The best service providers in Northwest Indiana as voted on by Times readers.
When asked what makes Centier Bank so special, Chrisanne Christ, senior partner and director of human resources, had a simple yet profound answer.
“We treat every one of our customers like family,” she said. “Lots of companies will say that, but the ones that find creative ways to practice it are the ones that are recognized for outstanding service.”
Christ gave several examples of how Centier goes the extra mile in customer service. “(Employees in) our bank branches know the names of their customers,” she said. “They know their needs and goals. They make it a point to become personal with their customers. They send birthday and anniversary cards. It’s a cultivated culture of family.”
Centier’s services include all traditional deposit accounts, auto and home loans, retirement planning and investment management, and 529 college savings programs. Every service comes with membership in the family at no charge.
As a family-owned bank, Centier stands behind its "not-for-sale" commitment. It pledges to continue to provide independent hometown banking in Indiana. With 58 locations in 11 counties, Centier is here to stay.
Best Car Repair Shop
Levin Tire & Service Center
Levin Tire & Service Center goes above and beyond to not only take are of its customers’ vehicles but also educate them during the process. Levin doesn't want to sell the customer any service without properly informing them what the service is, why it is needed, and whether it is a priority or not. That includes taking them into the garage and showing them the problem.
“Our customers appreciate our honesty,” says Dan Trzeciak, marketing and IT manager. “Our staff is highly trained, and integrity is part of our value system. So, we have no problem showing them why they need a particular service.”
Technicians are all ASE certified, and junior technicians handle small jobs while they complete their education. Levin promotes from within, building a loyal team.
With six locations in Northwest Indiana, Levin enjoys a mix of returning and new customers. “We stay very involved in the communities we serve,” Trzeciak said. “We attribute our business to the relationships that we have built with our customers.”
McInnis Automotive Service Inc.
1901 U.S. Hwy. 41
Tom and Ed's Autobody and Towing
Best Car Wash
Drive & Shine
1350 U.S. Hwy. 41
Making customers the No. 1 priority has made Drive & Shine in Schererville the most popular car wash for 18 years in a row in The Times Best of the Region voting by readers.
The run started the year it opened in 2001. Drive & Shine is a full service car wash offering not only everything to make a car look its Sunday best but also oil changes and lubes, vacuuming and fluid changes. And Drive & Shine does windows, inside and out, on request.
"Our mission statement is to be the dominant force in the premium segment of the car care industry in the communities we serve by providing customers with the best quality, value and experience possible," owner Frank Hatami said.
To do that, Hatami said he works with the employees to make sure they understand the customers are No. 1.
"We pay them extremely well because we want good people, and we train them because we want to keep them. They know the process and our goals."
The car wash has a 180-foot tunnel, the longest in Northwest Indiana, with the last 40 feet dedicated to drying. Sixteen blowers pump hot air onto vehicles to make sure they are truly dry after the vehicles go through six soakings with new tech foams that are environmentally safe.
"Our values are to treat customers as if they are the only one," Hatami said. "It's our technology that makes us better, with our tunnel, our people and our mission and values all working together to make us No. 1."
9425 Indianapolis Blvd.
1779 U.S. Hwy. 41
Best Child Care Center
The Adventure Club
105 E. Joliet St.
“Research shows that school-age children thrive when given the opportunity to make their own choices and decisions,” says The Adventure Club Executive Director Sandra Duncan. “Children who are given the opportunity to make choices early in life are known to make better choices later in life.”
Maybe this philosophy — giving children the freedom to structure their own time and determine their own activities by choosing from among nine different stations each morning or afternoon, including areas such as Outside Adventures, Homework Center, Game Encounters and Fungineering — is why so many parents choose The Adventure Center for safe, supervised and enriching before and after school care.
“This award gives us inspiration to continue to evolve and get even better,” Duncan says of readers' recognition of her program, which has served Northwest Indiana since 1992. “It is a confirmation of what we have believed all along — that we have the strongest staff executing the most comprehensive and research-based program in the area.”
