State's top family businesses honored during Nov. 19 event
by Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications
STORRS, Conn. -- Family-owned businesses from TORRINGTON,
WESTPORT and VERNON have captured the 1998 Connecticut Family
Business Leadership Awards, The Nozko's, which annually
recognize the best family businesses in Connecticut in large,
medium and small categories.
Seitz Corp. of Torrington, Rein's N.Y. Style Deli-Restaurant
of Vernon, and Wright Brothers Builders Inc., of Westport were
honored Nov. 19 with the awards which, for the fourth year,
celebrated the best family businesses in Connecticut. The awards
are co-sponsored by ACMAT Corp., in conjunction with the Family
Business Program at the University of Connecticut's School of
Business Administration. They recognize the businesses for their
success, innovation, community involvement, positive family
business linkages and for involving multiple generations of family
members in their firms.
Jensen's Inc., of Southington; the Moon Cutter Co. of
Hamden; and A. Aiudi & Sons of Plainville also were honored
during the event, held at the Farmington Marriott, as first
runners-up in their respective categories. Two other finalists in
each category also won accolades.
"Small business, a category that embraces many of
Connecticut's family businesses, is one of the most important
engines of this state's economy. Their value, however, should
not be measured purely by dollars and cents, for family businesses
represent so much more. Indeed, they speak to our cultures, our
heritage, our sense of who we are, and the importance of family in
all we do," says Richard Dino, associate dean of the business
school and director of the Family Business Program. "The
University of Connecticut is privileged to be able to serve and
assist these wonderful businesses."
Also during the event, representatives from Massachusetts Mutual
Life Insurance Co. presented the 1997 MassMutual National Family
Business of the Year Award, in the medium category, to H. Darrell
Harvey and Andrew Ashforth, co-managing partners of The Ashforth
Co. of Stamford. The Ashforth's real estate development firm,
selected as last year's Nozko Award winner in the large
category, went on to win the national award. This year's Nozko
winners also will be nominated for the national award.
The Nozko Awards are named after ACMAT Corp.'s Henry W.
Nozko Sr., whose hard work and persistence led his family
contracting firm from the brink of disaster to successes in several
ventures. ACMAT is one of the Family Business Program's
The winners and finalists this year, in the large (more than 150
employees) category, are:
- Seitz Corp. of TORRINGTON, an injection mold and contract
assembly company, originally founded as a tool and die maker in
1949 by Karl and Hildegard Seitz. The firm's reins are
currently held by fourth generation family members who design,
develop and manufacture products exported to more than 28 countries
and numerous Fortune 500 companies. During the past three years,
Seitz has experienced annual growth rates of more than 20 percent.
The company also sponsors numerous philanthropic events, including
an annual golf tournament that benefits Cystic Fibrosis
- First runner-up was Jensen's Inc. of SOUTHINGTON. Founded
in 1927 as an automobile business, Kristian Jensen Sr. soon
expanded the firm to include mobile homes and, eventually,
manufactured homes. Currently run by Kris Jensen Jr, Kristian
Jensen III, and Keith Jensen, the company has perfected the art of
creating "mini estates," with nearly 3,700 home sites
based in 26 locations in seven East Coast states;
- Other finalists were McPhee Electric Ltd. of FARMINGTON, and H.
Pearce Co. Realtors of NORTH HAVEN.
In the medium category (49-150 employees), the winners and
- Rein's N.Y. Style Deli-Restaurant of VERNON, a landmark
eatery between New York and Boston that was opened in 1972 largely
because owner Bob Rein, formerly of New Jersey, was unable to find
what he considered a really good corned beef sandwich in Eastern
Connecticut. Now one of the largest volume restaurants in the
state, the deli is entering its fourth generation of ownership, and
remains a focal point of the Vernon community despite a devastating
fire in 1990.
- First runner-up A. Aiudi& Sons LLC of PLAINVILLE, began as
a small concrete contracting business in 1923. Today, they have 60
employees and mix concrete from two locations. Now in their third
generation of ownership (nine family members are in the business),
Aiudi has donated all the concrete necessary for the construction
of new athletic fields and facilities at Plainville High
- Other finalists were The C-Thru Ruler Co. of BLOOMFIELD, and
Shoreline Pools of COS COB.
The winners and finalists in the small (1-49 employees) category
- Kelly and Chris Wright founded Wright Brothers Builders Inc.,
of WESTPORT in 1985, turning in annual sale of about $31,000.
Today, just 13 years later, the two run a building and remodeling
company that employs 38 people and expects to see sales this year
of $17 million. Along the way, they were chosen one of the
nations' top builders, in 1991, by Builder and
Remodeling magazine, and have offered their expertise to a
variety of community projects including school playgrounds, stages
for charity auctions and other local events;
- Charlie Moon founded Moon Cutter Co. Inc. more than 40 years
ago as a three-man resharpening house in HAMDEN. The firm now
employs 14 of his children and grandchildren, offers internships to
local children, sponsors town youth programs, provides family
volunteers and financial contributions to community events and
provides one-of-a-kind, "wobble-free" technology that
allows its saws to eclipse industry standards;
- Other finalists were Bemis Associates of NEWINGTON and the
Nutmeg Chrome Corp. of WEST HARTFORD.