Business persons and volunteers honored by the Seaford Chamber

Awards will be presented at the Chamber's Fall Dinner and Awards Ceremony on October 18, at the Seaford Fire Hall. Dinner is $25 per person. For reservations, contact the chamber office at 629-9690 or by Oct. 13.

Volunteer of the Year: Linda R. Gunson

Every year the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce selects a person or group of people that performs outstanding volunteer service for the Chamber. Chamber volunteers bring fresh, new ideas to the organization, work tirelessly to make activities fun and profitable, and help generally keep things running smoothly.

Linda Gunson is always out front offering program and decorating ideas for many of the Chamber events. She works closely with the executive director and the membership services committee in planning and executing new member breakfasts, staff appreciation luncheons, and membership dinners.

Linda also stepped up this year to help fill 40 gift bags for the "adopted" girls' softball players that were in Seaford for the Softball World Series. She has also worked tirelessly for the past two years making telephone calls and picking up donations for the annual auction held at the Fall Dinner and Awards Ceremony.

Linda was born in Chester, Pa., but has lived in Sussex County all her life. She is a 1969 graduate of Seaford High School and is married to Mike Gunson. Between them they have three sons, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Linda enjoys spending time with her family, reading, shopping, camping and traveling to interesting places.

Linda has a long career in banking. She began her career in 1982 with Girard, Georgetown. She held a number of positions at Mellon Bank for 13 years. Then in 1997 she joined County Bank and rose to the position of assistant vice president, Seaford branch manager in 2004.

Linda is a member of the Friends of the Seaford Library, the Acorn Club and the Business Women's Educational Foundation of Delaware.

Linda's enthusiasm is contagious and she makes every task more fun and much easier - and that is the reason she was selected to be the 2012 Volunteer of the Year.

Business Persons of the Year

T.S. Smith & Sons, Inc. 8887 Redden Road, Bridgeville, DE 19933 302-337-8271

The board of directors, along with the business and economic development committee of the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce has named Tom Smith, Charlie Smith and Matt Smith of T.S. Smith & Sons, Inc., Bridgeville, as Business Persons of the Year for 2012.

The success of any business depends upon its representation in the communities it serves, and that reputation is nearly always the result of a strong company leader or leaders. Each year since 1995, the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce has selected a "Business Person of the Year" that best meets the stringent criteria set out by the Business and Economic Development Committee currently under the leadership of committee chair, Rob Harman. The person or persons must have a substantiated record as an established business. The company has to have demonstrated growth through the years, have been innovative in its approach, and took pride in serving its customers. The business must contribute to the advancement of the community as a good place to live, work and play.

Three brothers now own and operate the working family farm located on Redden Road in Bridgeville. Tom, Charlie and Matt took different paths to reach where they are today.

Tom Smith graduated from Bridgeville High School and went on to earn bachelor and master's degrees in plant science from the University of Delaware. He worked in Lincoln, Neb., Gainesville, Fla. and Kalamazoo, Mich., as a field development representative and then field development manager for Amchen Products which was later purchased by Union Carbide and then Rhone Poulenc of Lyon, France. For his last three years, Tom worked in Raleigh, N.C., as a product development manager. He then returned to the family farm in Bridgeville and works in the farm market. Tom has two sons and he and his wife Bonnie live in Bridgeville.

Charlie Smith graduated from Woodbridge High School and went on to earn a bachelor of science degree from the University of Delaware in entomology and applied ecology. This wasn't without a "brief intermission" while Charlie pursued his musical interests by performing in clubs in Washington, D.C. and Seville Quarter of Pensacola, Fla. Charlie returned to the family farm in Bridgeville and has been there since. Charlie is a past president of the Bridgeville Lions Club, member of the Collins Pond Association, and past president of the Delaware Fruit Growers Association. Charlie has two sons and lives in Bridgeville.

Matt Smith graduated from Woodbridge High School and has taken a number of courses over the years. He joined the Delaware Air National Guard in 1987 and spent 24 years in the 142nd Aero Medical Evacuation Squadron, retiring as a master sergeant. Matt saw action in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Enduring Freedom and other overseas missions. He is a life member and past president of the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department and is a trained emergency medical technician. Matt also serves on the county committee for the Farm Service Agency. Matt and his wife Sherry, along with two daughters and two stepsons, live in Bridgeville.