The Learning Center
Wonder Years Learning Center
1838 45th St.
14795 101st Ave.
Best Cleaning Service
Owner Bryan Lazorik sees Bryco’s second consecutive win as Best Cleaning Service as recognition of what he’s heard from customers for years.
“Our clients appreciate that we take our profession seriously and are consistently in touch with their needs,” he says. “The win is a tribute to our team’s effort and willingness to go above and beyond for our clients and be there for them when they need us.”
That effort includes having quality control systems in place that help Lazorik and his team anticipate clients’ needs, as well as invest in ongoing training to make sure Bryco is up to date on trends, methods and technology to provide clean, healthy environments.
Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning
Steam N Gleam
P.O. Box 357
Johnson Cleaning Service
12834 Wicker Ave.
Best Concrete Repair
Davis Concrete Correctors
12605 Polk St.
Davis Concrete Correctors is a family owned business and treating customers like they are members of the family is what helped them earn Best of the Region honors in The Times' survey of readers, co-owner Darla Davis said.
"Our business has and always will desire to serve the people in our community, and we are so thankful that this is being recognized and reciprocated by the community that we love," Davis said.
Carla and her husband, Steve, started the business 20 years ago "on a shoestring with used equipment in Gary." It has since expanded and moved to a central location in Crown Point with "multiple trucks, multiple crews and trained professionals performing many aspects of concrete repair from concrete raising and basement wall straightening to waterproofing, crawlspace encapsulation and crack repair."
"We count it an honor and a privilege to be invited into the homes in our community, and we strive to reflect that in the way we deal with our customers," Carla said. "We don't consider our customers to be just customers. We consider ourselves partners with the homeowners to accomplish their goals.
"Because we are family owned and operated and local, we try to treat each customer as family."
Whites Custom Concrete
12701 Maple St.
Level Rite Concrete
Best Credit Union
Tech Credit Union
The banking industry may have changed dramatically in the last 80 years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the sense of trust and security that people look for in their financial institution.
Tech Credit Union has managed to navigate the former by never forgetting the latter, offering a full-range of consumer, business and mortgage services to the Region as a true local option since 1936. Members of Tech Credit Union have access to modern banking services, as well as loan and deposit products offered at competitive rates.
“It’s an honor that our members and Times readers have again voted us Best Credit Union,” says Larry Schaffer, the vice president of marketing at Tech. “We are very pleased to receive recognition of the value we provide to the community.”
Teachers Credit Union
Regional Federal Credit Union
7144 Kennedy Ave.
389 W. U.S. Hwy. 6
2801 Boilermaker Court
Best Door and Window Replacement
8900 Wicker Ave. (U.S. Hwy. 30)
Schillings retail sales manager Brett Davis says the secret to the company’s success in windows and doors is its ability to be big and small at the same time.
That is, Schillings customers enjoy a large selection of top-quality windows as well as interior and exterior doors (from two storefront locations and a convenient online store) just like they would at a big box store. But customers also get the kind of personalized service — one focused more on customer satisfaction than simply pushing a sale — available from a local family-owned business. It is this unique combination of big and small that has resonated with Northwest Indiana consumers.
“We take pride in being named the Best Door and Window Replacement provider,” Davis says. “This pushes us to achieve even more in the future, and to continue to serve our customers day in and out. It’s an honor and a privilege to know that the people of Northwest Indiana have our backs.”
Terry’s Discount Windows & More
1153 Marsh St. Suite A
The Door Store
235 Ridge Rd.
100 N. Griffith Blvd.
111 Halstead St.
Joe Yothment, owner of Meyer’s Companies, sees a big difference in today’s customers.
“People who contact us are much more informed and knowledgeable these days,” Yothment says. “They have done quite a lot of research beforehand. They have a base of facts to work from.”
That makes recognition as Best Electrician in the region all the more meaningful.
“It’s challenging to gain people’s trust,” Yothment says. “But once you’ve got their trust, it forms a lasting relationship.”
