James Behuniak CEO of Platt Brothers

   The Waterbury Regional Chamber’s Small Business Council has announced the 2012 Harold Webster Smith Award recipients. The event will be held on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 8 AM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Southbury, Connecticut. Recipients of the 15th Annual Harold Webster Smith Awards will be Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut for Small Business of the Year, Lori Greene, principal of Elizabeth Richards Gifts in Waterbury, Connecticut for Entrepreneur of the Year, and James Behuniak, president and CEO of The Platt Brothers & Company in Waterbury, Connecticut for Manufacturer of the Year.

   Harold Webster Smith founded First Federal Savings of Waterbury in 1935 to help people build and buy homes. He served as CEO until 1937 and chairman of the board until 1995 when First Federal was renamed Webster Bank in his honor. Today, Webster Bank is the largest financial service organization in New England, and each year, the Chamber honors small business leaders who, like Smith, have the vision to expand, diversify, and prosper. “In honor of Harold Webster Smith’s legacy and small business inspiration,” remarked Lynn Ward, president and CEO of the Waterbury Regional Chamber, “we recognize small companies and entrepreneurs who share his passion for business development and his commitment to positive economic progress of the Waterbury region. Throughout his career, Harold Webster Smith served as an inspiration for countless small businesses. We are very pleased to recognize the many companies that share his ideals.”

   Winner of the 2012 Small Business of the Year Award, Quassy Amusement Park opened in 1908. The 20-acre was created like many other parks of the era. Its’ features included a picnic grove with swimming in Lake Quassapaug, boating and dancing. Today it is one of only 11 remaining “trolley parks” in the United States, according to the National Amusement Park Historical Association. In 2008, Quassy Amusement Park marked a monumental milestone by celebrating its centennial year. Not only has the park been in operation for 101 years, but for the past 73 seasons it has been owned by members of the same family.

Eric Anderson and George Frantzis II

   Recipients of the 2012 Harold Webster Smith Award for Quassy will be partners and owners of Quassy Amusement Park, Eric Anderson of Woodbury, and George Frantzis II of Woodbury.. Anderson began working at the park in the summer of 1975 as a high school student. Through the years, he has held numerous management positions and helped bring the state-of-the-art Water Park and “Wooden Warrior” roller coaster to Quassy. Currently, Anderson is also president and owner of More Fun Amusements, a statewide amusement machine service company; serves on the board of directors of the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions; and is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

   George Frantzis II is a co-owner of Quassy Amusement Park, Inc., a traditional family park purchased in 1937 by his late grandfather, John George Frantzis, and two business partners. Today the 20-acre park is entirely family owned and operated with the fourth generation members of the Frantzis/Anderson family who in recent years have begun to work at the property. Frantzis helps to oversee the daily operations of the century-old park and its catered outings division. He was also instrumental in helping propel the property into a new era with the addition of a state-of-the-art Water Park and award-winning “Wooden Warrior” roller coaster.

   Treasurer of the Woodbury Ambulance Association, George Frantzis II is a past president of the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions; he has served on boards with the Foster Adoptive Mission, Waterbury Regional Chamber, Women’s Emergency Shelter, and Community School, and a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

Lori Greene of Elizabeth Richard Gifts

   Lori Greene is the creator and proprietor of Elizabeth Richard Gifts-ERG, a high-end giftware store in Waterbury, Connecticut. The unique ERG store brand embodies Greene’s accomplished talents in the art of gracious living, entertaining, cooking, gardening and decorating. Greene learned her skills in decorating and event planning, the foundation of the ERG brand, during her college years as an intern with KPMG Peat Marwick where she assisted the partner in charge of the company’s Hartford Civic Center Box. Greene further developed her skills in planning and executing special events as a staff member in 1990 for then-Congressman John Rowland’s bid for Governor of Connecticut.

   Today Greene is responsible for the day-to-day operations, marketing and business development of ERG and her ambition is to bring the brand to several more Connecticut locations and to share her gracious lifestyle approach on a broader scale through multi-media platforms. Greene is also a supporter of many local area not-for-profit organizations including Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury and the Connecticut Community Foundation. She is a member of the Nutmeg Chapter of The American Business Women’s Association, the board of directors for the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, and she hosts memorable fundraising events in her ERG store for a variety of community organizations. A highly dynamic and accomplished businesswoman, Lori Greene is passionate about life and she truly exemplifies Elizabeth Richard Gifts’ tagline, “for the way you love your life”.

   James Behuniak is president and CEO of the Platt Brothers & Co., a nationally-recognized producer of Zinc and Zinc Alloy in strip, rod and wire forms. Founded by Alfred Platt and his two sons in 1847 as “A. Platt & Sons,” the company was incorporated in 1876, and today continues to be primarily owned by direct descendants of the company’s founders. Platt Brothers & Co. has grown notably in recent years, and acquired four wholly-owned subsidiaries: Manhattan American, a manufacturer of terrazzo floor divider strips located in North Carolina; Nova Engineering, a manufacturer of small drawn metal shells in Waterbury; Waterbury Eyelet Stamping, a manufacturer of lamp parts and small metal shells and merged with Nova Engineering and renamed Nova Wesco Inc.; and the Zinco Division of La Salle Rolling Mills in Illinois which has greatly increased their sales of zinc wire products. In August of 2000, Nova Wesco was combined with the Platt eyelet department in a 40,000 square foot new addition to their Waterbury, CT. facility. In 2007 the Company purchased R.I. Metpro; in 2010 they purchased Newmark, Inc. and renamed it Newmark Medical Components specializing in parts used in medical applications, and today it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Platt Bros. in their Waterbury facility.

   Behuniak began his career with the Platt Brothers as a project engineer, two years before finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. He progressed to mill superintendant and then vice president of operations and became president in 1994. Through the years, Behuniak has been an influential member of many community-related organizations, serving on the boards of The Western Connecticut Industrial Council, the Waterbury Regional Chamber, The American Association of Industrial Managers, Junior Achievement, United Way, Mattatuck Museum Executive Council, Employers’ Association of the Northeast, The Waterbury Adult Education Training Institute, Naugatuck Savings Bank, and the Leever Cancer Center. Today, Behuniak serves as Platt Brothers & Co. chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer.  

   To reserve a seat at the January 26 Harold Webster Smith Awards Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza in Southbury, and to learn more about the Waterbury Regional Chamber, visit www.waterburychamber.com, call 203-757-0701, or email to info@waterburychamber.com.