Citizens’ Voice: Chamber honors pair of award winners

WILKES-BARRE — A Wilkes-Barre-based technology company received the Small Business of the Year Award on Wednesday night at an event that showcased the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber’s upgraded website and use of social media.

Dennis Cook

Dennis Cook of Lightspeed Technologies, 2014 Small Business of the Year

Dennis Cook of Lightspeed Technologies accepted the award at the chamber’s 130th annual dinner, attended by nearly 600 people at Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center. PNC Bank sponsored the award.

Founded in 1997, Cook said Lightspeed Technologies’ professionals work behind the scenes to build network infrastructures that support companies’ day-to-day operations. The company operates 24-7.

“Today, Lightspeed continues to provide local people with high-tech jobs in our hometown,” Cook said. “Our team is comprised of many bright young people with families who are committed to their communities.”

John Metz Sr. and the Metz family were the recipients of the Distinguished Citizen Award, sponsored by Luzerne Bank.


John Metz, Sr. – 2014 Distinguished Citizen

Metz serves as executive chairman of Metz Culinary Management, a Dallas-based firm which specializes in providing dining management for health care, educational and corporate accounts.

Metz’s entrepreneurial spirit led to the opening of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s only Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Pennsylvania’s first Wolfgang Puck Express at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino in Plains Township as well as T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants along the east coast and several Krispy Kreme locations.

“Everything we do is about our people and our partner clients,” Metz said. “What really makes us special is our people.”

Wico van Genderen, chamber president and chief executive officer, praised Metz and the culinary management empire he and his family built that operates from Maine to Florida.

“It’s an amazing story,” van Genderen said. “It’s the 18th largest culinary management organization in this country, located right here.”

Van Genderen also recognized Lightspeed Technologies, saying, “That’s a very smart team of individuals.”

“What they do is really cool in taking technology and making it an enabling tool and taking that technology and accelerating it for businesses today,” he said.

People who attended Wednesday night’s event were encouraged to check out the chamber’s upgraded website at and social media sites. They also were asked tweet their experiences and photos with the hashtag #GWBCCC, representing the dinner’s title, “Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Click Connect.”

Van Genderen also displayed a video highlighting the greater Wilkes-Barre area as a great place to live, work and experience and asked others to share it. The video can be found at

“This is a fabulous place we all live in,” he said. “We all need to be really proud of that because it’s really an amazing place.”

Read the original article by Denise Allabaugh at