Meyer’s strives for customer satisfaction through its emphasis on civility, courtesy, kindness and quality.
“We ask potential clients to think about who they are letting in their house,” Yothment explains. “It’s a very personal decision. In addition to making sure our technicians are highly qualified to do the electrical work, we also conduct extensive background and drug testing. When we send someone out, you can rest assured they have been thoroughly checked out.”
In addition to installation work, Meyer's service department stands by its work when maintenance is needed.
“It’s all about providing good work, on time, with the promise to do it right the first time,” Yothment says.
Cliff’s Heating and Air Conditioning
344 Kennedy Ave.
Maglish Plumbing, Heating and Electric
5705 Old Porter Road
Best Financial Advisers
Centier Financial Partners
600 E. 84th Ave.
“We are a true community bank, and this award reflects the value our clients see in providing that community banking experience they can’t find anywhere else,” says Timothy Coleman, senior vice president and director of Centier Financial Partners, which provides clients with services from investment opportunities to trusts and retirement planning.
“It is a testament to the hard work and expertise we have on our team, and it shows that we care about the stability and security of our clients’ financial futures,” continues Coleman.
55 W. 94th Place
Best Heating and Cooling
Illiana Heating & Air Conditioning
11407 Wicker Ave.
There are plenty of heating and cooling providers in Northwest Indiana, but few that are as committed to the client as Illiana Heating & Air Conditioning.
From the friendly voice that answers the phones to the knowledgeable and professional technician, Illiana strives to make every customer call a pleasant experience. The goal is for each customer interaction to reflect the workmanship, ethics and overall quality of the company — owners, managers, customer service representatives and technicians alike — because that integrity and outstanding workmanship are what every customer deserves.
“Being named Best Heating and Cooling provider never stops humbling us, and we are incredibly thankful for this honor,” says Illiana owner and president Thomas Krygsheld. “We’ve worked so hard every day for the past 31 years to be the best, and we always want to show that we are. It’s not easy and it’s not inexpensive, but it’s what drives us each and every day.”
Meyer’s Companies Inc.
100 N. Griffith Blvd.
111 Halstead St.
Four Seasons Mechanical
1580 E. 90th Place
Best Home Builder
8051 Wicker Ave.
Todd Olthof is well aware that a new home is different than most other purchases. Of course, buyers expect quality construction and great value, but beyond just a dwelling in which to live, new homeowners are looking for a place for their lives to unfold and their memories to be made.
That’s why Todd and his team at Olthof Homes are so humbled by the company’s win as Best Home Builder — they understand just how important their work constructing solid new homes for the best price is to the families of Northwest Indiana.
“We are a family business with incredible employees, building trades and associates who strive to create exciting new communities with outstanding new homes,” he says. “We work hard to deliver a very high level of total customer satisfaction for each and every homeowner.”
1161 Breuckman Drive
2300A Ramblewood Drive
Four Winds Hotel
11111 Wilson Rd.
New Buffalo, Mich.
Finding a “getaway” has little to do with geographic distance—it’s more about adjusting one’s state of mind. Perhaps this is why readers so appreciate the Four Winds Hotel, which, though conveniently nearby for Region residents, is miles away from the same old, same old.
Whether relaxing by the pool, enjoying the exciting entertainment and gaming options or simply indulging in a midday nap in their luxuriously appointed room—all of which are delivered with the highest standard of service—Four Winds guests can marvel at the fact that a world-class resort experience is available so close to home.
“We work hard to please our guests, so we’re thrilled to be recognized for our efforts,” says Mary Jo Smith, vice president of hotel operations. “There’s not a day that goes by when we aren’t thinking about our customer experience and how we can make it even better.”
Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa
777 Blue Chip Drive
The Boulevard Inn & Bistro
521 Lake Blvd.
St. Joseph, Mich.
Best Insurance Agent
Todd J. Avery
State Farm Insurance
2300 Ramblewood Dr. E.
“We’re eager to make a positive impact in people’s lives,” says Todd J. Avery. “And we try to engage throughout the community by being involved in civic and service organizations, foundations and events.”
