A small, local cable television company that started out with 12 channels and unreliable technology in 1968 has grown into today's Adelphia Cable Niagara with 60 channels, 60,000 subscribers and 65 employees to win the Niagara Falls Area Chamber of Commerce's Company of the Year award for 1994-95.
The award was presented during the Chamber's 77th annual dinner Wednesday in the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center.
Fred Caso, executive vice president of the Chamber, said Adelphia Niagara was cited for its service to the community, for offering public access to its cable channels, and for its continuing expansion. The company now serves Niagara Falls and eight other municipalities.
Guy San Lorenzo, a former Niagara Falls firefighter, and Vince Laurendi Sr., sales manager for Simon Oil Co., obtained the cable TV franchise for Niagara Falls and Lewiston in 1968 under the company name STV Cable Television Inc.
Within two years, the company needed additional capital and it entered into an agreement with John Rigas of Coudersport, Pa., and Gus Rigas of Wellsville, who operated small cable systems in Western Pennsylvania. They formed the corporate structure now known as Adelphia Communications.
Vince Laurendi Sr. was named president of the company in 1975, when the company was called Niagara Frontier Cable. Vince Laurendi Jr., a former employee of the NCR Corp., was recruited in 1979 to coordinate the development of pay-TV and satellite programming.
The Niagara Falls system underwent a major rebuilding in 1985 to expand the number of channels. While cable TV was growing here, so was the Adelphia Corp. In 1987, all Adelphia owned systems were unified under the Adelphia name.
Systemwide, Adelphia Cable has more than 1.5 million subscribers and is the seventh largest cable TV company in the nation. It is headquartered in Coudersport.
Local programming on channel 3 is a major part of Adelphia's community service, Caso said. The Niagara Falls Firefighters Toy Fund Telethon, broadcast on that channel, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity.
Other awards presented Wednesday included:
Small Business Award -- Supermarket Liquors and Wines and its president, Christopher Castellani, for expansion of its business at 8438 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Kenneth F. Ford Niagara Award for community service -- William G. Mayne Jr., president of Taggart-Mayne & Associates, for his volunteer service. The award is named for a long-time Chamber volunteer who died in 1988.
Recognition awards -- The Rev. Brian J. O'Connell, who recently announced his resignation as president of Niagara University; the Niagara Falls Public Library, in recognition of its centennial celebration; and the Lewiston Kiwanis Club, for its wide range of community activities.
Festival of Lights awards -- R.B. U'Ren Equipment Rental, Niagara Erecting Inc., and Higgins Erectors and Haulers, for their help with the annual festival.
Chairman's awards -- Ralph A. Boniello III of the law firm of Boniello Anton Conti & Boniello; and Jonathan M. Schultz, vice president of the Maid of the Mist Corp.
Henry M. Sloma, president of the Fairchild Holding Co. and chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerce, presented the annual report on the Chamber's activities to the 735 persons at Wednesday's dinner. Arthur V. Lynnworthcq, Niagara plant manager for Occidental Chemical Corp., was chairman of the dinner.