With more than 120 years as a family-owned business in Northwest Indiana, Centier Bank has learned something about doing business, again being voted Best Bank by readers of The Times.
“It is truly an honor that the readers continue to recognize Centier as the Region’s best bank,” President and CEO Mike Schrage said. “Our philosophy of providing a true community banking experience and a dedication to grow alongside our communities has given us the ability over the years to get to know our clients in a manner no other bank can match.
“While we continue to grow throughout the state, the Region is our home. With our ‘Not for sale’ promise, our family will continue to ensure Centier will always be supporting the Northwest Indiana community through building relationships and giving back to the causes and initiatives that make our community so great.”
Best Car Repair Shop
Levin Tire & Service Center
Since 1918, Levin Tire & Service Center has been taking care of Northwest Indiana’s cars and trucks, and for the last 11 years the customers have been taking care of Levin by voting them the Best of the Region in The Times poll.
The business has grown from a gas station to an auto repair shop to a full-service tire and auto repair shop in its 101-year history.
“We offer products and services at pricing that is competitive with the big chains while providing great customer service, building relationships with our customers and their vehicles,” Dan Trzeciak, marketing and IT manager, said.
"While it is important that we continue to offer the products and services our customers need, it is just as important to have the best team behind the counters and in the garages,” Trzeciak said. “The customers know they are going to get an experienced person at Levin, which keeps them coming back and helps us continue to be a Best of the Region winner.”
McInnis Automotive Service
1901 U.S. Hwy. 41
Tom & Ed's Autobody
Best Car Wash
Drive and Shine
1350 U.S. Hwy. 41 North
When Drive and Shine car wash opened 19 years ago, it was bad news for any other car wash hoping to win the Best Car Wash honor in The Times’ annual readers' poll. The business extended its streak to 19 with a first-place finish this year.
“We really take pride in what we do,” owner Frank Hatami said. “We operate by taking care of the customers. We employ the best, and we pay them more than anybody else in the area. When you have great employees, it means they do a great job for the customers. We will bend over backwards to please them in the car wash, the detailing and the oil change.”
Combine that with regularly updating the equipment, moving forward with the advancing technology, and using ecofriendly soaps and the addition of free vacuums and you have a streak tough to top.
“We do not want to be a dinosaur. We believe in never stopping improving,” Hatami said.
9425 Indianapolis Blvd.
1779 U.S. Hwy. 41
1637 45th St. (West Glen Park Avenue)
1303 Vale Park Rd.
1492 Main St.
Best Child Care Center
The Adventure Club
105 E. Joliet St.
A little campaigning with flyers and rubber bracelets might have helped The Adventure Club win its second Best Child Care Center honor in The Times annual poll of reader favorites.
With centers set up in 18 area schools providing care for more than 1,800 kids before school starts and after classes are done for the day, The Adventure Club is unlike any other, Chief Operating Officer Sandy Langbehn said.
“We have a magnetic board at all the sites where the kids can choose what they want to do,” Langbehn said. “We are teaching them to make good choices in life. They can choose things like the homework zone, sports, drama, science, advanced art, music and language lessons. We tap into the talents of our staff.”
Being in the schools, the kids go right from the center to class and then back after school without needing to be bused. It’s has proven to be the right choice for many area families.
Wonder Years Learning Center
1838 45th St.
14795 W. 101st Ave.
Growing Kids Learning Center
1828 S. 11th St.
3400 Campbell St.
Best Cleaning Service
MaidPro Northwest Indiana
1599 E. 93rd Ave.
Cleaning homes is a very personal process, something Yohanni Hedges, franchise owner of Maid Pro Northwest Indiana, knows well.
“We understand everyone has their own preference on how to clean their home, so we like to get to know our clients to get to know what their nitpick is,” she says.
According to Hedges, one of the most important parts of her business is customer service, and they thrive on feedback.
“We put notes on the account of what to do and not to do. We try to tell clients, let us know, anything you want us to do better next time so we can put that on the account with the hope that we provide the same consistent service.
