Best of Northwest Indiana 2010 • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Best of Northwest Indiana 2010

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For the Past few months, readers of Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly have been casting their votes for the Best of Northwest Indiana. But this year, instead of mailing or faxing in their ballots, readers simply clicked their mouse.

It took a bit of time to page through the numerous categories, and to all those who took the time, we thank you. By voting, you not only have put some deserving businesses in the spotlight, you also have helped make the magazine your own.

As we recognize these deserving businesses, we’re already thinking ahead to next year. If there is a category that needs to be included, let us know. If we have overlooked someone—or some service that deserves to be lauded—drop us a note.

And by all means let us know what you think of the online voting procedure.Is there a way to improve it? Did it take too long? If so, how can it be streamlined? Our hope is to encourage more people to vote next year so we can recognize more Northwest Indiana businesses.

We thank everyone for their participation, and if you have a better idea, we’re listening.

Best New Business

Winner: Lighthouse Restaurant, Cedar Lake.
General manager Phil Holub says the secret to the success of the year-old restaurant is simple: “Great food, great service, great value.” Executive chef Ken McRae has developed a reputation for serving some of the best steaks in the region. Holub says the restaurant is for everyone, not just those who want a $150 bottle of wine. “We try to reach many different customers.”

Other leading contenders:

  • It’s Just Serendipity, Hammond; Blackbird Café, Valparaiso;
  • Brickworks Brewery, Hobart;
  • Group7even, Valparaiso;
  • Ciao Bella, Schererville;
  •, Valparaiso;
  • Realty Papers Inc., Merrillville.

Best Company to Work For


  • Centier Bank, Merrillville;
  • Citizens Bank, Munster;
  • Horizon Bank, Michigan City;
  • Peoples Bank, Munster;
  • St. Anthony Medical Center, Crown Point;
  • St. Margaret Mercy Health Care Centers, Dyer and Hammond.

All of the businesses on this list have one thing in common: They’ve been a part of the Northwest Indiana business community for decades and believe in treating employees and customers as family.

Best Place for a Corporate Retreat

Winner: The Radisson at Star Plaza, Merrillville.

This has long been among the most popular locations for corporate retreats. Its location at Interstate 65 and U.S. 30 makes it one of the most accessible in the region.


  • The Inn At Aberdeen, Valparaiso; Blue Chip Casino,
  • Michigan City; Harbor Grand, New Buffalo, Mich.;
  • Creekwood Inn, Michigan City

BEST MEETING SITE FOR LARGE GROUPS The Radisson At Star Plaza, Merrillville.

Best Meeting Site for Small Groups

Winner: The Inn at Aberdeen, Valparaiso, was chosen because of its secluded location and excellent service.


  • Strongbow Inn, Valparaiso;
  • Briar Ridge Country Club, Schererville;
  • Sand Creek Country Club, Chesterton;
  • Gamba Ristorante, Merrillville.

Best Meeting Site for Large Groups

Winner: The Radisson At Star Plaza, Merrillville.


  • The Avalon Manor, Hobart;
  • Centier Bank Corporate Center, Merrillville.

Best Convention Site

Winner: Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City.
General Manager Ted Bogich says he’s honored by the recognition. “We are delighted your readers chose us. We believe we have a fabulous center and think we have the most complete collection of amenities anywhere in the region.”


  • Horseshoe Casino, Hammond;
  • McCormick Place, Chicago;
  • Porter County Expo Center,Valparaiso;
  • The Radisson at Star Plaza, Merrillville;
  • Avalon Manor, Merrillville.

BEST CONVENTION SITE Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City.

Best New Restaurant for a Business Lunch

Winner: Ciao Bella, Schererville. (See Alison Skertic's review of Ciao Bella in the Winter 2010 issue)
Guiseppe “Joe” Scalzo says he had a vision for a different kind of Italian restaurant when he opened Ciao Bella. His idea embraces the cuisine of both northern and southern Italy.


  • Conservation Café, Crown Point;
  • Gino’s Steakhouse, Merrillville;
  • Titled Kilt, Merrillville;
  • Asparagus, Merrillville; Gamba Ristorante, Merrillville

Best New Restaurant for a Business Dinner

Winner: The Lighthouse Restaurant, Cedar Lake.
In less than a year,general manager Phil Holub says the restaurant has expanded its seating capacity by 30 percent to 240 people, and he says it’s not unusual for that many more to be waiting outside. “When we opened we knew we were going to have great prospects,but we never expected the response we’ve gotten.”