Describing himself and his team of three full-time staff members “as energized,” Avery says that he grew up in the Region and is proud to call it his home and honored to serve the community and be recognized by it.
State Farm Insurance
270 W. 80th Place
State Farm Insurance
6629 W. U.S. Hwy. 30
Best Insurance Local Agency/Team
Meyers Glaros Group
222 Indianapolis Blvd.
"It's a team effort with all the employees working together for the benefit of the clients," said Jeff Meyers, president of the Meyers Glaros Group. "Our clients seem to recognize that and acknowledge it. We are doing everything we can for the client.
The business dates back to 1931, when it was the Hammond Insurance Agency. It branched out to include the Employer Benefits Systems, and the two were merged in 2014 as the Meyers Glaros Group. According to its website, four generations of the Meyers and Glaros families have worked for the company.
It has 15 employees and insures everything from homes and autos to businesses from "mom-and-pop" operations to large industrial and national accounts.
Meyers said the company's success "ultimately comes down to a great team of people caring for out customers.
155 S. Calumet Rd.
2600 Roosevelt Rd.
7114 Calumet Ave.
Best Kitchen/Bath Remodeling
8900 Wicker Ave. (U.S. Hwy. 41)
“Our company strives to have the best and most competitive pricing in the Region no matter a customer’s budget,” said Kitchen Division Manager Greg Schilling. “We make sure that the job is done on time and error-free, and I think those things are what customers appreciate most.”
The company dates back 73 years, started by Schilling’s grandfather and his twin brother just after World War II. It’s a Christian, family-owned company with a third generation carrying on the mission of meeting the needs of customers in creating the home spaces of their dreams. Offering design, color selection assistance and help to coordinate cabinets with countertops and backsplash cabinet hardware and flooring, it’s that effort of going the extra mile for customers that brings them back, spurs recommendations and sets Schillings apart.
With locations in St. John and also Mokena, Ill., service is available within about a 35-mile radius of each location.
“Our employees take pride in providing customers with their dream kitchen or bath,” said Schilling. “They take time to meet with customers to understand all of their wants and needs while ensuring a functional space for the customer.”
Von Tobel Lumber & Hardware
Maruszczak Appliance Services
7809 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(U.S. Hwy. 30 and Cline Avenue)
Best Landscaping/Tree Service
Alsip Home & Nursery
10255 Wicker Ave.
20601 S. La Grange Rd.
If you are looking for trees or shrubs, either to plant on your own or to have planted at a home or business, Alsip Home & Nursery is the place to go. Richard Christakes, who owns the business with his brother, David, that was purchased by their father, Bill, nearly 50 years ago, calls their place “the largest and most complete nursery store in the Region” and said that they carry just about any tree, plant or shrub you could be looking for.
Christakes is an Indiana certified horticulturist, and he’s one of several knowledgeable, friendly staff members eager to help customers create beautiful outdoor areas. His planting crew foreman, Steve Preda, has 15 years experience and a fleet of state-of-the-art equipment to make sure every job is done right.
“We have thousands of trees in stock and offer planting service. We’re the main supplier to most of the professional landscape installation companies in the area,” said Christakes.
A new landscape supply building just opened at the St. John location with two showrooms and a design studio. Alsip also operates a nearly 200,000-square-foot greenhouse in Kingsbury, Ind.
Allen Landscape Center
1502 W. U.S. Hwy. 30
R.A.L. Landscaping & Garden Center
6616 W. Lincoln Hwy. (U.S. Hwy. 30)
Best Law Office
Tauber Law Offices
1415 Eagle Ridge Drive
In 2012, siblings Tara and Jared Tauber joined with their father, Rhet Tauber, to establish Tauber Law Offices in Schererville to serve the legal needs of clients in the Region. Rhet’s experience covers 40 years in the legal profession and Tara and Jared each came to the practice with a decade of practicing law. Between the three, they are able to provide a number of legal services, from personal injury and business law to family law, adoption, estate planning, civil litigation, and municipal law.
