Ovation Awards


Kenosha County is home to many notable and successful companies, and the Ovation Awards recognizes the best of the best.  Presented annually by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, the Ovation Awards winners have exhibited a history of growth, innovation, and a positive overall economic impact on the community.

 Nominations are now open for this years’ awards!

Nominate or Apply


The process is entirely online for fast and easy nominations! Companies may apply directly for recognition or be nominated by an outside party. Please keep in mind that KABA will reach out to the nominated company directly for more information so a lengthy and detailed nomination is not required. If you have any questions, please contact KABA at 262.605.1100 or info@kaba.org.

Nominations are due Friday, July 21, 2017.  

Save the Date! The winners will be announced in late August and will be honored at an awards dinner on Thursday, November 2, 2017.

Past Ovation Award Winners




Business of the Year: Uline

The award honors a firm that has been in business for at least five years and has more than 30 employees.

In 1980, Liz and her husband Dick Uihlein recognized a need for a local shipping supply distributor and started Uline in 1980 with a single product – a carton sizer – out of their basement. Today, this family-owned and operated company is recognized as one of the leading shipping supply distributors in the North America. Over the last decade, Uline has seen double digit organic sales growth and now operates eleven North American branches with more than 30,000 products and over 5,000 employees.

Uline relocated to Pleasant Prairie from Waukegan, Illinois in 2009 with an initial footprint of approximately 1.2 million square feet between its corporate headquarters campus and adjacent distribution facility.

Just a few years later, in June 2014, the company announced a major expansion at its corporate campus: a 3,000-square-foot second corporate headquarters building and a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution facility.The company also announced the relocation of its Midwest Distribution Center campus to the City of Kenosha from Waukegan. The new campus will have an 800,000-square-foot distribution center with 60,000-square-feet of office. Uline currently has numerous other expansion projects outside of Kenosha County including new buildings in Edmonton and Toronto, Canada; Monterrey and Mexicali, Mexico; Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and Ontario, California.

In addition to being one of Kenosha County’s largest employers, it is also one of its most generous corporate citizens. Uline donates significant financial resources to local organizations and encourages its employees to donate their time and expertise to them as well. Uline and its employees volunteer and financially support Habitat for Humanity, the Boys & Girls Club, United Way’s Day of Action and Day of Caring, Strive and many, many others.


Small Business of the Year: Partners In Design Architects, Inc.

The award honors a firm that has been in business for more than three years and have fewer than 50 employees.

Partners in Design Architects is a full-service architectural firm serving southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois in addition to having completed projects nationwide. The firm was founded in 1991 by Thomas O’Connell Jr. and Werner Brisske and includes a third principal, Mark Molinaro Jr. Partners in Design Architects is located in the HarborView Office Center in downtown Kenosha as well as a second location in Riverwoods, Illinois.

Both O’Connell and Brisske were based in Illinois and took a chance on moving north to Kenosha County during a time of significant change – its major employer, Chrysler Corporation, had recently shuttered its lakefront plant and Kenosha officials, developers and business owners convinced the young architects that they had a unique opportunity to be a part of reshaping and reinventing Kenosha County.

Now in the firm’s twenty-fifth anniversary year, it is evident that the gamble paid off. Partners in Design Architects has enjoyed a great deal of success and credits their staff of 23 and extensive list of clients. Major local projects include the LakeView RecPlex, Riley Construction, numerous Gateway Technical College projects, the Sturtevant Amtrak Station, and many of the buildings in LakeView Corporate Park. While primarily a regional firm, Partners in Design Architects has also designed several projects across the country for their local clients.


Entrepreneur of the Year: Bob Lee, Jr., CEO, Lee Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric

The criteria for award eligibility include having an ownership stake in the business.

Lee Plumbing Mechanical Contractors was founded in Kenosha by Bob Lee Sr. in 1976. His son – Bob Lee Jr. – graduated high school in 1977 and immediately began a plumbing apprenticeship at his father’s business, becoming its second employee.

In 1984, Bob Lee Sr. – who had enjoyed a career as a professional baseball player – left the company to pursue his other passion and start the Kenosha Twins minor league baseball team. Bob Lee Jr. and his brother Mike, who had joined the company in 1980, took over the company and sought to grow and diversify the business. Under their leadership, Lee Plumbing has grown tremendously, adding commercial and industrial plumbing, HVAC and electrical work which has significantly expanded its customer base. They are planning to expand their current building and have continued to significantly reinvest in the business with the purchase of new equipment, trucks and the continuing education of its people.

