Northeast Ohio’s Smart 50 play a large part in region’s rebirth

Sponsor message from Corporate College

On behalf of Corporate College and Cuyahoga Community College, I want to personally congratulate the recipients of the second annual Corporate College Smart 50 Awards, presented by Smart Business.

We are privileged to partner with Smart Business and present the Corporate College Smart 50 Awards in celebration of Northeast Ohio’s top executives and in recognition of their talent to effectively build and lead innovative and “smart” organizations. All of this year’s honorees have made a difference in their organizations and in the region. Their positive impact on employment and business sustainability, and ability to generate new ideas and innovation in everyday expectations, has reinvented the Northeast Ohio landscape into one of the most up-and-coming business regions in the country.

These large, midsized and emerging companies’ leaders motivate and inspire people, and are passionate and focused in what they do. The executives we are celebrating today are able to tackle unique business challenges and continue to lead their organizations toward success. Corporate College is honored to acknowledge this year’s nominees.

Corporate College is a division of Cuyahoga Community College, a nationally recognized leader in higher education and member of the League for Innovation in the Community College. Corporate College is known for its best in class client solutions including training, consulting, conference and hospitality services to the business community and its strategic partners. Since its inception in 2003, Corporate College has worked with organizations in all sectors and professionals at every level. We run our organization as a business would run theirs and understand the challenges leaders and organizations face. Clients turn to us for training solutions to meet their strategic business goals and consulting services that improve individual, team and organizational performance. Corporate College provides professional training and development tailored for today’s dynamic business environment.

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Robert J. Peterson, J.D., CPA
President and CEO
Corporate College, a Division of Cuyahoga Community College


Smart 50 2015 Honor Roll

Quick links:

Anderson-DuBose | Automated Packaging Systems Inc. | BlueBridge Networks | Bravo Wellness | Chromaflo Technologies | Cleveland Museum of Art | Compass Packaging | Content Marketing Institute | Corporate United | Dave’s Supermarket, Inc. | Downtown Cleveland Alliance | Equity Trust Company | Ernst & Young LLP | ExactCare Pharmacy | Exal Corporation | Fifth Third Bank, Northeastern Ohio | Gent Machine Co. | Flavorseal | Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) | Hospice of the Western Reserve | Hyland, creator of OnBase | Jarrett Logistics & PackShip USA | JumpStart Inc. | King Nut Companies | Magnus International Group | Marigold Catering | Medical Mutual of Ohio | MetroHealth System | MidWest Materials Inc. | More Than Gourmet | Myers Industries | National Interstate Insurance Co. | Oatey Co. | Oberlin College | Ohio Gratings Inc. | Our Lady of the Wayside | Patina Solutions | Petitti Garden Centers | Philpott Solutions Group Inc. | Polychem Corp. | PRADCO | Proforma | PT Tech Inc. | RBB Systems, Inc. | Rustbelt Reclamation | Skoda Minotti | Talan Products | Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio | Vitamix | Westfield Bank

(below are honorees alphabetically by executive’s last name)

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Warren Anderson
President and CEO
The Anderson-DuBose Co.
www.anderson-dubose.com

Warren Anderson prides himself on running a responsive and nimble organization. As president and CEO of The Anderson-DuBose Co., a logistics solutions provider to the quick service industry, he is perpetually engaged in continuous improvement.

A recent example of this occurred at the company’s distribution facility in Lordstown, Ohio. There, he introduced automated guided vehicles for product picking and receiving and handling frozen French fries via railroad car instead of truck to help improve efficiency and support environmentally sound practices.

Anderson-DuBose has been recognized by the McDonald’s supply chain as “Best of the Best” in terms of Restaurant French fry yields with more servings per pound of product than all other distributors in the network based on processes to reduce damage. This innovation set Anderson-DuBose apart and led to numerous visits from the manufacturer, which came to benchmark the company’s processes to share them with the rest of the distribution community.

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Mike Baach
President and CEO
Philpott Solutions Group Inc.
www.philpottrubber.com

Prior to Mike Baach becoming president and CEO of Philpott Solutions Group Inc., the company was listless, and its growth only kept pace with annual inflation. When Baach joined in 2009, he helped employees regain their confidence while encouraging their creativity. He made prudent capital investments, added jobs, protected the company’s intellectual property and expanded its business influence, to which employees responded quickly and productively.

Externally, the company moved away from historically low margin markets and into new segments while continuing service to its key legacy customers.

To compete with the cost advantage global competitors gain through use of inexpensive labor, Philpott partnered with other polymer molders, placing its manufacturing equipment in their facilities and “renting” their labor to produce Philpott parts. Creating nearly 100 percent labor utilization drove down costs to be globally competitive.
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David Bartley II
Chairman and CEO

 

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John Bartley
President
Ohio Gratings Inc.
www.ohiogratings.com

Brothers David Bartley II, chairman and CEO, and John Bartley, president, started in the grating industry at ages 16 and 12, respectively.

Ohio Gratings Inc. — started by their father and grandfather — had 85 employees and $15 million in sales when their father died in 1994. Today, it has more than 400 employees and sales surpassing $85 million.

In the past decade, OGI received several patents for new grating products designed to support heavy vehicular loading while providing Americans with Disabilities Act compliant spacing, which is used for urban sidewalks and roadways.

The company is the only domestic manufacturer of Press Locked grating, the most common grating in Europe.

OGI has done grating for all New York City sidewalks, Chicago’s Navy Pier, NASA, the Panama Canal expansion, vehicular and pedestrian bridges, and green roofs.

To remain competitive, OGI also has added new equipment, robotic welders, computer automation, a customer resource management system and more.

