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May 15, 2014

Chamber hands out four awards

Celebrating National Small Business Week

TERRE HAUTE — Gurman Container and Supply Corp. is the 2013 Small Business of the Year.

The company was one of four businesses the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce recognized Thursday during a luncheon that coincided with National Small Business Week, May 12 through 16.

“I am overwhelmed with emotion seeing the pictures with the previous owners, my family,” said Whitney Gurman-Roberts, president and owner, after the luncheon at the Holiday Inn. “My dad, my grandfather and my great-grandfather. The fact that this business has lasted four generations is something that I am very proud of.

“I am terribly honored and excited” about the Small Business of the Year award, Gurman-Roberts said. “I am not doing anything new, I am just keeping up what my family started. Failure is not an option; [the family business] is not going to go down on my time, my watch.”

Gurman-Roberts is a fourth-generation owner of the company started in 1922 as I Gurman & Sons. She added her husband, Mike Roberts, is an important part of the business “because without his commitment, to take over my family’s business, it would not be our family’s business in the future.”

The other recipients were Sony DADC for Green Business award; Fifi’s Lunch Box for Fastest Growing Business award; and Kellogg for Healthy Workplace award.

n Sony, Terre Haute’s largest industrial employer, was awarded for creating an environmentally responsible work environment designed to reduce use of energy, water and volatile organic compounds.

“About five years ago, we led a large engineering-led project to find areas of energy use and figure out how we can reduce that use,” said Tony New, director of sustainability and technology at Sony DADC, said after the luncheon. “We have about two months left to close out about 30 such projects.”

New said Sony’s production is cyclical, with its major output done four months of the year, just before the Christmas holiday. “One part of the year we are trying to run as much as we can, the other part of the year we are working to reduce energy, so we have a really aggressive program to shut down equipment. As you can imagine, some of our equipment is not easy just to shut off. We have to be very creative in how we shut it down with what we call idle mode,” New said.

“The other part is turning it back on and time to get it all back up. Other things include lighting, and we are looking at LED lighting,” New said.

n Jacqueline Ruff and Claudine Hann started Fifi’s Lunch Box in the fall of 2011 “as a hobby and a love for food. We grew into the catering business in 2012 and in 2013. We became so busy with our catering and food truck that we moved into and opened our store front in February of this year,” Ruff said.

The new store is at 2401 Lafayette Ave. It offers coffee and a “baconry,” which provides bacon items such as bacon cookies, chocolate-covered bacon and bacon cupcakes. The food truck provides wraps and salads.

The company increased its gross revenue 75 percent from 2012 to 2013, Ruff said.

n In 1983, Kellogg started a wellness program named “Feeling Gr-r-reat” to give employees opportunities to increase physical activity, lose weight and pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Carol Cruz, plant director of the Seelyville bakery, said the program offers “some healthy lifestyle choices that people can take home to their families and also helps benefit, not only themselves by being a healthier person, but offsets higher and rising health care costs” by earning a discount on their insurance premiums.

The Seelyville plant also offers employees free flu shots, biometric screenings, Hepatitis B vaccinations for Safety Team First Responders, and is proactive on injury prevention through active release techniques and ergonomics, according to a corporate news release.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or


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