Cuyahoga Community College is pleased to return as the presenting sponsor for the 2018 Smart Business Family Business Conference. This breakfast is an opportunity for Tri-C to support employers by highlighting how to build and maintain a lasting road map for success.
Smart Business has assembled two notable panels consisting of top specialists in the field of family business.
The first panel is comprised of industry leaders who will share their advice and provide national best practices. The second includes CEOs of family businesses who have lived, worked and thrived in Northeast Ohio and who understand what it takes to run a successful family-owned business. These leaders will share the strategies that they have employed on their pathways to success and offer their insights on owning, running and working in a family business.
At Tri-C, we value family businesses as an integral piece in the mosaic of the Northeast Ohio economy. Tri-C is committed to providing education and state-of-the-industry training to serve as a resource for owners and employees of family businesses so that they may grow, thrive and be sustained for future generations.
Tri-C’s ThRIve Center, located on our downtown Metropolitan Campus, offers entrepreneurial-minded students a place to collect information related to business startup and small business employment opportunities in the Northeast Ohio region.
The center is designed to serve all students regardless of major, and will be open on designated days each semester. In addition to offering an entrepreneurial library, the center will also develop and promote internal workshops and activities and share external programs that help aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the year.
Over the past six years, the college’s Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program has assisted nearly 600 entrepreneurs with advancing their businesses. Those who graduated from the program have outperformed the broader economy while exceeding national and local averages in revenue growth and job creation.
In addition, Tri-C seeks to address the skills gap by creating a pipeline of skilled workers ready to fill in-demand jobs through the college’s six Centers of Excellence to address student, community and employer needs in Creative Arts, Hospitality, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Nursing and Public Safety.
Tri-C is committed to fostering and advancing the workforce for the future through professional development, helping business owners leverage their current employees and upskill their abilities through training and education.
Cuyahoga Community College extends its sincere thanks to the business owners who agreed to participate in this innovative event and congratulates the 2018 Family Business Achievement Award winners. ●
Alex Johnson, Ph. D., president
Cuyahoga Community College
Here are this year’s honorees
Founded by Carmine Izzo, Amotec Inc. is well on its way to turning its tagline, “Recruiting with Integrity,” into a legacy.
After spending 10 years in the recruiting industry, Izzo set forth a plan to create a new type of recruiting firm dedicated to match the top talent with employers of choice. His first office opened in Westlake, Ohio, in December 2000. In less than 20 years, Izzo has turned one office into five and created a national company dedicated to serving clients and candidates alike.
Izzo’s family has played an integral role in the company. With his sisters Lisa Izzo-Peters and Augustine Izzo-Sadler serving as vice president and area director, respectively, the first generation of family at Amotec have laid the foundation for growth. Izzo’s son, Casey, began at Amotec as a staffing recruiter in 2015 and was promoted to business development manager in 2017. His niece, Angela, joined the Amotec team in 2017 in an administrative role.
Throughout Amotec’s history, Izzo, the company’s president, has remained dedicated to fostering success among every employee. Today, Amotec employs 40 people across its five U.S. offices. Amotec opened its fifth office this year in Willoughby, and already it was named a Top Workplace by The Plain Dealer. ●
Bair’s Powersports/Bair’s Indian Motorcycle
Bair’s Powersports/Bair’s Indian Motorcycle is a family owned and operated Polaris brand dealership, offering sales, parts and service for Indian Motorcycle, Slingshot, Polaris off-road vehicles, and Polaris snowmobiles.
Originally founded by Howard Bair in 1948 as a farm equipment dealership, it eventually transitioned into a lawn and garden dealership before adding the Polaris snowmobile line. Cloyse Cheyney partnered with Bair in 1971 and completed the purchase of what was then called Bair Tractor Sales five years later with his wife Deloris Cheyney.
The children of Cloyse and Deloris — Brad Cheyney, who is the company’s president, Bryon Cheyney and Kim Trussell — began working at the company at young ages. They became co-owners in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
One of the biggest challenges over the years of carrying two successful brands was space. The five-acre property could no longer accommodate, display and store inventory properly. After several years of planning the transition, the company was split in 2015.