“We are a human service so errors can happen, so we ask our customers to call us if there’s something not to their expectation and we can come back. We want to hear that feedback from them,” Hedges says.
What’s the secret to her success?
“Definitely my employees,” Hedges says. “We try to hire the best and also provide a good training service, and also the support we get from MaidPro corporate is great.”
64 W. 67th Place
700 Commerce Drive, Suite 500
Oak Brook, Ill.
Steam N Gleam
9765 Aster Cove
Best Concrete Repair
Davis Concrete Correctors
12605 Polk St.
For Davis Concrete Correctors, it’s all concrete, but every job is unique.
“We try to have concern for the individual person,” says Steve Davis, owner of Davis Concrete Correctors. “We’re looking to put ourselves in their shoes and to do a job for them as if we were doing it for ourselves.”
Davis Concrete Correctors services include concrete raising, foundation repair, basement waterproofing, basement crack repair, basement wall bracing and straightening for bowed walls, and crawlspace encapsulation.
“We get a lot of one-of-a-kind situations, too, where we come up with a solution and fix it,” he says.
Since 1998, Davis Concrete Correctors has been serving Northwest Indiana, after branching off from a family business based in Illinois. The business has grown every year, with an average of 12-15 employees and about 700-800 individual jobs per year.
“Our focus is the needs of our customers, the service, to provide a quality solution to the needs of our customers that they cannot provide for themselves,” Davis says.
White's Custom Concrete
Grisolia's Concrete Work
1434 Calumet Ave.
Best Credit Union
Tech Credit Union
Tech Credit Union has provided much-needed financial services for its members for generations. Established in 1936, Tech Credit Union believes members deserve a better option to help plan every stage of their financial lives.
“We seek the solutions that are always in your best interest,” says Michael Hussey, president and CEO of Tech Credit Union.
In addition to timeless quality service, Tech Credit Union provides state-of-the-art financial services including consumer, business and mortgage services.
“No matter where you are today, you can count on Tech Credit Union to guide you with the options that set you on the right path to reach your financial goals,” Hussey says.
“We are very pleased to receive recognition of the value we provide to the community,” he says. “It is an honor that our members and Times readers have voted us Best Credit Union again.”
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.”
The Door Store
235 Ridge Rd.
M&M Home Remodeling Services
1877 E. Summit St.
3488 Eagle Nest Drive
100 N. Griffith Blvd.
Valparaiso – 219-934-7928
Lowell – 219-225-2050
Since 1951, Meyers Companies has provided quality electrician services to Northwest Indiana.
"We’re all about service, that’s really what we are. It’s all about serving our customers,” says Joe Yothment, who purchased the business in 2012 with Paul Starcevich. “It’s always exciting to be recognized in our community as doing a good job in the trades and being able to service our customers.”
The secret to Meyers Companies’ success is rooted in its employees, Yothment says.
“We’re very blessed to have extremely talented employees. We’re constantly training, we’re constantly reminding our employees that when we’re at someone’s house we are to treat them with the utmost respect and always keeping the customer satisfy.”
Cliff's Heating and Air Conditioning
344 Kennedy Ave.
Maglish Plumbing Heating and Electrical
5705 Old Porter Rd.
Best Financial Advisers
Centier Financial Partners
600 E. 84th Ave.
Longtime Region institution Centier remains a dedicated member of the community, whether by participating in local events or serving its customers’ financial goals.
“Centier’s entire team of financial experts is proud to once again be honored by the readers of the Northwest Indiana Times for our sound trust, investment and retirement advice. We take pride in our individualized approach to each clients’ goals and needs, enabling our team to provide personalized service to satisfy our clients,” explained Tim Coleman, senior vice president and director of Centier Financial Partners.
“Our experienced professionals work diligently to tailor our suite of services, no matter how complex or simple the client’s needs are. Once people experience the Centier difference, they understand our commitment to achieving their financial goals is unmatched. Every Centier Financial Partners associate, from our administrators to our trust and investment professionals, is dedicated to providing superior service and memorable experiences.”
