fitzgerald Family of Businesses for their numerous investments in the Port Clinton and Put-in-Bay communities since 1997. In 2005, the family undertook a $7 million of expansion of Mr. Ed’s on Put-in-Bay and in 2009 the family opened MIST Swim-Up Bar at the Commodore Resort. The Fitzgeralds also own and operate the Commodore Perry Inn, Mr. Ed’s Bar & Grill and Docks Beach House, all located in Port Clinton.