Conway Center to Recognize Outstanding Accomplishments of Central Ohio Family Businesses

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

Sutphen Corporation, Howard Smith to Receive Highest Honors at Annual Awards Program. 

COLUMBUS, OH – The Conway Center for Family Business and hundreds of business leaders are set to honor leading Central Ohio family businesses at the 21st Annual Family Business Awards & Expo on Wednesday, November 13 at the Hilton Columbus in Easton Town Center, 3900 Chagrin Drive, Columbus, Ohio.

More than 40 family-owned businesses and advisors will be showcased at the Family Business Expo from 10:00 a.m. to Noon. This popular program allows businesses to connect and network before the awards luncheon, which is expected to attract more than 400 family business and community leaders.

The Family Business Awards Program was established in 1999 to recognize excellence in family business and has honored more than 250 Central Ohio family businesses. The 2019 awards program will recognize 28 Central Ohio businesses in eight categories. Angela An, 10TV Morning anchor, will once again emcee.

Family Business of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Recipients Revealed

The Conway Center annually recognizes a family business and family business leader with its highest awards: Family Business of the Year and Lifetime Achievement. The 2019 recipients include a long-standing Central Ohio family business and a distinguished member of the Columbus and Marion business communities. Each award winner has made significant contributions within their industries, grown their family businesses to reach international markets, and fostered multiple generations of family business in Central Ohio.

Family Business of the Year: Sutphen Corporation. Since 1890, Sutphen has continuously evolved its business through five generations. Sutphen is America’s longest continuously owned and operated fire apparatus manufacturer. Led by Drew Sutphen, president, Sutphen focuses on quality, craftsmanship and family values. It now includes five factories located throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania managed from its Dublin headquarters.

Lifetime Achievement: Howard Smith, president of Wilson Bohannan Lock Company. Since Smith became president in 1995, Wilson Bohannan’s sales have doubled, the company is now entirely self-sufficient in manufacturing and assembling all of its products and has never laid off an employee as a result of automation.

Additionally, Smith, who has been employed at Wilson Bohannan for 46 years, oversaw the development of a succession plan for the company’s 8th generation. Both of his daughters are in company leadership and Smith is mentoring the next generation to continue the company’s legacy. 

Awards will be presented to family businesses in six additional categories to recognize achievement in the many facets vital to family businesses, as well as those marking significant anniversaries. The full list is available at

The Family Business Awards Program is made possible through the generous support of Dispatch Media Group, First Merchants Bank, Gryphon Financial Partners, Ricart Automotive, Rider + Reinke Financial Group, and Taft/.

The Conway Center for Family Business is Central Ohio’s resource for educational programs, resources and networking opportunities to support the growth and success of family-owned businesses. The Center celebrates the successes of family-owned businesses at its annual awards program and offers peer group opportunities for next-generation leaders, family business leaders, and women family business owners. The organization includes more than 200 family-owned businesses from Central Ohio ranging in size from three to more than 35,000 employees.

2019 Conway Center for Family Business honorees include:

Community Engagement – Family businesses that have made a significant contribution to the Central Ohio community: Outreach Promotional Solutions
Re-Invention – Family businesses that have successfully adjusted their business strategy to address the changing business and societal demands The Watkins Printing Company
Succession Planning (Large Company) – A family business with more than 500 employees that developed a succession plan or transferred leadership. The Gordon Flesch Company
Succession Planning (Small Company) – A family business with fewer than 500 employees that developed a succession plan or transferred leadership. Johnson’s Real Ice Cream
Next-Gen – Recognizes a next generation leader who is making an impact in their business and in the Central Ohio business community. Chris D. Ahlum
Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation
Rising Star – Recognizes an emerging leader/next generation leader – family or non -family – who is making an impact in their business and in the Central Ohio business community. Andy Wasserstrom

Advance Sign Group


Twenty family businesses have reached a significant milestone in 2019, and the Conway Center will honor their achievements at the awards. These include:

115-year anniversary Stolly Insurance Group
100-year anniversary Harrop Industries, Inc.

Lynd Fruit Farm, Inc.

The Fred D. Pfening Company

70-year anniversary Kirk Williams Co., Inc.
65-year anniversary DāNite Sign Company
50-year anniversary Charles Penzone Incorporated
40-year anniversary Mid Ohio Strategic Technologies

Warman Productions

Cashmans Horse Equipment

Suburban Steel Supply Company

35-year anniversary Flood Heliarc, Inc.

Air Force One, Inc.


30-year anniversary Jendco Safety Supply

The IGS Family of Companies

25-year anniversary Advance Sign Group


20-year anniversary Choice Property Resources, Inc.
10-year anniversary C&A Benefits Group and Business Services