55 W. 94th Place
Best Heating and Cooling
Illiana Heating & Air Conditioning
11407 Wicker Ave.
According to Kevin Frump, General Manager of Illiana Heating & Air Conditioning, the secret to its success is all about the people.
“Our people and our willingness to invest in both finding as well as keeping the best people that we can to serve our customers,” he says.
Illiana Heating is proud to be recognized as Best of the Region for the 8th year in a row, he said.
“We are ecstatic, this is our 8th year in a row, so we are extremely grateful to our customers and clients that they have taken the time to once again express their feelings about Illiana being the best of the region.”
What makes them the best? Frump says it’s the Golden Rule.
“We certainly are going to treat our customers the way we want to be treated,” he said. “We are Christian owned and operated, and we try to make that as evident as possible to our customers. When they call them, they’re usually without heating or without cooling so it’s a really bad day for them, so we try to make the process as pleasant as possible for them.”
100 N. Griffith Blvd.
Popa Heating & Cooling
2643 Highway Ave.
Best Home Builder
8051 Wicker Ave.
Since 1961, Olthof Homes has been fulfilling its mission “to inspire better living by building better homes and communities” — and it shows.
“That touches so many areas,” says Todd Olthof. “It’s not about us; it’s about the customer and we work hard to really deliver to the customer the best value for them; for the things they are looking for in a new home.”
In the last few years, Olthof Homes has expanded into the Indianapolis area.
“We got started in central Indiana in the last few years, but really our home and where we do most of our work is right here in Northwest Indiana,” Olthof says.
In addition to staying on top of design trends, Olthof’s Design Center makes it easy for buyers to customize their own homes, according to Olthof.
“In all of our home collections the customer can come to the Design Center and they can pick out everything for their new home. There are planned configurations and different finishes for every room in the house,” he says.
“We make it really simple and enjoyable, and we’ve got a great design team that works with our customers. We’ve got hardwood floors and granite countertops, everything that buyers are looking for.”
9700 Industrial Drive
New Castle Homes
1949 Harder Court
Four Winds Hotel
11111 Wilson Rd.
New Buffalo, Mich.
For a luxurious, personalized experience, Northwest Indiana residents know where to go: The Four Winds Hotel, attached to the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Mich.
“We truly appreciate every guest who visits and want them to feel special from the moment they arrive. We maintain the highest standards so our guests can come and enjoy a resort getaway,” says Melinda Pierce, public relations representative for Four Winds Casino.
She says the exceptional employees at Four Winds create a welcoming environment with every service they perform.
“Our success is because of our employees; they are simply the very best in the business. Many of our staff have been here since we opened the hotel. They know their customers and understand what it takes to provide impeccable guest service,” she says.
In addition to proximity to all the fun the casino floor has to offer, the Four Winds Hotel offers amenities such as luxurious beds in beautifully decorated rooms, room service delivered in style, and an outdoor oasis with poolside bar.
Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa
777 Blue Chip Drive
3158 Ind. Hwy. 2
Best Insurance Agent
270 W. 80th Place
In all Jason Rakos’ experience as an insurance agent, he has learned that there’s no place he’d rather be than with State Farm.
“I always say if you’re going to work in the industry, you want to work for the best,” he says. “The way the company is run, the way the corporate office listens to their agents, it’s far better than any other company could ever be.”
In addition to being backed by a great company, Rakos makes it his mission to personalize everything with regard to his clients.
“We all do sales and sell policies, but to me the most important thing is to be there when they have their most need — when they have a claim. I take that as my No. 1 thing that I do. So when they have a claim, I come in, I will call the other person’s insurance company. I will guide them step by step with our claims department.
“If you’re there with them in their time of need, they’ll stay with you forever.”
According to Rakos, he could not provide this type of service without his staff.
“I have four employees, they’re all personal friends of mine, and they are everything in my business. Without them I am nothing,” he said.
Brown Insurance Group
9105-A Indianapolis Blvd., Suite 300
6629 W. U.S. Hwy. 30
Best Insurance - Local Agency/Team
Meyers Glaros Group
222 Indianapolis Blvd. Suite 203
For more than 100 years, Meyers Glaros Group has been putting its clients first.