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Scott Becker
President and CEO
Chromaflo Technologies
www.chromaflo.com

Chromaflo Technologies didn’t take the traditional route of startup companies.

The company was created when Arsenal Capital Partners acquired Plasticolors, which was headed by then President Scott Becker, and Evonik Industries (formerly Colortrend). Less than two years later under Becker’s direction as president and CEO, he acquired the CPS Colorants business to create a global color and pigment dispersion firm with annual sales of almost $400 million.

Becker has transformed a smaller-sized company into a global leader and internationally recognized supplier. Continuing his successful journey through the colorants business, he has taken advantage of opportunity by targeting customer needs and carefully strategizing partnerships and acquisitions.

The company retains its focus on customer satisfaction, strengthened by continued efforts to acquire complementary businesses. The company’s colorants can be found in applications including architectural coatings, industrial and protective coatings, interior and exterior automotive components, epoxy flooring, electrical and appliance housings and molded composite applications.

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Julie Boland
Cleveland Managing Partner

 

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Ed Eliopoulos
Akron Managing Partner
Ernst & Young LLP
www.ey.com

Julie Boland and Ed Eliopoulos together lead the Northeast Ohio offices of Ernst & Young LLP to support and develop 1,200 people who deliver assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services to Northeast Ohio businesses.

In order to help improve companies’ performance, manage risk and instill trust in the capital markets, Boland, Eliopoulos and their teams bring the resources of the entire firm to connect clients with the right people and technical experience.

As the demand for EY services grows, this creates the need to promote new leaders and bring in new talent to manage the expanding client base. The commitment to the development of others is why the two managing partners are sought after by both women and men within EY for coaching, advice and mentorship.

Boland and Eliopolous also are passionate supporters of the community interests and organizations. They each serve on a number of boards that are broad and far-reaching.

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Sherry Borchelt
Managing Partner
Patina Solutions
www.patinasolutions.com

Patina Solutions, a professional services firm, is working to help companies address the looming talent cliff, which refers to the projected loss of senior-level workers. Sherry Borchelt, managing partner, is leading a team in Northeast Ohio that’s working to help companies address this challenge.

To this end, Borchelt drives a unique business model that leverages an experienced workforce to help companies address talent gap issues. She has led significant growth by doubling the number of clients Patina services in 2014. Borchelt has exceeded revenue growth targets in Cleveland. She has also increased the number of executives working for Patina to more than 1,800.

Borchelt has more than 25 years of experience leading and coaching high-performance sales and operations teams in professional service firms serving Fortune 1000 companies. She offers extensive insight into aligning sales and operations with business strategy to maximize employee performance and achieve profitable growth.

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Akram Boutros, M.D., FACHE
President and CEO
The MetroHealth System
www.metrohealth.org

President and CEO of The MetroHealth System since June 2013, Dr. Akram Boutros has already received numerous accolades for his work at MetroHealth. One of his initial accomplishments was to take a first quarter deficit of $6.5 million and, under his leadership, helped MetroHealth finish 2013 with $18.9 million in net operating income.

Dr. Boutos is now focused on the clinical, operational and structural transformation that will move MetroHealth ahead in delivering 21st century health care as one of the largest and most comprehensive health systems in Northeast Ohio. Dr. Boutros is an internist with a 20-year record of hospital leadership in New York and five years as president of BusinessFirst Healthcare Solutions, an international advisory firm to health systems.

His honors include being named to Crain’s Cleveland Business Power 150 list, Smart Business 2014 Smart 50 Specialty Award and Becker’s Healthcare List of 100 physician leaders of hospitals and health systems.

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Cliff Brehm
President
Automated Packaging Systems Inc.
www.autobag.com

Since becoming president in 2010, Cliff Brehm has overseen a period of significant growth at Automated Packaging Systems Inc.

Through constant product innovation and careful selection of its markets, rather than a shotgun approach, APS, which manufacturers and distributes bags-on-a-roll and bagging systems, has grown through geographic and product line expansions.

During Brehm’s tenure, revenues have increased by 40 percent and employee-owners have experienced significant share-value appreciation in the employee stock ownership plan.

To support this growth, Brehm annually leads an organizational development exercise. Managers thoroughly evaluate their functional areas to identify leadership competency, talent and performance gaps, future staffing needs and plans to transfer knowledge from senior members nearing retirement. APS then formulates a road map to address growth projections and prepare the next generation of leaders.

As a result, APS is well positioned to respond to marketplace opportunities and remains built to last.

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Joseph A. Calabrese
CEO, General Manager and Secretary Treasurer
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA)
www.riderta.com

Joseph A. Calabrese was named one of public transportation’s most influential people of the decade in 2014 and brings more than 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors of the transportation industry to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA).

He has increased RTA’s customer base and the agency’s integral role in the mobility and economic development of the region. Calabrese came to Greater Cleveland as RTA’s CEO, general manager and secretary treasurer in 2000 and is the longest serving general manager of any multi-modal transit system in the U.S.

Under his leadership, RTA is strategically focused on outstanding customer service, maintaining a positive image and having strong financial management. As a result, RTA has become one of the most respected transit agencies in the nation and was named The Best Large Public Transit System in North America by the American Public Transit Association in 2010.

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Chris Carroll
President
Flavorseal
www.flavorseal.com

Flavorseal is a “smart” organization that processes and distributes food-packaging products to the food service and food processing industry. It consistently seeks innovation and new ways to be a value-added supplier to its customer base.

Led by President Chris Carroll, Flavorseal does not want to be a commodity supplier and will commit resources to allow it to stay ahead of its competition through the development and commercialization of new products.

