MERRILLVILLE | Four company leaders received the region's most prestigious business honor Friday: induction into the Northwest Indiana Business and Industry Hall of Fame.
The honorees at the sixth annual ceremony at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza were Tom Collins Sr., of Valparaiso, CEO of Hobart's Luke Oil; Danita Johnson Hughes, of Valparaiso, president and CEO of Gary's Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living; Tom Sourlis, of Highland, chairman of Burns Harbor's MortarNet; and Steven Teibel, of Schererville, co-owner of Teibel's Restaurant.
Times Media Co. Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. said the four inductees were chosen not just for their business success, but for community service work that has improved lives throughout the region.
"(They) have proved again and again that there are two key pieces to achievement. The first is a strong belief in hope and a vision of a better tomorrow. The second is the single-minded determination to make something happen today," Masterson said.
Collins, for example, not only heads a family-owned business that topped $1 billion in sales last year, but also owns County Line Orchard in Hobart, which regularly hosts fundraisers to support the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and local veterans groups.
"I like to think as business leaders, along with offering products and services to our customers, we do our small part by creating jobs, which in turn offers opportunities for our employees to hopefully achieve a better quality of life," Collins said.
Quality of life also is key to Johnson Hughes' business, which provides behavioral health care services to more than 100,000 individuals and families at eight locations.
At the same time, she extends that quality of life focus to Northwest Indiana as a whole by spending much of her free time working with the Northwest Indiana Forum, a region economic development group, and the One Region program.
Similarly, Sourlis' time away from work is devoted to region charities including TradeWinds, Parents as Teachers and the Porter County Community Foundation.
He said "thanks doesn't cover" his gratitude at being inducted into the hall of fame.
Teibel said he also was grateful to receive the award and thanked the two prior generations that ran his family restaurant for putting him a position where he can not only succeed in business but help others through Meals on Wheels, the Hammond YMCA and the Shrine of Christ's Passion.
Gov. Mike Pence joined Masterson in presenting the sculptural hall of fame award to each honoree before more than 500 Northwest Indiana business leaders during Friday's luncheon at the Radisson.
The inductees also were congratulated in-person by U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind.; U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., a Munster native; and former U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind.
The Northwest Indiana Business and Industry Hall of Fame is sponsored by The Times Media Co. and its BusINess magazine.