Bair’s Lawn and Garden remains at the original location on Portage Street in Jackson Township, and Bair’s Powersports now operates out of a 21,000- square-foot facility off of I-77 and Shuffel Road in Jackson Township.
Bair’s Powersports still provides a local feel. The company is proud to have family members who work very well together. Those good relationships are an outstanding asset to the business. ●
Lisa M. Holly
Berea Moving & Storage
Berea Moving & Storage is a family-owned business that has stood the test of time by constantly changing and adopting new ideas.
In 1961, Willie and Dell Melton, parents of President Lisa M. Holly, established a moving company that operated locally and long distance. In the 1980s, the family added commercial and military moving, and added storage services.
In 2002, Willie passed away, leaving Dell to run the company. She added to the company’s commercial line of business, handling medical and telecommunications equipment. The company brought on experts to help grow that line of the business.
In 2006, Dell died unexpectedly, leaving Holly and her brother, Woody, to run the business. Recognizing she had no formal business experience, Holly hired Maximum Value Partners who helped the company realize growth and progress even during the recession.
In 2011, the company added another new service: Wood-Lee International Art Handler, which dealt in moving and storing art. That division started as 8 percent of the company’s gross revenue. Now it comprises 30 percent of revenue.
Today, the company’s business is 50 percent commercial, 30 percent art, 10 percent residential and 10 percent military. It has plans to consolidate its services and focus on areas that create greater opportunities in the future. ●
Clifford D. Baggott
President and CEO
George T. Baggott started Crescent Metal Products from the garage of his Cleveland home. It was a job shop making products such as machine guards, light fixtures and other specialty sheet metal items. When WWII began, he focused his efforts on war-time products.
When the war ended, he transitioned from a job shop to a manufacturer of catalog products. His first job in this capacity was to help Hough Bakery reduce labor and duplicate machine costs in each of its retail branches by developing a bakery delivery cabinet that could transport the bakery’s finished products to its retail stores from its central bakery operation. The solution exceeded the customer’s expectation and the foundation of its current products was born.
George would later meet Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, and develop a cabinet for him that kept the chicken hot and safe. Sanders took the concept to franchises around the world. From this, George developed more innovative food products, positioning Crescent Metal as a leader in mobile hot food holding for schools, hotels, stadiums, restaurants and more. In the 1990s, the company changed its name to Cres Cor.
Today, led by President and CEO Clifford D. Baggott, the third-generation company employs 180 people and has more than 600 products. ●
President and owner
Dove Die and Stamping Co.
Jerry and Norma Wagner met at Dove Die and Stamping Co. in 1964, married in 1968 and purchased the company in 1979 at the onset of a deep, global recession. Jerry’s fortitude, and some luck, coupled with Norma’s strength and common sense, forged the business through that recession, the late ’90s and the Great Recession of the mid-2000s by building a company people retire from.
Dove Die is a high-volume automotive and HVAC parts stamper countered by a low-stress corporate culture.
Customers and vendors not only like Jerry, the company’s president and owner, they seek his counsel. There are continued customers from Dove Die’s date of inception, as well as added long-standing, well-known customers, that paved the way for future successes.
Earning ISO certifications, buying capital equipment at pennies on the dollar, investing in employee education and succession, attention to preventive maintenance, and building a self-contained double disc grinding operation is truly what sets Dove Die apart from other stampers that have gone by the wayside.
But mostly, customers say they go to Dove Die for the engineering and expertise not offered elsewhere. It speaks volumes about the ownership. Jerry and Norma’s children, Peggy and Jim, have adopted the ethical business practices displayed by their parents and this characteristic is shared by employees companywide. ●
Rich and Jeff Desich
Co-founder, executive director | Vice chairman
After serving in the U.S. Navy and graduating from The Ohio State University in 1974, Richard Desich began a small brokerage firm in Elyria, Ohio.
An entrepreneur at heart, Richard was always researching the investment industry. That is when he discovered that individuals could invest in real estate and other Main Street investments, using their IRA and other retirement funds. This led to an opportunity in 1983, when Richard structured an investment for one of his brokerage clients enabling the client to use IRA funds to purchase real estate.
Since then, Richard has pioneered the self-directed IRA industry. He quickly became a prominent authority and word began to spread about his services.
