The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce kicked off the New Year by recognizing two local enterprises — Cugini's Pizzeria & Trattoria and the Okonite Company — as the Businesses of the Month for January. 

The program, offered for the first time in December, recognizes two Santa Maria businesses per month that are nominated by the community for recognition. 

Chamber leaders are focusing on one women-owned business and another in the manufacturing sector each month, with awards presented during the Tuesday meeting of the City Council.

Cugini's Pizzeria & Trattoria, owned by Loise Pippin and located on Betteravia Road, started in San Luis Obispo in 1999 before moving to Santa Maria nine years ago. The restaurant is known for its Any 3 Toppings Pizza option as well as a variety of salads, sandwiches, calzones, pastas, desserts, and even wings.

Chamber CEO Glenn Morris noted the restaurant's commitment to using fresh ingredients every day, prepared by a small team of nine dedicated employees, many of whom have worked there for several years.

"I’m humbled, and I want to thank the community, all my customers, family, and friends for keeping me open and helping me, especially during COVID," Pippin said.

The Okonite Company is a wire and cable manufacturer that came to Santa Maria in 1966, with around 200 employees who work in an approximately 600,000 square-foot building on Skyway Drive.

Okonite creates wire and cable insulation to support electric utilities as well as oil, gas and chemical companies along with military bases. According to Morris, the manufacturer contributed over $2 million to the local economy last year.

"We look forward to many more decades here in Santa Maria, and we will strive to continue contributing to the local economy and giving back to the community in any way that we can," said plant manager Dustin Banet.

The business also offers professional development and learning opportunities to local high school and college students, with collaborative projects and paid internships organized with students from Hancock College in Santa Maria and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.

Featured businesses are chosen by the Chamber of Commerce. Residents can nominate a local businesses for the program or find more information by contacting Molly Schiff at or 805-925-2403, ext. 816.


Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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