  • Meyer’s Castle Restaurant at Lost Marsh Golf Course, Hammond;
  • Ciao Bella, Schererville;
  • Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill and Tavern, Beverly Shores;
  • Asparagus, Merrillville;
  • Bistro 157, Valparaiso;
  • Café Borgia, Munster;
  • Gamba Ristorante,Merrillville.

Best Casino for Business Parties and Events

Winner: Horseshoe Casino, Hammond.
Martha Link, director of sales and catering, says she’s thrilled to receive the recognition. “Our Horseshoe sales and catering staff work hard to deliver unforgettable experiences for our clients, and this is a welcome acknowledgement.”


  • Ameristar, East Chicago;
  • Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City;
  • Four Winds Casino, New Buffalo,Mich.;
  • Majestic Star Casino, Gary.

Best Caterer for Business Functions/Events

Winner: Comfort’s Catering, St. John.
Owner Jack Mix had two words when he learned of the honor: “Wowie, zowie.”It’s that kind of enthusiasm Mix and his wife, Beverly, bring to the job every day. “Businesses have something they want to accomplish for their guests and we want to make sure they accomplish that,” says Mix, who has been in foodservice for 40 years, the past 14 as owner of Comfort’s Catering, which also provides foodservice at Indiana University Northwest.


  • Bistro 157, Valparaiso;
  • Café Elite, Michigan City;
  • Strongbow Inn, Valparaiso;
  • Great Lakes Catering, Michigan City;
  • Strack & Van Til, with store locations in Schererville, Highland, Hammond and Crown Point


Best Accounting Firm

Winner: McMahon & Associates,
Munster. This is the fifth time McMahon has received the honor. “We’re very proud and thankful,” says firm administrator Bob Underwood. “We believe we earned it by providing excellent service to our clients.”


  • Swartz Retson & Co. CPA, Merrillville; BKD LLP, Merrillville;
  • Clifton Gunderson & Co., Schererville;
  • Prasco & Snearly, Crown Point;
  • Rowley Bushue & Co., Michigan City

Best Advertising Agency for Web Site Design

Winner: AC Inc., Valparaiso.

  • Group7even, Valparaiso;
  • V as in Victor, Hobart;
  • VIA Marketing, Merrillville;
  • Green Light Creative, Hammond;
  • Morse & Co., Michigan City

Best Ad Agency for Developing a Corporate Image Campaign

Winner: Morse & Company, Michigan City. A year ago, Morse
& Company was a runner-up, but this year readers moved the firm to
the top.


  • Moran Design, Inc., Hammond;
  • Green Light Creative,Hammond;
  • AC Inc., Valparaiso; ‘
  • VIA Marketing, Merrillville

Best Web Design Company

Winner: Golden Technologies, Valparaiso.
Senior partner Steve Massa says, “There seems to be a
mystique that surrounds Golden. People have known we’ve been around for over a decade, but they’re still not quite sure about all we do. I believe the NWIBQ readers’ poll not only helps lift our veil a little, but since it’s the readers, it shows the region is learning more about who we are and that they appreciate our contribution.”


  • AC Inc., Valparaiso;
  • Datamine Internet Marketing Solutions,Gary;
  • Green Light Creative, Hammond;
  • VIA Marketing, Merrillville

Best Commercial Printer

Winner: Home Mountain Printing, Valparaiso.
Owner Larry Klemz says being chosen best in the region was validation for his company. “What it means is that we’re being recognized for what we knew all along. It certainly makes us all feel good.”


  • Thompson Printing, Munster;
  • Largus Printing, Munster;
  • Digital Printworks, Merrillville;
  • Foster Printing, Michigan City
BEST COMMERCIAL PRINTER Home Mountain Printing, Valparaiso.

Best Bank for Business

Winner: Centier Bank, Merrillville.

