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Who is O.C.'s Kindest Business Owner?
 
   
 
CHRIS WADE, S.S. Herron & Associates Inc., Tustin
An employee nominated Wade, one of four owners of S.S. Herron, a real estate appraisal firm. Employees have flexibility of hours and many can work from home or even from other states. Wade trusts his employees. Company policies are designed to make sure employees are happy, not to assure no one takes advantage of the company, the nominator said.
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DENISE BURRELLI, Beauty Supply Zone, H.B.
A 20-year customer said when she was in intensive care for several weeks, Burrelli came and washed and styled her hair so she would feel better. Burrelli strongly supports active duty military holding a cut-a-thon each year to raise money for care packages for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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JIM CURWOOD, South County Cyclery, S.J.C.
Two customers nominated Curwood for different reasons. One noted that he has donated 35 to 60 bicycles to many different community groups and charities for 33 years. Beneficiaries range from the Historical Society to Crown Valley Elementary. The latter had raised only $200 in its fundraising raffle until Curwood gave a bike, then $6,500 came in.
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MATT BAGNE, Plasticolor Companies, Fullerton
Employees nominated Bagne for all the things he does for them: Secret Santa giving in which he participates; Easter Egg Hunt for employees and their children; lunches for Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Valentine’s Day; Christmas breakfast and huge fiesta for factory workers and their families; gifts and recognition for employees’ anniversaries.
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ALLEN WARD, Russ Ward Auto Body Inc., Anaheim
Ward runs the business his father started 54 years ago and where he has worked since the age of 12. A long-time customer of the shop said Ward treats every customer with cheerfulness and respect as if each is special no matter how big or small the job is. He gives food and clothing to the homeless.
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NICK DAVIS, dentist, Newport Beach
An employee nominated Davis for his work in helping people have perfect smile, even if they cannot pay. He volunteered his dental skills on a one-month missionary trip to the island of St. Kitts. He donates his time teaching dental students at Loma Linda University. He helped raise funds for “Smiles Against Hate” and “Give Back a Smile” to help survivors of domestic violence.
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JOHN CRAFT, The Pizza Bakery, Newport Beach
An employee nominated Craft because “when one of us has family or financial problems, he is there with a pizza dinner, loan, kind word or assistance.” When one employee was sick, he delivered breakfast rolls and treats. When another employee’s husband became disabled, Craft made their home wheelchair accessible and installed a ramp.
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JOHN URSINI, Newport Rib Company, Costa Mesa
A neighbor nominated Ursini for his charitable donations to dozens of local charities including the Boys and Girls Club of Harbor Area, Costa Mesa Senior Center and Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund. When Newport Rib Company had a 25th anniversary celebration, it used the event to raise money for charities of customers’ choosing.
 
   
 
ROBERT McBRIDE, Active Grinding Inc., Anaheim
The nominator sold her family grinding shop to McBride when her husband died. And he kept all the employees, even giving the former owner a job. He often treats employees to breakfast burritos, donuts and pizzas. When they complained about gaining weight, McBride sponsored a “biggest loser” contest with $7,500 in prize money.
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SUNIL TOLANI, Prince Preferred Hotels, Y. L.
Tolani was nominated by seven people including employees and a competitor. His company owns hotels in several states. An employee with more than 25 years' experience in the hotel industry said he is "an extraordinary teacher of customer service." Another said, “No matter when or what time, I could always count on his support.”
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ANGIE HESSEN, Angie's Hair Hut, Santa Ana
A customer nominated Hessen for being “a friend of the ladies, an adviser and a shoulder to cry on.” Each week Hessen donates her services to the Saint Frances Home for Women, a retirement home. “Yet she is never snooty and her gift of touch is a healing one.” Many of her customers have been with her for decades.
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MOTI FERDER, Lugano Diamonds, Newport Beach
An employee nominated Ferder for his kindness to his workers. He provides lunch every day, allows flexible work hours and gives birthday and anniversary gifts. The employee benefits and discounts are generous. He “respects everyone’s ideas and has the unique ability to make each of us feel like his peer rather than his employees.”
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ELIZABETH AN, AnQi by Crustacean, Costa Mesa
An is providing free lunches for South Coast Plaza employees who contribute canned goods to the Second Harvest Food Bank’s “We Can” food drive. A fan of fashion, An partnered with the Art Institute of California, Orange County, to put on a student fashion show at her restaurant and raised almost $6,000 for the Firefighters Widows and Orphans fund.
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MIKE SEGURA, Group ISO, Newport Beach
Several employees nominated Segura (even after the nomination deadline), saying he is a kind, fair,
generous and compassionate boss. He keeps the company kitchen stocked with snacks, fresh fruit and coffee. One said, “he is constantly training us to not only be great employes but great people.”
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SUSIE & ROD GASTON, BLB Resources Inc., Irvine
An employee nominated the Gastons for their kindness and generosity. When the employee’s boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer, the Gastons send a card and flowers and continually checked on the situation. “Rod and Susie know every face and every name of every employee.”
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ATTILA AKKAS, Marbolis Inc., Anaheim
Although Marbolis Inc., a stone supplier, is tied to the struggling building industry, Akkas has not laid off one employee or reduced workers’ hours, said the nominating employee. Akkas provides breakfast pastries and lunches. He leads the singing when it’s an employee’s birthday. “His cheery disposition lifts us up and makes us laugh.”
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Kindest O.C. Business Owner 2011

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