Business briefs

PREMIER BANK EMPLOYEE AWARDED: Premier Bank has awarded Ashley Douglas, commercial loan closer, the seventh annual Jeff Vereecke Community Impact Award.

The award recognizes one individual who shares in the bank’s dedication and passion for spreading kindness, doing good deeds and making communities stronger by demonstrating superior service to the community in which they work and / or live.

Douglas was selected as the recipient of the award by Premier Bank’s executive management team and by Karen Vereecke, widow of Jeff Vereecke, former executive vice president and Northern Market Area president for Premier Bank, who died of cancer in 2014.

Douglas’ community involvement includes working with parents and staff of the Alta Head Start Agency and as chair of the policy council and the agency’s location at the Oak Hill Renaissance Center.

She participates in Premier Bank’s Mentor Program and the Explorer Leadership Series, which is a 12-course series covering many different leadership topics. Douglas also volunteers at the Youngstown CityScape’s Streetscape event, the Youngstown Holiday Parade Light Up Night, the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and the Panaerathon.

She also volunteers for the United Way of Youngstown & the Mahoning Valley, the Beatitude House and donates items to local food, toy and clothing drives as well as setting up at community events to help teach financial wellness education to both adults and children.

As part of the award, Douglas received $2,500 to donate to nonprofit organizations of her choice. She chose to donate $1,500 to Alta Head Start and $1,000 to the United Way of Youngstown & the Mahoning Valley.

AIM RECOGNIZED: Girard-based Aim Transportation Solutions has been named by the Commercial Carrier Journal, a trade publication, the 2024 CCJ Innovator of the Year for Aim’s Road Rescue feature on its smartphone app, Aim Navigator.

The add-on streamlines and enhances the way Aim customer drivers request roadside service and how Aim’s Road Rescue team manages and responds to over-the-road maintenance calls.

The award recognizes companies within the commercial transportation industry that demonstrate exceptional innovation, efficiency and impact.

Aim was joined by a class of other industry-leading fleets recognized by CCJ editors, including Ryder, FirstFleet, Solar Transport, Walmart, ArcBest, Brakebush Transportation, FedEx, Budd Van Lines, Averitt, DHL and Garner Trucking.

COMPANY HITS MILESTONE: PALO Creative, a Youngstown-based marketing agency, is celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout 2024.

Founded in 1999 by entrepreneur Rob Palowitz, PALO Creative has evolved from a catalog design boutique producing direct mailers and catalogs into an award-winning marketing firm.

Mainly partnering with business-to-business focused companies, their clients range from Fortune 500 industrial manufacturers to professional services, financial, and health care providers, as well as e-commerce web-based companies.

To mark the milestone, PALO Creative has planned a series of activities throughout 2024, including a special client and team appreciation reception, new brand swag, participation in community causes and various important business announcements that reflect the marketing agency’s commitment to growth and strong customer relationships.

TNP TO OFFER WORKSHOP: Through the Youngstown Minority Business Assistance Center and 717 Credit Union, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership is offering a free workshop for contractors looking for business and grant opportunities 5 to 7 p.m. March 13 at the credit union’s corporate operations building in Warren.

TNP and the Trumbull County Land Bank are seeking contractors to perform home repair, lead remediation and residential property renovations as both organizations are working through significant grant allocations. TNP can help contractors obtain some of the certifications for lead work.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to register by March 6 at mbacworkshop.eventbrite.com.

People on

the move

MVMC ADDS STAFF: Mary Unger has joined the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition as accounting and operations manager.

Unger, a graduate of Youngstown State University and Trumbull County native, spent 27 years with Trumbull-Mahoning Medical Group, including serving as chief financial officer. She has also been a controller with MVI Homecare and Progressive Quality Care.

Unger grew up in a manufacturing family with a father who worked at Youngstown Sheet & Tube.

The role includes fiscal management plus an operational excellence function that includes oversight of the wage and benefit survey, internal key performance indicators and event preparation.

COMCAST PROMOTES: Ricky Frazier Jr. has been appointed senior vice president of Comcast’s Keystone Region. He oversees the organization’s operational, strategic and financial performance across western, central and northeastern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia and the Maryland panhandle.

Frazier joined Comcast more than 20 years ago as part of the Customer Experience organization and has since successfully led a variety of teams across the country, including most recently as vice president, digital platforms, responsible for deploying new customer experience technology.

Send news for business briefs, new businesses or people on the move to business@tribtoday.com, or visit the Virtual Newsroom at www.vindy.com or www.tribtoday.com.

Business briefs

FIRM MARKS ANNIVERSARY: The D5 Group, a Warren-based minority-owned integrated marketing firm, is marking its 10th anniversary.

