CANTON, OH (April 3, 2013) – The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced the 2013 winners of the Business Excellence Awards of Greater Canton. This year’s Business Excellence Award winners include For Paws Blue Cross Animal Hospital, Gervasi Vineyard, OMNI Orthopaedics, Steel Equipment Specialists, Inc. and TruBridge Inc. In addition, Tam O’Shanter Golf Course received the “Committee’s Choice” award. And the first annual Emerge Award for Entrepreneurs will be awarded to Barbara Abbott, president of Canton Food Tours. This new award honors outstanding entrepreneurs that have been in business for five years or less. Selections were made on the basis of business and employment growth, expansion of operations/efficiencies, consistent outstanding customer service, investments in capital improvements, innovation/expansion of product line(s), responsiveness to business and industry challenges and adversity, and consistent community involvement. Winners of the Business Excellence Awards will be honored on Tuesday, May 7, at a distinguished ceremony and gala dinner at The University Center at Kent State University at Stark. Tickets are $50 and tables of 10 are available. Visit or contact Monique Thompson Kennedy at (330) 458-2070 to register by May 1. The second annual Business Excellence Scholarship Award, presented by Day Ketterer and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, will also be presented the evening of the Business Excellence Awards event The scholarship will be awarded to the local student who writes the winning essay entitled: “The Impact of Business and Free Enterprise on the Development and the Continuing Success of the United States as a Global Leader.” The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, April 12, and details regarding the application for the scholarship can be found at The Business Excellence Awards of Greater Canton are presented by the Canton Regional Chamber and are made possible by our sponsors: Day Ketterer, Attorneys at Law, Farmers National Bank, Hall, Kistler & Company LLP, The Repository and Stark State College.


For Paws Blue Cross Animal Hospital was established in 1948 in North Canton, and at that time it was the first building in the area specifically designed and built for use as a veterinary hospital. In 2011, Dr. Jennifer Jellison purchased the hospital with the philosophy that all pets, sick or well, would be able to find a place at For Paws. Under previous ownership, the hospital ceased taking new pet patients in 1997, and now the hospital is open to all pets, including emergency cases. More than $75,000 in new equipment investments have been made since 2011, including a new x-ray machine and surgical suite. The practice has been computerized with the latest medical software and invoicing system. In 2012, the hospital invested $100,000 to build a new treatment room, upgrade existing kennels, add a dental suite, and remodel the upstairs into office facilities. They have increased staffing, and expanded hours and efficiencies to ensure that they meet their promise that any incoming sick pet will be seen that same day. The hospital is committed to the community, serving as major sponsor and pet judge for the Caring Tails for Stark Trails, held in conjunction with Aultman Hospital and Stark Parks. They sponsor the Stark County Humane Society Dog Walk, the GlenOak Chorale and Drifters, and the North Canton Main Street Festival booth for the Stark County Humane Society, which resulted in 22 adoptions over the course of two days in 2012. They also sponsor the golf outing for the Abused Woman Foundation of Stark County. For Paws developed a community service project to provide care for animals at the Humane Society who require special medical assistance prior to adoption. The hospital takes in one special needs pet per month and treats them until they are ready for adoption. On average, these pets require weeks of treatment, and in the last 18 months, the hospital has treated and helped place 43 dogs and cats (and one pygmy goat). The hospital also offers the Dr. Dean LeBeau Memorial Scholarship to one Stark County student planning a career in animal care. Dr. Jellison was inducted into the GlenOak Hall of Distinction in 2011, and received the Ohio State University Veterinary Medicine Alumni Recognition Award in 2010 for her public service accomplishments. For Paws received an honorable mention for community beautification from the Canton Garden Center in 2012. And in 2012, The Repository readers selected For Paws as the community’s choice for favorite veterinarian.
