Rostraver chamber recognizes members

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP – In the midst of his acceptance speech, volunteer of the year John Maisch asked every person present who volunteers to stand.

“I'm simply a symbol of what you all do,” Maisch told those attending the 37th annual Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce Recognition Dinner in the Willow Room Thursday night.

“I'm just representing you. I'm truly just serving you.”

Dr. Michelle Bartus and her husband, Dr. Peter Nelson, operators of Valley Veterinary Service Inc. in Rostraver Township, were honored as the business of the year.

Jim Fowler, owner of Fowler Lawn Care Service and McShane's Florist and Greenhouse, was named Young Professional of the Year.

The Rostraver Business Association established its Founder's Day dinner in 1976. That event recognized one individual instrumental in business or volunteer work in the township.

In 2007, its successor, the Greater Rostraver Township Chamber of Commerce, changed the event to a recognition dinner, honoring three people from its membership.

The business of the year is chosen based on community support, involvement and leadership.

Dr. Frank Bartus opened Mon Valley Veterinary on Route 201 in 1963. His daughter and son-in-law joined as partners upon graduation from veterinary school.

Bartus said her father gave the couple a good head start on their business and joked that her husband “made a wise business decision” when he married the daughter of a veterinary business owner.

Nelson has served on the chamber and library boards.

Bartus said that during their 29 years in business, more than 80 people have been employed at the veterinary hospital.

“We believe God sends each person for a season and a reason,” Bartus said.

Bartus said the couple traveled to Eastern Europe right after the Berlin Wall came down, and more recently to the Dominican Republic to introduce modern veterinary practices. She said the experience has led them to appreciate the freedom Americans enjoy.

Bartus said one of the best things in business is being able to touch so many lives, including those of employees and animal owners.

Bartus told the audience to find a healthy balance between business success and family.

“We hope you, too, can find life's balance,” Bartus said. “Do a good job, but don't be too consumed by your work.”

Maisch was honored for community service and volunteer work.

His wife, Barbara, read a letter from his son, Chris, who noted it is easy to say yes once one experiences the rich opportunities and lasting contributions of volunteer work. He told his father that the elder Maisch inspired others to volunteer.

A 1954 graduate of Ohio University, Maisch served in the U.S. Army for two years, attaining the rank of lieutenant.

He began a career with General Motors Corp. with human relations assignments in auto plants in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

His last assignment was director of salary personnel at GM's technical center in Warren, Mich., where he retired in 1987 after 33 years of service to the auto maker.

Maisch moved to Rostraver in 1993. He is active with the Rostraver Public Library as a board member and is a member of the endowment fund committee. He volunteers at his church and area nonprofit organizations.

Maisch said he volunteers because it is fun.

“Many of us volunteer for two reasons, because it's something you enjoy and because you feel you have an obligation to serve,” Maisch said.

The Young Professional of the Year Award goes to an up-and-coming young professional “who displays the entrepreneurial spirit and dedication needed to operate a successful business,” chamber Executive Director Gina Lynn said.

Fowler has operated his lawn care business for 13 years and purchased McShane's Florist and Greenhouse in 2007.

He recently expanded the business when he added a shop featuring wines from the Sheffield, Pa., winery.

A Belle Vernon Area High School graduate, Fowler received an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, and a master's degree in business education from Robert Morris University in 2005.

He thanked his employees, and especially his family, adding, “There's not a time of the day or night when if I called them, they would not be there.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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