Business & Finance

Hunterdon Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame To Induct First Class of Honorees

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A turn of the century post card showing the campus of Custom Alloy, an inductee of the Hunterdon County Business Hall of Fame.
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FLEMINGTON, N.J. The Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce Foundation will honor some of the county’s most distinguished leaders of community and industry Sep.14 at the Ryland Inn as the first class of laureates are inducted into the newly formed Hunterdon County Business Hall of Fame.

The 2017 inductees and the honor they will receive are:

Pioneer Award – a business that has years that has brought growth, prestige and new industry to early Hunterdon County.

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Custom Alloy will be honored with the Pioneer Award, recognizing a rich Hunterdon history that dates back to 1742 when Union Ironworks was established at what we now know as the Custom Alloy corporate headquarters in High Bridge. The early 1700s discovery of iron ore in the hills of High Bridge and abundant hardwood and water for power sealed an iconic corporate history for the borough. Originally a production site for farm equipment, the plant supplied General George Washington’s army with cannonballs, as well as armaments for the Civil, Spanish-American, and both World Wars. Over the last 50 years, Custom Alloy has become a premier global provider of time critical manufacturing services.

Distinguished Leader – individuals that have enhanced the community, fostered business and community partnership through their leadership, courageous thought and entrepreneurial spirit.

Distinguished Leader inductee Peter G. Verniero, former Associate Justice of the state Supreme Court and Attorney General, is honored for his many years of service to the community. Appointed by Gov. Christine Todd Whitman as her chief counsel, Verniero served in that capacity from January 1994 to February 1995, when he became the governor’s chief of staff. He remained in that position until July 1996, when he became the state's Attorney General. He was appointed to the state Supreme Court from 1999 to 2004. As an associate justice for a five-year period from September 1999 to August 2004, he authored and signed 124 judicial opinions in many different areas. Today, Verniero is member of the law firm of Sills, Cummis & Gross and Chair of the firm’s Corporate Internal Investigations and Appellate Practice Groups.

The Creter family, a Distinguished Leader inductee, owns and operates Flemington Granite and Architectural Supply, which manufactures and installs kitchen and bathroom countertops, as well as indoor and exterior architectural and landscaping products. The company is a division of a family owned manufacturing firm that has provided five generations of service in the concrete, masonry and stone industry since 1918. Flemington Granite’s sales and manufacturing facility occupies more than 25,000 square feet, utilizes state-of-the-art equipment, and employs an educated sales and design team.

Contemporary Award – a commercial, for-profit business established less than 100 years ago currently operating and based in Hunterdon that brings economic growth, prosperity and innovation to the community.

ShopRite of Hunterdon County will be recognized with the Contemporary Award. ShopRite is widely recognized for its tireless work in the community. ShopRite of Hunterdon President Joseph Colalillo’s father, Joseph A. Colalillo, had been a store meat department manager and opened his first ShopRite on Main Street in Flemington in 1958. He moved it several years later to Route 202-31 in Raritan Township. The family then opened a store in Clinton, later moving it to neighboring Franklin Township. The company also owns stores in Greenwich in Warren County, and Bethlehem and Yardley in Pennsylvania. The company has more than 1,100 employees and Colalillo believes ShopRite of Hunterdon “associates” are key to the company’s success and offers the staff a wide range of benefits designed to foster personal development and growth.

Essence of Hunterdon – an organization or individual that has enhanced the community, fostered business and community partnership through leadership, courageous thought and entrepreneurial spirit.

Honorees Senator George H. Large, his son and grandson, respectively George K. Large and Edwin K. Large, Jr., are well known in Hunterdon for their public and private leadership in many capacities. Sen. George H. Large was known statewide for his consistent advocacy for Hunterdon. Among many achievements, he served as President of the state Senate and, in that capacity, as Acting Governor for several months while Gov. Robert S. Green was out of the state. George K. Large clerked under his father and went on to a distinguished legal career, appointed the Judge of Hunterdon County’s Court of Common Pleas and Judge Large often served in Essex County as well. During the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping trial, Attorney General David Wilentz tapped Judge Large to become Assistant Attorney General during the trial, putting him on the prosecution team. Edwin clerked in the Flemington law firm of his grandfather, Sen. George H. Large, and his uncle, Judge George K. Large, and while a law student at Columbia assisted his uncle on the Lindbergh trial. Following the family tradition of civil service, Edwin became one of the longest-serving Hunterdon County Counsels, serving for more than 30 years, and donating his fees for this work to various county social welfare, and athletic organizations. As County Counsel he was one of the leaders of the successful fight to prevent the state from putting a major international airport in Readington. The Hunterdon County Chamber Foundation purchased the historic Reading-Large House on Main Street in Flemington last year. Unity Bank has donated $100,000 to establish the Unity Bank Center for Business & Entrepreneurship at the Large House, with the aim of becoming a place of training and support for all of Hunterdon's businesses. The facility is undergoing a major renovation.

An illustration of early Hunterdon industrial history and a treasured landmark, Clinton’s famous Red Mill is an Essence of Hunterdon inductee. The Red Mill is often hailed as the most photographed building in New Jersey and it has been featured in numerous films, calendars and advertising campaigns. Ralph Hunt built the earliest section of the Red Mill to process wool sometime around 1810 and the mill functioned in a variety of capacities until 1928. Today, the Red Mill is recognized as a beautiful and iconic facility that has become a charming museum, community center and educational resource.

“The Business Hall of Fame will be a great opportunity to honor those organizations, industries and individuals that have contributed over the past 300 years to the history of Hunterdon County and our business community,” said Chris Phelan, Chamber Foundation President. “The Hall of Fame is also a teaching opportunity to inspire both our current businesses throughout the county in addition to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurship. For Hunterdon County to continue to succeed in the years ahead we need strong business and business leaders who can continue to inspire us.”

­The Business Hall of Fame will have a permanent display at the Foundation in the Reading-Large House. ­A traveling kiosk for the Hall of Fame will be exhibited throughout the county at businesses, public locations and schools. ­The kiosk will share videos featuring honorees and their contributions to Hunterdon.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. at the Ryland Inn, 115 Old Highway 28, Whitehouse Station. Tickets are $200 each for the fundraising event, which will also include a silent auction with donated items from local artists available. The event is black tie optional with hors d’oeuvres, elegant serving stations, beverages and dessert provided. For more information, please contact the Foundation at 908-782-7115 or visit www.hunterdon-chamber.org.

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