Established in February 2014 by DeShawn Scott, the company provides strategic and creative marketing solutions, serving clients across business-to-consumer sectors, nonprofits, K-12 institutions, government entities and municipalities.

To mark the milestone, the company is launching multiple initiatives to promote diversity and support young aspiring entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses, including an audio series celebrating National Entrepreneurship Week featuring local business leaders in the Mahoning Valley.

The company also operates Sound United Podcast Studio, a turnkey podcasting solution for professionals, businesses and nonprofits.

AREA SURGEON NAMED TO BOARD: Mercy Health breast surgeon and Co-Medical Director of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, Dr. Nancy Gantt, was recently named first vice-president-elect of the American College of Surgeons. The term begins in October.

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. It has about 90,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

Gantt has been in practice for more than 30 years and has held several leadership positions in the organization, in addition to her distinction as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

She also serves as Chair of the AWS Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing women’s careers in surgery and addressing gender disparities amongst surgeons.

YSU STUDENTS DO WELL ON TEST: Youngstown State University students in the Williamson College of Business Administration, collectively, placed third in the state on the fall 2023 Microsoft Excel Associate certification exam. In total, 74 WCBA students successfully passed the exam, administered by Certiport.

Students Madison Angelo, Aiden Exline, David Shannon and Jacob Stanko earned a perfect score of 1,000 points. Taylor Berry, Lauren Canter, Katherine Jacobson, Scott Johnson, Aaron Leekins, Nathaniel Huynh, Zackary Shumaker, Cassandra Snopik and Devin Zerjav scored within the range of 900-999.

Leekins, Huynh, Shumaker, Snopik, Stanko and Emily Flannery earned the Microsoft Office Specialist Excel Expert certification.

TURNPIKE HITS MILESTONE: The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission achieved a major milestone in January when the number of electric vehicles charged on the 241-mile toll road surpassed more than 100,000 charging sessions.

The turnpike’s EV charging infrastructure, which was established through a public-private partnership, offers 16 Electrify America charging units and 64 Tesla Supercharger units at eight service plazas.

A Tesla Supercharger unit is located at two service plazas in New Springfield, at the westbound Mahoning Valley plaza and the eastbound Glacier Hills plaza.

EGCC STUDENTS EARN GOOD MARKS: Students pursuing an associate degree of nursing at Eastern Gateway Community College recently outperformed the state and national average for passage rates for first-time applicants taking the National Council Licensure Examination.

The pass rate was 90 percent for first-time applicants enrolled in the program at Eastern Gateway compared to 86.73 percent for the state and 88.56 percent nationally.

VIRTUAL FINANCIAL WORKSHOP AVAILABLE: Credit Union of Ohio will offer a free budgeting for the holidays virtual workshop 7 p.m. Thursday.

Attendees will learn tips to help positively impact their holiday spending habits, including ways to save ahead of time, tips to create a holiday budget and ways to use a credit card for holiday shopping.

Those interested in attending should register at cuofohio.org.

FOOD COMPANY REBRANDS: OH Donut Company recently rebranded as ODC Cafe, which, according to the company, is more representative of its new dining experience.

In business for five years, the company expanded its menu in 2022 to include lunch sandwiches, wraps, soups, fresh fruit and salads. The cafe is at 101 S. Main St., Poland.

FIRM PARTNERS WITH FOREIGN COMPANY: Canfield-based iSynergy, a digital marketing and search engine optimization agency, launched a new website for TecEx, global trade compliance specialists based in South Africa.

The rehaul included custom programming to pull in the importing and exporting requirements of more than 200 countries, with the goal for TecEx to improve its search engine optimization ranking.

TecEx provides technology hardware customs compliance across international markets. iSynergy and TecEx worked together on designing the new website to improve user experience and boost search engine rankings.

FIRST ENERGY EMPLOYEES LEND A HAND: FirstEnergy employees recently came together to help children in need across northeast Ohio by donating shoes and collecting funds for the Soles of Luv organization, which travels to schools across greater Youngstown to deliver free shoes and socks to underprivileged students.

Since its inception in 2010, Soles of Luv has provided thousands of shoes, socks, book bags and other items to schoolchildren throughout the Mahoning Valley. A team of volunteers travels to local schools to fit children for new athletic shoes.

Soles of Luv was founded by Youngstown-area resident Cathy Crawford.

BOARDMAN SUBARU RECOGNIZED: Boardman Subaru has earned the honor of being a CARFAX 5X top-rated dealer.

The program honors dealerships around the U.S. for their service based on verified customer reviews. The top-rated dealers received an average of at least 4.7 stars out of a possible 5.

