Heidelberg to honor 4 local women entrepreneurs

Press release provided by Heidelberg University

TIFFIN – For the sixth year, Heidelberg University’s School of Business, Computer Science and Information Technology will honor four local women entrepreneurs for their contributions to their businesses and the community.

This year’s winners will be honored at a breakfast and award presentation ceremony, titled Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs, on Thursday, April 5.

The recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award is Karen Klepper, a 1991 Heidelberg graduate who has served on a number of local boards and non-profits, including the Mercy Hospital Foundation, the Tiffin-Seneca United Way, the NOAH Foundation and PatchWorks House. Klepper is currently organizing a community collaborative non-profit, called ReClaim It, a resale shop whose proceeds will be used to improve the lives of local children and strengthen the systems upon which they depend.

Kelli Dariano, the owner of Threads, will receive the Established Entrepreneur Award. Dariano opened Threads 19 years ago after working in sales and management in Chicago and Columbus. In its nearly two decades in operation, Threads has experienced 300 percent growth as it continues to bring the latest fashion trends in clothing and accessories to Tiffin. In 2009, Dariano, a John Carroll University graduate, also launched Club Thread, a loyalty club of customers that has raised more than $40,000 for charity.

Heidelberg will present the New Entrepreneur Award to Zoe Dolch, owner of Washington Street Outfitters in the Laird Arcade. Dolch, a Tiffin native, Dolch received her advanced cosmetology license from Sentinel Career and Technology Center and her bachelor’s degree from Kent State in fashion merchandising. After returning to Tiffin, Dolch realized her dream of opening a business that offers a distinct product assortment, including men’s and women’s clothing, music, home goods and unique gifts and accessories.

This year’s recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Award is 16-year-old Columbian High School student Maya Clouse-Henry. In addition to holding down part-time jobs at Behm and Henry Law Offices and Simply Susan’s, Clouse-Henry also operates her own T-shirt design business and her own photography business, MCH Photos. She also has been assisting Klepper in her efforts to get ReClaim It up and running.

“Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs” is held annually in conjunction with Heidelberg’s spring Patricia Adams Lecture Series (PALS). This semester’s keynote speaker – publisher, educator and philanthropist Monica Lozano – will participate in the awards program. Attendance is by invitation-only.

39th Tiffin-Seneca Heritage Festival this weekend

heritage festival brochureBeginning in 1979, the Heritage Festival is the 8th largest in Ohio and is preparing for a great 39th year. Originally a one day event, the festival was an event for the community to celebrate the town’s history by visiting the Seneca County Museum, strolling among craft exhibits, enjoying bands, and eagerly watching to see which ladies dressed in old fashion clothing would win the titles of Miss and Mrs. Heritage Festival. Although times have changed, the event still honors the traditions of the city while including some new attractions September 15th-17th, 2017.

At the Park

The Living Historic Village in Hedges-Boyer Park features reenactments, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and much more for a fun family environment. “Children’s Village Crafts and Games on the Green” are free to all ages, and children under 12 can enter the Village gate for free as well, with adult tickets costing $3. “Candy Cannon Shoot” happen at 12:30pm and 3pm both Saturday and Sunday for children 12 and under, and a “Heritage Cemetery Walk” at the Village Entrance at 6pm Saturday. Be sure to check out the “Heritage Ball” held in the YMCA Fieldhouse Saturday night at 7:30pm, where the whole family can learn dances of the era. Sunday the games continue with a Vintage 1860s Baseball Game at 10am and the Lake Plains Chorus performing at 1pm. Throughout both days live music will play, making any time a great time to stop by!


German Heritage Block kicks off downtown Friday night with Richard Wiener 6:30pm-9:30pm in the County Health Department Lot. The Fostoria Community Band will perform the following day 12pm-1pm, followed by a Cream Puff Eating Contest (sign up quick, only the first 6 can compete!). The Toledo Holzhacker Baum will be there 2:30pm-3:30pm as well as 6:30pm-7:30pm on Saturday, with the Route 161 Happy Wanders following 4pm-6pm and again 8pm-10pm. Men and women are encouraged to show off their skills with a Women’s Beer Stein Carrying Contest at 7:30pm on Saturday and a Men’s Beer Stein Holding Contest Sunday at 4pm.

In City Lot 7, New Frontiers: Journey Tribute Band performing Friday from 9pm-12am, and on Saturday, Smalltown Throwdown will perform 6:30-9 pm followed by eighties arena rock tribute band Electrik Circus 9:30pm-12am.