In 2001, Richard and his sons, Rich and Jeff, realized that a bank could offer more services to their clients, so they applied for a bank/trust charter, which was subsequently granted, establishing Equity Trust Co. Richard is chairman while Jeff is vice chairman and Rich, the co-founder, serves as executive director.
Today, the Desich family has transitioned away from the day-to-day management of the company to active members on the company’s board of directors. They have empowered the current leadership team to continue growing their family business and self-directed IRA industry. ●
President and CEO
Fleet Response is a family-owned company that was founded by Ron Mawaka Sr. in Cleveland in 1986 as Rental Concepts Inc. The original focus of the organization was to manage temporary business rentals. In 2003, RCI and Integrated Vehicle Systems combined to create Fleet Response, one company that offers comprehensive custom fleet services.
Fleet Response has grown steadily based on the value it offers customers. It continues to operate on the founding principles of innovation, professionalism, accountability and effectiveness. Its clients include Fortune 500 companies with fleets ranging from 50 to 25,000 vehicles. The company has more than 150 employees who provide support for accident, maintenance and safety programs.
In 2017 Scott Mawaka, president and CEO, purchased Fleet Response from the majority shareholders, ensuring the company will remain a privately held family business.
Mawaka has a strong conviction about treating employees and clients like family. As a result, he is committed to operating on Fleet Response’s founding principle of innovation with a culture that not only places clients at the forefront of the business, but employees as well. Mawaka knows the difference between good customer service and great customer service ultimately depends on the people who provide that service. By creating a family-focused environment, everyone truly cares about the work they are accomplishing. ●
Lauren S. Lanphear
President and owner
Forest City Tree Protection Co.
For more than 100 years, Forest City Tree Protection Co. Inc. has evolved and changed to provide its clients with the most effective and environmentally-friendly tree care available, while keeping its workforce safe.
Though Forest City has faced tree pest problems since its beginning in 1910 — after the company was founded by W.P. Lanphear Jr. — how those problems are treated have changed drastically.
For a long time, many treatments consisted of applying chemicals to the foliage, branches and trunks. Since then, Forest City has been a pioneer and national leader in the tree injection process to treat the issues, delivering tree care medicines directly into the sap stream or roots of trees. Such protections helped protect American elms from the fatal Dutch elm disease, ash trees from the emerald ash borer insect and oak trees from the oak wilt fungus disease.
By its very nature, tree work is a risky, dangerous profession. Forest City has been an industry leader in worker safety. The company has incorporated training elements from its trade association, professional society and other sources into a comprehensive training curriculum that serves as a key part of employee development and advancement.
Led by President and Owner Lauren S. Lanphear, W.P.’s grandson, the company expects to continue its legacy of innovation well into the future. ●
Gordon Lumber Holdings Co.
To mark the 150th anniversary of Gordon Lumber Holdings Co., three of founder Washington Gordon’s great-great-granddaughters are sharing memories while also looking ahead to the future of the lumberyard. Spread across the country in Maine, Florida and Ohio, the sisters are united by their family history and a desire for the company to continue its growth.
Pamela Goetsch currently serves as the chairwoman and is also both a director and a shareholder in the business. As far back as she can remember, she attended company shareholder meetings with her parents.
The most actively involved family descendant in the company, Goetsch and her sisters are the daughters of Gloria Gordon Bauman, a direct descendant of Washington Gordon and the second-largest shareholder of Gordon Lumber stocks.
For her part in the growth of the company, Goetsch helped guide Gordon Lumber during the 2008 recession and through corporate leadership changes in recent years. Leaning on her talents, she has focused on financing, legal matters, management and training issues with the company over the years.
Today’s Gordon Lumber surpasses any dreams that Washington Gordon may have had for his fledgling company. There are currently seven locations employing 120 people and servicing 3,500 customers. ●
It was the summer of 1969. Rick Wiedemer, a young, eager business major had just graduated from Ohio University and began his career at Hinkley Lighting. His father, Jim, had recently become the sole owner of the company, which opened its doors in Cleveland in 1922.
Despite earning his bachelor’s degree in business, Jim insisted that Rick get his hands dirty first. Starting in the factory, Rick witnessed the grit and ingenuity of the factory staff. Once he worked his way through each manufacturing department, he spent time with each of the office departments — marketing, sales and finance. Eight years later in 1977, he became the president of Hinkley Lighting.
