MOUNT VERNON, NY - Leon Zanger of Walker Zanger, Inc. was one of four recipients of the Ernst & Young 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year awards. Zanger was recognized for the honor on Thursday, June 20, at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, CT, along with fellow winners Gerry Ryan, president and CEO of Discover General Contracting of Mount Vernon; Lillian Vernon, retiring CEO of Lillian Vernon Corp. of Rye, NY; and Elliot Jaffe, chairman of the board of The Dress Barn Inc. of Suffern, NY.

Walker Zanger, which was started 50 years ago with a $500 investment by Zanger and former partner Marvin Walker, had revenues last year of $99.4 million.

Zanger had worked previously for an import-export business. American homeowners were developing a taste for stonework, and the stone could be imported and sold at good margins. Zanger said he bought out his partner in the late 1960s and moved the operation to Eastchester. The growing business moved again to Mount Vernon in 1990.

Competition has picked up sharply over the years, said Zanger. To keep ahead, his company relies on its reputation for adding value to its merchandise. It keeps a group of designers on staff to come up with novel forms for their product. "Stone is everywhere," said Zanger. "You have to romanticize it."