Sometimes, a well-kept secret is worth the effort. Thursday night, Dr. Kathy Venema was completely surprised when she was introduced as the recipient of the 2012 Women’s Career Excellence Award, presented by the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Services.
Much to her surprise, a large contingent of Heidelberg faculty and staff and Tiffin City Schools officials attended the event witness the award presentation and congratulate their colleague.
The award, one of three the Chamber presented Thursday, honors an individual who has demonstrated excellence in their profession, service to others in the community and mentoring young women to reach their leadership potential.
Outlining a lengthy list of Venema’s career and service achievements, Freddie Larsen, last year’s recipient, described her as “thorough and meticulous, pleasant, unassuming and easy to work.”
“I am honored and humbled,” said Venema, who is the associate vice president of Institutional Advancement & Alumni Relations. She also is in her second full term as a member of the Tiffin Board of Education, currently serving as president.
“I was recently asked why I am involved as school board president,” Venema said. “It’s a way to serve and give back.”
The Chamber presented its Outstanding Citizenship Award to Tiffin attorney Brent Howard, who also has a Heidelberg connection. Howard has served as the university’s legal counsel for a number of years.
The Tiffin Police & Fire All Patriots Memorial received the President’s Award. A committee of police officers, firefighters and community members worked to raise funds to bring to Tiffin a large beam from the 9/11 crash site. The memorial displaying the beam was dedicated last month.
Following the award presentations and annual business meeting, those in attendance heard from keynote speaker Andrew Kalnow, CEO and principle owner of National Machinery LLC. Kalnow talked about the company’s revival after closing its doors in 2001 and reopening in 2002.
“There are some great manufacturers in Tiffin. We’re proud to be back to a little bit of our former glory,” Kalnow said of the 138-year-old company.
Honoring the 10th anniversary of the company’s reopening and the creation of National Machinery Group Global, Kalnow said the story continues to evolve. The company has invested in global growth in a highly competitive market, and has again become a world leader as a maker of advanced metal products.
At its peak, National employed about 1,200 workers. At the time of the closing, there were about 450. Today, the company’s workforce stands at slightly more than 400, Kalnow said.
The company has ushered in a new era of innovation, “renewing what National has always been good at, introducing new products and being a leader in our field.”
National has had a global presence in Europe since 1958 and has operated a plant in Japan for some time. Recently, the company expanded to China, and acquired two U.S. companies.
Kalnow also outlined the mission and good work of the National Machinery Foundation and the Meshech Frost Trust, which have benefitted organizations and individuals in Tiffin and Seneca County for decades.
“It’s been a lot of work, but we are succeeding,” Kalnow said. “We are proud to be back as a very healthy, energetic and growing company again.”
Kalnow is a member of Heidelberg’s Board of Trustees.