The goal is to remain on the cutting edge of industry trends, consumer tastes and customer needs. Through the efforts of Carroll and his team, the company has excelled in its efforts to become a reliable partner in the success achieved by its customers.

The team at Flavorseal brings more than 50 years of food processing experience to the table along with a strong reputation for finding new ways to help businesses grow. The result is a strong business with a sustainable future.

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Anthony M. Ciepiel
COO
Vitamix
www.vitamix.com

Anthony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix, brought his leadership background in strategy, operations, finance, sales, marketing, product innovation and research from several industries, and blended it together at the company that makes iconic high-performance blending products.

Ciepiel was the mastermind behind an average 40 percent growth several years in a row while improving the company’s quality metrics and meeting customer demand.

He implemented a systematic approach to strategic planning that included customer and employee input and cascaded that plan throughout the organization. All employees, departments and divisions now have annual goals tied to the strategic plan, resulting in Vitamix consistently exceeding company objectives in terms of market share, sales and profitability.

In the complex environment of being both a manufacturer and a marketer, Vitamix through Ciepiel’s leadership, has secured its place as a high-performance blender.

He has helped to redefine Vitamix in the whole food health continuum.

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Terry Davis
President and CEO
Our Lady of the Wayside
www.thewayside.org

A local family founded Our Lady of the Wayside in 1967, and it has grown substantially from its small-scale origin, now supporting children and adults in Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties. The Wayside, as it is called, offers residential, respite, transportation and adult day programming for those with developmental disabilities.

Under the leadership of Terry Davis, president and CEO since 1993, the organization has grown from serving less than 100 individuals in three homes to 600 children and adults in 65 community-based homes.

Davis has earned the respect of employees, peers and even competitors. He has developed many partnerships with individuals and organizations all while maintaining a balanced budget as county, state and regional agencies cut back on funding.

While his financial management success is impressive, Davis doesn’t stop there. He is fully committed to the children and adults, and in every interaction with them, he shows his warmth and care.

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Jeff Desich
CEO

Michael Dea
President and CFO
Equity Trust Co.
www.trustetc.com

The management team that is driving Equity Trust Co. has created a niche within the 401(k) investment landscape. Led by Jeff Desich, CEO, and Mike Dea, president and CFO, Equity Trust is a custodian of self-directed IRAs. These investment vehicles are uniquely designed to give clients the ability to include assets such as income-producing real estate, tax receipt portfolios and what would be considered unusual assets. These products are also equipped to handle traditional asset investments within the 401(k) structure.

Through the years the company has grown both organically and via acquisition. Its rapid growth has necessitated the construction of a new headquarters. Built with an open floor plan, the new building is designed to foster group interaction among employees and accommodate modern office technology. Employee engagement and retention, along with open communication facilitated through space design, have improved the work process and set the stage for further growth.

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Scott Dwyer
President
PT Tech Inc.
www.pttech.com

PT Tech Inc.’s management team, led by President Scott Dwyer, has created a sense of ownership among employees. Each department is using financial and other metrics to chart their progress on projects, which turns employees into employee-owners who are actively involved in launching, growing or sustaining company initiatives.

Measuring outcomes is an approach to planning that has PT Tech employees motivated to work strategically. It also helps employees understand the effects they have on their contribution toward attaining company goals.

Dwyer communicates monthly with the entire company to ensure everyone has an understanding of where PT Tech stands on its projects. He illustrates the immediate effect employees are having on the business plan and offers encouragement to keep driving forward.

Dwyer has coordinated the teams to focus on growth and expansion. With teams in the U.S., China and the United Kingdom, the company is pursuing opportunities both domestically and globally.

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William E. Finn
CEO
Hospice of the Western Reserve
www.hospicewr.org

Under the leadership of William E. Finn, CEO, the Hospice of the Western Reserve has taken steps to ensure that it remains not only relevant in the evolving health care scene but that it leads the way, steering positive changes for patients, sustainable for providers and fair to payers.

Finn has also been serving as chair of the National Hospice Work Group, a think tank for national innovation leadership in hospice and palliative care. His work at the national level has brought those insights into the thinking and the operations at Hospice of the Western Reserve.

For example, the Personalized Care At Home Program was created by HWR and Medical Mutual. It provides care to patients who are in the advanced stage of chronic illness but who are not eligible for hospice. It is a new business model that is beneficial for all parties to get ahead of chronic illness.

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Mike Frandsen
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Oberlin College
www.oberlin.edu

Mike Frandsen understands that important financial decisions require support from across an organization, or a college in the case of Oberlin College.

“He has the knowledge and vision to know the right path to take, the willingness to convey that vision to the academic community and the energy to engage in the personal interactions necessary to get the support for moving in the appropriate direction,” says Professor Ellis Tallman, who chaired the search committee that appointed Frandsen to his current role as vice president for finance and administration at Oberlin.

He previously held the same position at Albion College. Before coming to Albion, he taught at Juniata College in Pennsylvania for five years, following a career in corporate finance with multinational companies. He holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in strategic management.

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Rich Gent
Co-owner and President
The Gent Machine Co.
www.gentmachine.com

Rich Gent, co-owner and president of The Gent Machine Co., has spearheaded strategies and growth initiatives that have resulted in tremendous change. By branching out and broadening its products and services, the company has taken on new and diversified business. In addition, Gent Machine also received its ISO/ TS 16949 certificate. The implementation of this quality management system raised the company into an elite manufacturing group of Tier 1 suppliers for the automotive industry.

Gent Machine increased its Internet presence and added a large, global network of manufacturing representatives, which has resulted in a diversified customer base, a near quadrupling of its sales and a doubling of its workforce. In 2013, the company purchased the adjoining property to its facility in South Euclid and nearly doubled its space.

