Cascade Capital Awards 2013 -- Technology Employee Growth winner
Epiphany Management Group
Epiphany Management Group offers IT managed services, professional development and education marketing to schools nationwide. EMG takes into account an innovative management approach that focuses on the K-12 market and helps today’s students who learn and live differently than those in previous generations.
Through technology, EMG aims to improve outcomes, collaboration, management and efficiencies.
Starting with just one employee, CEO Suranjan Shome, the company has grown to an organization with nearly 75 employees in three states. EMG has made significant investments in senior personnel, processes and systems automation, which has resulted in revenues doubling this year compared to 2012. This growth was financed organically, without outside venture funding.
The success can be largely attributed to a copyrighted and facilitated strategic planning process that has cascaded into all facets of the organization. This disciplined process was initiated when the company was launched in 2007 and has resulted in clarity of direction, message and purpose for the organization and employees.
In addition, the process has created an alignment throughout the company between employee and organizational goals and direction. It has also inspired employees to realize a perfect customer satisfaction and retention outcome.
With the future in mind, EMG has developed a multi-level executive and general management structure that delegates decision-making autonomy and accountability throughout the organization. This goes against many common theories that centralize authority with the top executive or partners, incorporating instead the experience of the principals, partners and associates of EMG who have spent decades in the K-12 market. ●
How to reach: Epiphany Management Group,
(888) 364-4512 or www.epiphanymgmt.com
How Robert Littman, Mark Goldfarb and SS&G continue to become a more competitive player in accountingWritten by SBN Staff
Cascade Capital Awards 2013 — Service category, sales growth, established
CEO: Robert Littman
Senior Managing Director: Mark Goldfarb
SS&G Inc., one of the nation’s largest independent accounting and business consulting firms, was ranked No. 39 in Accounting Today’s 2013 Top 100 firms. SS&G serves clients across the country with offices in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Under the leadership of CEO Robert Littman and Mark Goldfarb, senior managing director, SS&G’s certified public accountants and advisers provide tax, assurance, employee benefit, payroll and consulting services to thousands of clients across a variety of industries. In addition, the company offers services through affiliates SS&G Healthcare Services LLC, SS&G Wealth Management LLC, SS&G Parkland LLC and its payroll affiliate, Paytime Integrated Payroll Solutions.
SS&G’s experts provide progressive, effective and timely services and solutions, demonstrating commitment to client satisfaction through consistent, proactive communication.
More than 20 percent of its accountants have experience in a Big Four firm. Another 15 percent have served as a CEO, CFO, COO or controller in private industry.
All these capabilities and skill sets have allowed SS&G to see strong growth over the years, and particularly here in Northeast Ohio. The company is slated to open a new office on Nov. 1 in downtown Cleveland on the 15th floor of the Hanna Building.
This strategic move will help establish SS&G as a competitive player in regional accounting and consulting, according to Littman, and will put SS&G in close proximity to clients and referrals, creating conveniences and efficiencies. The decision to create a downtown presence stemmed from a desire to be part of the revitalization of Cleveland and the interest of younger staff to live and work in an urban environment. ●
How to reach: SS&G Inc., (440) 248-8787 or
Cascade Capital Awards 2013 -- Service category, Employee growth emerging
Slate Rock Safety LLC
Kim Wilson, president
With a sales growth rate of more than 900 percent from 2008 to 2011, Slate Rock Safety LLC is among the country’s fastest growing private companies. Slate Rock Safety is a woman-owned e-commerce retailer/wholesaler and home to five separate business entities that specialize in the sale of flame resistant, occupational and safety apparel clothing for industries such as the military, utility, industrial and public safety.
Founded in 2007 and led by Kim Wilson, president, Slate Rock Safety has since seen a tremendous growth in employees and sales. The company is building off its 11 new job creations in 2012 with three new additions to date and more to come.
Along with the business unit, sales and marketing have continued to identify specialized niches across each of the industries Slate Rock Safety serves. Having formed close relationships with world-class manufacturers and customers, the company has been able to act as a liaison between customer and producer to help ensure ready-made products are meeting specifications.
Slate Rock Safety also has an in-house technology team that specializes in different disciplines — building the software architecture used for internal communications and reporting.
The design of its managed care program reduces the need for customer resources, saving them administrative time and money.
If you weren’t already impressed, the company also opened a new warehouse this year to give Slate Rock Safety more space for items and to expedite customer service. ●
How to reach: Slate Rock Safety LLC, (866) 783-7977 or www.slaterocksafety.com
Cascade Capital Awards 2013
Service Category/Employee Growth/Established
Sam Falletta, president and CEO, Incept Corp.
If you work for Sam Falletta, you don’t need to worry about his reaction when you bring him a problem. One of his greatest passions as president and CEO of Incept Corp. is coming up with a solution to a client or co-worker’s challenge.
It’s no doubt a key reason why Incept has become a successful business where people like to work.
During the past five years, Incept has nearly doubled the size of its workforce and realized a pretax profit increase of more than 375 percent. The business process outsourcing firm specializes in call center and social media support services for the biomedical, software and automotive industries.