Tom, Charlie and Matt wanted to make sure their sisters are acknowledged for contributing to the success of their farm business. Both sisters inherited their mother's cooking skills; Jenny Smith Towers lives in Sanford, Fla. and Susan Hayes lives in Bridgeville where she offers her famous apple cake and apple dumplings for purchase each fall. Susan works in the farm market as well and helps with special events held there.

The 800 acre T.S. Smith family farm has been in the family for four generations. It was established in 1907 by Thomas Sterling Smith. It is the state's oldest commercial apple and peach producer and Sussex County's only apple orchard. And while preserving the family history of the farm and its historic structures is important to Tom, Charlie and Matt, they have also created an atmosphere of innovation and sustainability.

The farm uses "best practices" in soil and water conservation with the use of no-till farming and crop rotation, along with drip irrigation and nutrient and pest management. A stream on the farm is a tributary of the headwaters of the Nanticoke River and is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. T.S. Smith is the only solar powered Delaware Century Farm; solar panels power the cold storage facility. T.S. Smith has created a loyal base of 30 to 40 dedicated farm workers who work for them in the peak season. Other longtime employees include store manager Ruth Lacy, packing house worker Bill Trice, mechanic Donald Rose, Andy Vanbushick, and Mary Lou Hammond and Rosalie Hastings who manage the office.

Innovation for the farm has come in part through the efforts of Greer Stangl who handles the marketing for the business. The farm is represented on the Delaware Agritourism Trails for summer and fall to reflect the wide variety of activities offered to the public throughout the year such as you pick, special events each season, wagon rides and farm tours. The farm's produce is served in many local restaurants and school cafeterias thanks to initiatives such as Farm to Table, Farm to School, and Local on the Menu that respond to the public's interest in fresh local food. T. S. Smith partnered with Great Shoals Winery to produce Delaware's first hard apple cider; Black Twig Hard Apple, which won an award in its first year and is sold in over 42 local and regional outlets. The farm participates in two farmer's markets (Milton and Orchard Point) and operates a retail location in Easton, Md.

The three brothers believe that producing a quality product at a reasonable price is part of the secret to keeping family farms solvent in tough times.

There is a lot of competition and it is no longer enough to simply have a good product for sale in their farm market, which is open from mid-April through December each year. They "pull together" when discussing innovative ideas to diversify the business further and to increase their visibility as a destination in western Sussex County. Recently they hosted the Dinner in the Orchard fundraiser to benefit the Food Bank of Delaware's downstate efforts. They plan to participate in additional farmers markets in 2013 and to increase their customized farm experiences offered to the public through private group events, farm tours, picnics, and special events for the public in the newly constructed pavilion on the farm.

Thirty five hundred fruit trees were planted in the spring of 2012, including apple, peach, cherry, plum, fig, quince and paw-paw. With that much faith in the future of the family farm, it is easy to see why T. S. Smith & Sons. Inc. was named the US Small Business Administration's 2012 Family-Owned Business of the Year for Delaware.

Barton's in Seaford - Phil Barton and Tim Conaway

The Board of Directors, along with the Business and Economic Development Committee of the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce has named Phil Barton and Tim Conaway of Barton's in Seaford as Business Persons of the Year for 2012.

Barton's is a "Family of Real World Solutions." Phil Barton started his career mowing lawns for John Wiest while in his teens. Phil moved the business to Seaford in 1990 and added landscaping, irrigation installation, hardscapes, hydroseeding, low voltage lighting and other services. In 1996, Phil partnered with Tim Conaway and they added a garden center to their enterprises. Three years later they expanded and became an independent Southern States dealer with 8,000 square feet of retail space.

Barton's grew the landscaping and lawn business in a little building on Sussex Highway to include the Southern States dealership, garden center, greenhouses and 250 rental units. They went on to open the Grand Rental Station in 2008 and then installed solar panels at that location. In the summer of 2011, they opened their mini-storage which has both indoor climate-controlled units and outdoor units. The front part of the mini-storage location now houses Don-Lee Margin.