By managing growth and implementing sound principles and strategies, Gent Machine Co. has turned into a Cleveland success story during Gent’s presidency.

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Kevin Goodman
Managing Director, Partner
BlueBridge Networks
www.bluebridgenetworks.com

With Kevin Goodman at the helm as managing director and partner with BlueBridge Networks, the organization has diversified to offer data center services, cloud computing, managed services and infrastructure solutions. The data centers the company owns and operates provide a level of redundancy that is essential to business continuity and ultimately, network security.

Over the past 10 years, BlueBridge Networks has surfaced as a state, regional and national leader in cloud computing, data center services and data storage under Goodman’s leadership.

Goodman has a genuine desire for his team to succeed, not only because it benefits the company and clients, but because he cares about team members and their families. He is the first to thank team members for a job well done or make it public knowledge when a team member is recognized by a client for solving a pain point or going beyond what is expected.

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William M. Griswold
Director
The Cleveland Museum of Art
www.clevelandart.org

These are exciting times at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and William M. Griswold’s leadership and energy promise to accelerate the momentum as the museum approaches its 100th anniversary in 2016.

Griswold became the museum’s 10th director in August 2015, bringing to the position a depth of experience gained in some of America’s leading museums. Griswold’s ambition is to build the museum’s strong relevance throughout the region, the nation and the world; capitalize on its long-standing community engagement legacy; and enhance the quality and breadth of its well-known collection.

Fresh new spaces, diverse programming and special exhibits continue to drive strong attendance, while the museum operates from a position of strength with a solid financial foundation, significant endowment and the successful completion of its historic $320 million renovation and expansion project. The museum continually engages the community in innovative ways and presents special exhibitions to thrill, inform and deepen visitors’ connection with art.

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Bruce Hendrick
President and CEO
RBB Systems Inc.
www.rbbsystems.com

In 2007, Bruce Hendrick, president and CEO of RBB Systems Inc., committed a successful 34-year-old company to the recurring small batch electronic marketplace.

This was unique to Northeast Ohio and to a large extent the U.S. because most companies approach small batch work as a necessary evil in order to get larger batch ongoing production — and lose money while doing so.

Rebranding RBB was the easy part; the bigger task was convincing stakeholders.

Hendrick hired experts to reduce costs, uncover capacity, improve responsiveness and enhance competitiveness. The manufacturing floor was reorganized twice to improve flow and new equipment allowed faster product changeovers.

The customer base was tripled to mitigate the loss of higher volume production.

Hendrick reshuffled management twice and revisited sacred cow policies and practices to focus on better teamwork and customer-centric teams.

Today, industry players have gained confidence that RBB’s endeavor can be profitably sustained, and RBB is looking forward to future growth.

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Mike Hoffman
President and CEO
Exal Corp.
www.exal.com

Exal Corp., led by Mike Hoffman, president and CEO, is said to be the largest manufacturer of impact extruded aluminum containers in the world. At the helm, Hoffman is creating value and growing the company further through smart innovation.

In product packaging, color and shape are considered to be the most distinctive features. Exal is using an innovative proprietary production for shaped aluminum packaging it calls C2C, or coil-to-can. Through this technology, Exal is able to produce high-impact, lightweight packaging that delivers maximum shelf impact while bringing the added benefits of efficient manufacturing. C2C-produced aluminum bottles can be made from 50 to 60 percent post-consumer aluminum, helping the company address the cost and sustainability limitations of aluminum bottles with commercial success.

The company is the largest manufacturing employer in Youngstown, and is in the process of building two new plants in South America to support its international growth.

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Michael Jarrett
Founder and President
Jarrett Logistics & PackShip USA
www.jarrettlogistics.com

There are many cornerstones to being a successful entrepreneur and running a smart organization. Passion, financial responsibility, belief in oneself, vision, persistence and a solid foundation in integrity, character and faith are a few that come to Michael Jarrett’s mind.

The founder and president of Jarrett Logistics and PackShip USA believes the most important factor in leading a smart organization is hiring the right people with excellent foundation skills. These skills are: integrity, character, honesty, respect and work ethic.

Values influence every step a person makes and Jarrett wants people who have an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to pursue excellence. Jarrett has an open-door policy and is always accessible to discuss new ideas, opportunities and projects that will take his businesses to the next level. He encourages this process by conducting weekly walk-throughs of the office and warehouse areas, speaking personally to each employee, leading to an environment where people are guided rather than managed.

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Brian Jeckering
President
Polychem Corp.
www.polychem.com

Polychem Corp., led by President Brian Jeckering, is well positioned for the future. The employees of Polychem have experienced a lot of change over the past 40 years. Their ability to adapt and grow by responding to external market forces have been key to its success.

Starting as a plastic strapping manufacturer, Polychem mastered plastic extrusion technology and uniquely positioned itself to make plastic strapping for all brands of plastic strapping equipment. It also became vertically integrated with the creation of Evergreen Plastics, the world’s third largest PET beverage bottle recycling operation.

Today, Polychem continually invests in domestic and overseas manufacturing in power tools, large automated systems, metal fabricating, laminated goods and woven and non-woven cord.

The company has transitioned from selling items to creating superior customer value. It provides a comprehensive program of securement packaging products delivered logistically from one shipping point, which has simplified customer purchasing.

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Martin Kanan
President and CEO
King Nut Companies
www.kingnut.com

Martin Kanan is not one to settle for less than the best in any walk of life. He joined King Nut Cos., a family business, in 1991 as president and CEO, helping to grow the company into the largest snack supplier to the airline industry in North America.

