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Business Alliance Awards

By RUTH LANGrlang@the-review.com Published: October 15, 2014 3:00AM

Cockrill's Studio, Lavery Automotive and Randy Hunt were among those recognized Tuesday during the 17th annual Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce Business Alliance Awards luncheon held in the University of Mount Union Hoover-Price Campus Center.

Phil Braisted, chairman of the chamber board, reminded the approximately 250 guests that the yearly event, established in 1997 to honor member businesses that show growth and commitment to the Alliance area, offers "a chance to honor some of the businesses and leaders in our community" and celebrate the "synergy that takes place whenever you get all the various groups (government, business, institutions, schools, community members) working together."

Ben Favazzo Jr., president of Alliance Appliance Center, the 2013 Small Business of the Year (fewer than 20 employees) recipient, described 2014 recipient Cockrill's Studio as "a family-owned and operated business that has supported the Alliance community for over 20 years."

Favazzo said owner Fred Cockrill has demonstrated that dedication -- "with his winning smile" -- through his support of area schools and organizations and his involvement in the Greater Alliance Carnation Festival.

He said Cockrill, a decorated professional photographer since 1979, purchased his studio in 1989 and earned his master's in photography in 2007. Cockrill has been recognized as one of the top 10 professional photographers in Ohio and as one of the top five certified professional photographers. He recently relocated his studio to Lingenfelter Center, 670 W. State St., Suite 2B.

"This man has not only given Alliance community members some of the most stunning images over the years, he has also become a friend to many and cares deeply for his town," Favazzo said.

Reluctant to issue an acceptance speech, Cockrill thanked his wife and children for their involvement in the business. "I'm truly honored. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this," he said.

Pat Stone, director of Rodman Public Library, the 2013 Large Business of the Year (more than 20 employees) recipient, described 2014 recipient Lavery Automotive as another family-owned and operated business. She said Thomas Lavery became president of the former Ashley Chevrolet in 1965 and renamed it Lavery Chevrolet, moving it two years later from Hartshorn Street to its current location at 1096 W. State St., "where it still stands as one of the largest dealerships in Alliance."

Stone said Thomas Lavery, selected as the chamber's 2006 Spirit of Enterprise winner, was active on the board of the Alliance YMCA, United Bank and Mount Union Bank; was past president of the Stark County and Ohio Auto Dealers associations; and worked with Alliance Community Hospital, Hot Stove League baseball, Habitat for Humanity and Boy Scouts.

Lavery Automotive is under the direction of Lavery's son, Bill Lavery, who Stone said is also active in the Alliance community, serving as a board member with Alliance Community Hospital, Stark County Auto Dealers Association, Ohio Auto Dealers Association, Greater Cleveland Auto Dealers, Alliance Area Development, Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce and Stark State College of Technology.

"I suspect that many present this afternoon could tell their own positive stories about their experiences with this business, and the owner, and (its) employees, that make it an outstanding business in this community," Stone said in conclusion. "Share those stories with others; they are worth telling."

Accepting the award, Bill Lavery said the recognition was "very much a surprise," adding it's an honor to now be included in the list of previous award winners. "This award is really about our dealership, not necessarily me, and I'm very proud of our employees," he said. "I do have a deep passion for Alliance and for what we do ... I look forward to still giving back to the community."

Jack Peters, 2013 Spirit of Enterprise award recipient, introduced 2014 recipient Randy Hunt as an Alliance native and University of Mount Union honor graduate who serves as a member of the chamber's economic development committee and lectures on business succession, mergers, acquisitions and other related legal and financial topics.

"This year's recipient has demonstrated a commitment to the Alliance area with numerous volunteer efforts, including the Mount Union board of trustees, where he has served as chairman of the board for the last five years," Peters said, adding Hunt also serves on the Stark Development Board, is the new chairman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is former president of the Alliance Community Hospital and the Alliance Citizens Health Association boards of trustees, past president of the Greater Alliance Development Corporation and former chairman of the Stark State College board of trustees.

The director of Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths and Dougherty, Hunt serves on the firm's management and marketing committee and practices in business, commercial real estate and health care law. He was nominated by his sons.

Accepting the recognition, Hunt thanked his family, his mentors and his colleagues. "The real spirit of enterprise, quite frankly, in this community is all of you ... the city, our educators, the Alliance public schools, the university ... all of the large and small and medium employers in this community. Without all of you, my profession, and all of those in the service industry, would not be here," he said. "What great opportunities we have to grow this community, to expand this community."

In addition, 56 Golden Spade awards were given to companies that are new to the community or under new ownership, have expanded or remodeled their facility, and/or have added to their employee base in the Alliance area.

Major corporate sponsors for Tuesday's event were Dustin Burgess Nationwide Insurance and the University of Mount Union. Sam's Graphic Industries provided the engraved awards, and Williamsburg Press furnished printing services.

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