Gervasi Vineyard, founded in 2010, is a family owned 55-acre estate with stunning grounds, winery, bistro, boutique inn, marketplace, outdoor pavilion, culinary and wine education, and conference center. Gervasi Vineyard is a family owned and family inspired project of the Swaldo Family, which integrates their traditional Italian heritage with the many interests of the family including great food, wine, fun, and appreciation for beautiful things. When purchased by the Swaldo family in 2008, the new owners took great pains to not only clean and beautify the property, but they elected to save trees, re-purpose materials, salvage the natural lake and streams, and preserve all structures possible. As the project unfolded and as a result of the family’s creative energy, the original concept of a winery and small restaurant quickly expanded into a getaway destination, corporate retreat and much more. They have grown from phase one, which included The Bistro and Winery, The Marketplace, The Piazza and The Pavilion (2010), to phase two (2011-2012), including The Villa Grande, The Cucina Culinary and Wine Learning Center, and The Villas. Now in phase three, Gervasi is in the midst of completing The Crush House, a new winery and wine bar (slated for completion this October). Gervasi won the prestigious AIA Design Award from the Akron Chapter in 2010, and the project costs for all three phases exceeds $10 million. Gervasi is helping to boost the economy of Stark County by attracting out-of-town visitors, thereby driving tourism to the region. They currently welcome over 150,000 visitors annually, with over 70 percent traveling from outside of Stark County. Over the past two years, they have grown to over 60 full-time, 80 part-time, and 70 seasonal employees. This is an increase in the number of employees over last year alone, which was previously 15 full-time, 20 part-time, and 20 seasonal workers. In addition to its regular employees, there were 152 construction jobs created during the Gervasi Village project in 2011, and another 91 construction jobs have been created for the current Crush House project. Gervasi Vineyard has won many awards since opening, included being voted #1 Favorite Winery and #1 Favorite Fine Dining Restaurant in The Repository’s 2012 Readers Choice Awards. TripAdvisor currently ranks them #1 Restaurant and #1 Specialty Lodging in Canton, and TripAdvisor awarded the company with their Certificate of Excellence. The Villas at Gervasi Vineyard made the Top 10 Romantic Inns in America list, selected by, and they received Diner’s Choice Best Overall Rating, Best Ambiance, Best Service, and others from Open Table Restaurant Network. They are the only AAA Four Diamond Award lodging in Stark County, and one of only 14 in Ohio. Gervasi Vineyard is an active community partner and generously supports numerous local charities, organizations, and schools. Managers and employees are encouraged to participate in local community and civic involvements, and they host many local community events each year.
OMNI Orthopaedics provides the highest quality of orthopaedic care possible. Along with the treatment of immediate or chronic problems, the company strives to integrate the doctrine of prevention in all treatment plans as a way to alleviate possible future difficulties. The company was founded in 1996 with the merger of Stark County Orthopaedics and Belden Village Orthopaedics, resulting in a total combined practice time in Stark County of over 30 years. OMNI is based in a 43,000 square foot state of the art facility, with satellite offices in Dover and Carrollton. Currently, OMNI employs 74 full-time and two part-time employees, and their surgery center (OASIS) employs 23. OMNI Physical Therapy employs 24 staff members, and the MRI staff include three full-time employees. Since the merger, they have grown from nine physicians to 16 physicians, in addition to corresponding support staff. They have been a leader in new advances in orthopaedic care. The physicians continue to obtain updated training and education in Total Ankle replacement, Total Shoulder replacement, Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release, new technologies in Total Hip and Knee Replacement as well as overall general orthopaedic care and rehabilitation. They have continued to move forward in the area of technology, installing two complete digital x-ray systems, as well as updated computer systems. OMNI Orthopaedics was selected as Favorite Orthopaedic Care and Favorite Physical Therapy facility in The Repository’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards. The physicians and staff at OMNI Orthopaedics support and sponsor various community events, including the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival 2-Mile and 5-Mile Races, Aultman Hospital Women’s Board Angel Auction, Mercy Medical Centers Women’s Auxiliary Board Harvest Ball, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake (2012), fundraising events to support the Canton Total Living Center’s free Medical Clinic (2012), fundraising and participation in the 2012 Walk for Breast Cancer, and the annual used book drive to support Stark County District Library. They also provide free community lectures at their facility and at Aultman Hospital and Mercy Medical Center.
Steel Equipment Specialists (SES), located in Alliance, is a leading supplier of equipment and services for the metals, metals forming, and related industries. They pride themselves on innovative, custom engineered and manufactured equipment tailored to the specific needs of customers. SES takes great pride in offering specialty new equipment or redesigned improved equipment to all types of steel manufacturers. Whether transporting hot molten steel in one of their Ladle Transfer Cars, transferring or cooling steel bars or tubes, charging or extracting a slab of steel into a hot furnace, or moving and rotating a coil of steel and transporting it from one area of the mill to another, SES offers state-of-the-art, technological solutions. The company’s unique “design and build” structure allows them to handle projects ranging from small, specialty custom equipment to major capital expansions and investments. Founded in 1976, SES has grown to an organization of over 140 people, servicing the equipment needs of customers throughout the domestic market, as well as internationally (Canada, Mexico, China, Brazil, Russia and Turkey). In addition to their headquarters in Alliance, the city is also home to the company’s two manufacturing facilities, which are designed to allow mechanical and electrical engineers hands-on involvement in the construction phase of designs. SES has recently expanded its services through the acquisition of a new control and automation solutions company, SES Automation, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The acquisition of SES Automation expands the company’s offerings to include complete control and automation services, and facilities engineering. The recent growth in international and domestic projects has made it necessary to expand the company’s current engineering offices. The new office space, currently under construction, will expand by 5,000 sq. ft.