Following the annual parade Saturday, which begins at 10:30am, Elk Lodge 94 is hosting the Kids Korner, filled with free kids events include face painting, sand art, prize giveaways, and crafts, making Saturday’s events fun for all ages.

Also on Saturday, gear up for the 5th Annual Independent Car Show from 12pm-5pm, at the Seneca County Museum. The show will include raffles and drawings to support the museum, as well as the Jolly’s food truck for refreshments. Judging starts at 2pm and plaques will be awarded to winners at 4:30pm.

In the downtown area food will be available all day and rides will run all weekend in the RTA parking lot. Tickets are available at the event and pre-sale tickets can be purchased at Croghan Colonial Bank and Old Fort Bank, 24 tickets for $10 (2-3 needed per ride). For more information visit, a free shuttle is available to the Village and Downtown locations. Come join the community of Tiffin September 15th-17th for the Heritage Festival, where history comes alive!

Other Events

Elks Lodge 94 and Tiffin Eagles 402 will both have beer gardens and live music both night. The Elks will feature Nebdroola Friday and Alternate Ending Saturday night; the Eagles will feature Quickshine on Friday and the Eric Sowers Band on Saturday night.

The Behind the Facade Tour: Riverside Ramble takes place Sunday from 2pm-5pm at Frost Parkway, an exploration of Tiffin’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods. More information can be found at or contacting Vicki Ohl at 419-448-8588.

Museums around town will also be open, including the American Civil War Museum, The Enchanted Moment Doll Museum, Tiffin Art Guild, Seneca County Museum, and Tiffin Glass Museum. Hours can be found on each museum’s website, as well as the Heritage Festival’s site

View the brochure and schedule of events here.

Plans for downtown Tiffin brewery announced


Venture to occupy space in historic Laird Arcade


The intended location of the brewery – the former Iron Gate Cafe space inside the Laird Arcade.

TIFFIN, OHIO – January 11, 2017 – Plans have been made public for a downtown brewery and taproom to be located in the historic Laird Arcade building. Local entrepreneurs Eric Kuebler and Rob Weaver announced their intentions at yesterday’s Tiffin Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

“Breweries are being added to a lot of communities, and contribute to the livelihood and revitalization of downtown areas,” Weaver said. “Downtown revitalization is already going on in Tiffin and we’d really like to be a part of it.”

The brewery zoning classification was granted by the Zoning Board, pending approval by the Planning Commission and Tiffin City Council. The next major steps will be filing a federal brewer’s notice, a process that takes six to eight months, and obtaining a state liquor license.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz was delighted by the news. “Tiffin has a long and interesting history of breweries like this run by local entrepreneurs. This is an exciting venture, and we’ll give them all the support we can.”

Kuebler and Weaver, both avid homebrewers, will brew beer on-site. The taproom will offer ten varieties of beer, including six flagship brews to be served year-round as well as rotating seasonal specialties. Half-gallon growlers will be sold and filled, and there are plans to make kegs available to select Seneca County bars and restaurants.

“We are both from Tiffin and looking to give back to our community, by providing quality products with thirty years of combined experience,” Kuebler said.

Along with beer, they plan to offer locally produced snacks but leave heavier fare to local restaurants. “This is a cooperative venture with our neighbors, at the Laird and in the surrounding community,” Kuebler said. “This will benefit them as much as it benefits us.”

According to The Brewers Association, Ohio is one of the leading states for craft beer, ranking fourth in barrels produced annually (1.4 million) made by 143 craft breweries statewide. The annual economic impact is in excess of $2.1 million and growing.


Started in 1983, the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to driving positive economic, downtown, and community development in Tiffin and Seneca County, Ohio, which consistently ranks among the top communities nationally for economic development. Learn more about the great things going on in the community at


Poignon invests in business, holds community art event

poignon ownersRyan and Monica Poignon, owners of the Poignon Project, located at 227 East Perry Street, have invested into their small business by purchasing the building they were renting. The previous owner had held the building, which at one time was a grocery store and a barber shop, since 1972.

“The past five years, moving back to Tiffin was the greatest thing I ever did,” Ryan said. “There is so much support here.”

Ryan said this was the next step in his plans to grow his business as well as the art community in Tiffin. Motivation to purchase the building also came from the Poignons’ investment in express yourself dayscustomizing their shop. Ryan said the glassblowing equipment alone is worth $20,000, and there is another $20,000 invested in the building. Ryan’s next step will be moving his glassblowing equipment to a different part of the building to expand classes and workshops. Along with art education for adults, he is also looking to expand into art camps for children.

