After weeks of anticipation, the Richland Area Chamber has named Baker’s Collision Repair and Hess Industries Ltd. the winners of this year’s Small Business of the Year award.Hess Industries received the honor in the 14 or fewer employees category; Baker’s in the 15 or more employees category.The two businesses were honored along with four additional semi-finalists at the Chamber’s annual awards luncheon on Friday. A total of 78 businesses and non-profits were nominated for the honor, with Discovery Dental, Southern Title of Ohio, Ashland Railway and Liberty Lawn & Landscaping earning finalist slots. Entries were evaluated based on employee practices, community involvement, customer service, entrepreneurship and overall business performance. For DeLee Powell, president and owner of Baker’s Collision Repair, the award was not just a recognition of hard work, but of her family’s legacy.“I’m so very happy that my parents can be recognized in this way,” Powell stated after receiving the accolade at an awards luncheon hosted by the Richland Area Chamber.“My dad really was a one-man show when he started out,” she said. “As he was able to grow the business and get more customers, (my mother) came in to be the office manager. They worked side-by-side for over 40 years.”Powell accepted the award with her two sons at her side. She thanked God, the many local business professionals who have mentored her and her family, and the community at large.
“Every year we give more to the community and they turn around and give more back, so thank you very much,” she said. “This award is yours.”Mark Hess, owner and founder of Hess Industries, thanked his employees for their loyalty and commitment to service and growth. He then thanked his family for their sacrifice and support.“You’ve been there through the thick and the thin,” Hess said to his wife, Pam. “You’ve been with me from the beginning.”

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