On a night that celebrated great achievement in business, it was fitting that new Hall of Fame inductee Jim Olson used the evening to make a humorous pitch for his Allentown company, which manufactures industrial valves.
"Thank you for this great honor," Olson told about 400 business professionals at the annual Greater Lehigh Valley Business of the Year dinner and awards ceremony. "I just wish you all had some need for valves."
President and CEO Olson, of course, was jesting, as his successful Olson Technologies Inc. has customers around the nation and around the globe. But that a businessperson is always selling was not lost on the audience that had gathered at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.
They were there to honor the finalists and winners in six categories, as well as to hear Olson and two other inductees into the Lehigh Valley Business Hall of Fame. Lehigh Valley Business hosted the program, with Highmark as the presenting sponsor, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. as the premier sponsor and Keystone Fire Protection Co. and Bank of America Merrill Lynch as the major sponsors.
"Tonight we honor those who are doing something meaningful through hard work and tenacity and have created some truly amazing business stories," said emcee David Schankweiler, CEO of Journal Multimedia, the parent company of Lehigh Valley Business.
L. Anderson Daub, senior partner of Brown-Daub Automobile Dealerships, Nazareth, and Tony Salvaggio, president of Computer Aid Inc. of Allentown, also were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors individuals who have demonstrated the highest commitment to strengthening their industries, supporting their employees and giving back to their communities.
"This is truly a wonderful honor," Daub said. "I love going into work. I don't think I'll ever retire."
Salvaggio cited the importance of serving employees and customers.
"We're really a business of people and a business of entrepreneurs," he said.
Three companies were named Businesses of the Year in categories based on number of employees: DME Alliance Engineering Consultants of Allentown, John Yurconic Agency of Allentown and Victaulic of Easton.
To be a finalist, a business must be a leader or recognized innovator in its industry and a for-profit privately held company that is at least five years old. The company must demonstrate success through financial strength in revenues and profits, and it must be committed to the growth and development of its employees and community.
Thomas Scalici of Cornerstone Institutional Investors Inc., Bethlehem, was named Executive of the Year, MFP Strategies of Bethlehem was named Corporate Citizen of the Year, and EPS Financial LLC of Easton was named Emerging Business of the Year.
The list of winners and finalists:
Business of the Year (1-50 employees)
Business of the Year (51-100 employees)
Business of the Year (101-plus employees)
Corporate Citizen of the Year
Emerging Business of the Year
Executive of the Year