That milestone did not come easily. Starting in 1993, Kanan reached out to U.S. Air and went on to pursue and secure business with the likes of TWA, American, Northwest, Continental, United and Southwest Airlines.

In 2009, Kanan faced a big challenge when his peanut butter, which was co-packed by a peanut butter manufacturer, was contaminated with salmonella. The manufacturer introduced salmonella in the King Nut product as well as other national brands. Kanan initiated a national recall on his own, built a strong public relations team and ultimately testified before Congress to help the industry get better food safety standards.

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Jerry Kelsheimer
President and CEO
Fifth Third Bank, Northeastern Ohio
www.53.com

Jerry Kelsheimer, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, Northeastern Ohio, holds his team accountable for growth and results. That focus on accountability helped the team achieve a 13 percent increase in loans and 17 percent growth in deposits since he came to the bank in 2011.

During his tenure, Kelsheimer has improved employee engagement and helped the bank win several top workplace awards primarily by listening and valuing employee opinions. He holds employee focus groups, conducts surveys and has town hall meetings to offer different opportunities for feedback.

Much like he consults with employees to improve internal results, Kelsheimer uses customer surveys and market research to determine market needs. Based on customer feedback, he worked with Fifth Third’s commercial bankers to change its brand to reflect the idea of maximizing company value. Kelsheimer also partners with specific clients, markets or select groups on pilot programs to gain feedback and make improvements.

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Steffany Larkins
Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff and Chief Diversity Officer
Medical Mutual of Ohio
www.medmutual.com

Steffany Larkins is executive vice president, chief of staff and chief diversity officer at Medical Mutual of Ohio. Under her leadership, the company has been very successful as the insurance landscape changed under the Affordable Care Act. Shortly after the law was unveiled in 2010, Larkins recognized that the grandfathering of health plans was an opportunity for the company. Many competitors lost customers they encouraged to take new standard health plans. Medical Mutual was able to support customers that wanted to keep plans while preparing new products that met the act’s provisions. Since the sale of its first ACA policy, the company has enrolled more than 100,000 existing and new members into these plans.

Larkins was responsible for a new health informatics division, which comprises 40 internal and external professionals to use data and analytics to inform stakeholders that seek to manage risk, improve health and control costs.

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Ray Leach
CEO
JumpStart Inc.
www.jumpstartinc.org

As the founding CEO at JumpStart Inc., Ray Leach works every day to strengthen the economic vitality of Northeast Ohio and the U.S. by helping communities realize their entrepreneurial potential.

His work has made a huge difference in Northeast Ohio, which was a very different place for startup ventures a mere 12 years ago. At that time, according to a ranking by Entrepreneur Magazine, the region was ranked 61st out of 61 regions in terms of being friendly to startup businesses. Leach helped turn things around by bringing the concept of venture development to the area. It’s a combination of venture capitalism and economic development that the region sorely needed.

One of his biggest jobs has been to build public, private and philanthropic relationships and organize a robust network of service providers across Northeast Ohio’s 21 counties. The network helps build successful new companies by getting through the early struggles to find ultimate success.

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Deej Lincoln
Principal and president
Rustbelt Reclamation
www.rustbeltreclamation.com

The company that Principal and President Deej Lincoln founded, Rustbelt Reclamation, is a business reinvented. Originally a Cleveland manufacturer of commercial grade furniture and cabinetry, Lincoln led a group to purchase the company in 2010.

He sought to develop the business’s under-realized competencies with a line of custom projects made from locally-sourced, upcycled materials that delivered both environmental and aesthetic benefits.

Due to interest in the company’s bottle opener, Lincoln decided to scale up with standard products shipped to customers nationwide. In order to deploy resources and practices for what has traditionally been an artisan business model, the company developed industry-leading practices for harvesting, processing, design and production.

Rustbelt Reclamation has grown significantly in the past two years, employing more than 30 people.

One unique value is providing provenance for the material. Whenever possible the company sources wood from as close to its customer’s location as possible, in order to tie local history to each project.

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Eric Lofquist
Co-owner
President and CEO

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Scott Forster
Co-owner
Vice President and COO
Magnus International Group
www.magnusig.com

Magnus International Group co-owners Eric Lofquist and Scott Forster operate an award-winning organization by developing and manufacturing products ranging from natural animal feed ingredients and natural industrial and consumer waxes to customized fatty acids, biodiesel fuel feedstocks and other specialty chemicals.

Magnus companies create sustainable global products by refining and repurposing renewable raw materials such as domestic and tropical vegetable oils, cooking greases and animal fats.

Known for its ability to serve niche markets, the company is also equipped to take on smaller-scale, customized projects that other manufacturers can’t. With a can-do mindset, leaders prospect for opportunities to provide solutions that meet individual customer requirements.

Magnus is focused on lean and kaizen manufacturing strategies and has created a nimble and scalable manufacturing foundation for its future, positioning the company to respond even better to changing client needs and other variables such as government regulations, commodity pricing pressures and climate uncertainties.

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Joe Marinucci
President and CEO
Downtown Cleveland Alliance
www.downtowncleveland.com

Downtown Cleveland Alliance is making a difference in the city of Cleveland and Joe Marinucci is a big reason why.

Under his leadership as president and CEO, DCA has evolved from a special improvement district focused on the Clean & Safe Program to an organization engaged in various aspects of downtown Cleveland from business attraction and retention and retail development to marketing and special events. Marinucci has made smart decisions and set specific priorities for the organization, helping DCA experience incremental progress that has led the organization to where it is today.

