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Business people / Hires, Promotions & Honors

Merchants Insurance Group, a personal and commercial insurance provider, promoted Charles E. Makey III to senior vice president -- Insurance Operations at its Buffalo office. Makey, who began his career with the company in 1996 as director of sales, previously was vice president and regional manager of the company's Central States Regional Office in Dublin, Ohio. He earned an MBA from Daniel Webster College and a bachelor's degree in business administration from St. Bonaventure University.

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Praxair Inc. named Larry Megan and John Royal corporate fellows in the industrial gases company's research and development organization, located at the Technology Center in the Town of Tonawanda. Megan, who joined the company in 1993, is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Connecticut. Royal, with the company since 1975, has a bachelor's degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, a master's in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MBA from the University at Buffalo and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University. Also, the company named John Billingham director of cryogenic equipment research and development. Billingham, who joined the company in 1992, has bachelor's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in the United Kingdom.

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The American Society for Industrial Security named Vito Czyz, security administrator at Continental Automotive Systems Division, chairman and secretary of its 2009 board of directors. Other officers: Vice chairman, Peter M. Vito, commissioner of Erie County Central Police Services; treasurer, Michael Guzik, accounts manager, Security Integrations; law enforcement liaison, Ronald J. Christopher, director of Public Safety, Medaille College; program chairman, Robert Vezina Jr., Construction Division manager, Life Safety; special events chairwoman, Patricia A. Hensley, chief operating officer, Peter M. Vito and Associates; and membership chairman, Brian C. Mellinger, director of security, Adams Mark Hotel.

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Floss Agency, an insurance and financial services provider and a member of the EMS Group, promoted Diane Ventresca to vice president of operations. An Erie Community College graduate, Ventresca joined the agency in 2005, most recently serving as operations manager. With more than 33 years experience in both the carrier and agency fields, she holds several designations including, associate in insurance services, associate in personal insurance, certified insurance counselor, and chartered property and casualty underwriter.

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The Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building a better Buffalo through its annual support of public, charitable and benevolent organizational and activities, elected David R. Pfalzgraf Jr. president for a two-year term. Pfalzgraf is a partner in the law firm Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf, Cunningham and Coppola. Other officers: Vice president, James F. Dentinger, McGuire Development; and treasurer, Eugene G. Kershner, Chiampou Travis Besaw and Kershner. Directors: Anthony P. Amigone, Amigone Funeral Home and Cremation Service; Andrew L. Fors, Summer Street Capital Partners; Dr. Richard N. Gilbert, Western New York Urology Associates; Gerry Matos, New Era Cap; William P. Rupp, Rupp Family Foundation, and Paul V. Vukelic, Try-It Distributing Co.

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Ray Laks Honda sales consultant Chuck Riso was awarded Gold Master status by the American Honda Motor Co. for consistently delivering superior results and demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction.

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