“The secret to our success is simple: Treat people the way you want to be treated. We have an amazing team of people here at Meyers Glaros Group that love what they do,” says Jeff Meyers, president. “That's why whether you are one of our biggest business clients with tens of thousands of people working at locations all over the U.S. or a local ‘mom and pop’ operation, you get a live person on the phone when you call and a team of people dedicated to your business. Our individual clients get the same dedication to their personal insurance needs as well.”
The two families who own the company – the Meyers family and the Glaros family – span four generations of insuring countless employers and people throughout Northwest Indiana and beyond.
“We are proud of our Indiana roots and while the name and location have changed over the years as we grow (soon we will be in our new headquarters in Merrillville) we have always been and will continue to be a locally owned business with a focus on Northwest Indiana and the surrounding Chicagoland area,” says Meyers.
Brown Insurance Group
9105-A Indianapolis Blvd., Suite 300
155 S. Calumet Rd.
2600 Roosevelt Rd., Suite 2007
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 74 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.”
Maruszczak Appliance Services
7809 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(U.S. Hwy. 30 and Cline Avenue)
Von Tobel Lumber & Hardware
Best Landscaping/Tree Service
Alsip Home & Nursery
10255 Wicker Ave.
20601 S. LaGrange Rd.
One look at the bounty of flowering annuals, hanging baskets, colorful vegetables and abundant perennials filling out row after row in the greenhouses at both of its garden centers would seem to be enough to lock up the top spot in this category for Alsip. But the real draw for many longtime customers goes beyond the wide range of high-quality plants and landscape supplies on display; it has just as much to do with the dedicated staff who answers their questions, plants their trees and shrubs and helps find the right product for every situation.
“Our team has hundreds of years of experience collectively, and we pride ourselves on having an extremely knowledgeable staff,” says CEO Richard Christakes. “From our garden center to our entire planting crew, everyone at Alsip is dedicated to providing the best service possible to our loyal customers.”
Allen Landscape in Highland
2539 45th St.
R.A.L. Landscaping & Garden Center
6616 W. U.S. Hwy. 30
Best Law Office
Tauber Law Offices
1415 Eagle Ridge Drive
Looking for a law firm with a family vibe? Try Tauber Law, where two generations of the namesake family are on staff and ready to help clients with a wide variety of legal needs – from personal injury and probate to business law and estate planning. Together, attorneys Rhett, Jared and Tara Tauber embody more than a half century of experience serving Northwest Indiana clients.
“I think many of our clients really appreciate the family atmosphere that we try to embody at our office, while still handling every case in a professional manner,” Tara says. “They like to know that we make ourselves accessible and try very hard to always keep them informed about the status of their cases.”
Rubino, Ruman, Crosmer & Polen
275 Joliet St., Suite 330
Theodoros and Rooth P.C.
Best Place for an Oil Change
The Duke of Oil / AutoFix
When it comes to taking care of their cars, most people treat routine maintenance like a trip to the dentist — they want to get it done and over with. Maybe that’s why convenience is such a strong selling point, and why The Duke of Oil is so popular with local drivers.
With eight locations across the Region — two of which (Highland and Merrillville) are also home to AutoFix auto repair centers — the Duke makes it easy for customers to keep their cars running smoothly, whether they need a simple oil change, a new set of tires or a more complicated fix. Add in the competitive prices and friendly service that the Duke of Oil has become known for, and suddenly that “trip to the dentist” doesn’t seem nearly as bad.
Drive & Shine
1350 N. U.S. Hwy. 41
Oil ‘N’ Go
2806 Calumet Ave.
1492 Main St.
235 N. Lindberg St.
For most customers, the first and foremost concern when calling a plumber is that the person who comes out is going to be able to quickly and competently repair the broken pipe or leaky faucet. Plenty of plumbers know their way around the work itself. When it comes to standing out from the crowd, Terry Cheek believes the difference lies in the little things.
“The reason our customers recommend us to their friends and neighbors is not just the quality of our service, but the honesty and integrity with which we stand behind that service,” says the owner of TLC Plumbing. “We are so proud of our employees for providing courteous and thoughtful attention on every call, and for always taking the extra step to meet our customers' needs.”
