The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber honored 14 family-owned businesses at the Valley's third annual Family-Owned Business Recognition Dinner at The Lake Club Friday.

Of the 14 nominees, one from each of the five categories was selected to be recognized at Friday's dinner. The 2024 categories, finalists, and winners are as follows: 

Sapientia Ventures Success In Succession

  • Gorant Chocolatier
  • Iron City Wood Products*
  • Rydar Group

Huntington Social Impact Award

  • Daprile Insurance Group
  • DeSalvo Construction*
  • Thompson Insurance Group, Gibson Insurance Agency
  • Youngstown Blue Coats

HBK Growth Story

  • The Brilex Group*
  • On Demand Occupational Medicine
  • US SafetyGear
  • VEC, Inc.

Brouse McDowell Local to National Presence

  • On Demand Occupational Medicine
  • Schwebel's*
  • US SafetyGear

Family-Owned Business Advocate of the Year

  • Barb Ewing, Youngstown Business Incubator*
  • Kevin Reilly, The Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania

"We have something in common," explained Rob Cochran, keynote speaker and CEO of #1 Cochran. "So it's great to be able to get around and share stories and applaud those that are doing it well and learn from each other.  Family business is the backbone of this community."

The Regional Chamber, Sapentia Ventures, and Wiley Runnestrand have partnered for three years to honor family-lead businesses.

Barb Ewing, award recipient of the Business Advocate of the Year, echoed Cochran's remarks. 

"The backbone of your economy and the backbone of society is the small businesses," she told 21 News. "The family-owned businesses who invest in school levies, sit on school boards, and support local soccer teams; those are the companies that make the community thrive."

21 WFMJ Meteorologist Andrew DiPaolo emceed the event that welcomed more than 400 people affiliated with family-owned companies.

"5.5 million family-owned businesses exist in the United States," explained Michael McGiffin, President of the Regional Chamber Foundation. "24 years is the average lifespan of family-owned businesses. Those businesses make up 57% of the country's GDP. That's a big deal. 40% of them get to second-generation ownership and only 13% of them reach third-generation ownership. We've got a lot of legacy companies in this community that have gotten past that 24-year mark and third-generation ownership."

McGiffin stressed the importance of supporting a family-owned business. "A lot of these businesses are the ones where their name is on your child's little league jersey. They're the ones that stand up the restaurants that you love to go to. They're the ones that give back to the community. So, it's a full circle thing that's very important."

Joe DeSalvo with DeSalvo Construction sees the support companies give to one another in the Valley, making the area a prime location to let family businesses thrive.

"The collaboration that exists within our community in our Valley, I think it's the best place in the world," DeSalvo told 21 News. "The way we work together and put up a fence around our Valley, it helps us propel into the future."

Attendees also donated goods to Project MKC as the Valley non-profit prepares for its benefit dinner on Friday, April 19.