One area that has shown particular progress is DCA’s Business Development Center. More businesses are locating in the city core with downtown Cleveland leading the way by reducing office vacancy from 2007 to 2014. During that time, vacancy dropped by nearly 4 percent. Since the Business Development Center was established in 2011, it has helped attract more than 130 new businesses, relocations or expansions to downtown.

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Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate Insurance Co.
www.nationalinterstate.com

Dave Michelson likes to describe his management team at National Interstate Insurance Co. as “a speed boat in an industry of huge barges.”

The entire organization takes great pride in being able to create highly specialized products to meet the needs of targeted buyers and then getting those solutions to market quickly.

There are two leadership groups that are an integral part of this process. The first one is the operating committee, which meets weekly and includes Michelson, the company’s president and CEO, and the officers responsible for all the company’s functional departments.

The second group is the senior product committee that manages the products. New products, services and solutions are typically surfaced through one of these groups; however, all employees are strongly encouraged to present their ideas as well.

Michelson encourages everyone to be in constant learning mode with the goal of making National Interstate a better place every day.

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Vera Muzzillo
CEO
Proforma
www.proforma.com

Proforma, a print and promotional products company, has the distinction of having a woman not only as the voice of the company but as the voice of the industry.

Vera Muzzillo, CEO, along with her husband Greg Muzzillo, has been recognized year after year by Counselor magazine among the most powerful people in the industry.

Vera joined Proforma in 2001 as CEO to help develop strategic business opportunities and establish strong relationships with franchise owners. She was also responsible for overseeing company financial and technology-related elements.

Company sales grew from $85 million in 2001 to more than $500 million in 2014, thanks to the proven strategies she implemented to help men and women become more successful at Proforma.

Her influence goes beyond the reach of Proforma. Through many guest panels, discussions and educational opportunities, she has offered her wisdom and experience to help others in the industry realize their dreams.

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Gregg Mylett
Founder and CEO
Corporate United
www.corporateunited.com

Since CEO Gregg Mylett founded Corporate United almost 20 years ago with three employees and six major Cleveland brands as members, he has consistently added and developed talent to strengthen the company’s value proposition.

The company arranges outsourced group purchasing for human resources, IT, marketing, operations and facilities departments within major corporations. It has grown to offer procurement assistance for more than 30 categories to its 260-plus members.

Corporate United has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies for seven years running and has more than $1 trillion in buying power.

The company concentrates on making its model benefit both the members using the leveraged agreements and the supplier partners providing the products and solutions. For example, Mylett and his team created a member advisory board and a supplier partner advisory board to ensure the company is innovating and developing with input from its constituents.

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John Orr
CEO
Myers Industries
www.myersindustries.com

Founded in 1933, Myers Industries has grown from its initial mission to supply reliable products for tire repair and retread to polymer manufacturing and reusable material handling products across several markets.

The company’s Material Handling Segment designs, manufactures and markets polymer-based products ranging from reusable plastic containers to store and transport bulk goods to portable fuel containers, and storage and safety cabinets for hazardous materials.

Myers’ Industries Distribution Segment buys, sells and manufactures more than 10,000 items used in tire, wheel and undervehicle service and repair, ranging from small hand tools and rubber patches to large hydraulic lifts.

The company, under CEO John Orr, operates 13 manufacturing facilities, across the U.S., Canada and Brazil. Orr believes in giving back to the community and supports a number of local organizations. He serves as a director of Akron Children’s Hospital and The United Way of Summit County.

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Terry W. Owen, Ph.D
CEO
PRADCO
www.pradco.com

Since joining the management consulting firm PRADCO in 1971, Terry W. Owen, Ph.D, has been adamant about strong financial management of the business and supporting employees in establishing a firm foundation of management psychology. In 1999, Owen led the development of the company’s first online assessment tool, which was one of the first in the industry. Owen’s leadership has guided PRADCO to be known as a leader in its field, which has resulted in many referrals. The firm has hired, trained or developed many people in Northeast Ohio who have gone on to practice management psychology in the business community.

Owen, who serves as the company’s CEO, is the architect of the firm’s internal talent management and development strategy, though which he holds meetings with new employees to mentor them as they acclimate to the field. Many of those who he has mentored or consulted have gone on to practice the company’s brand of management psychology in the region.

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Jon Park
Chairman and Bank Leader
Westfield Bank
www.westfield-bank.com

Jon Park, chairman and bank leader of Westfield Bank, has been with the community bank from the start, helping shape its approach to the Northeast Ohio marketplace.

From the outset, Park wanted to grow the customer base without investing in a lot in branch infrastructure. He used lower costs to give customers better deals — paying higher rates on deposits and lower fees on accounts for loans and deposits.

The bank was an early adopter of remote deposit technology, offering it to customers for free at a time when it was considered a premium. The strategy attracted small businesses, which became Westfield Bank’s primary customers.

Park’s leadership helped the bank break even in 18 months. What began as a mobile banking facility located in the back parking lot of the Westfield Insurance building has since grown to have over $1 billion in assets under management, a figure Park aims to double in the next five years.

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Steve Peplin
CEO
Talan Products
www.talanproducts.com

Steve Peplin, CEO of Talan Products, a metal stamping company, has led the business through decades of high growth, while building a reputation as a gold-standard supplier that does what it says it will.

Under Peplin’s leadership, Talan has successfully responded to changing economic conditions and new market opportunities by reinvesting profits back into the company.

This reinvestment has led to Talan offering components for solar attachments and racking systems, and for the LED lighting industry. Talan’s renewable energy products are its fastest growing segment, because Peplin and the company had the foresight to target that market a decade ago.

With high competition and low margins, Talan has had to stay innovative in both its processing and customer service. The company works closely with its manufacturing customers to offer design assistance suggestions.