  • Citizens Financial Bank, all locations;
  • Peoples Bank, Munster;
  • Horizon Bank, Michigan City;
  • First Financial Bank, all locations;
  • First Midwest Bank, all locations;
  • Chase Bank, all locations;
  • Harris Bank, all locations

Best Banking Investment Advisors


  • Sandy Kazmucha, Horizon Trust and Investments, Michigan City;
  • Debbie Rollo, Horizon Bank, Munster;
  • Kevin Babcock, Centier Bank, Merrillville;
  • Lisa Marek, Centier Bank, Valparaiso;
  • Randy Walker and Terry Quinn, Peoples Bank, Munster

Best Commercial Construction Company


  • Tonn and Blank, Michigan City;
  • Larson-Danielson, LaPorte

Owner Terry Larson credits the dedication of his employees for the recognition. “We’re very honored. It’s a testament to the dedication of all our employees. It’s recognition by firms in the region that we deliver high-quality service to customers. That is what sets us apart from the others.”


  • Hasse Construction, Calumet City, Ill., and Munster; IN
  • Cambridge Architects, Crown Point;
  • Chester Inc., Valparaiso;
  • Precision Construction, Highland

BEST COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY Larson-Danielson, LaPorte (co-winner). Building project pictured is Task Force Tips in Valparaiso.

Best Commercial Landscaping Company

Winner: Lakeshore Landscaping,Valparaiso, is chosen for the second year in a row.


  • Hubinger Landscaping Corp., Crown Point;
  • RV Property Enhancement, Valparaiso;
  • Small’s Landscaping, LaPorte;
  • Tim’s Landscape Services, Griffith;
  • Allen’s Landscaping with locations in Dyer, Highland and Schererville

BEST COMMERCIAL LANDSCAPING COMPANY Lakeshore Landscaping, Valparaiso.

Best Commercial Architectural Design Company

Winner: IN-Cambridge Architects, Crown Point.


  • Hutton & Hutton Architects and Engineers, Hammond;
  • Design Organization, Valparaiso;
  • Fanning and Howey, South Bend;
  • Carras-Szany-Kuhn & Associates, Schererville

Best Commercial Real Estate Company

Winner: Commercial In-Sites, Merrillville.


  • Century 21 Executive Group, Valparaiso;
  • CB Richard Ellis/Bradley, South Bend, LaPorte and Michigan City;
  • Commercial Advantage, Merrillville;
  • ReMax Commercial, Merrillville;
  • McColly Realtors, Schererville

Best Corporate Law Firm

Winner: Burke, Costanza & Cuppy LLP, Merrillville.
The reason the law firm was chosen, suggests managing partner George Carberry, is the hard work of everyone at the firm. “It has to do with the firm’s culture. It’s set by the leaders of the firm, and the partners here firmly believe in the Golden Rule.”


  • Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans, Valparaiso;
  • Krieg DeVault, Schererville;
  • Newby, Lewis, Kaminski & Jones, LaPorte;
  • Hodges & Davis, Merrillville;
  • Blachley Tabor Bozik & Hartman, Valparaiso

Best Law Firm for Litigation


  • Krieg DeVault, Schererville;
  • Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans, Merrillville


  • Burke, Costanza & Cuppy, Merrillville;
  • Hinshaw & Culbertson, Schererville; Newby, Lewis,
  • Kaminski & Jones, LaPorte;
  • Rhame & Elwood, Portage;
  • Schafer & Schafer, Merrillville and East Chicago

Best Estate Planning Practice

Winner: Burke, Costanza & Cuppy, Merrillville.
Managing partner George Carberry says the vote of the readers isn’t something the firm actively seeks, but it’s nice to know they think the firm is doing a good job.


  • Rice & Rice, Valparaiso;
  • Swartz Retson, Merrillville;
  • Centier Wealth Management Division, Munster

Best Hospital in the Region

Winner: St. Anthony Medical Center, Crown Point.

Runners-up: Community Hospital, Munster;

  • LaPorte Hospital;
  • Porter Hospital, Valparaiso;
  • St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare, Dyer and Hammond;
  • St. Mary’s, Hobart

Best Insurance Agency

Winner: General Insurance Services, Michigan City, holds their
number one title now six years and counting! The company has been
around for 81 years.


  • Fleming, Bates & Barber, Crown Point;
  • State Farm agencies, Whiting, Hammond, East Chicago and Crown Point; Pampalone Insurance Agency, Merrillville;
  • Allstate Insurance Co., Merrillville, Crown Point, Valparaiso and Munster;
  • Farm Bureau Insurance, Crown Point, Highland and Schererville;
  • MacLennan & Bain, Valparaiso

Best Office Interior Design Firm

Winner: HDW Commercial Interiors, Schererville, maintained the top ranking it achieved in last year’s readers’ poll.