In 2008, TruBridge Inc. launched a unique healthcare enrollment service to the nation’s baby boomer population throughout the U.S. from their North Canton headquarters. Through a contract with a Fortune 100 company, TruBridge piloted a newly approved process for enrolling clients in Medicare health plans using telephonic enrollment. This initial program has grown, and the company has now added other insurance carriers to their processes. Although the Medicare enrollment industry is seasonal in nature, TruBridge hires up to 150 employees each year, adding to the skilled work force and tax base of Stark County. With plans to diversify their call center offerings to other health related businesses, they project an addition al 75-100 full-time professionals will join their team within the coming year. Employees are given an additional 160 hours of training in Medicare and Insurance Carrier certification, customer service, sales and communication skill growth beyond the State of Ohio insurance licensing requirements. Located in the Old Hoover Building District, they are a proud supporter of the legacy of the region, and the building has experienced a 24 percent increase in business investment into the building, with approximately $400,000 in capital and leasehold improvements. TruBridge and its employees are committed to giving back to the community, and in the last year, employees were actively involved in fundraising for Project Kare for Foster Children of Stark County, for Hurricane Sandy victims, Breast Cancer Awareness, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Polar Bear Drop for Hunger Awareness. They also provided educational programming for local radio stations and organizations on Medicare and aging topics.
Tam O’Shanter Golf Course is the recipient of the Committee’s Choice Award. Tam O’Shanter Company (formerly the T.K. Harris Company) was founded in 1913 by real estate developer Thomas K. Harris. The Hills and Dales Golf Courses at Tam O’Shanter opened in 1928 and 1931, coordinated with the residential development known as Hills and Dales Village. Harris’s vision was to create public-access golf courses with maintenance standards and amenities normally associated with exclusive private clubs. The company employs between 50 and 60 people depending on the season, provides valuable green space and family recreation for Stark County, attracts customers from surrounding counties, and welcomes golf travelers from a 200-mile radius. The golf industry fell upon hard times in the early 2000s as participation in the sport of golf declined around the country. Tam O’Shanter instituted necessary cost controls, and recently employment has rebounded. Unlike many old-line golf businesses, the company is financially strong and profitable. During the downturn in the golf economy, they prepared for the future, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade and modernize. Additional investments funded a state-of-the-art golf practice and learning center. Members of Tam O’Shanter’s leadership have been volunteer leaders for decades, involved in every aspect of community betterment efforts: downtown retail development and later redevelopment, services to disadvantaged youth and wartime relief, and the campaign to bring the Professional Football Hall of Fame to Canton. The company and its owners were among the major contributors to the Hall of Fame project, and proudly display their original stock certificates from the Hall of Fame Capital Campaign. Tam O’Shanter owners and managers were also among the first volunteers and contributors to the acclaimed children’s golf program, The First Tee of Canton. Over the decades and continuing today, the company and its golf courses have enabled countless charities and civic organizations to build fellowship and raise money through golf. In 2012, Tam O’Shanter stepped up its charitable efforts, planning and conducting a free seminar about fundraising and networking best practices for local nonprofits in order to help organizations increase their golf outing fundraising success, no matter where those events might be held. Local golfers have voted Tam O’Shanter Stark County’s Best Public Course for five years in a row.
Barbara Abbott is the recipient of the Emerge Award for Entrepreneurs. In April 2010, she took a food tour in Scottsdale, Ariz. She quickly discovered that the basic concept—food, fun, adventure and learning—would be a good fit for downtown Canton’s quality restaurants, thriving arts district, incredible history, Hall of Fame City draw, and easy walking layout. Her passion for Canton inspired her to start Canton Food Tours, and in doing so she puts a magnifying glass over the gems of our community and people are amazed at what they see and experience. Canton Food Tours features a variety of tours that showcase the food, history, unique sites, and current events of Canton and surrounding region. Tours include the Signature Downtown Walking Tours, Van-Based Tours, Private Group Tours and Event-Based Tours. Culinary tourism across the U.S. is relatively new and diversifying at a fast pace. With her food tours, Abbott is able to introduce residents and tourists alike to the restaurants, attractions and other partners, creating business for local businesses. Though only coming up on her second season of tours, Abbott is already examining expansion into regions in other parts of Stark County and other cities, as well as joining forces with Cleveland and Columbus tours for joint tours. Currently, Canton Food Tours has three tour guides and Abbott is planning to add up to two new guides for her second season, especially as she grows geographically. Abbott received the 2012 Annual Special Improvement District Award, which recognizes organizations that make significant contributions to the revitalization of downtown Canton. Canton Food Tours was one of five regional businesses to receive the Small Business of the Year Award from SCORE and Ohio Small Business Development Center at Kent State Stark. She has been asked to speak on the rise of culinary tourism and business collaboration by several local organizations. Abbott, is active on many local philanthropic boards and committees, including the Aultman Women’s Board, Canton Symphony Orchestra, ArtsinStark. She is the chairman of Taste of Canton and a docent at the National First Ladies’ Library. She extends her philanthropic service to her business, hosting highly successful fundraiser tours for organizations including Jackson School for the Arts, Stark County Hunger Task Force and Canton Symphony Orchestra.