People on the move

DOCTOR JOINS HOSPITAL: Dr. Kathleen Schwabenbauer has joined Akron Children’s as a neonatologist at the Akron Children’s NICU at St. Elizabeth’s and Beeghly Special Care Nursery.

Previously, she served as the clinical director, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital. She also served as an assistant professor of pediatrics and attending physician at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

She is board certified in pediatrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

PEDIATRIC CARDIOLOGIST NEW TO HOSPITAL: Dr. Timotheus Watson is a new pediatric cardiologist at Akron Children’s Hospital. He will see patients at Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley campus in Boardman, as well as at its health centers in Warren, Beachwood and North Canton.

He comes to Akron Children’s from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where he served as a pediatric cardiologist and chief medical information officer for the heart center. He was also an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Send news for business briefs, new businesses or people on the move to business@tribtoday.com, or visit the Virtual Newsroom at www.vindy.com or www.tribtoday.com.

Business briefs

COMPANY HITS MILESTONE: Quality Switch, Inc. will celebrate 50 years March 2 with a reception at Roby Lee’s Restaurant and Banquet Center in Newton Falls.

The event will host current and former employees, along with key suppliers and customers to celebrate the milestone.

Quality Switch also has been recognized by the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber with the first family-owned business growth award in 2022.

Quality Switch is a family-owned small business that designs and manufactures switches for use inside electrical transformers on utility power grids and in industrial power supplies. Its designs range from 100 to 3000 amperes and voltages from 600 volts to 345 kV, depending on the application.

To expand into higher voltage applications and to quickly test new / existing designs, Quality Switch opened the Horace H. Sewell High Voltage Testing & Research Center in 2016.

VALLEY PARTNERS TO HOLD EVENT: The Business Resource Center at Valley Economic Development Partners will host a financial literacy seminar 1 to 2:15 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Wean Foundation, 147 W. Market St., Warren.

The speaker is Anthony Clark, branch manager and assistant vice president at Huntington National Bank. The topic will be budgeting, saving and investing in your business.

RSVP by Feb. 20 to Matthew Longmire at matthew@valleyedp.com or 330-759-3668, ext. 111.

HOTEL RANKED BEST: The Courtyard Marriott Youngstown-Canfield was honored recently with a No. 1 ranking in the world in guest satisfaction surveys. Out of 1,100 Courtyard hotels worldwide the Canfield location consistently receives 9 or 10 star ratings.

For 2023, the Canfield Courtyard was awarded two high honors by Marriott International.

The Courtyard Canfield received the Diamond Circle award again for 2023, marking the sixth consecutive year since 2017 the hotel has received Marriott International’s highest property-level award.

In addition, the Courtyard Canfield also received a Guest Service Satisfaction Award in Food and Beverage for its outstanding performance in the segment.

The Courtyard Marriott Youngstown-Canfield at Westford Lifestyle Community is the region’s largest Marriott. It was developed by CTW Development Corporation in Boardman, one of the leading commercial and residential developers in the Mahoning Valley.

YSU AWARDED GRANT: Youngstown State University has been awarded $1.9 million through America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and the Air Force Research Laboratory to investigate the repair process for tooling using an additive / subtractive (hybrid) process technology.

The project is a continuation of the hub-and-spoke consortium on hybrid manufacturing that has been active in the Youngstown area for the last several years.

Other project participants include the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Texas at El Paso, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Youngstown Business Incubator.

The team will investigate different hybrid technologies based on wire, powder or a combination of both to repair metallic parts and tooling of interest to the industrial sector.

The award is being carried out in collaboration with Jackie Ruller, director of the Excellence Training Center at YSU, and John Carballo, machinist at ETC, as well as YSU STEM professors Brian Vuksanovich, Holly Martin, Virgil Solomon and Bharat Yelamanchi.

The project uses a laser hot wire cladding Directed Energy Deposition Mazak 3D printer, which was installed at YSU’s ETC last year.

BOARDMAN SUBARU DONATES: To help local children in need, Boardman Subaru donated nearly 500 new coats to Youngstown Community School with the help of United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

Ten Boardman Subaru employees volunteered with staff from the United Way to help children in grades kindergarten to four try on and pick out a coat.

The gift was made in partnership with Operation Warm, the nonprofit and new national Subaru partner, at a Subaru Loves to Help Gifting Event on Jan. 30 at Youngstown Community School.

TEDxYOUNGSTOWN ANNOUNCES SPEAKER LINEUP: TEDxYoungstown 2024 will feature 16 speakers, including several local people, March 8 at Youngstown State University’s Bliss Hall.