Both Phil and Tim consider their biggest asset is the wonderful, qualified, loyal employees that have been with them for many years. They also believe there is no "secret" to their success they "just get up every day and go to work." They also recognize that you have to have a thorough knowledge of your business and realize that a business needs to see the market changes and be able to adjust rapidly.

They plan to "keep on doing what they are doing" to assure continued growth and will continue to promote within their pool of talented employees. Supporting local businesses will also be part of the foundation of their business success.

Phil graduated from Laurel High School and went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the University of Delaware. He has been married to Julie for 35 years and they have three children, Lindsey, Meagen and Brooke, and one grandchild, Alexander. Phil is a past member of the Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club.

Tim graduated from Laurel High School and has added some college courses. He is married to Julie and they have a daughter, Alexa. Tim was instrumental in getting the "Fields of Dreams" football fields installed at the Jay's Nest in Seaford.

Both Phil and Tim are avid outdoorsmen and Tim is a member of Ducks Unlimited. Together they received a Contractor of the Year award from NV Homes.

Community Involvement Award 2012

The Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize Dr. Marie C. Wolfgang with the Community Involvement Award for 2012.

Dr. Marie Wolfgang knew in eighth grade that she wanted to be a doctor. It was a logical decision considering her favorite subjects were science and math.

Dr. Wolfgang grew up with two older brothers and a younger sister in Bristol, Pa., where her father was a drywall contractor. Her mother, Helen, and the rest of the family still live in Pennsylvania - including eight nieces and nephews and six great-nieces and nephews.

Dr. Wolfgang graduated from Bishop Conwell High School and earned a bachelor of arts in biology from New College of the University of South Florida in Sarasota.

She thought her dreams were dashed when she was not accepted to medical school because the grading structure from her school did not award letter grades. So even though her MCAT scores were high enough for medical school admission, she had to sit out six months and take a few more courses. She then started med school at St. George's University in Granada, West Indies.

After one semester, and after students had to be rescued by American troops in Granada, she attended college at the Barbados campus of St. George's University. Her fifth semester was pre-clinicals on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, and she did her rotations in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jersey City, N.J., and Detroit, Mich. In August 1986 she transferred to the University of Miami Leonard M Miller School of Medicine and graduated in 1988.

Dr. Wolfgang served her internship and residency at The Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh where she served one year as chief resident.

Dr. Daniel Alvarez was recruiting for someone to take over his practice when Dr. Wolfgang met him. He persuaded her to come to Seaford in 1992 and join his medical practice.

Dr. Alvarez retired within the first year Dr. Wolfgang was in Seaford and she began practicing as a solo practitioner in Internal Medicine. She has been board certified since 1991.

Cancer has touched Dr. Wolfgang's life in many ways. Her 32-year-old sister-in-law was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer and died within eight months soon after Dr. Wolfgang graduated from medical school. During her residency, she watched an 18-year-old patient who she knew throughout her residency die of cancer, along with a 32-year-old medical colleague and friend.

In Seaford, her friend Sherry got her involved with the Relay For Life. Dr. Wolfgang was amazed at the size and scope of the event and decided to support the Relay more fully by offering an annual cruise that would allow the proceeds to go to the Relay For Life and cancer research. She started with eight people on the first cruise and has had as many as 50 to 55 people join her in raising money by cruising. Other fundraisers have included massage-a-thons, discount card sales, and a Christmas concert. In the 12 years she has been involved, she has raised more than $100,000 for the cause.

Dr. Wolfgang serves as chair of the Nanticoke Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, the Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board, and has been a volunteer at the HIV Wellness Clinic. In addition, she is a member of the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce, St. John's Church, and Walk to Emmaus.

Dr. Wolfgang was honored with the ATHENA award in 1996 and has received numerous awards from the Cancer Society, including the Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Mid-Atlantic Division. She counts "a caring practice" as one of her greatest accomplishments. Her staff and patients agree wholeheartedly that "caring" is one of Dr. Wolfgang's greatest attribute.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.