While Bob Lee Jr. has built his father’s company into a major regional sub-contractor, he has also continued his father’s legacy of community service. Bob Lee Jr. and Lee Plumbing have supported countless organizations throughout Kenosha County including the Boys and Girls Club, the Lincoln Neighborhood Baseball Program, summer baseball programs, 4H, and the Kenosha Kingfish. Bob is also a member of the United Hospital System Board of Directors and the Town of Somers Plan Commission.


Fast Five:

The Fast Five recognizes five rapidly-growing companies in Kenosha County that are driving the economy now and into the future. These companies have experienced significant revenue or employment growth; introduced a new product, service or innovation; or demonstrated growth in regional, national or international exports.

  • Bone Dry Products
  • Cordeck
  • Leeward Business Advisors
  • MedTorque
  • Regulatory Compliance

Note: Prior to 2016, the event was collaboratively held with the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce and was called the Kenosha County Business Excellence Awards.


Business of the Year: ASYST Technologies, LLC

Small Business of the Year: Specialized Accounting Services, LLC

Entrepreneur of the Year: Kurt Penn, Good Foods Group, LLC

Fast Five:

  • Hanna Cylinders, LLC
  • Kenall Manufacturing
  • Kenosha Kingfish Baseball Club
  • Mobile One / McTernan Wireless
  • Quest Products, Inc.



Business of the Year: Bradshaw Medical, Inc.

Small Business of the Year: OFFSITE, LLC

Entrepreneur of the Year: Edward Polen, EMCO Chemical, Inc.

Fast Five:

  • The Blast Shop
  • LaMacchia Travel
  • Mike’s Restaurant Group
  • Platinum Systems
  • Yutka Fence



Business of the Year: Rust-Oleum Corporation

Small Business of the Year: Equity Creative

Entrepreneur of the Year: Michael Kopper, Centrisys Corporation

Fast Five:

  • ASYST Technologies, Inc.
  • Catalyst Exhibits, Inc.
  • Clean & Green Solutions, LLC
  • Dooley & Associates, LLC
  • IRIS USA, Inc



Business of the Year: Allied Plastics, Inc.

Small Business of the Year: Tenuta’s Deli, Liquor & Wines

Entrepreneur of the Year: James A. Kettinger, Sr., Engendren Corporation

Fast Five:

  • Albany-Chicago Co, LLC
  • Bio Fab Technologies, Inc.
  • Kitchen Cubes LLC
  • Mikrotech, LLC
  • Specialized Accounting Services LLC



Business of the Year: Xten Industries, LLC

Small Business of the Year: GEM Manufacturing, Inc.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Craig Deaton, Gateway Mortgage Corporation

Fast Five:

  • Allied Plastics, Inc.
  • Equity Creative
  • Five Star Coatings Group
  • Offsite LLC
  • RJ Underground


Note: the award categories changed slightly after to 2010.


Business of the Year: Snap-on Incorporated

Business Person of the Year: Guy Bradshaw, Bradshaw Medical, Inc.

Community Service: Matt Carlson, Platinum Systems

Economic Impact Awards:

  • ACCO Brands
  • Albany-Chicago Company
  • Centrisys Corporation
  • Fair Oaks Farms
  • United Hospital System

Business of the Year: LMI Packaging Solutions, Inc.

Business Person of the Year: Todd Bundies, Badger Press Photographics

Community Service: Peter Valeri, Valeri Agency

Economic Impact Awards:

  • Dooley & Associates
  • Gordon Food Service
  • Uline



Business of the Year: Kenosha Animal Hospital

Business Person of the Year: Kenneth A. Moore, Cordeck

Community Service: Karl J. Ostby, Southport Bank

Economic Impact Awards:

  • Allied Plastics, Inc.
  • Genesis Medical Center of Kenosha, S.C.
  • Lotus Light Enterprises
  • Pitts-Valeri Office Complex
  • Pulera Collision Auto Care Center



Business of the Year: Five Star Fabricating, Inc.

Business Person of the Year: David Trotta Barnes, Barnes Law Office

Community Service: Thomas Duncan, United Hospital System

Economic Impact Awards:

  • Bradshaw Medical
  • Gateway Technical College – Horizon Center
  • Monarch Plastics
  • Insty-Prints
  • Supervalu



Business of the Year: Rode’s Camera & Photo Supplies

Business Person of the Year: Dave Hagman, Vista International Packaging

Community Service: Wayne Koessl, We Energies

Economic Impact Awards:

  • Kenosha Radiology
  • Prime Outlets
  • Riley Propery Management
  • Roundy’s
  • The Club at Strawberry Creek



Business of the Year: Riley Construction

Business Person of the Year: Jim Cicchini, Cicchini Asphalt LLC

Community Service: Ron Stevens, Bank of Elmwood

Economic Impact Awards:

  • Hospira
  • Ocean Spray
  • Pepsi Americas