“I think our customer service is what sets us apart,” said Jared. “I’m not sure anyone else has better customer service. We have a great support staff and our facilities.”
“I think clients appreciate when we can help them on the business or injury side and then they can come back when they need estate planning or help with other issues," said Tara. "And the No. 1 complaint of clients is when they can’t get ahold of their lawyer. We try to make it so our clients don’t have that issue."
"Clients usually don’t go more than a day without hearing back from us. We try to be as responsive as possible,” added Jared.
Kenneth J. Allen Law Group
1109 Glendale Blvd.
3700 E. Lincoln Hwy. (U.S. Hwy. 30)
Rubino, Ruman, Crosmer & Polen
275 Joliet St. Suite 330
Best Photography Studio
Kristen Garza Photography
3616 W. 80th St. (Garden Plaza)
When you are trusting someone to capture moments in your family’s lives that will hang on your wall and be passed down to the next generations, you want someone qualified and creative and passionate about what they do. That’s what you will find in Kristen Garza Photography. Kristen Garza, owner and lead photographer, believes in “quality over quantity.”
“That’s exactly what you get when you book with my company,” she said. “KG Photography takes the time perfecting high-quality portraits for a reasonable price while also creating those beautiful memories that last a lifetime.”
Unlike some studios that retain rights to your photos and require you to purchase expensive prints only through them, clients of KG Photography own the photos they receive. “There are no strings and no extra fees after the session is completed,” she said.
Garza believes she is unique in the dedication and number of hours put in to creating one-of-a-kind photos. “I am always looking into doing new things and trying new ideas,” she said. Family and child photography is a large focus of the business, but the range of customers is wide and KG Photography covers everything from newborns to weddings. She also shoots at various parks and beaches in Northwest Indiana.
10971 Four Seasons Place
Matt Bigelow Photography
Best Place for an Oil Change
Drive & Shine
1350 U.S. Hwy. 41 N.
Frank Hatami of Drive & Shine is proud that the business pays even entry-level employees well above minimum wage and its managers make $25 an hour.
“We also provide health insurance,” he says. “It’s a philosophy of values. We truly believe that our best assets are our employees so we make sure to train them and provide good wages and benefits like the best corporations. That way we get and retain the best people.”
Hatami says it invests a lot in training their employees, who, in turn, provide customers with the best service.
“That way our customers are both happy and satisfied, and that’s what’s most important,” he says, adding that the technicians replace not only oil but also every fluid a car needs. “And we never stop improving what we do. Change is good.”
The Duke of Oil
Oil N’ Go
2806 Calumet Ave.
TLC Plumbing Inc.
235 N. Lindberg St.
Give customers prompt, great service they can count on and word gets around, says Terry Cheek, owner of TLC Plumbing, Inc. “You can profess to be the best in town, but it’s when customers tell their neighbors and friends about how much they appreciated your work that you actually prove it,” he says.
TLC Plumbing can handle jobs including water heaters, basement waterproofing, sump pumps and much more, from home repairs to commercial jobs and new construction. Being an Indiana-licensed waste hauler means TLC is there for homeowners who are on septic systems.
"We're also there for emergency calls with trucks ready to go, because if you have a gas leak or broken pipes, you need immediate attention," says Cheek. "We will provide courteous and thoughtful attention at every job.
“We get affirmation from our customers that we continue to work with integrity and honesty.”
Reichelt Plumbing Inc.
451 Winston Court
2839 Highway Ave.
Best Real Estate -- Agent
2166 45th St.
With hundreds of transactions closed and millions of dollars in properties sold last year, Lisa Thompson and her team understand what it takes to help their clients reach their real estate goals.
“We definitely know the market; we definitely have the experience,” said Thompson, who has been in real estate for about 14 years.
Thompson said she strives to build a trusting relationship with her clients.
She said it can be stressful for people when they are looking to purchase or sell a home, and it's necessary to have a real estate agent who is 100 percent honest so there are no surprises along the way.
