Dibble Award winner exudes enterprising, community spirit

From left, Ion Bank Foundation Executive Director Kathleen McPadden, Marcelo Martins and Ion Bank President David Rotatori share a laugh during the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting & Lewis A. Dibble Sr. Award Dinner Jan. 8 at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. Martins received the Dibble Award at the event. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Marcelo Martins started Luso Cleaning Services with his father, Manuel, when he was 19 years old. Thirty years later, the business is thriving, as is Martins’ community spirit.

For Martins, the secret to his success is simple.

“I honestly believe that in a small community that if you are part of the community and give back to the community, your community will always take care of you,” he said.

Martins, a Naugatuck native, has a lengthy record of giving back to the community. He actively volunteers with and has served in leadership roles for many local organizations, including the United Way of Naugatuck & Beacon Falls, Naugatuck YMCA, Naugatuck Rotary Club and the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce.

On Wednesday, the community continued to give back to him, as well. The Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce honored Martins with the Lewis A. Dibble Sr. Award during its annual meeting. The award recognizes an individual’s outstanding contributions to the business and socioeconomic well-being of Naugatuck.

In a moment away from the family, friends and local officials that packed the Crystal Room, Martins said to have his name added to the list of past Dibble Award recipients is a true honor.

“To see all these people coming out to celebrate this evening with me is truly mind-blowing,” Martins said. “I am honored. I love the borough of Naugatuck, I always have, and I believe that if we all volunteered a little bit and did a little bit our communities would be so much better.”

Ion Bank President David Rotatori, who nominated Martins for the award, said building a business takes commitment, hard work and personal sacrifice. He said Martins built and grew Luso Cleaning Services with his father all while remaining committed to the community.

“You’re an inspiration to me and all the people in here, and you’re a true Naugatuckian,” Rotatori told Martins.

Martins’ success didn’t come as a surprise to attorney Fred Dlugokecki, who first met Martins 30 years ago when he walked into his law office to discuss business.

“You can tell that he was a smart kid and dedicated to his family and the community,” Dlugokecki said.

The annual meeting also served as an opportunity for chamber members to reflect on 2019. The past year featured several successful events, including the 14th annual Duck Race and Festival, and the addition of 11 new members.

Courtney Ligi, director of the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber wouldn’t succeed without the dedication, commitment and loyalty of members like Martins. With his effervescent personality, leadership and a “volunteerism that bleeds from him,” she added, Martins serves as a role model for new members.

“If we didn’t have members at that level, such as Marcelo, we wouldn’t have a chamber,” she said.