In addition, starting July 16-17, the Poignon Project will be hosting “Express Yourself Days” to support the local art community and raise donations for local charities. The July event will feature live music, art vendors, food vendors, live chainsaw art, live glassblowing and more. There will also be a cardboard house building contest to help grow awareness of homelessness in Seneca County.

Ryan’s efforts to extend opportunities in the arts to the community stem from seeing the need in the Tiffin community. “When I was in high school, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the arts. I never imagined that I would be sitting here in front of my own building,” he said. “This is something for everyone to learn: don’t give up.”

Ryan recently published his own motivational book featuring his works called “If You Do Nothing You Are Nothing,” a motto he certainly lives by.

For more infomation, visit


Dead Shark Productions

20160623_180831In honor of Dead Shark Week…

Meet Alex and Brady Doepker, owners of Dead Shark Productions based in Tiffin. Alex and Brady are Tiffin-native brothers with exceptional videography skills. You may know them from Mayor Aaron Montz’s “Keep Tiffin Moving Forward” video, or the series of promotional pieces for the Tiffin Music and Art Festival, but there is so much more to Dead Shark Productions.

The Doepkers got their start early, assisting their dad in making wedding videos as children. “We started helping as soon as we could hold cameras, and that became our weekend and summer jobs,” Brady said.

“Video production has always been the plan,” Brady said. Alex and Brady made their first short film in 1998, “The World’s Greatest Baseball Player,” as part of a summer video production class for kids through Heidelberg University. From there, both went to college to pursue filmmaking degrees.

In 2013, they began using the name Dead Shark Productions. “If a shark doesn’t move forward, it dies. It’s fitting for our business, because if we are not out there making films and trying new things, we lose motivation,” Alex said.

Most of their work takes place in Seneca County, and they are happy to keep their services here. Alex explained, “I was never one with a strong need to leave Tiffin. Clearly, things are going in the right direction here. I always thought, ‘Why can’t I do this here? Why can’t we have something of this quality, this production value?’ People don’t have to go to big cities to get great videos.”

“We set up our base here, and we can always travel,” Brady added.

Dead Shark Production’s services include commercials, music videos, wedding videography, live events and media conversion, and they also create their own short films, but they are open to trying new things. “If it’s video in any way,” Alex said, “we can probably do it.”

With more than $20,000 invested in equipment and terabytes of footage from around the county, these sharks are certainly moving forward.

Check out their work on their YouTube Channel and learn more at their website.

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Beehive Cafe

Meet Ashlee Decker, founder and owner of The Beehive Cafe in the Laird Arcade. The Beehive is a farm-to-table restaurant serving food sourced directly from local farmers. Ashlee says, “The concept of my cafe is to support our local community, and the Tiffin community is very supportive of one another. If it was going to work anywhere, it’d work in Tiffin.”

Ashlee also teaches Environmental Science at Heidelberg University, and will be working with a group of students for marketing. “It’s really important to allow the students to tell us what they want, they are a really big part of our community,” she said.

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Select Realty Group

SelectMeet Sara Riesen and Fran Andersons, owners of Select Realty Group, located at 23 S. Washington St. in Tiffin. Sara and Fran started their own business in 2012 and bring a combined 42 years of experience in real estate to the table.

Both owners are Tiffin natives. “I just like the small town community,” Fran said. “It’s a very warm and welcoming town. I like being downtown where we’re growing and improving.”

“It’s such a supportive community!” Sara said. “I love walking downtown and seeing everyone. We can walk across the bridge and get a glass of wine at Ralph’s, cheesecake next door, the best cup of coffee on the corner and now we have a nice view of the river.”

“We do things a little differently and do our own thing,” Fran said of their approach to realty. In fact, when they opened, they were the only realty office in town not to require “floor time,” instead, letting their agents come and go as needed.

They are also rolled out their own app earlier this month. “We like experimenting with new technology and social media,” Sara said.

Select Realty is composed of 12 agents, including Sara and Fran. “We have fun and we have a great group that works very hard and is very caring,” Sara said of the staff. “They are community conscious so they are out there.”

Some of the groups they are involved with include: Humane Society of Seneca County, Salvation Army, Tiffin Community YMCA, and The Ritz Theatre Board.

