Try 1 month for $3

WATERLOO – The chairman of a multi-generation, family-owned company who is trying to cultivate future generations of leaders is being recognized by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber among its annual awards.

The awards will be presented at the Alliance and Chamber’s annual meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center.

Tom Penaluna, CEO of the CBE group, originally known as Credit Bureau Enterprises and founded in Waterloo in the 1930s by his grandfather, has won the Alliance’s Legacy Award, given by the Alliance executive leadership.

Penaluna, who lives north of Cedar Falls and is a former member of the Waterloo City Council, is credited with the “Leader in Me” and “Leader Valley” initiatives involving young people and local schools.

The Legacy Award “recognizes an individual for their continued leadership and noteworthy contributions to the Cedar Valley through philanthropy and volunteerism; working to create a positive environment for business expansion and community growth and enhancing the quality of life for talent recruitment and retention.”

Penaluna led CBE companies through numerous expansion over the last 30 years, growing from 25 employees then to more than 1,100 today, with three centers in the U.S. and one in Manila in The Philippines.

He is a former Alliance and Chamber board chairman and member of the governor’s board of the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress.

He founded Leader Valley, which is a partnership of business and educators to work with students in kindergarten through 12th grade to cultivate better job candidates. He’s also part of the state board of a similar statewide initiative, Reaching Higher Iowa.

Among other awards, Sue Armbrecht of MidWestOne Bank is receiving the Alliance’s “Fulfilling the Vision of One” award given to an individual in the private sector for “strengthening regional collaboration and cooperation for economic and community development.”

With 40 years in the banking profession, Armbrecht served in several officer positions within the Alliance and Chamber and serves on the Cedar Valley United Way Finance Committee, the Black Hawk County YWCA board, Waterloo Symphony Finance Committee, and is involved in a company academic advising award team at the University of Northern Iowa.

Omega Cabinetry/Master Brand Cabinets is being named Business of the Year for companies with more than 50 employees. Bob and Gary Bertch started making cabinets in a barn near Gilbertville in the late 1970s. Bob went on to establish Omega; Gary went on to establish Bertch.

Now, Omega, acquired by Fortune Brands in 2002, has nearly 1,000 employees. Omega is recognized within an industry environmental stewardship program by using environmentally responsible materials in cabinet making. The company also has been recognized for its commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce and work space.

Bloom Manufacturing in Independence is being recognized as Business of the Year for firms with 50 or fewer employees. The firm was founded in 1901 in Winthrop by J.S. Bloom, who had patented a corn crushing and cutting machine. Today the company focuses on manufacturing industrial and mobile hydraulic winches, used by naval boat manufacturers and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Company CEO Mark J.H. Collett has sat on the Alliance and Chamber’s board of directors and involved with the Boy Scouts, Lions Club and Cedar Valley Manufacturers Association.

The GCVAC John Deere Treating Capital Well Award will be given to television station KWWL for its $10 million renovation of its historic company headquarters at East Fourth and Franklin streets over the past several years.

The Harold Brock Innovation Award is going to Talk To Me Technologies, a Cedar Falls firm founded in 2006 that manufactures speech-generating devices for people with disabilities. It does business in the former Lattin Photography building and employs 55 people full and part time.

UNI Business and Community Service is winning the Alliance and Chamber’s Cedar Valley Partner Award for its 30 years providing technical assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start, grow and expand their businesses, dating back to the 1980s farm crisis and recession. It offers 13 programs in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. It has served more than 25,000 clients in Black Hawk County alone.

UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital is receiving the GCVAC Economic Inclusion Partnership Award. The hospital was recognized for its Project SEARCH program, training individuals with disabilities by immersing them in to a hospital environment, allowing them to develop job skills and maintain long-term employment. The program is supported by Iowa Vocation Rehabilitation Services.

Tickets for the GCVAC annual meeting may be obtained by contacting Bette Wubbena, 232-1156 or

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Load comments