I’m a believer that people don’t necessarily do the things they do for recognition or for awards, but I think it is a nice thing when one’s peers recognize their good works. Last week the Chamber had an opportunity to do just that as we recognized three individuals at our annual Salute to business luncheon.
Larry Garatoni was presented with our W. Scott Miller Distinguished Business Leader award, honoring an individual who demonstrates entrepreneurial spirit, makes significant contributions to the area business environment and shows personal involvement and commitment to the community.
Over the past 40 years, he has owned and managed 12-15 companies. He built and operated health care-related facilities, he started or acquired and served as the chief executive officer of several different software and internet sales companies, and then founded HQ Investments, a firm that manages investments in public and private equities, hedge funds, venture capital and angel investments.
Passionate about education, Larry and his wife Judy have most recently founded the Career Academy and the Success Academy in South Bend.
Becky Zaseck was presented with our Athena Award. The Award is presented annually to an individual who embodies the highest level of professional excellence in his/her career, devotes time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community and assists women in realizing their leadership potential.
Zaseck serves as the President & CEO of REAL Services. Zaseck has been with the organization since 1986, taking over in 2007. She oversees more than 230 employees. Under her leadership, the organization is thriving as a significant hybrid example of a nonprofit and for-profit agency, offering catering for the business and private community but also prepares more than 1,000 meals per day for Meals on Wheels and the Nutrition Programs.
Her diligent work and passion over the years to assist the elderly have inspired others to join her vision and mission, specifically women. A vast majority of Real Services employees and senior leadership are women. Zaseck continues to coach, train and lead talented women in her company to become senior managers and leaders in their own right, and has been recognized regionally and statewide for her efforts.
T.J. Kanczuzewski was presented with our Outstanding Young Business Leader award. This award recognizes an outstanding young business leader who has reached professional achievement in his/her career, shows promise for continued success, has positively impacted the community and works to engage and lead other young professionals.
When, Kanczuzewski left South Bend for college, he never expected to return, other than for visits. After working out of the area for several years, T.J. convinced his dad to hire him as the vice president of sales for Inovateus Development, and he began writing a business plan for the solar energy focused company.
In 2008, he helped create and led a new solar energy business venture, Inovateus Solar. He led the start-up of sales, marketing and operations including recruiting, hiring and securing funding with banks and investors. In June 2011, he became president.
Under his direction, Inovateus Solar has grown to become the 19th largest solar installation firm in the country and has been recognized twice as an Indiana Best Company to Work. His expertise even took him to the White House this year to advise the Obama Administration and key leaders on energy policy and a clean power plan.
Keep a close eye on these three, each have made significant contributions to our community, and show no signs of slowing down. Congratulations on the honor, well deserved.