A time to reflect Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

All great sports executives know the dangers of spending too much time celebrating victories.

Unless the victory in question is the Super Bowl, the final game of the World Series or the last game of the NBA Finals, any celebration is short-lived so that the team’s focus shifts back to the next game and they don’t become complacent.

This month, through Cascade Capital Corp.’s Business Growth Awards, we honor 48 organizations from the greater Akron region for their ability to maintain sustained business growth during a five-year period that’s widely been considered a challenging — if not dismal — economic time.

By itself, this would be a good reason to spend more than a fleeting moment reflecting on how impressive the accomplishments really are, but there’s more to it than that.

One of the keys to business success is the ability to understand where your organization is at any given moment, develop a cohesive strategy that maps out a plan to move it forward and then to have the wherewithal to lead the organization to that goal. That leadership trait, call it “entrepreneurial spirit,” is exactly what the leaders of the organizations being honored this year embody.

Take for example this year’s FirstMerit Legacy Award winner.

Ellis Yan, founder and CEO of Technical Consumer Products Inc., has nearly tripled his employee base and more than quadrupled TCP’s revenue over the past five years. At the same time, he’s built an organization that today controls more than 70 percent of the U.S. CFL market.

Or consider Bargmann Management. Lisa Bargmann, the company’s founder, was its sole employee five years ago. Today, the medical billing and collection service firm employs more than 70 people and expects that number to reach 100 by year’s end.

Finally, there’s William Fink, president of Area Wide Protective Inc. In 1992, Fink bought a small contract security guard company but nearly lost it to bankruptcy three years later. But instead of giving up, Fink remade the company into a temporary traffic control service firm and supplied workers to a new market, the public utility industry. Now, AWP operates in 12 states and employs more than 650 people.

AWP achieved this milestone through Fink’s vision and leadership, and that’s one reason why, this year, we established the Entrepreneurial Spirit award and named him our inaugural honoree.

Contact Editor Dustin Klein at dsklein@sbnonline.com