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Chamber recognizes three businesses for excellence

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Jason Fink, president/CEO, left, gives a special thanks to Michael Gaetano, 2019 Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee Chair,;right, at the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce 134th Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet at the Holiday Inn in Williamsport on Thursday.

Three area businesses were singled out Thursday during the annual Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce awards banquet for commitment to excellence to customer service and employee retention.

The Phillips/Plankenhorn Small Business Award went to Hilsher Graphics Commercial Printing of South Williamsport.

Accepting the Emerging Business Award was Lance Thomas of ClearView Asset Protection of Hughesville and Adam Savoy accepted the Large Business Award on behalf of Savoy Contract Furniture of Montoursville.

The banquet, at Holiday Inn, brought enough members out to fill the room to capacity.

It was an opportunity for the chamber to showcase various activities, as it advances commerce in the city and county.

One-by-one representatives of these honored businesses came to the podium to accept their awards.

“It’s all about customer service,” said Jayme Hilsher-Sherman, a sales consultant at the firm started by her great-grandfather more than 50 years ago.

In 1971, Jay Hilsher took over the business as a pre-press company. Several years later, he expanded into a full service printer, according to a video presentation.

In 1991, the business was renovated and moved into a former furniture warehouse in South Williamsport, which had 14,000 square feet of working space.

Employees there work as a team and are treated as family, according to two of those workers who gave their testimonials about the corporate climate.

“No one person stands out,” said Lori Wagner, adding, “we all work equally hard.”

“We are always watching out for each other,” said Kyle Higgins. “Everyone is responsible for everyone else.”

Customers of the business gave kudos to the business for its service provision and philanthropic endeavors.

Jim Dinsmore, of Evergreen Wealth Management Solutions, noted Hilsher Graphics’ dedication to the craft, customers and community.

The business has state of the art digital printing and various data capabilities.

Gregory Hayes, a spokesman for Williamsport Area School District and Williamsport Area School District Education Foundation, said the company produced several products and reports for the district and foundation.

“They are customer service oriented, diligent and share their enthusiasm with you and desire for a good product,” Hayes said.

Susquehanna Community Bank is a customer because “they are responsive and kind and always willing to go above and beyond,” said Rebecca Yeager, the bank’s marketing manager, of the printers.

The corporate owners John and Sally Hilsher, also were said to give back to their community in a variety of ways.

Sally Hilsher has a lifetime membership for her service at the Lycoming County Historical Society.

“I’m impressed with Hilshers,” said Gary Parks, executive director of the Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society. “They not only want to make you feel good about any product they produce, but they also take great pride in the products and they are not satisfied until you are satisfied as a customer.”

Besides customer service, employee retention, the business owners were honored for their commitment to the region’s philanthropy.

“In my long long career I have never worked with a business company and individuals who have been more sensitive to the project that we were doing, more willing and generous in being available,” said Fritz Heinemann, president of the Central Pennsylvania Region of the Andy Russell Charitable Foundation.

“The creative talent they have is absolutely superb,” Heinemann said.

Other than the foundation, the Hilshers, along with the employees, have provided printing service and donated their time to Hope Enterprises, St. Lawrence Church, South Williamsport Dog Park, Veterans Memorial Park, New Covenant Church of Christ, Hunt for a Lifetime, an event for terminally ill children.

In accepting the Emerging Business Award from Timothy J. Keohane, director, Penn State Small Business Development Center, said the now six-year-old business started out providing security system solutions for the gas industry.

He noted the business was given a boost through the chamber and SEDA-Council of Governments.

Today, it employs 30 and has intentions of expanding its workforce, which is doing work as far away as in Saudi Arabia for an oil company.

The technology company is helping businesses by protecting and reducing theft, burglaries and preventing terrorism.

It can provide a wide range of safety and security technology on a national and international scale.

Savoy, in accepting the Large Business Award, from Philip H. Johnson, president of M&T Bank in the region, said he was present to represent and accept the award on behalf of the 140-member workforce team of furniture manufacturers.

The plant and its employees give back to their community and Savoy said, while holding the award, said it was for everyone who made the business what it is today.

Savoy, as a factory, goes back to the 1940s, starting with John D. and John A. Savoy, according to Johnson’s assessment of the business.

It began primarily as a wood carving shop and expanded its line, and by 1954, John Savoy and Sons Inc. was also making upholstery.

In 1963, the business entered the commercial market.

It operates in a 300,000 square foot plant, continuing to manufacture high quality furniture with a workforce that gives back to their communities, including promoting the annual Veterans Day activity at nearby Montoursville Cemetery.

“To preserve, protect and defend the free enterprise system.”

It’s the motto of The Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.

It was a mantra repeated by Larry S. Allison Jr., Allison Crane and Rigging, named 2020 chairman of the chamber board of directors.

Allison said the chamber would prosper, grow and contribute to the economic vitality of the city and county. He also recognized outgoing 2019 board members.

Jason Fink concluded his first year as chamber executive director. Under his leadership, he said, his approach is to retain and gain members and volunteers.

Fink acknowledged the $500,000 donation the chamber gave toward the levee recertification and a program “Grow Lycoming,” which is partnering with Williamsport Area School District, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lycoming College and UPMC Susquehanna to target students who either may want to return to Lycoming County to work, or who can be retained here once they graduate to be employed locally.

In a touching gesture for an outgoing chairman of the board, Fink presented Michael P. Gaetano, executive committee chairman in 2019, of The Hartman Group, with a token of appreciation.

Gaetano looked at members saying the chamber was in a transition and he could tell it was doing good by the energy in the room.

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