Talan also has become a highly metric-driven company, measuring everything against operational benchmarks.

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A.J. Petitti
President
Petitti Garden Centers
www.petittigardencenter.com

A.J. Petitti is committed to pleasing the customer at Petitti Garden Centers — and his efforts have blossomed. Founded in 1971, the Petitti’s now operate nine stores serving the Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown communities.

Petitti, president of the company founded by his father Angelo Petitti, has devoted time and effort to learn more about customers through engagement surveys, focus groups, website contact forms and social media outlets.

With expert plant and nursery teams in place, Petitti Garden Centers strive to give customers the best shopping experience. Employees are offered professional development and education via training.

One of the cornerstone beliefs of the company is to support the local community. The Petitti’s believe that the community has helped make them what they are today. In 2014, the company raised more than $180,000 for organizations including The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center and Rainbow Babies Hospital, Akron Children’s Hospital and St. Malachi Center.

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Bill Priemer
President and CEO
Hyland Software, creator of OnBase
www.onbase.com

At Hyland Software, the creator of OnBase, innovation equals action. The company goes beyond just thinking about the potential solutions its information and process management software can provide and executes on great ideas. Hyland typically reinvests more than 15 percent of its annual revenue into the research and development of OnBase.

Under the leadership of Bill Priemer, president and CEO, Hyland constantly innovates to keep OnBase in the hands of those who use it every day.

Along with innovation, Hyland also focuses on talent management and development.

Human resource professionals have been building ongoing training and education programs to help employees continue to grow their careers at Hyland.

Hyland is also committed to improving the quality of life in the community by actively sharing social, intellectual and economic resources. Hyland hosts events and helps raise money for local and national organizations.

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Jim Pshock
Founder, President and CEO
Bravo Wellness
www.bravowell.com

Jim Pshock is a visionary with a deep understanding of wellness regulations who has developed and executed an innovative business concept to address an underserved niche market.

A passionate and energetic entrepreneur, Pshock founded Bravo Wellness in 2008 and serves as president and CEO.

The company has been a disruptive force in the wellness industry since its inception. Bravo pioneered the outcome-based wellness incentive space and carefully designs compliant incentives that result in unprecedented engagement levels. With roots in data management, compliance and technology, Bravo demonstrates sustained health improvement and reduces claims spending while equipping individuals to live healthy.

Pshock’s vision is not to simply reward the completion of an activity, as vendors had done in the past. He wants to reward those people who are already healthy, as well as those who are making progress towards better health. The high-touch program he has developed sustains health improvement and reduces claims spending.

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Joe Pulizzi
Founder
Content Marketing Institute
www.contentmarketinginstitute.com

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, was so passionate about content marketing that he left an executive position at Penton Media to start the organization. In the seven years since he launched CMI, Pulizzi has turned it into a leading global content marketing education and training organization. For the past three years, CMI has made the Inc. 500 list as one of the fastest growing business media companies.

Pulizzi’s vision included creating e-books, white papers and holding webinars, but that wasn’t enough. He and his team started to conduct and deliver sought-after research on content marketing for both B2B and B2C companies, which all soon led to Content Marketing World, the largest global in-person content marketing event. The 2014 event in Cleveland drew 2,600 attendees from 50 countries.

The Content Marketing Institute continues to grow its offerings that hopefully will make Cleveland one day the “Content Marketing Capital of the World.”

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Phil Rath
President and Founder
Compass Packaging
www.compasspackaging.com

Compass Packaging, a manufacturer of shipping containers and point-of-purchase displays, began operations in 2003 with five employees and no orders. Phil Rath, president and founder of the company, worked primarily as a salesperson, slowly adding business while the company demonstrated its ability to service customers.

In 10 months, the company was profitable. Rath aggressively pursued accounts while adding employees and supplemental production equipment.

With a focus on speed and accuracy, Compass chooses its vendors based on their ability to deliver raw materials within 24 hours of the request. It has also invested in redundancies that allow it to pick up the additional work of a machine that’s operating at capacity to complete orders quickly.

Compass has grown beyond its original 24,000-square-foot facility into a 150,000-square-foot production plant that houses 60 employees. It also recently began its own freight company, which has resulted in significant cost savings.

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Neal Restivo
Vice President and CFO
Oatey Co.
www.oatey.com

Oatey Co., a family-owned manufacturer and distributor of innovative products and solutions for the rough plumbing and water infrastructure markets, will mark its 100th year in 2016. It offers more than 6,000 products through its facilities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and China.

Oatey products are found in residential and commercial applications and have achieved significant brand name recognition with consumers and wholesalers.

Vice President and CFO Neal Restivo is a member of the management team leading Oatey’s efforts to innovate and embrace emerging technologies to lead change within its markets. The organization also strives to positively influence the environment by improving water use and supporting green building applications.

Oatey recently introduced a series of Green Building and Regulatory Information Sheets which allow professional plumbers, engineers, architects, contractors and even consumers to easily obtain details on Oatey products related to product stewardship and green building system requirements.

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Brian D. Robbins
CEO
MidWest Materials Inc.
www.midwestmaterials.com

CEO Brian D. Robbins has not only lead MidWest Materials Inc. to record profits in 10 out of 11 years but also taken an active role in the metal industry by encouraging young talent.

Robbins helped launch an Association of Steel Distributors scholarship fund for children to apply to a business or manufacturing core. He also supports the Young Leadership Forum, a group dedicated to younger people in the steel industry.

Prior to Robbins’ tenure as CEO, MidWest Materials was marginally profitable. By raising company morale, instituting training, reviewing compensation, improving union relations, and investing millions to increase quality, efficiency and safety while reducing cost, Robbins has helped the company to continual growth and profitability.

