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State's top family-owned businesses
recieve Family Business of the Year awards
November 30, 1998

Family-owned businesses from Torrington, Westport and Vernon captured the 1998 Nozko Family Business Leadership Awards, which annually recognize the best family businesses in Connecticut in large, medium and small categories. The awards were presented November 19 at the Farmington Marriott.

"Small business, a category that embraces many of Connecticut's family businesses, is one of the most important engines of this state's economy," says Richard Dino, associate dean of the business school and director of the Family Business Program. "Their value, however, should not be measured purely by dollars and cents, for family businesses represent so much more. Indeed, they speak to our culture, our heritage, our sense of who we are, and the importance of family in all we do."

Seitz Corp. of Torrington, winner of the large (more than 150 employees) category, is an injection mold and contract assembly company, originally founded as a tool and die maker in 1949. 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.

Winner of the medium category (49-150 employees) was 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.

The winners in the small (1-49 employees) category were Kelly and Chris Wright founded Wright Brothers Builders Inc. of Westport in 1985, turning in annual sales 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 Building 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.

The awards are co-sponsored by ACMAT Corp., in conjunction with the Family Business Program in the 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.

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 The Ashforth Co. of Stamford. The Ashforth real estate development firm was selected as last year's Nozko Award winner in the large category and 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's contracting firm from the brink of disaster to successes in several ventures. ACMAT is one of the original sponsors of the Family Business Program. .

Richard Veilleux