Central Ohio’s Smart 50 make success happen by being on target

 

col_SallyHughesSally Hughes
Founder, president and CEO
Caster Connection

In 2009, Sally Hughes realized her company, Caster Connection, a manufacturer and distributor of casters and wheels, was in a stagnant period due to a complacent culture. As founder, president and CEO, Hughes knew her company had more potential than it was fulfilling and set out to right the ship.

She moved the company to Columbus from Chardon, Ohio, and only selected a handful of employees to make the trek.

Shortly after relocating the company, Hughes began to add talented and extremely driven personnel, which has since made Caster Connection smarter, more innovative and on the cutting edge of the caster industry.

Nearly five years after moving to Columbus, Caster Connection’s 2014 sales are on pace to more than double those of 2009. With several new and exciting initiatives — including expansion of e-commerce, marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships — Caster Connection is in a position for sustainable success.


 

col_LisaIngramLisa Ingram
President
White Castle System Inc.

Following a family led succession-planning process Lisa Ingram was named the fourth president of White Castle System Inc. in February 2013. Facing a difficult business environment, Ingram moved quickly to identify key opportunities, align resources and put plans in place to make the most of the strengths of the White Castle brand.

First, she got the right people in the right places. Ingram redesigned internal governance structures, reshaping the membership and role of the company’s executive council and leadership teams.

She also led the crafting of a strategic vision and plan for the business to establish key benchmarks of growing sales, profits and feeding a winning culture. The company focused on innovation to ensure it was adapting to changing customer needs and trends.

Finally, Ingram utilized White Castle’s smaller size to be more nimble than its competition. Today, these initiatives have allowed White Castle more creativity in all segments of its business.


 

col_KentJohnsonKent Johnson
CEO
Highlights for Children Inc.

Highlights for Children Inc. has evolved from producing a well-loved children’s magazine into a global family media brand. The company also serves the school marketplace through wholly owned subsidiaries Zaner-Bloser, which provides curriculum, technology and services to schools; Staff Development for Educators; and Stenhouse Publishers, which produces books and videos to help teachers.

The majority of growth and innovation has been under the leadership of CEO Kent Johnson. Since 2006, the company went from publishing one magazine to offering brand-extending apps, books, continuities and games. New magazines High Five and Hello were launched for children ages 2 to 6 and 0 to 2, respectively.

Johnson believes Highlights’ mission is to serve children, their families and others involved in their development, helping children become their best selves.

He also wants to make Highlights magazines and products available to everyone — more than 125,000 magazines and products valued at $375,000 are donated annually in the Central Ohio area.


 

col_CraigKasperCraig A. Kasper, P.E.
CEO
Hull & Associates Inc.

CEO Craig A. Kasper and Hull & Associates Inc. offer innovative, sustainable solutions to help clients address challenges related to land, energy and the environment. The project development, energy and engineering consulting firm specializes in the alternative energy, brownfields, environmental, shale oil and gas, and waste management markets. Hull employs 170 professionals in seven offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

A recognized leader in brownfield redevelopment and alternative energy project development, Hull operates a portfolio of real estate and energy projects. The company has demonstrated its commitment by building its own offices on revitalized brownfields.

Another way Hull strives to make an impact is through its Giving Forward Program, which encourages employees to engage in volunteer work and support charities. Hull has an annual charity golf outing that has raised $237,000 in 14 years for Kinder Key, a volunteer organization supporting the Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.


 

col_AmyKlabenAmy Klaben
President and CEO
Columbus Housing Partnership Inc., dba Homeport

Homeport President and CEO Amy Klaben works to create and preserve healthy, stable and affordable communities — one neighborhood, one person at a time.

Homeport started in 1987 with 10 employees and has grown to a staff of 65 providing programs and service-enriched housing to more than 10,000 people.

When demand for services increased in 2006 as more homeowners faced default, Homeport modified operations to enable programs to scale up from helping 250 households annually to 1,500 households at the height of the foreclosure crisis.

The organization continues to innovate, establishing a new position of director of strategic initiatives last year in order to measure the impact of programs on people being served. By measuring impact, Homeport aims to demonstrate its commitment to residents in neighborhoods being served, increase employee satisfaction and allow investors to see the impact and benefits of their support.