Genesee County Chamber of Commerce awards winners remember their humble beginnings
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Genesee County Chamber of Commerce awards winners remember their humble beginnings

Mar 5, 2018

BATAVIA — There was a common theme at the 46th Annual Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards Saturday night.

Genesee County will help you when you are down.

Each one of the award winning businesses talked about humble beginnings when accepting awards.

Baltz Concrete Construction Inc. has an impressive list of major buildings and schools they have been hired to construct over the years. However, it was the support early on that helped them with success.

“We owe many people for so much help along the way, our business partners, the many vendors who extended us an extra month of credit over the years when times were tight and the businesses,” said Tom Baltz.

“But our employees … they are tough, they work under difficult conditions but still do great work. They adapt to all conditions while out on the field ... it’s all about you guys,” Baltz said, motioning to his employees at a packed ball room of the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

I want to thank our spouses, children, families. They are what it’s about they give us the support we need each day to get the job done,” he said. “This award was an honor, it was unexpected and we are as proud as we could be.”

Robert Baltz formed the company in 1972 and they currently have a staff of 40 employees.

After Baltz Concrete picked up the Business of the Year award, Brandon Lewis of The Firing Pin also talked about how tough it was when business started. They were honored as Innovative Enterprise of the Year.

“We were so humbled, when you go into business you hope to make a couple bucks, give a couple people jobs and have some fun along the way,” said Lewis. “Seeing the store full of inventory and a full room of customers is amazing. We opened with one box of ammo and one gun on the wall, we were providing something that Genesee County had not had for years. My father went to school in Alexander there was a shooting range in the basement of the school. I’m sure some schools still have them, they are just storage rooms now.

“Shooting ranges were big part of schools and we are trying to bring it back to the Main Street culture,” he continued. “People you would never expect are into shooting and safe use and carrying.”

He also thanked his staff, his parents, Paul and Linda Lewis and his wife, Anna, who also works at the store.

The Agricultural Organization of the Year went to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County and Bev Mancuso said she was impressed with the work of the chamber to put on the awards dinner as well as the work of her staff.

“I hope you read all the press that was out there on the award recipients, we have some amazing people in this community,” Mancuso said. “We celebrated out 100th year last year and to be here to say thank you means a lot.”

Mancuso talked about her agriculture staff and the column by Jan Beglinger, master gardener, in the Daily News.

“She writes the articles in the Daily News every week and I just read them and think ‘this is incredible, I don’t know how you do it,’ ” Mancuso added.

The largest support for a business came from the members of Batavia Cross Training, who were there to honor Jessica Pratt and the staff for winning Special Service Recognition of the Year.

A video showed members working out and taking classes. As she went to the podium and looked out at the audience, Pratt laughed.

“My members are all dressed up, I’m not sued to seeing this!” she said.

Pratt added, “Thank you to the Chamber for recognizing us and my family. Helen Keller once said, ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ I truly believe this. Sometimes we are afraid to ask for help but sometimes we can’t get through everything that comes our way.”

The Geneseeans of the Year went to the William Kent Family.

Founder William Kent, his son David Kent and grandson Josh Kent, well-known auctioneers, went to the podium without their signature cowboy hats and David Kent joked, “We all have the same haircut you noticed that?”

David Kent went on to say, Thank everyone at the chamber, this was an unexpected honor. Genesee County has made our lives better and we thank all of you for that.”

William Kent, in his 48th year of business, said, “It’s been a joy working in Genesee County. If you are born into the Kent Family, you have no choice, you are in the family business. My grandchildren and great-grandchildren are involved and have a great time.

Emcees Jay Gsell and Susie Ott thanked the sponsors for making the dinner happen.

Genesee County Chamber of Commerce President Tom Turnbull said, “One of the core values of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, business success improves the quality of everyone. Not only are they successful in their own business, they give back to the community and that makes Genesee County a better place to live for all of us.”

By John Anderson, Batavia Daily News

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