  • Design Organization, Valparaiso;
  • Kramer & Leonard, Chesterton;
  • McShane’s Business Products & Solutions, Munster;
  • Designtech, Hammond;
  • Max Design, Dyer

TOPS IN TWO CATEGORIES Kramer & Leonard, Chesterton, was the co-winner in both Best Place to Purchase Office Furniture and Best Place to Purchase Office Equipment and Supplies. Pictured are Mary and Greg Fox.

Best University for an MBA

Winner: Indiana University Northwest, Gary.


  • Valparaiso College of Business, Valparaiso;
  • Indiana Wesleyan University, Merrillville;
  • University of Notre Dame, South Bend;
  • Purdue University Calumet, Hammond

Best University for a Technology Degree

Winner: Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, offers students access to some of the most advanced technology in the world, along with opportunities at the Merrillville technology center.


  • Indiana University Northwest, Gary;
  • Ivy Tech, South Bend, East Chicago, Gary, Valparaiso and Michigan City; Purdue North Central, Westville;
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette;
  • Valparaiso University

Best Place to Purchase Office Equipment and Supplies


  • Kramer & Leonard, Chesterton;
  • McShane’s Business Products & Solutions, Munster

Brian McShane says being chosen by NWIBQ’s readers validates what McShane’s employees do every day. “What we provide is a service. In this business, price is a factor, too, but we think the service we provide is a big part of the price.”


  • Office Depot, Merrillville, Highland, Hammond and Michigan City;
  • Office Max, Highland, Schererville, Munster and Michigan City;
  • Staples, Valparaiso, LaPorte, Merrillville and Schererville

Best Place to Purchase Office Furniture


  • HDW Commercial Interiors, Schererville;
  • Kramer & Leonard, Chesterton

Greg Fox, owner of Kramer & Leonard, says the recognition shows the 27-year-old company is highly thought of by its customers.“Northwest Indiana has seen its ups and downs so much, that it’s a real boost when people spend their money locally,” says Fox.


  • Lincoln Office Environments, Crown Point;
  • McShane’s Business Products & Solutions, Munster;
  • Office Max locations in Michigan City, Merrillville, Highland and Dyer

Best Local Telecommunications Company

Winner: Midwest Telecom of America (MTA), Merrillville, has provided advanced local telephone service and high-speed Internet connections in Northwest Indiana for 18 years.


  • AT&T, all locations;
  • Cartronix, Valparaiso, Portage, Schererville and Merrillville;
  • Tri-Electronics, Hammond, Lowell,Munster, Crown Point and Merrillville;
  • Verizon, LaPorte, Crown Point and Merrillville

Best Local Internet Services Provider for Business

Winner: Comcast/Business Class,locations in Valparaiso, Portage, Hammond and Merrillville.


  • NetNITCO, Hebron;
  • AT&T; Midwest Telecom, Merrillville;
  • Verizon


Best Automobile Dealer


  • Schepel Buick-Pontiac-GMC, Merrillville;
  • Mike Anderson Chevrolet, Chicago.

Tom VanProoyen, general manger, vice president and owner of Schepel, says he is honored by the readers’vote. “We’ve won in the past, but it is a special honor for us when others tell us we’re doing a good job. They’re our peers and it means a lot. What we do here is put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. We call it ‘the Schepel difference’ and we really mean it.”


  • Art Hill Ford, Merrillville;
  • Team Toyota, Merrillville;
  • Bosak Auto Group, Merrillville and Highland;
  • Christenson Chevrolet, Highland; Lexus of Merrillville

Best Golf Course

Winner: Sand Creek Country Club, Chesterton, not only offers curbside service to members and visitors, the 27-hole layout is among the best and most challenging in Indiana.


  • The Course at Aberdeen, Valparaiso;
  • Briar Ridge Country Club, Schererville;
  • Lost Marsh Golf Course, Hammond;
  • White Hawk Country Club, Crown Point;
  • Youche Country Club, Crown Point;
  • The Brassie, Chesterton

Best Golf Club for Charitable/Business Outings

Winner: White Hawk Country Club, Crown Point.


  • Sand Creek Country Club, Chesterton;
  • Briar Ridge County Club, Schererville;
  • Innsbrook Country Club, Merrillville;
  • The Course at Aberdeen, Valparaiso

Best Health and Fitness Club

Winner: Omni 41 Health & Fitness Connection, Schererville, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides activities from rehabilitation to physical fitness training, and is the Northwest Indiana home of the Bulls/Sox Academy.


