3 Md. companies receive awards for excellence


With pomp and circumstance reminiscent of a television awards show, the 1990 Maryland Awards for Economic Excellence were bestowed yesterday.

Rohr Industries Inc., Preston Trucking Co. and International Computers & Telecommunications Inc. each took a turn in the spotlight as this year's companies best exemplifying the theme, "quality and productivity."

At a luncheon jointly sponsored by the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development and Maryland Economic Growth Associates Inc., representatives of the honored companies picked up their awards following a videotaped introduction -- complete with musical accompaniment -- showcasing the companies' strengths on a mammoth screen.

Rohr Industries, described in its video as "a high-flying high-tech company" manufactures aerodynamic casings used in jet engines and other aircraft equipment.

Jay R. Howe, Rohr's general manager, accepted the award on behalf of the 600 "stakeholders," or employees, of the Hagerstown-based company, which was cited for its cooperation with the United Auto Workers union local.

Preston Trucking, in Preston on the Eastern Shore, also received kudos for its employee-management relations. Accepting the award, Preston President Bill Terrell attributed the company's success to management philosophy: "You get what you reward and you get what you recognize."

The third recipient, Rockville's International Computers & Telecommunications Inc., was founded nine years ago by David Y. Sohn, who accepted the award.

Mr. Sohn, a Korean immigrant, started the microcomputer company with a personal investment of $1,000.

The company's revenues grew to $13 million last year.

In addition, John L. Wickham, president of J. L. Wickham Co. on Belair Road in Northeast Baltimore, was named Entrepreneur of the Year.

Having overcome what Mr. Wickham described as a 15 percent projected chance of survival, his 7-year-old company designs computer-aided manufacturing systems for corporations including Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp.

Rita R. Colwell, director of the Maryland Biotechnology Institute, was given the Pate Award for outstanding contribution to economic development in the state.

Dr. Colwell concentrates on biotechnological research that lends itself to innovative commercial applications.

In fact, the oysters served as appetizers at the luncheon were the result of a special harvesting process developed by Dr. Colwell.

Capping the awards ceremony, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra won the Maryland Ambassador of the Year Award.

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