Incept has created a strong employee culture based on the Lead by Culture philosophy developed by Zappos.com. It combines a commitment to people with the employment of best industry practices and promotes productive peer-to-peer and superior-to-subordinate communication across all levels of the organization.
Employees not only work well together on the job, but also bond through the company’s philanthropic efforts. In 2009, the company established a committee to manage its charitable fund, which is comprised of entry-level and senior executives and manages.
According to Falletta, the growth of the company’s staff and revenue are a direct result of the company’s community-driven corporate culture. In 2012, Incept grew its staff by 30 employees and is poised for continued growth in the years ahead. ●
How to reach: Incept Corp., (330) 649-8000 or www.inceptresults.com
Cascade Capital Awards 2013 -- Service -- Best story
J. Rayl Transport Inc.
Jeremy Rayl, the third generation to lead J. Rayl Transport Inc., has experienced a lot of success as CEO since taking over in 2008, including 46 percent growth in sales.
Don’t believe for a second though that Rayl takes that success for granted.
“If you don’t understand the risks that are out there, then you’re being naive to the potential things that could possibly bankrupt your company,” Rayl says. “It’s being able to identify these opportunities and being able to accurately identify our costs, what our revenues need to be and really understanding what drives profitability for our company.”
J. Rayl Trucking has about 230 trucks, 750 dry van trailers and 15 flatbed trailers covering more than half the country, and its brokerage covers the rest of the U.S. and Canada. The company has more than 250 employees and strives to develop cost-saving solutions for its customers.
Through its ability to provide several logistic options for a variety of commodities, J. Rayl Trucking has been able to maintain and expand its customer base.
Rayl puts a lot of effort into measuring risk vs. reward when attempting to meet the ever-changing needs of his customers.
“It has to have some sort of measurable ROI, and it has to add value to the company whether it is dollars saved or overall quality improvement,” Rayl says.
The result is an organization that continues to grow and continues to be a place where employees enjoy going to work. ●
How to reach: J. Rayl Transport Inc., (800) 753-5050 or www.jrayl.com
Cascade Capital Awards 2013 -- Manufacturing -- Employee Growth winner
Ohio Hickory Harvest Brand Products Inc.
Darlene Swiatkowski and Joseph Swiatkowski
The improvements, changes and innovations at Ohio Hickory Harvest over the past several years read like, well, a “soup to nuts” list.
Not only has the wholesale distributor of dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, trail mixes and confections expanded by acquiring I.M. Good Snacks, it’s built a new 30,000-square-foot facility in Akron — and has already added an additional 17,000 square feet. A new nut roaster, bringing the total to three, was included in the expansion, along with two new form fill and seal packing machines and an automated tub packaging line.
Over the last two years, the company has added 10 new items to the products list, as well as more flavorings and blends of nuts.
To top it all off, Ohio Hickory Harvest formed a new LLC company in 2012 and became majority owners of a Columbus-based chocolate and yogurt pretzel company, American Confections.
CEO Darlene Swiatkowski explains how significant that move was.
“We are now manufacturing and producing the best line of chocolate, yogurt, peanut butter, blueberry, raspberry and holiday-coated pretzels you’ve ever eaten,” she says. “And we’ve just begun.”
To help manage the growth, Ohio Hickory Harvest has increased its personnel by 175 percent since 2008.
Owned by the Swiatkowski family (Darlene’s son Joseph is president and son Mike is vice president of sales and marketing), the company has managed to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere — and every item that leaves the company represents the staff, the family’s ancestors and the future successors. ●
How to reach: Ohio Hickory Harvest Brand Products Inc., (800) 448 6887 or www.hickoryharvest.com
Cascade Capital Awards -- Manufacturing -- Best Story winner
Daniel’s Amish Collection
Christopher J. Karman
Back in 2003, Christopher J. Karman and his brother Ted bought a small Amish furniture-making business called Country Curios — which not surprisingly made Amish handcrafted curio cabinets. The Karmans had just quit their jobs working for a Fortune 500 company, and soon realized the harsh truth — people simply weren’t buying curios to display their knickknacks anymore.
So the idea of trying to grow a business in a declining market did not thrill either brother, but the Karmans didn’t give up. Instead, they broadened the product selection, went after high quality retailers and took the company national. Christopher took over as president as he and Ted launched Amish Mills and Daniel’s Amish Collection furniture products.
The company now offers office furniture, kitchen cabinets and bedroom suites. Since the company was founded, the workforce has grown from 12 craftsmen to about 150, and revenue has grown 134 percent in the last five years.
Daniel’s Amish Collection now operates two factories: one in Dundee and the other in Mount Eaton.
The business also has made a large impact on the local community and economy. Daniel’s Amish Collection supplies good-paying local jobs in an honest work environment, especially for those Amish who have moved away from farming and find that woodworking is the next biggest occupation.
Karman is pleased with the sense of family and personal pride among the workers.