451 Winston Court
1580 E. 90th Place
Best Photography Studio
Kristen Garza Photography
3616 W. 80th St. (Garden Plaza)
Regardless of the client or the occasion, Kristen Garza knows one simple truth about every photo session she books — those pictures capture a moment in time. So even as the ubiquity of cellphones with increasingly sophisticated cameras promises a future when almost every moment will somehow be digitally documented, Garza strives to bring an experienced eye for detail and that “something special” that will help make a client’s session truly memorable.
“I’m always looking for ways to go above and beyond for each session, like asking clients to bring in items from home to make their experience and their photos unique,” Garza notes. “I want them to leave happy, knowing I did my absolute best to help capture their memories.”
1201 Central Ave.
Matt Bigelow Photographer
Best Real Estate Agent - Individual
20 E. U.S. Hwy. 30
While she has received numerous awards in her 27 years in the real estate industry, Gina Guarino treasures the honor of being voted Best of the Region because it reflects not just her sales volume but also the reasons she got into the business.
Knowing that buying and selling real estate is a personal, stressful and emotional experience, Guarino and her team are driven to make the process as easy and seamless as possible. She's pleased to know that they’re succeeding in this regard.
“My No. 1 passion is helping people,” she says. “I thrive on exceeding my clients’ expectations by my commitment to quality and dedication to upholding the highest standards of service, so I am very grateful, humbled and honored for the confidence and support this award conveys.”
2166 45th St.
8080 E. 109th Ave.
Best Real Estate Agency - Local Company/Team
McColly Real Estate
While plenty of businesses like to tout their ties to the community, there are few areas where that kind of intimate local knowledge really pays off quite like real estate. McColly Real Estate founder Ron McColly was born and raised in Lake County, and has long believed that a deep understanding of a community is crucial to finding the right home for a client.
“We are and always have been a locally owned and operated business,” says Monica Decker, the director of marketing and technology at McColly Real Estate, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019. “Our agents live in the markets we serve, so they truly know all the amenities that are offered to make the home buying process easier. As an independent firm, we have the freedom to tailor our business services to what we believe our local consumers want.”
421 W. U.S. Hwy. 30
1333 169th St.
What began as a humble residential roofing operation out of Hammond almost six decades ago has evolved into one of the most experienced and well-respected firms in the area, creating some of the most durable and energy-efficient roofing systems in the local commercial and industrial markets.
Now with a focus on looking ahead for the latest innovations, treating customers the right way and putting safety at the top of the priority list for every job, Korellis Roofing draws on the collective knowledge and job experience of a skilled veteran team to work with every type of roofing material from every manufacturer. And even as the skill set of that team broadens to incorporate everything from green roofing and masonry restoration to tuckpointing and thermal imagery, the ultimate goal remains the same – to exceed the customer’s expectations as a contractor and partner.
“Every day we strive to provide the best service, attract and retain the best workers, use the best products and technology, have the best atmosphere and culture and, above all, to build the best roof,” says office manager Kali Zaremba. “We want to be in the community doing the best job because we care about our customers, our employees and our reputation.”
4540 Wabash Ave.
M&M Home Remodeling Services
1877 E. Summit St.
3488 Eagle Nest Drive
Best Veterinarian/Animal Care
Coyne Veterinary Center
3411 Airport Rd.
10801 Wicker Ave.
Very few people (and even fewer pets) enjoy a trip to the animal clinic. Not only is it a hassle and an inconvenience, but those trips often are for incidents or conditions that can be scary, uncomfortable or painful. That’s why Coyne Veterinary Center goes out of its way to make sure the care pets receive at its three facilities – from routine checkups to more complex diagnoses – is professional and compassionate.
“As simple as it sounds, we really do care about our clients, and we try to treat them like family,” says Dr. John Coyne. “We’re always looking to go above and beyond to meet their needs in a variety of ways.”
St. John Animal Clinic
8661 Wicker Ave.
Lowell Animal Hospital
17645 Morse St.