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Honoring a Tradition

Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame Steers into Its Second Decade

Ira Rubenzahl says that, a decade after its creation, the Western Mass. Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame has earned a place within the region’s business community — and so has the banquet at which inductees are announced and celebrated.
There are now 57 inductees. Some of them are individuals (Theodor Geisel, Mary Lyon, Milton Bradley, and Primus Mason are in this category), a few teams of partners (Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, Charles and George Merriam, and Silas Lambson and Abel Goodnow), as well as a couple of organizations (such as Baystate Health, for example). But most are families that started businesses and ran them for decades.
Those family names include Picknelly, O’Connell, Fontaine, Steiger, Sandri, Balise, Roberts, Falcone, Scherff, and many others. They are now etched into plaques that hang in the main lobby of the Scibelli Enterprise Center in the Technology Park at Springfield Technical Community College.
And there will be more names added to additional plaques, said Rubenzahl, president of STCC, who told BusinessWest that, a decade after its founding, the hall of fame will continue to honor and celebrate the region’s tradition of entrepreneurship.
“This has been an important event for this region,” he said of the annual dinner. “The college and the college foundation wanted to continue this, and we’re enthusiastic about the program moving forward.”
But there will be a few changes moving forward, said Rubenzahl, with most of them involving the annual induction dinner.
For starters, the event, traditionally staged in November, will be moved to the spring, with the one honoring the class of 2011 slated for April 14 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. Meanwhile, inductees, which have been announced each May for the past decade, will now be introduced at the college’s annual Top of the City party, with the next one slated for Jan. 20. And moving forward, proceeds from the dinner will go toward scholarships for entrepreneurship students at STCC; in the past, they were used for youth-oriented entrepreneurship programs.
Another change will be the larger role being taken by BusinessWest, which has also been honoring the region’s rich history of entrepreneurship and will collaborate with STCC in matters involving the Hall of Fame and the annual dinner.
The magazine, which has, since 1996, presented its Top Entrepreneur Award (the Holyoke G&E was chosen for 2009), will honor its latest winner at the Top of City party. In addition, BusinessWest will play a prominent role in introducing the inductees for a given year and handling logistics of the annual banquet.
“This region has a strong heritage of entrepreneurship, and it continues today with a number of new and exciting ventures and the expansion and evolution of many family businesses,” said Kate Campiti, associate publisher and advertising manager of BusinessWest.
“We’re looking forward to collaborating with STCC to recognize people from the past and present who are continuing a tradition of innovation and excellence,” she added.
Also working with the college on matters involving the Hall will be UMass Amherst, said Rubenzahl, noting that the university recently entered into a collaborative effort with STCC on the management of the Enterprise Center and its Springfield Incubator. Marla Michel, director of Strategic Communications and Outreach for the university, is now a shared executive, working two days each week as director of the incubator.
Representatives from UMass will be among those chosen to serve on a committee that will select the inductees for 2010, said Bill Kwolek, director of Development at STCC, adding that the panel will also include representatives of the college and several area economic-development agencies.
Here are the inductees for the first decade of the Western Mass. Entrepre-neurship Hall of Fame.

Class of 2009
• Bacon Wilson, P.C.;
• The Cambi Family (Springfield Foodservice Corp.);
• Larry Derose (Texcel Inc.);
• The Desrosiers Family (Hadley Printing);
• John Gormally (BusinessWest, ABC40/FOX6); and
• The Peters Family (Universal Plastics)

Class of 2008
• Baystate Health;
• The Jacobson Family (OMG Inc.);
• The Samble Family (Belmont Laundry);
• The Scherff Family (Student Prince restaurant); and
• The Young Family (W.F. Young)

Class of 2007
• Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss);
• Charles and George Merriam (Merriam-Webster Inc.);
• The Bassett Family (Bassett Boat Co. Inc.);
• The Falcone Family (Rocky’s Hardware);
• The Gordenstein Family (Broadway Office Interiors); and
• The Roberts Family (F.L. Roberts)

Class of 2006
• The Balise Family (Balise Motor Sales);
• The Fontaine Family (Fontaine Bros. Inc.);
• The Grenier Family (Grynn & Barrett Studios);
• Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (Smith & Wesson); and
• The Lanier Family (Springfield Food Systems)

Class of 2005
• Sister Mary Caritas and the Sisters of Providence;
• Joshua Brooks (Eastern States Exposition);
• William L. Putnam (WWLP TV-22);
• Mary Lyon (Mount Holyoke College);
• Fran and Teddi Laurin (Laurin Publishing); and
• Joseph Napolitan

Class of 2004
• Albert and Amelia Ferst (Camfour);
• Silas Lamson and Abel Goodnow (Lamson and Goodnow);
• Joseph V. Gosselin Jr. (Commonwealth Packaging Co.);
• Emanuel (Manny) Rovithis (Manny’s TV and Applicances); and
• William Skinner and Family (William Skinner and Sons)

Class of 2003
• Channing Bete Family (Channing Bete Co.);
• Samuel Bowles (the Republican);
• Milton Bradley (Milton Bradley Co.);
• The Hannoush Family (Hannoush Jewelers); and
• Daniel J. O’Connell Family (Daniel J. O’Connell Cos.)

Class of 2002
• The Carroll Family (Riverside Park);
• John E. Reed (Mestek Inc.);
• The Sandri Family (Sandri Cos.);
• Stephen Spinelli Jr. (American Oil Change Corp.); and
• Albert Steiger (Steiger’s)

Class of 2001
• The Davis Family (American Saw and Manufacturing Co.);
• Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick (Country Curtains);
• Primus Mason;
• Peter C. Picknelly and Peter L. Picknelly (Peter Pan Bus Lines);
• George W. Rice and Caleb Rice (MassMutual); and
• Amos Rugg (Rugg Manufacturing Co.)

Class of 2000
• Frank S. Beveridge (Stanley Home Products);
• Curtis Blake and S. Prestley Blake (Friendly Ice Cream);
• Zenas Crane (Crane Paper Co.);
• Paul D’Amour & Gerald D’Amour (Big Y Foods);
• Joseph J. Deliso Sr. (HBA Cast Products);
• Michael Kittredge (Yankee Candle);
• Albert G. Spalding (Spalding Sports Worldwide); and
• Rita M. Tremble (Valley Communications Systems)