Last year was another outstanding year. In addition to near record sales, the company installed new equipment, including a 40-ton crane, made improvements and upgrades to equipment and the physical plant, and hired employees. Robbins also assumed presidency of the ASD.

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Joan Rosenthal
Founder and President
Marigold Catering
www.marigoldcatering.com

Joan Rosenthal, founder and president of Marigold Catering, launched the company in 1997 on a shoestring budget, hiring her mother as executive chef and forgoing her own paycheck for the first three years. Since then, Marigold has grown its staff to 75 and expanded its offerings to include complete event planning and catering services for both corporate and social occasions. Today, Marigold averages over 800 events annually.

Continuous innovation at Marigold Catering ensures its longevity. In 2012, the company was designated a Two-Star Certified Green Restaurant® by the Green Restaurant Association®, the only caterer, and one of only three establishments, to receive this designation in Ohio.

Marigold has woven environmentally sensitive operating policies into its operations, incorporating an on-site herb garden fed by newly-installed rain barrels, using recyclable or compostable materials and procuring raw food products from Northeast Ohio farms, utilizing locally sourced meat, poultry, dairy products and produce whenever possible.

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Brad Sacks
Founder and CEO
More Than Gourmet
www.morethangourmet.com

Brad Sacks was told early on in his career that his willingness to stand alone on unpopular decisions was a unique character trait, one that was valued by the organization for which he worked at the time. It allowed him to be open to new opportunities and take on challenges that others may have shied away from.

As founder and CEO at More Than Gourmet, Sacks loves the entrepreneurial challenges he faces as his company continues to grow. MTG has three lines of business: retail, food service and industrial ingredients, selling across the U.S. and in Europe.

Now a sizable global food manufacturer and distributor, Sacks built MTG from the ground up. Sacks continues to push innovation and new products that will enable his company to stand out from the competition. He is also willing to share his stories of both success and failure with others who have great ideas.

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Dan Saltzman
President

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Steve Saltzman
Vice President
Dave’s Supermarket Inc.
www.davesmarkets.com

For four generations, the Saltzman family has been dedicated to leading Dave’s Supermarket Inc. and serving the urban communities that other grocery store chains have neglected or elected not to participate in. With 14 stores in Northeast Ohio, primarily in the Cleveland area, the company has successfully branded itself as a community grocery store.

Led by Dan Saltzman, who serves as the company’s president, and Steve Saltzman, who serves as vice president, the desire is to have a store large enough to carry a wide range of products while maintaining a neighborhood/family feel for customers.

Even though economic downturns have affected some of those neighborhoods more severely than others, Dave’s has remained committed to its customers by not closing stores. The company is aware of the need for these communities to have the stores and values that need as much as it does its own financial goals. The result is a store that customers can count on.

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Gregory J. Skoda
Chairman
Skoda Minotti
www.skodaminotti.com

Gregory J. Skoda, chairman of the accounting and business advisory firm Skoda Minotti, emphasizes continuous improvement in an environment of collaboration and education. Employees learn, work and grow at their own pace with the company providing the tools and resources to help each employee succeed. Skoda’s emphasis on a healthy work/life balance has earned the firm annual national recognition from Accounting Today as a Best Accounting Firm to Work For.

Challenging his staff with the question, “What else can we do to help our clients?” in 2014, Skoda implemented lean processes, believing its principles could be applied to accounting. The firm focused on providing efficiency by eliminating unnecessary steps.

After putting its new processes in place, the firm surveyed approximately 500 clients to get feedback. The result was a Net Promoter Score, a gauge of customer loyalty, of 78.4 percent, more than double the accounting industry average of 31 percent.

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Dale M. Wollschleger
Founder and CEO
ExactCare Pharmacy
www.exactcarepharmacy.com

Founder and CEO Dale M. Wollschleger developed a closed-door pharmacy hybrid, ExactCare Pharmacy, combining attributes of specialty, long-term care and retail pharmacy models.

Through customized packing, individual patient assessment and medication reconciliation, medication therapy management and home delivery, ExactCare helps eliminate opportunities for adverse drug interactions.

Under Wollschleger’s leadership, the company has experienced high-speed growth since its inception in 2009. It has roughly doubled in size each year, and in 2014 hired nearly 250 employees.

Wollschleger also has cultivated an entrepreneurial environment that maintains the feel of a small company always looking to improve its own processes.

The next phase is a proprietary new pharmacy operations system and an additional 50,000 square feet of office and pharmacy space. Also, ExactCare will unveil a new mobile app and Web portal this year.

The company is licensed in 42 states and the District of Columbia, with plans to expand to all 50 this year.

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Claire M. Zangerle, RN, MSN, MBA
President and CEO
Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio
www.vnaohio.org

Under the direction of Claire M. Zangerle, president and CEO, the Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio continues as an innovator in home care.

Zangerle has helped the organization integrate technology into patient care, develop services to meet patient needs and modernize operations. VNA of Ohio also has expanded its footprint to bring care to more communities throughout Northeast, Northwest, Central and Mid-Ohio.

Hospital readmissions are costly and don’t always reflect the best outcomes, so Zangerle and her team have implemented innovative practices to reduce re-hospitalization. From telemonitoring technologies to VitalStim® swallow therapy, each initiative supports the health and safety needs of those regaining their strength and independence at home.

It takes a collaborative effort to provide high quality, comprehensive care. From the C-suite to the clinical field staff to the administrative office staff, Zangerle emphasizes a culture of service and the importance of each position’s role in the organization’s impact.