“Especially in a fast-moving marketplace, you need someone you can trust and move you in the right direction,” Thompson said.
She said her team shares her same ethics and values, and their commitment is what keeps their clients coming back and referring the team to others.
Gina Guarino (Coldwell Banker)
20 U.S. Hwy. 30
Tiffany Dowling (Century 21 Affiliated)
713 B Indianapolis Blvd.
Best Real Estate: Local Agency/Team
McColly Real Estate
McColly Real Estate was founded in 1947 by Ronald F. McColly, and today it is the largest independently owned real estate company in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago Southland. With 15 offices in Northwest Indiana serving Lake, Porter, Jasper and LaPorte Counties, McColly is there to help you find your dream home or sell your home as you move onto a new phase in life.
“McColly Real Estate is an independent brokerage that is truly locally owned and operated,” said Monica Decker, director of marketing & technology. “We have very deep-rooted ties to the local communities. For all-purpose real estate, we are the one-source for in-house mortgage, title, real estate services and more.”
The McColly professionals aim to make the experience feel seamless, and customer satisfaction is a huge priority.
“Our agents live and work in the Region, so they are authorities on the great amenities that Northwest Indiana has to offer. Plus, through our McColly Charities, our agents actively participate in our annual drives that give back to the local communities,” said Decker. “Ron McColly constantly encourages the agents to educate themselves on the latest industry news and emerging technologies.”
McColly Real Estate ranked No. 159 in the 2018 Real Trend's Top 500 Brokers in the U.S. based on closed transactions and No. 37 nationally for the Top Leading Real Estate Companies of the World affiliates.
Century 21 Affiliated
1333 169th St.
“We’re very honored that the people of the Region voted for us,” says Kali Zaremba, marketing coordinator at the now employee owned Korellis Roofing, in business for 58 years.
Zaremba attributes the win to the company’s commitment of “making our roofers safe, well-trained and provided with the latest and best technology.”
Call it trickle down, but at Korellis they believe happy employees translate to better customer care resulting in a lot of repeat customers.
“A lot of people, when they think about roofers, they think about guys tearing off or putting up shingles,” says Zaremba. “But there’s much more than that. We provide our guys with carts to remove garbage, trash chutes to easily remove materials from the roof, and stand up equipment so they’re not bending over all the time. Our guys are even equipped with tablets in the field so they don’t have to deal with paperwork and they can get things done on-site. It saves time and that’s good for our customers.”
The company has expanded its training program through the Korellis Institute.
“It’ll provide on-site training that’s supplemental to their union training,” she says. “We want our roofers to be safe and our customers to feel comfortable that we’re doing everything we can for their safety.”
M&M Home Remodeling Services
1877 E. Summit St.
3488 Eagle Nest Drive
4540 Wabash Ave.
Best Veterinarian/Animal Care
St. John Animal Clinic
8661 Wicker Ave.
Furry friends are like family, and it’s important to find a veterinary clinic that you can trust to take care of your pet. St. John Animal Clinic is a large facility with seven caring veterinarians able to help with any pet issue you may encounter.
“We are honored to have been voted Best of the Region for the third time and thank everyone who votes for us. As our patients and clients know, we take pride in the service and care we provide,” said Shirley Niebling, practice manager. “Our doctors strive to offer the best options for our patients. For example, one is becoming certified to provide acupuncture therapy and another is certified ‘Fear Free,’ which helps us maintain a fear-free environment for our patients.”
St. John Animal Clinic has been part of the community for nearly five decades. “We love to give back to our community through being a donation drop off for Best Buddy's Pet Pantry and we hold a fund raiser every holiday season and donate to different non-for profit organizations,” said Niebling. “We have been very blessed and privileged to take care of our clients and patients for almost 50 years. Thank you for this honor and we look forward to continue caring for your fur-babies here for another 50.”
Cone Veterinary Center
Hobart Animal Clinic
2650 E. State Road 130