“I am proud to say I feel we have the best workforce in the entire U.S.,” he says. ●
How to reach: Daniel’s Amish Collection, (330) 359-0400 or www.amishmills.com
How Kevin Weidinger’s grooming Laudan Properties to be the Midwest’s premier mortgage field services operationWritten by SBN Staff
Cascade Capital Awards
Service category, sales growth emerging, Laudan Properties LLC, Kevin Weidinger
After a “back of the napkin” strategy session five years ago at a Bob Evans restaurant, the Laudan Properties LLC business model was formed. Since then, Laudan Properties, under President Kevin Weidinger, has experienced rapid revenue and employee growth as it pursues its mission to be the Midwest’s preferred residential property preservation and inspection organization.
Laudan Properties is a trusted organization for end-to-end field services solutions, built on four core principles of people, values, integrated solutions and community.
Laudan’s competitive advantage is its vast network of more than 150 licensed contractors who cover a service area stretching 15 states from Michigan to Florida and expanding west toward California. That team of contractors has been honored with “Site Builders of the Year” and “Customer Service Excellence” awards.
Laudan’s growth has also been made possible by the company’s ability to rapidly recruit, train and motivate its diverse contractor network that delivers service offerings such as inspections, preservation, remodeling and rehabilitation, grounds maintenance and winterizations.
In addition, the company leverages cloud computing and mobile technology to link contractors to Laudan and Laudan to clients. This creates lightning fast data exchanges, which are crucial for clients such as banks, servicers and brokers.
The proof of Laudan’s success over the years is in the company’s operating results. Since its inception in 2008, the company has seen double digit revenue and profit growth and new job creation. ●
How to reach: Laudan Properties LLC, (866) 512-6984 or www.laudanproperties.com
Recognizing 46 outstanding companies that fortify the strength of the regional economy
It is with great pleasure that I congratulate the 46 Cascade Capital Corp. Business Growth Award winners for 2013. These companies are required to be within Summit, Medina, Portage, Wayne, Stark, Ashland and Holmes counties in Northeastern Ohio.
Based on both the Business Growth Award’s criteria and the challenges facing small companies in today’s business environment, this is quite an accomplishment. A company may earn a Business Growth Award by either increasing its sales level or increasing its employee base over the course of the past five years. The importance of its growth measures far beyond actual sales and employee growth figures though.
From an economic development perspective, increased regional company sales to other parts of the state, across the nation and even internationally, enrich our local/regional economy. Receipts and profits generated by growing area companies are positively manifested when these companies purchase local goods and services, invest in new operating facilities, equipment and employees. These wealth-creating mechanisms directly lead to the economic vitality of our regional economy.
The goal of Cascade Capital Corp. is to provide meaningful financing assistance to small- and medium-sized companies poised to grow through investment in new operating facilities, equipment and human resources. Over the course of the past five years, Cascade Capital Corp. has approved financing for more than 150 local/regional company projects totaling in excess of $100 million through its core SBA 504 and Ohio 166 loan programs. The collective completion of these projects was expected to result in the creation or retention of 1,000 jobs for our region.
Cascade Capital provides affordable, long-term fixed interest rate financing directly through its SBA 504 Loan Program. The SBA 504 assists growing small- to medium-sized companies to purchase new operating facilities, equipment or even other businesses. In combination with traditional bank financing, SBA 504 offers up to 90 percent financing for these major fixed asset purchases. For building purchases, Cascade Capital can offer 20-year financing terms at fixed interest rates well below market.
Cascade Capital’s Ohio 166 Loan Program continues to offer perhaps the most competitive fixed interest rate available for business borrowers — as low as 3 percent fixed for five years and about 4 percent fixed for 15 years.
A number of 2013 Business Growth Award winners have received funding in the past from Cascade Capital through its SBA 504 and Ohio 166 loan programs.
Congratulations again to all of Cascade Capital Corp.’s 2013 Business Growth Award winners on a job well done! Thank you for your continuing role in supporting and revitalizing our local and regional economy through your sustained growth and investment. ●
Robert Filipiak is executive director of Cascade Capital Corp., an economic development finance company that has provided dependable financing options to growing small- to medium-sized companies in Greater Akron and Northeastern Ohio since 1983. Reach him at (330) 379-3160 or email@example.com.
Here is a list of Smart Business Akron/Canton's coverage:
FirstMerit Legacy Award
Entrepreneurial Spirit Award (tie)
Manufacturing Best Story Award
Manufacturing Sales Growth Award (tie)
How Dallas Steiner led venture products to a global presence with a stump grinder
Manufacturing Sales Growth Award (tie)
How Ben Biery keeps the Swiss, cheddar and provolone coming, all in Biery Cheese packages
Manufacturing Employee Growth Award
Technology Best Story Award
Technology Sales Growth Award
Technology Employee Growth Award
Service Best Story Award
Service Category, Established, Sales Growth Award
Service Category, Emerging, Sales Growth Award
Service Category, Established, Employee Growth Award
Service Category, Emerging, Employee Growth Award