L-R: Eric Hofmeister and Hans Hofmeister, Spectra Print, Steve Cieslewicz, Whitetail Lanes Bar & Grill, Billie Sjomeling, U.S. Bank, Heidi Okray, Spectra Print, and Craig Aittama, Delta Dental of Wisconsin. (Courtesy PCBC)

Portage County Business Council honors businesses, industry leaders

Metro Wire Staff

Two Portage County businesses and two business leaders were recognized last week for their excellence in the Portage County business community.

The four were singled out for honors during the Portage County Business Council’s Annual Dinner Awards Banquet, held at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center on Jan. 25.

The Ambassador of the Year Award 

  • Billie Sjomeling, U.S. Bank

Sjomeling is a Business Banking Relationship Manager for U.S. Bank. She’s served hundreds of hours of volunteer time for the Portage County Business Council by attending ribbon cuttings, grand openings, ground breaking ceremonies, Business After Hours, Women in Business and many other events, visits new and existing businesses, and attends monthly committee meetings.

Sjomeling also serves on the board of for Ignite Young Professionals group, and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society of Portage County, Partners in Education, Asset Builders, Highway Cleanup and as a Bell Ringer for Salvation Army. In 2022 she won the “Board Member of the Year” Award from Ignite Young Professionals, which showcases her dedication to personal and professional development. 

The Small Business of the Year Award 

  • Whitetail Lanes Bar & Grill

Whitetail Lanes Bar & Grill, owner Steve Cieslewicz was selected from several nominees based on their growth and financial stability, dedication to customer services and community needs, personal commitment, and innovation efforts to identify a market niche.

Whitetail Lanes Bar & Grill, a locally owned bowling alley offering delicious food, beverages, entertainment, and private party groups first opened their doors in August, 2003 at 3689 County Road Q in Amherst Junction. They demonstrate their commitment to the community daily and it is evident through donations, community involvement and support to many organizations including Portage County K-9, Amherst Mill Pond, local K-12 schools, Portage County Business Council and Tomorrow River Business Association.

The Decree of Excellence Award 

  • Spectra Print

From their humble beginnings right here in Stevens Point in 1930 with just one person, to a company today employing more than 100 people Spectra Print’s growth has been a mixture of sweat equity, strategic risk taking, and even a little good luck. 

Spectra Print has become a leader not only in printing but in marketing, media and publishing…a total communications group. Their superb craftsmanship and technology in the creation, design and production of top-quality printing materials have earned them Graphic Excellence Awards. The competition featured more than 800 entries from 69 different companies and is one of the largest competitions in the graphic communications industry.

In the last two years, the company purchased and installed over $6,000,000 of new equipment. This equipment has allowed them to grow their sales and provide customers with quicker turn times which has allowed their team to take on challenges they couldn’t before and have the capacity for additional future growth. 

The President’s Award 

  • Craig Aittama, Vice President of Finance with Delta Dental of Wisconsin

Aittama provides inspirational leadership, successfully develops and manages financial goals, brings out the best in his team, and is committed to the success of Delta Dental and the community he serves.

He is on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for United Way of Portage County, as well serving on the Mental Health Task Force, LIFE report Task Force and Drive Chair Member. He has served on the Portage County Business Council Board of Directors since 2019 including Executive Committee, Treasurer and President. In addition, he volunteers his time as a driver for Meals on Wheels and has been doing so for over 26 years.

Karen Myers, the Director of Programs and Events for the Portage County Business Council, said that these four award recipients are among the best that the local business community has to offer.

“Their dedication to bettering our local community is another element that makes all four award winners unique and valuable parts of the Portage County community,” she said.  

The presenting sponsors of the event were Aventus Data Center and KerberRose. Award sponsors included CLA, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Greenfire, Nicolet National Bank, Sentry, Simplicity Credit Union, Van Horn Nissan of Stevens Point and WoodTrust Bank. Reception sponsors included Aspirus Health, Festival Foods, Keller, Inc., Steel King Industries, and The Dirks Group.

The media sponsor of the event WSAW TV-7 with popular meteorologist Chad Franzen as master of ceremonies.