LORETTO - A Loretto businessman will be honored next month as Small Business Person of the Year by the St. Francis University Small Business Development Center.
James J. "Jay" Smithmyer, co-owner of Smithmyer's Superette, will receive the award at the SBDC's annual awards luncheon June 17 at the university.
Smithmyer's was started in 1965 by his parents, James and Eleanor Smithmyer, and his uncle Joseph Smithmyer as a small family-owned grocery store. Jay Smithmyer and his wife, Louise, acquired the business in 1972.
The business on St. Marys Street originally employed four family members and has grown to 22 employees today.
In addition to running the business, Smithmyer provides groceries, meats, produce and deli products to local churches and fire departments for fundraisers and makes donations to numerous organizations throughout the area.
Smithmyer was humbled by the award.
"I don't see how they can give it to one over another in these economic times. I don't know why I should be singled out when my wife has as much to do with it as I do," Smithmyer said. "It could be given to anyone who is running a small business in these hard times."
Smithmyer said he learned many things from his parents and uncle.
"I learned the importance of taking care of people and if you are in a position to help someone, you help them," Smithmyer said. "That is no different today than it was 40 years ago."
Smithmyer is a worthy recipient, said Ed Huttenhower, SBDC director.
"Jay and his business have succeeded and continued to grow in light of competition from Walmart and other larger stores. He has done a good job of looking at trends and determining his niche and exploiting that. He has an extremely good reputation for his meats. People come from a long way to buy meat from Smithmyer's," Huttenhower said.
"He has done very well for the size of his operation, and he has been pretty innovative," he added.
Others to be honored at the luncheon include:
n Richard Somiari of ITSI Bioscienes LLC, Johnstown, Small Business Exporter of the Year.
n John Horrell of KIZ Resources LLC, Altoona, Financial Services Advocate of the Year.
n Mike Lamb of Wessel & Co., Johnstown, Accountant Advocate of the Year.
n Linzi Biesinger of Altoona Beauty School, Altoona, Women in Business Advocate of the Year.
n Renee Staines of Altoona Dance Theatre, Altoona, Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
n State Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, the Richard Crawford Award given to an area legislator who has made significant contributions to the small business community and the economic development of the region served by the SBDC.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.