SCRANTON — Three Abington area businesses are finalists in The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and MetroAction’s 2015 SAGE (Scranton Awards for Growth and Excellence) Awards.
Thirteen Olives, 222 Northern Blvd., South Abington Township, is a finalist for the Small Business of the Year Award; Classic Properties, 324 S. State St., Clarks Summit, is in the running for the Pride and Progress: Interior Renovations category and Metropolitan Life Insurance, 1028 Morgan Hwy., Clarks Summit is competing for Healthy Workplace of the Year.
More than 100 applications were received for this year’s awards, which celebrate talent, creativity and innovation in local businesses. There are three finalists in each of the 14 categories, and the recipient of each award will be announced at the Chamber Gala, set for 5:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Theater at Lackawanna College. One People’s Choice Award, determined by a community wide online vote, will also be presented.
Business owner Steve Farrell, Classic Properties, said although he has another commitment the evening of the gala, Chief Operating Officer Carol Hosier will represent the company at the event and he is honored to be among the finalists.
“Considering our competition, it’s extremely flattering,” he said. “It’s kind of mind-boggling, in a sense.”
The other two finalists for the Pride and Progress: Interior Renovations award are Geisinger-Community Medical Center for its Multi-Specialty Clinics and Intensive Care Units and The University of Scranton for the Quincy Avenue Apartments and Learning Center.
Classic Properties completed the thorough renovations to the building about a year ago.
“We completely gutted the entire interior down to the studs and bricks,” Farrell said. “Everything you see is new.”
He said the goal for the interior design, which he modeled after a friend’s office on Park Avenue in New York City, was to give it a “home-like” feel, as opposed to a more “corporate” atmosphere. One way they accomplished this was with the lighting, including a lot of interior glass windows.
“It’s a bright building — bright and sunny,” he said.
And according Farrell, the new location and its modern design helped the business continue to grow, in that it stays in line with the character of the community.
“The professional look, being downtown and being part of the community is huge for us,” he said. “We’re more visible in the community.”
This emphasis on community is also key for Thirteen Olives owner Eugene Litz, who has been in business since May, 2014. He stressed the importance his business puts on things like hosting community events, donating products to local causes and getting involved in area organizations.
Most of his marketing strategies are community-focused.
“We’re trying to get out there and network, and we do it to to be in the community,” Litz said.
One example of that is the Thirteen Olives’ participation in the Rotary Club of the Abingtons’ Annual Taste of the Abingtons event. The shop also hosts various educational events.
Litz said some of the main challenges for small business owners today are regulatory constraints, taxes and marketing. For him, marketing is a strength, but he is still always looking for ways to improve in that area.
“Once you get them in the store, you’ve got them,” he said on the topic of acquiring new customers.
But getting them there is sometimes the hard part.
The key, he said, is in utilizing all of the various media outlets available, such as television, print and social media, in addition to in-person networking and special events.
Another key to his own success, he said, is his “well-educated and friendly staff,” who he looks forward to bringing with him to the Chamber Gala to celebrate all of their hard work.
“I look forward to hopefully winning,” he said, “and enjoying the evening with my family and staff.”
This year’s gala emcee is Scranton Fringe Festival co-founder and past SAGE Award recipient Conor O’Brien.
The regional actor, playwright and arts professional received the 2011 SAGE Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year for his work with The Vintage, a performing arts space which operated from January 2009 through September 2014 in downtown Scranton.
Tickets for the event are $50 for members and $75 for guests and are available through Monday, Nov. 9 online at scrantonchamber.com. For more information, call 570-342-7711.