Select belongs to the Firelands Association of REALTORS. Both Fran and Sara serve on the Firelands board of directors, with Sara serving as president. Sara also recently won the Heidelberg School of Business – HSB Women’s Established Entrepreneur Award!

Stop by and see Sara and Fran, or call to make an appointment.

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Feasel’s Frame and Collision

Feasel'sMeet the Feasels – Rick, Jan and Jeff – the family behind Feasel’s Frame& Collision Inc, located at 4400 W. US Hwy 224 just West of Tiffin. Rick and wife Jan went into the car repair business in 1984. In 2012 their son Jeff, who could often be found in his crib at the office with his parents as a child, joined the business in a managerial role.

Jeff spent several years as a video journalist, working for CBS and NBC, before he and his wife decided to move back to to Tiffin. “To go further in that career would involve moving often, and my wife and I were done moving. I always wanted to raise my family here, so I was very thankful for the opportunity to come back home and work with my parents.”

Over the past several years the family has made many improvements to the business, including equipment and structure upgrades, and they don’t plan to slow down. They just moved in to their newly renovated office last April, installed a new paint booth – complete with air filtration and water-based environmentally friendly paint – three years ago, and keeping up with industry trends, they have the ability to weld and repair aluminum.

“I love being a part of a small business in this community,” Jan said. “It’s amazing how wonderful the community has been in supporting our local business for the past 32 years. I love being able to help others in my community, especially in their time of need. I also love that this is a family business. There are three of us are here – it’s really a ‘mom and pop’ business!”

The Feasels are very active in the community too. Jan gives tennis lessons and teaches CCD, Jeff is a Tiffin Rotary Club member and serves on the board of Seneca County Young Professionals, the whole family is active in St Joseph’s Catholic Church and they are a Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Services member. This past November, Feasels donated $25 to Heartbeat/Hope Medical for every vehicle repaired after hitting a deer, for a total donation of $625.

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Riley’s Car Wash

Riley'sMeet Emerson Riley, the third-generation owner of Riley’s Wayne Car Wash, located at 249 N. Washington St. in Tiffin. Founded in 1952 by Emerson’s grandfather, Wayne C. Riley, Riley’s Car Wash is the second oldest family-owned car wash still operating in the United States!

Emerson says Wayne got the idea for the car wash from a comic strip. He salvaged parts for his car wash in Michigan, and opened up shop behind the building that is now Hunan King, which at the time, was owned by his father-in-law. They moved their current location in 1962. They started out doing “tub washes” and put in the automated system in 1977. During a drought in the 1980’s, a well was dug to serve the car wash.

Tiffin-native Emerson has been working at the family shop since he was 11 years old. “I never really wanted to leave Tiffin,” he said. “It’s quiet and I get to do my own thing. I never wanted a big city life.”

Of the family business he says, “It’s like home. I feel weird when I’m not here.”

You can stop by and see Emerson for a full detail, full-service car wash or outer car wash Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday is Ladies Day and Thursday is Retirees’ Day.

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Smith Systems

Smith SystemsMeet James Smith, founder and owner of Smith Systems, located at 193 S. Washington St. in downtown Tiffin. James started his computer maintenance and repair business out of his home in March 2012 and made the move downtown in December 2013. One of James’ first contracts was with the Kiwanis Manor, which he still serves today. “When I started the business, I met Dale Depew and he was a mentor to me. He believed in me and helped me get started and really sold me. He got me started with the Kiwanis Manor,” James said.

From there, Smith Systems grew very quickly. “I had too much business, and one of my friends, Spencer Williams, does phone repair, so I asked him if wanted to open a shop with me,” James said.

Smith Systems now offers a wide range of home and business computer services. Not only can you bring your computer in for hardware repairs, virus removal, data recovery and laptop screen repairs, you can also have your Apple products repaired, purchase a new or refurbished computer, or even have a computer custom built to fit your needs! Most services and repairs can be completed in 2-3 days, and come with a warranty and service reminder.

Originally from Michigan, James says he loves living in Tiffin and his shop’s location downtown. “Moving here was the best decision I ever made, it changed my life. Tiffin is such a peaceful town, it’s quiet and everyone gets along; it’s a slower pace here, with a strong community feel.”

James is also a supporter of development and growth in Tiffin. “Tiffin’s on the move and I’m really excited for what’s happening. I love it here and I want to live here forever!”

You can stop by Smith Systems for your computer, mobile device or network needs Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. or Saturday by appointment.

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