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Western New Yorkers will receive six out of the nine entrepreneurship awards the U.S. Small Business Administration plans to give out in its Region II.

This is the best showing for the eight-county area since the SBA began giving awards in 1963, according to Franklin J. Sciortino, director of the agency's Buffalo district office.

Last year, local companies and individuals only captured two regional honors, he said. The SBA's Region II consists of New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The awards will be presented during National Small Business Week, April 30 through May 6.

Topping the list of 1995 regional winners are a fast-growing chain of bagel shops and a manufacturer of industrial punching machines.

Bagel Bros. Bakery & Deli, an Amherst-based restaurant chain, has won the "Entrepreneurial Success Award," which recognizes small businesses that have grown into large corporations. Unipunch Products Inc. of Buffalo has been named "Exporter of the Year."

In addition, four local people are being recognized for helping small-business owners in the region. All competed against companies and individuals from the two-state region and Caribbean islands for the awards.

Sciortino said four individuals will receive awards from the SBA's Buffalo district, which includes Western New York and Rochester. A Rochester accountant will be honored as well, he said.

Bronx natives Jay and Robert Gershberg founded the Bagel Bros. chain in 1976, with a tiny take-out bakery in Amherst's Northtown Plaza. Their start-up capital included a $30,000 SBA-guaranteed bank loan.

Today, Bagel Bros. has 12 restaurants in the Buffalo area and four in Greater Cleveland. It plans to open four more outlets in Buffalo and three more in Ohio this year.

The restaurant chain serves up more than 200,000 bagels daily in 17 varieties. Sales now total several million dollars each year.

"The 1990s have been, and continue to be, great years for Bagel Bros. and the bagel industry overall," said Robert Gershberg. "The market's desire for healthier, high-quality, quick-service food alternatives has proven to be a measurable plus for the company," he said.

More than 125 people currently work for Bagel Bros. in Western New York, with employment levels expected to reach 200 by the end of the year.

Unipunch Products began exporting its industrial punching machines in 1992, under the direction of David E. McMullen, the company's new sales and marketing director. Since then, the Buffalo manufacturer has established a network of distributors in Europe, Asia and South America. It sells to 38 countries, and recently signed agreements to enter the machinery markets of South Africa and Turkey.

McMullen reported that international receipts currently account for 8 percent of Unipunch's sales and have fueled job growth at the Buffalo plant.

"We also have identified and negotiated with potential joint venture partners in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Thailand and the Czech Republic," he said. "Through these joint ventures we hope to establish manufacturing facilities in these countries, which will further expedite the progress of our international sales program," he added.

Founded in 1955, Unipunch maintains a factory at 370 Babcock St. on the city's South Side. Major improvements and new machinery were installed last year.

Representatives of Bagel Bros. and Unipunch will receive their awards during ceremonies in May.

The other local winners of SBA awards are:

Kathleen E. Donoghue, co-founder of Another Alternative Resources in Cheektowaga, will receive the Women in Business Advocate of the Year Award for the SBA's Region II. She and partner Judy Nevins are organizational and training consultants. Ms. Donoghue also founded the local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the leading lobbying group for female entrepreneurs.

James K. Gould, who helps disabled veterans for the state Labor Department, has been named the region's Veterans Advocate of the Year. A Vietnam veteran, he has counseled many of his compatriots and helped them access various programs.

Carol V. Kociela, a senior vice president of Marine Midland Bank, will receive the Financial Services Advocate of the Year Award for the region. Ms. Kociela and her bank are strong supporters of the SBA's guaranteed loan program.

Steve Boyd, a reporter and weekend anchor for WKBW-TV Channel 7, has been named the region's Media Services Advocate of the Year.

Peter and Patrick Quinlan of AccuDie Corp. in North Tonawanda will receive the Small Business Persons of the Year Award for the SBA's Buffalo district. Founded in 1960, AccuDie makes equipment used in the manufacturing of boxes and other containers.

Frank DiMaria, owner of Frank's Landscaping and Drainage Service in Buffalo, has been named the district's Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The 27-year-old said the origins of his business date to a childhood filled with shoveling snow in his Kenmore neighborhood. Frank's Landscaping currently employs 30 people and has a fleet of 15 trucks.

Dennis Pasiak, a contracting officer for the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 914th Tactical Airlift Group, will receive the Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year award. Based in Niagara Falls, Pasiak has helped minority and women-owned businesses win contracts from the Defense Department.

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