Banquet honored best of the best Loveland businesses

 By Chuck Gibson

The largest ever crowd turned out for the 2019 Little Miami River Chamber Alliance (LMRCA) Business Awards Banquet Wednesday, November 20, at Receptions in Loveland.

Chamber President Cee Cee Collins says the 230 people attending combined with the “most nominations ever” is a testament to the work the businesses and the community have been doing.

“It’s always a lovely evening to recognize the work they put in, but also what the businesses give back to the community of Loveland, Miami Township and Symmes Township to make them the great places they are,” said Collins.

Some 60 businesses were nominated in 12 different categories from beautification, emerging business, young professional, to woman owned business, community involvement, business of the year and everything in between. Longtime emcee John Popovich presented each category, named the nominees and introduced videos revealing the winners. Collins recognized Popovich, who is retiring from Channel 9 Sports in December, for his contribution as emcee for the annual Loveland gala.

“It was a big thing to give thanks to John Popovich,” said Collins. “He is a good-good person. He does this so selflessly. We will miss him terribly.”

Popovich graciously accepted the recognition reminding everyone he’s “not dead, just retiring” and plans to be back to enjoy the evening in the future. He also got off the best line of the night saying how nice it would be if the TV awards show winners actually gave shorter ‘thank you’ speeches. That was greeted by raucous laughter and applause.
“Very shocking at the least,” said John Zielke, Ramsey’s Trailside in response to being selected as ‘2019 Business of the Year’. “Being in business for one year and then winning is incredible. It’s an honor for me, the staff and ownership group just to receive that award from the community.”
Zielke and his wife moved to Loveland from Lexington three years ago and have fallen in love with the community. Lexington family and friends have expressed amazement at community outreach and support they see during their visits here. He’s full of gratitude for all who come out to support Loveland and “blown away” by how busy Ramsey’s was throughout May-October. Zielke is equally impressed by the beautiful set up for the banquet.

“Turnout was a lot more than in the past,” he said. “The generosity for the silent auction, Popovich, the ‘Diaper Drive’ was eye-opening. I was wowed by it. Nothing short of spectacular.”

Nick Winnenberg, leader of the Loveland Young Professionals, is a winner in the category of “Young Professional of the Year” and equally impressed with the event.

“Turnout was great,” said Winnenberg, who was cheered by the entire crowd upon taking a selfie as he arrived at the podium.  “What a list. It really was the who’s who of Loveland. Receptions did a really good job.”

Winnenberg just moved to Loveland, but quickly realized “everyone has a genuine interest in community” and got involved. He says he met incredible people with inspiring stories just by showing up.

“Just show up to do things, “ Winnenberg said. “Next thing you know, you’re getting awards at dinners.”

Doing things in and around Loveland earned David Terry the “Community Involvement” award. A lifelong Loveland resident recognized for ‘Bleeding Orange”, he is a supporter of Loveland Tigers and the community with his wife Tammy. His screen printing and embroidery business has orange and black everywhere. It meant a lot to him to see the great turnout.

“I got a little chill when I saw Sam David on the video screen,” said Terry. It was David who introduced him in 2017 as the Emerging Business award winner then. “Seeing him pop up again gave me a quick chill. Wow. I’m humbled someone in this community thought enough to nominate us. I have a hard time saying I, this is family. It was shocking. We certainly appreciate it.”

All the winners showed humility winning, even surprise when simply notified of their nomination. Brittney Frietch, was more surprised to learn she had been nominated for two categories.

“Are you sure,” asked Frietch, 2019 Woman Owned Business award winner, when notified she was also nominated for Young Professional for her real estate business. “Compared to others, I’m not sure I’m worthy.”

Each business or individual was given a week after notification to offer information about their business for the selection committee to review. The selection committee was then given a packet on each nominee. They had a week to review and consider each business or individual. The committee completed the selection process voting for the winners behind closed doors

Frietch considered herself an underdog in a pool of so many others she respects and is still trying to wrap her head around winning. She credits the ‘Grace of God’ for her success. She expressed gratitude for the event acknowledging the people who “selflessly” pour so much into the community.   When she saw her friend from St. Columban up on the screen naming her the winner, she choked up.

“It was the first time in my whole life I was at a loss for words,” Frietch said. “It was truly a shock factor. He (God) can turn any mess into a success story.”

Everyone agreed it was a special night, very well done. The most touching moment of the evening came when Kameron Hensley accepted  his “2019 Young Professional” award. He owns his own plumbing business and took it to 11 employees in less than two years. His heartfelt thanks to his mom for the example of building her own business touched everyone on hand.

“We all just melted,” said Cee Cee Collins.