The local speakers include Ayana Symone, an author and podcaster, who will share insights on overcoming a challenging past to embrace an abundant future; Devyn Bellamy, HubSpot senior marketing manager, who will discuss marketing insights he gained since creating his first website during the dial-up era; Jennifer Pintar, YSU assistant provost, who will explore the impact of generative AI on higher education; and Rachel Flickinger, a certified life and leadership coach, who will discuss unlocking the potential of great leadership through intuition.

The event also will showcase speakers from across the globe.

They include Curt Thomas, U.S. Air Force officer and author; Joe Weston, international trainer and author; Kassi Kincaid, creator of children’s literacy program Book Days; Unni Turrettini, speaker and author; Zach Arend, former saddle bronc riding champion; Eric Hodgdon, grief coach and author; Reyne O’Shaughnessy, trailblazer and influencer in the aviation industry; Dianna Simonson, author and entrepreneur; Krishnni Khanna, a high school student and author; Molly Spearman, former South Carolina superintendent of education; Morgan Watt, U.S. Air Force first responder and member of the K9 explosive detection team; and Katy Stevens and Mo Barrett.

iSYNERGY PARTNERS WITH YBI: iSynergy, a digital marketing agency in Canfield, is teaming up with the Youngstown Business Incubator to provide free marketing advice to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The company will hold marketing office hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m Thursdays at the YBI. Small business owners and entrepreneurs can sign up for an hourlong slot to receive personal, one-on-one advice from marketing professionals at ybi.org/marketing-office-hours.

iSynergy’s social media and email marketing employees will be at the YBI on the first Thursday of each month. The second Thursday of the month focuses on graphic design; the third pertains to search engine optimization; and the fourth focuses on website design and development.

People on the move

COMPANY NAMES BOARD CHAIRMAN: SolaBlock, the Pittsfield, Massachusetts-based solar technology company led by Mahoning Valley native Eric Planey, has named John O’Connor board chairman.

In 1997, O’Connor co-founded Oztek Corp to produce custom power-conversion solutions for original equipment manufacturers. More recently, he shifted company focus to standard power-conversion products and established Oztek as a leading battery inverter supplier for commercial and industrial energy storage applications. O’Connor served as CEO until 2023, when Oztek was sold to Trystar, LLC.

SolaBlock is fundraising its Series A round and is opening its first assembly facility in Pittsfield. The company anticipates its first product will be produced by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

It is coming to market with a building integrated photovoltaic construction and solar tech product that enables commercial building walls to become vertical solar systems.

FARMERS ADDS BANKER: Canfield-based Farmers National Bank has hired Mahoning Valley native Michael Olive to its commercial lending team as vice president, relationship manager out of Mahoning County.

Olive, originally from Lowellville, earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from Youngstown State University. He also has completed a commercial lending certificate through the American Bankers Association and graduated from the Shenango Leadership Program.

DOCTOR JOINS OFFICE: Dr. Chris Bobeczko has joined the staff at Sharon City Eyeworks.

Bobeczko graduated in 1996 from the Ohio State University with a doctor of optometry degree. He has served the community for the past 28 years, with eight of those years spent at J.C. Penney Optical in Hermitage, Pa.

Send news for business briefs, new businesses or people on the move to business@tribtoday.com, or visit the Virtual Newsroom at www.vindy.com or www.tribtoday.com.

Business briefs

BBB TO HOST EVENT: BBB Youngstown is hosting a lunch and learn about the future of drug testing, with a focus on oral fluid testing and the impact of marijuana legislation, noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 22 at Courtyard by Marriott Youngstown – Canfield Westford meeting room, 4173 Westford Place, Canfield.

Led by Ruth Bowdish, managing director of On Demand Occupation Medicine, the event will help businesses navigate the complexities of employee drug testing and the ever-changing requirements.

There is no cost to attend, but a RSVP is requested by calling 330-744-3111, Ext. 111 or emailing info@youngstown.bbb.org.

MS MARKS MILESTONE: MS Consultants, an engineering, architecture and planning firm, is marking its 60th year in business this year.

Founded as a family-owned firm by Thomas F. Mosure and Thomas Fok as Mosure-Fok Engineering, MS Consultants opened its doors in 1963 in Youngstown. Since its founding, the company has opened 10 offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia, and employs over 400 people. It has completed projects in every state in the contiguous United States.

The company works in various sectors, including transportation, water, environmental, water resources and construction management.

HOSPITAL COO RECOGNIZED: Becker’s Hospital Review recently named Bon Secours Mercy Health Chief Operating Officer Don Kline one of 75 “Hospital and Health System COOs to Know.”

