On Friday night, the Logansport/Cass County Chamber of Commerce recognized the people, organizations and businesses making a difference in the city.
The 81st annual Chamber Awards were held at the Angie’s Catering, and the 2019 winners that were nominated by the public and selected by an anonymous committee of Cass County residents and community leaders were:
• Quality of Life Award: United Way of Cass County (for Live United Day).
•Business Woman of the Year: Memi Rennewanz (MPR Realty)
•Business Man of the Year: Jon-Myckle Price (Security Federal)
• Small Business of the Year: Mary Max Cinemas.
• Large Business of the Year: Logan Stampings.
“We look at the business, what they do for the community, their involvement with the chamber,” said Chamber Executive Director Bill Cuppy.
They also had to be active chamber members for at least two years.
Nominations are kept secret.
“It was an incredible surprise,” said Business Man of the Year Jon-Myckle Price, Senior Vice-President for Trust for Security Federal.
“I just try my best and try to be as involved as I can be,” Price said.
Cuppy said of Price, “he’s involved in almost everything.”
After earning his degree in economics at Wabash College on a full-ride Lilly Scholarship, Price returned to Logansport in 2002.
“Even at the time, I felt indebted to Logansport and Cass County. They raised me, really,” he said. “If the people who were here hadn’t been here, I wouldn’t be where I am, so that’s why I want to give back.”
When he returned, he began coaching swimming and continued for a few years until work didn’t allow the time, although his employer has been supportive of his outside work.
He’s been involved with the Kiwanis Club, the chamber, the Humane Society, Cass County Arts Alliance, the YMCA board and others.
Cuppy noted that he was also chosen by fellow financial professionals as one of five raising starts in the United States.
Price said he works to make Security Federal a partner in the community.
For Business Woman of the Year Memi Rennewanz, Cuppy said her business has been doing a lot of sprucing up around Logansport, from the block where her office is to buying homes around town and fixing them up.
“And they’re good at it,” he said.
Rennewanz said the business is a family affair involving her husband Perry, who does the construction, and her daughter Princessa.
Her husband is a Logansport native, and they moved here from Louisiana in 2005 — shortly after she got her real estate license — because of Hurricane Katrina.
In her business, she often works as a translator, using her bilingual skills in helping people find homes.
“I enjoy what I do because I like to help others,” she said.
She is a member of the Emmaus Mission Center board, of the Dentzel Carousel Board and of the carousel festival committee.
Rennewanz also serves on Mayor Dave Kitchell’s housing strategy committee.
She especially likes the time when her family serves those at Emmaus dinner and eats with them, hear where they are in life, many feeling that they’re bringing themselves up.
“I enjoy that most because you get to meet people and hear their stories,” she said.
Although Logansport isn’t her hometown, “people have accepted me here. People have been good to me,” she said. “I’ve been able to do well here, and you have to give back.”
For The Quality of Life Award, the winner must be a not-for-profit organization or business, and Cuppy said the Live United was an important part of choosing the winner.
“It means a great deal to us. We’re very honored to receive it. We do this one day a year, and it’s a lot of work,” said United Way Executive Director Chris Armstrong.
They had more than 400 volunteers working on this year’s Live United Day, doing work in all the incorporated towns of Cass County and in Twelve Mile.
Those who helped did electrical work, construction work, landscaping, painting, installation of playground equipment, placement of headstones and more.
“(We’re) very grateful for all the volunteers,” she said.
The work fits the goals United Way of Cass County has had since starting here in 1937.
“Our mission is to increase the ability of the people of Cass County to care for one another, promote human services and to maximize resources,” Armstrong said.
The Large Business/Industry of the Year award is for businesses with more than 50 employees and/or an annual operating budget of $2 million or more, while the Small Business/Retailer of the Year award is for those that employ 50 or fewer employees and an annual operating budget of less the $2 million.
Cuppy noted that Logan Stamping has pretty much tripled in size after buying the old Hartz Mountain building and moving operations here from Peru.
President and Owner Robert Baker started his commercial metal business in 2006, then bringing Logan Stampings from Huntington to Peru six years ago.
The company bought Building Products Development and moved it from Oklahoma in 2012 and then bought Roof Hugger in 2016, moving its manufacturing here.
All the companies employ about 120 people total.
The timing to move here this summer was right with the building for sale in the industrial park and its better visibility.
“It just makes sense because that’s where we’re headquartered,” Baker said.
“And plus, I didn’t want to move,” said the life-long Cass County resident.
He said he learned a lot about giving and volunteering from his wife, Kim
They prefer to remain discreet about it, but they give to places such as the United Way, domestic violence prevention, school sports and robotics teams, church programs and 4-H, he said.
The company also supports employees’ efforts to give to causes
“The best honor you can have is to give back,” he said. “You just wish you could give more.”
Rick Dieffenbach, the Managing Owner of Mary Max Cinema, said “I’m excited about it. I’ve certainly done my best to bring Logansport a quality cinema with extra events.”
Mary Max has been in business since October 2013 and is named after Primary Owner Bill Hawes’ daughter, Mary Maxine.
“We’re definitely grateful to our partners, who’ve helped us bring things besides first run movies to Logansport,” Dieffenbach said.
Cuppy cited their free movies for kids and reduced movies for senior citizens and part of the reason Mary Max got the award.
Dieffenbach said for families and kids, the theater has 10 weeks of free summer movies on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and free movies on spring and fall breaks.
There are also regular reduced senior movies, the Logansport Junior Civic Theater has had live plays there, live video game tournaments and other projects done with the help of sponsors and community groups.
Mary Max is also working on retro family series for next year.
These aren’t programs that happen in smaller area theaters.
“That’s why I feel blessed that we’ve been able to do everything with our partners, and that’s part of our success story,” he said.
Businesses have an obligation to their community as well as an investment.
“It’s important to do something more than to open and close the doors,” he said.