Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — Jodi Gaines made a decision 10 years ago that has led to jobs for hundreds of skilled, hard-working people.
Gaines, who had expertise from 14 years in claims management, faced moving out of Orleans County after Washington Mutual relocated its claims department. She had offers to relocate from other firms, but said she wanted to stay in Albion.
”The employee base made staying in Albion the right decision,” Gaines said. “The pride and dedication in this area is amazing.”
In December 2002, Claims Recovery Financial Services formed with one employee handling claims for Moss Codilis. The East Avenue business now has more than 320 employees handling thousands of claims each month.
The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce will highlight CRFS as well as other new and growing businesses and a pair of titans in the community Saturday at the 14th Annual Awards Dinner.
”We’re celebrating the accomplishments of the great businesses in our community,” Chamber President Kathy Blackburn said. “It’s our chance to let them shine.”
The awards, organized by the chamber but chosen by members of local business community, will be given as part of an evening of festivities at the White Birch Golf Course. The honorees represent a diverse field of businesses — included are a supermarket, a bakery, a fitness center and a bottle redemption center.
CRFS, the 2012 Business of the Year, provides post-foreclosure claim processing management for banks and lenders with loans that have gone into default.
“When the loan is mitigated or liquidated by foreclosure it gets referred to us,” Gaines explained. “We recover funds that are lost due to delinquency ... we come in after the fact to prep the claim, file it, follow up and analyze what happened.”
Gaines said the business could potentially double in coming months due to an increase in clients and volume.
“We’re growing in combination with what’s happening in the industry and our growing reputation,” she said.
New Business of the Year honorees Riegles on Main and Robinson’s Redemption both are early success stories due to the strong efforts of local entrepreneurs.
The shelves at Riegles on Main, an extension of Dave and Bonnie Riegle’s Ridge Road farm stand, seem to add a new burst of color each week — the newest addition is pasta, sauces and salad dressings.
“We’ve received awesome support from the community,” Bonnie said.
The Riegles are ready to expand further, with a soup and sandwich menu to be added this winter to augment the fresh produce and breads and pastries baked on site.
“To see the Riegles continuing to grow their business is refreshing and welcomed,” Blackburn said.
Isaac Robinson opened his Route 31 business in February with the goal of becoming part of the community. “We’re right where we should be,” Robinson said.
The growing bottle return business subsidizes the costs of Pepsi products — Robinson said he’s selling about 700 cases each month and working towards a goal of 8,000 bottles a day — and provides a fundraising opportunity for churches and community groups.
”He’s proof that the American Dream still exists if you work hard,” Blackburn said.
The Chamber is also honoring Lynne Bensley of Xpress Fitness with the Entrepreneurial Excellence award; Jerome Pawlak of Save-A-Lot with the Phoenix Award; Annette Finch of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee with the Community Service award; and Dave Bellucci of the Arc of Orleans County with the Lifetime Achievement award.
Tickets for the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce 14th Annual Awards Dinner will be available at the door for the reception, which includes a cash bar, auctions, raffles beginning at 5:30 p.m., and dinner at 6:30 p.m. The dinner is sponsored by Millennium Roads, Bentley Bros., BMP, WNY Energy, Waters Basement Services, Zelazny & Roush, and Lance Mark.
For more information or to donate an gift for the auction, contact the chamber at 589-7727.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.