Kline was named COO of Bon Secours Mercy Health in 2022, after serving as a ministry group president. Kline also has a long history of service to the Mahoning Valley. He was named president and chief executive officer for Mercy Health-Youngstown in 2016 and served as the market’s chief financial officer prior to that role.

The 2023 list highlights 75 exceptional chief operating officers who excel in overseeing and optimizing operations across hospitals and health systems.

In his role, Kline spearheads operations across all of the health care provider’s domestic markets, prioritizing the delivery of high-quality care to patients.

YSU’S VITA CONTINUES TO HELP: Youngstown State University’s Lariccia School of Accounting and Finance will serve as a site for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

The program, in which YSU business students and community volunteers provide free tax preparation and filing, requires taxpayers to make appointments to drop off and pick up their tax materials at the Williamson College of Business Administration on the YSU campus.

For questions, call 330-941-2507.

Taxes will be prepared Friday, and Feb. 16-17; March 1, 15, 22, 29; and April 5 and 12.

Taxpayers must provide wage and earnings statements (Form W-2) from all employers, interest statements from banks (Forms 1099), a copy of last year’s tax return if available and other relevant information about income and expenses. Taxpayers also need to bring social security cards for all people on the tax return and a photo ID card. Taxpayers with complex returns may need to see an accountant.

MAGNET LAUNCHES PODCAST: Cleveland-based MAGNET (the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network) has launched a podcast series called “MAKE IT: Frank Conversations on the Future of Manufacturing.”

It is available on platforms like Apple, Amazon and Spotify, and will include candid insights from industry leaders across northeast Ohio.

The 20-minute episodes will dive deep into topics such as innovation, Industry 4.0, embracing next generation talent and reinventing the future of manufacturing.

In conjunction with the podcast, MAGNET also has released a video series that can be viewed at Make It CEO Videos at manufacturingsuccess.org.

MERSOL NAMED TO FORBES’ LIST: Joseph M. Mersol from the northern Ohio general office of New York Life has been listed on the 2023 Forbes Top Financial Security Professionals Best-in-State list. The individuals named to the list of distinguished professionals were chosen based on many criteria considered by an independent research firm.

He has been a New York Life agent for 30 years. Mersol Financial Solutions LLC is in Poland.

MUSEUM DIRECTOR TO RETIRE: Longtime director of the Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool, Susan Weaver, is retiring in the spring.

Founded in 1980, the museum at 400 E. Fifth St., is dedicated to showcasing and exploring East Liverpool’s integral place in the ceramics industry of the country. Exhibits of pottery, photographs, tools, maps and other artifacts are used to tell the story of the approximately 300 potteries which operated in East Liverpool over the last two-plus centuries.

The museum is on the National Registry of Historic Places and is a site of the Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society).

The museum hopes to have a new director in place by April 1.

People on the move

NEW BOARD PRESIDENT: The Walnut Grove recently announced Karen Conkey as the organization’s new board president.

The Walnut Grove is the Mahoning Valley’s first inclusive and accessible 20-acre outdoor recreational facility.

Conkey of Austintown has been on The Walnut Grove board of directors since 2020, and has been instrumental in fundraising and landscaping maintenance of the playground. She works as a special needs teacher at Champion Middle School.

WARREN NATIVE HIRED: Glass container manufacturer Arglass in Georgia has appointed Warren native and beverage industry expert Ron Holmes as its new vice president of sales, marketing and sustainability.

Holmes will oversee and promote the company’s sustainability efforts as it prepares to expand production capabilities at its Valdosta, Georgia, headquarters.

Holmes earned his bachelor’s in environmental science from Youngstown State University. He joins Arglass from alcoholic beverage company Diageo, from which he brings more than 15 years of experience in sustainability and environmental safety.

Holmes also holds a master’s degree in environmental health and safety from Gannon University in Pennsylvania, and certifications in leadership and sustainability from Yale and Oxford.

CONNELLY RETURNS TO PREMIER BANK: Premier Bank recently announced the return of Matthew Connelly as vice president, treasury management sales manager in the Mahoning Valley market.

He previously served as treasury management operations manager for the bank, for which he was responsible for leading the operational side of treasury management. In his new role, Connelly, of Youngstown, will work directly with the treasury management team and branch associates to develop and support calling efforts with community contacts. In addition to developing new relationships in the Mahoning Valley, he will also lead the expansion of the existing relationships and portfolio administration.

FARMERS EXPANDS LENDING TEAM: Canfield-based Farmers National Bank has added to its commercial lending team with the hire of Dustin Karl as vice president, relationship manager out of the Orrville Main office.

Karl has more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, including previous commercial loan and management roles. He is a graduate of Kent State University and attended the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.


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