The Waterbury Regional Chamber’s Small Business Council has announced recipients of its’ prestigious 2017 Harold Webster Smith Awards, which were established to recognize companies that have shown achievement and excellence in small business. Recipients of the 20th Annual Harold Webster Smith Awards are Largay Travel, Inc. in Waterbury for Small Business of the Year; Daniel Sanchez, owner of Onyx II Fine Jewelers in Watertown for Entrepreneur of the Year, and Petron Automation Inc. in Watertown for Manufacturer of the Year.
The annual breakfast will be held on Friday, February 3, 2017, from 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. at the Aria Wedding & Banquet Facility at 45 Murphy Road in Prospect.
Harold Webster Smith founded First Federal Savings of Waterbury in 1935 to help people build and buy homes. He served as CEO until 1937 and as chairman of the board until 1995, when First Federal was renamed Webster Bank in his honor. Today, Webster Bank is the largest financial service organization in New England, and each year, the Chamber honors small business leaders who, like Smith, have the vision to expand, diversify, and prosper. “In honor of Harold Webster Smith’s legacy and small business inspiration,” remarked Lynn Ward, president and CEO of the Waterbury Regional Chamber, “we recognize small companies and entrepreneurs who share his passion for business development and his commitment to the positive economic progress of the Waterbury region. Throughout his career, Harold Webster Smith served as an inspiration for countless small businesses. We are very pleased to recognize the many companies that share his ideals.”
The 2017 Harold Webster Smith Small Business of the Year Award recipient, Largay Travel Inc. in Waterbury, was founded in 1969 by Roland F. Largay and is currently one of New England’s premier travel management organizations. Paul Largay, Roland’s nephew, joined the organization in 1982 and together they traveled the world while building the family business. Amanda Klimak, the company’s current president, equity partner, and Virtuoso advisory board member joined the team in 2001. The company is a branch of the Tzell Travel group, and the exclusive Virtuoso network of trusted travel specialists is limited to less than 1% of all global agencies that offers their clients complimentary upgrades, outstanding amenities and privileged access to events worldwide. To meet the unique needs of each traveler, the company is divided into leisure travel, group and incentive, and corporate services. Largay Travel’s primary expertise is in soft-adventure leisure programs, including hiking, biking, ballooning, family travel, worldwide deluxe cruising, and African Safaris. Paul Largay was named by Travel & Leisure magazine as one of “America’s Top 100 Secret Travel Agents” for a decade. The company has been lauded by numerous travel publications and received consecutive appearances on the “AUST” list of the world’s top agents published by Travel & Leisure magazine. Active members of the Waterbury Regional Chamber, Largay Travel is involved in numerous organizations throughout the region, including United Way and the Small Business Association (SBA).
The 2017 Harold Webster Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award recipient is Daniel Sanchez, owner of Onyx II Fine Jewelers, a family-owned jeweler founded on South Main Street in Waterbury in 1979 by Sanchez’ grandparents, that was relocated to 683 Main Street in Watertown in the mid-1990s. In 2014, Onyx celebrated its 45th anniversary. Through his ownership, and work of brand manager James Michael Murphy, Sanchez has notably transformed the company’s brand and image by enhancing the store’s windows into elaborate, Madison Avenue-level, internationally themed displays each season, plus he hosts in-store trunk shows that benefit local charities and attract 300 guests. A recent trunk show was featured in the December 2016 edition of “Unlocking Litchfield” (http://unlockinglitchfield.com/2016/12/onyx-ii-trunk-show/), and Onyx II was named by Instore Magazine as one of “America’s Coolest Stores” (http://instoremag.com/america-s-coolest-stores/cool-stores/). Sanchez was involved in forming the Main Street Merchants Association and beautifying Main Street of Watertown with holiday decorations, street landscaping, updating of other business facades and marketing businesses through decorative window displays.
The 2017 Harold Webster Smith Manufacturer of the Year Award recipient, Petron Automation Inc. at 65 Mountain View Drive in Watertown, was founded in 1980 by Mike Petro Sr. and his wife Patricia Petro as Petron Automated Machine Products. At that time, the family-run company built machinery in a one-car garage. One year later it moved to rented space and relocated to its current 17,000-square-foot location in 1992, where it now manufactures high-precision parts for a variety of industries. Currently, Petron has 22 high-precision Swiss-type and Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) machines that are accompanied by 34 supporting, inspection and deburring machines. Since January 2015, the company has added nine full-time employees, one part-time worker and six temporary workers for a total of 26 full- and part-time employees.
Joe Brennan, Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) President and CEO, will serve as keynote speaker at the 2017 Harold Webster Smith Awards Breakfast. The CBIA is the state’s leading business organization that promotes a healthy business climate by supporting economic growth and job creation. Brennan is also president of CBIA’s Education & Workforce Partnership, which supports STEM education in public schools and training programs that enhance the skills of employees at member companies. He has served on numerous legislative and administrative task forces on state and local taxes, economic policy, manufacturing competitiveness, workforce readiness and other issues. Additionally, he serves on numerous boards, including those of CONNSTEP and the Governor’s Prevention Partnership.
Premier sponsor of the February 3 breakfast is Webster Bank, and supporting sponsors are Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppes; Pisani Steel Fabrication, Inc; Secor, Cassidy & McPartland, P.C.; and Traver IDC.