Chamber Announces the 2013 Business and Partner of the Year

Chamber honors Wagner Family Eyecare, Oil City Area School District

From staff reports

The Venango Area Chamber of Commerce has named Wagner Family Eyecare, located along Route 257 in Seneca, as the 2013 Business of the Year, and Oil City Area School District as the 2013 Partner in Business. The two recipients will be honored May 16 at a Chamber mixer at Cranberry Mall. (By Jerry Sowden)The Venango Area Chamber of Commerce has named Wagner Family Eyecare, located along Route 257 in Seneca, as the 2013 Business of the Year, and Oil City Area School District as the 2013 Partner in Business. The two recipients will be honored May 16 at a Chamber mixer at Cranberry Mall. (By Jerry Sowden)The Venango Area Chamber of Commerce has chosen a local eye care practice and a public school district to receive top business-related honors in 2013.

The chamber has named Wagner Family Eyecare as the 2013 Business of the Year and Oil City Area School District as the 2013 Partner in Business.

The annual awards recognize “excellence in business…and responsible business leadership.”

A mixer to honor the recipients is set from 5 to 7 p.m. May 16 at the Movies at Cranberry in the mall.

Business of the year

David Wagner joined the practice of Tracy Sepich in 1999 as an extern while completing his education at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Three years later he become a partner with Sepich and the next year become the sole owner of Wagner Family Eyecare.

(By Jerry Sowden)(By Jerry Sowden)In 2011, Wagner purchased the former Black’s Bakery building on Route 257 and did extensive renovations to the structure. In addition to a growing staff, Wagner Family Eyecare has enjoyed a steady growth of patients, an increase of more than 800 percent over the past 10 years.

Stephen M. Reinsel, an Oil City native and board certified optometrist, joined the Wagner practice a year ago. The two professionals treat pediatric eye issues and specialize in low vision eye care and the evaluation and treatment of major eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy and glaucoma.

Wagner Family Eyecare is one of a select few practices nationwide to offer services provided by a Heidelberg Spectralis OCT (ocular coherence tomography) imager with autofluorescence technology. In January, the business joined Vision Source, North America’s largest network of private practice optometric offices.

The center works closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to match patients’ eye needs with specific devices to enable them to continue living independently. It also is a new provider for the Veterans Administration.

Wagner said his business is able to compete in the marketplace by offering “superior customer service and state-of-the-art technology.”

He traveled a year ago on a mission trip to Haiti to set up an eye care clinic and said he plans to make the project an annual event.

Wagner and his wife Jodi are the parents of an eight-year-old daughter.

Wagner Family Eyecare will hold an open house and chamber mixer May 23.

Partner of the year

Oil City Area School District has the largest enrollment of any school district in the region and is one of Venango County’s 10 largest employers. The district employs more than 300 people with one-third of those staff members under 40, and the district lists an annual budget of $28 million.

The chamber award recognizes the school district’s effort to “work with the business community in assuring a quality workforce for the future.”

District superintendent Joe Carrico launched a business education round table forum that invites business leaders from across the county to meet with local superintendents.

Carrico said the district’s responsibility is “to be a public servant and to foster relationships with the business community in the region at-large, preparing students for integration into the community and to encourage students to invest in their community.”

To that end, students and staff serve in positions on local boards and councils and volunteer at events and in community projects.

While the school district’s impact is most strongly felt in the immediate community, there is evidence of a much larger reach within the region. The district recently took the lead in the coordination of the Regional Emergency Response Protocol for Venango County that provides a plan for school districts and emergency responders to have standard procedures in case of emergencies and public safety threats.

School facilities have been available for a variety of regional events such as the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life.

The district is committed to using local vendors and businesses for renovation, construction, events and activities, said Carrico.

When asked about the most recent challenges facing the district, Carrico said, “There is a fine art in recognizing, embracing and celebrating education as a business.”