  • Cardinal Fitness, Schererville, Valparaiso, Hobart and South Bend;
  • Duneland Health & Wellness, Chesterton;
  • Fitness Pointe, Munster;
  • YMCA, Valparaiso, Crown Point, Portage and Southlake
  • Fuel Fitness, Cedar Lake and Crown Point

Best Health and Fitness Club

Winner: Vanis Salon and Day Spa, Schererville, Crown Point and Valparaiso. Owner Chris Valavanis says it's nice to be recognized for doing something his business does everyday. “Wellness spas have been around for 15 years or so, about the time we got started, but it's only been the last four or five years that people have started to learn that they're no just once-a-year Valentine's presents.”


  • State of Mind, Crown Point;
  • Spa Blu at Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City;
  • Duneland Health & Wellness, Chesterton;
  • House of Bianco Beauty Concepts, Merrillville;
  • Serenity Salon and Spa, Chesterton

Best Collegiate Spectator Sport in the Region

Winner: Valparaiso University basketball.

Strong contenders:

  • Purdue University Boilermakers;
  • University of Notre Dame football

Best Professional Spectator Sport in the Region

Winner: Gary SouthShore RailCats.


  • Chicago Bears football;
  • Chicago Blackhawks hockey;
  • Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs baseball;
  • Indianapolis Colts

Best Professional Spectator Sport in the Region

Winner: Gary SouthShore RailCats.


  • Chicago Bears football;
  • Chicago Blackhawks hockey;
  • Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs baseball;
  • Indianapolis Colts

Best Residential Development Home Builder

Winner: Olthof Homes, Dyer and St. John.


  • American Heritage Construction, Crown Point;
  • Precision Construction, Highland;
  • Coolman Communities Inc., Valparaiso;
  • Lifestyle Homes Inc., Valparaiso;
  • Wagner Homes, Valparaiso


Best Home/Office Remodeling Company

Winner: Steel City Home Improvement, Valparaiso.


  • The Woodshop Inc., Crown Point; DeBoer & Saxsma Inc., Griffith;
  • The Lakeland Group, Chesterton

Best Place to Purchase Home Furniture and Accessories

Winner: Ashley Furniture, Schererville.


  • DeYoung Furniture, St. John;
  • Ethan Allen, Merrillville;
  • Indiana Furniture, Valparaiso;
  • Tilles Interiors, Munster;
  • Walter E. Smithe Furniture, Merrillville


Best Comedy Club: Wisecracker’s Comedy Club, Merrillville.
Best Bank for Customer Service: Citizens Financial Bank, Munster.
Best Computer Repair Company: Three Dog Net, LLC, Hobart.
Best Entertainment Value in Northwest Indiana: Illiana Speedway,Crown Point.
Best Family Entertainment Facility: Deep River Water Park, Merrillville.
Best Home Theatre Installation Company: Cartronix Home Theatre, Valparaiso.
Best Regional Occupational Health Clinics: WorkingWell, with locations in Hammond, Munster, Dyer, Michigan City and Crown Point. It is owned and managed by the Sisters of St. Francis.
Best Residential Interior Design Firm: No Place Like Home Inc., Michigan City.
Best Animal Hospital: Oak Hill Animal Hospital, Crown Point.
Best Stroke Screening Facility: Premiere Ultrasound, St. John.


5 thoughts on “Best of Northwest Indiana 2010”

  1. Actually there was a mix up transferring this info from the print version to the online version. Fitness Pointe was indeed a runner up in the Best Health and Fitness Club category and did appear as such in the print version. This has been corrected online as of today (May 24).

    Thanks again for your comment.

  2. I am a member of Fitness Pointe Health Club in Munster, a division of Community Hospital of Munster.
    I cannot believe that Fitness Pointe was not at least chosen as a Runner-up in the Best Health and Fitness Club category. There are many dedicated professionals at Fitness Pointe that deserve a ranking. I know I voted for them as the best in the area. What Happened?
    Mike & Cheryl McIntyre

    1. We’re sure that Fitness Pointe offers an excellent facility and operation. Hopefully their fans, members, staff and partners will participate in the poll next year. Thanks for your vote and comment.

Comments are closed.

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