Through the years, Rick continued to grow the business through his unwavering commitment to personal relationships with Hinkley’s distributors and retailers. In 2007, Rick spearheaded the purchase of upscale lighting manufacturer, Fredrick Ramond.
The acquisition further diversified the company’s product offering and solidified Hinkley Lighting as an industry leader in decorative lighting. His foundational understanding of the lighting industry, from the factory to the boardroom, grants him a diversified point of view on all business operations. Rick now serves as CEO with sons, Jess and Eric, joining him on the team as president and vice president, respectively. ●
Michael Bass | David Kaufman
Co-owner and CEO | Co-owner and COO
Hy-Ko Products Co.
Since 1949, Hy-Ko Products Co. has strived to be a manufacturing leader powered by the passion to innovate its key, key accessory and sign product categories, ultimately creating new profit opportunities for its retail customers. Common, everyday problems are what Hy-Ko Products helps to solve by supplying over 100 million such products to customers every year.
The family business has grown from manufacturing and supplying letters, numbers and signs to regional hardware stores to a global company that supplies and services some of the world’s largest retail businesses.
Hy-Ko was founded in Cleveland by Bert Ross. Now in its second generation of family management, the company is guided by Michael Bass, CEO and co-owner and David Kaufman, who is co-owner and COO. Bass and Kaufman are sons-in-law to Ross.
From the beginning, the company focused on product innovation and customer service. Computerization allowed Hy-Ko to expand its number, letter and sign business, as well as grow its retail merchandising design.
Entering the 21st century, Hy-Ko expanded its product offerings by adding keys and key accessories, including development of the Promatic Key Machine with a patented vacuum system used at independent hardware stores. By keeping the customers’ needs first at all times and continuing its steadfast dedication to groundbreaking innovation, Hy-Ko is well-positioned for continued growth. ●
Kurtz Bros. Inc.
Kurtz Bros. Inc. is a growing company that has consistently reinvented itself over the past 70 years to help companies and communities divert waste streams from landfills and convert those waste streams into high-value landscaping, building and structural materials.
What started out in 1948 as a company strictly committed to supplying topsoil evolved in the 1970s and 1980s into an organics recycler and topsoil manufacturer. Then, in 1986, the company’s budding relationship with Ford paved the way to recycle 6 million tons of foundry sand into horticultural soil blends and engineered fill, further extending its landscape supply product line and establishing Kurtz Bros. as a leader in the waste-to-resource industry.
Around the same time the company’s partnership with Ford was being established, Kurtz Bros. saw a need for the management and recycling of construction and demolition debris. As the need grew and technology advanced, Kurtz Bros. installed a state-of-the-art materials recycling facility to sort and process locally generated C&DD debris. This advancement made it one of the first of the 56 C&DD landfills in Ohio to commit to the recycling and reuse of this debris.
Led by President John Kurtz, the company’s knowledge, experience and commitment to innovation has allowed it to remain a leader in waste-to-resource and landscape supply. ●
Douglas J. Sibila
President and CEO
Peoples Services Inc.
Ray Sibila worked very hard to set the foundation for what Peoples Services Inc. has become today, learning to grow and branch out as opportunities arose. He instilled his work ethic, values and thought process into his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Though his grandson, Douglas J. Sibila, is now running the day-to-day operations, he still relies on his father Ron’s expertise and lessons learned.
The Sibila family has provided steady leadership over the years with an understanding of the family values that provide strong roots for the business. This is a huge strength over publicly owned companies that continually have new leadership without the background knowledge that provides critical strength and guidance.
It’s still about people, ideas, solutions and innovation. During a recent strategy meeting, the company’s leadership team recognized that it was aging with major players looking to retire within the next five years.
To address this matter, the company has identified the next potential group of emerging managers.
The plan is to develop a program by which they can be exposed to other areas of the company, along with training and leadership development, such as Leadership Stark County and other trade associations, which should set the course for a bright future. ●
Tharo Systems Inc.
Tharo Systems Inc. was founded in 1982 by Thomas Thatcher. Within a few years, he built Tharo into a leader in the automatic identification industry with the help of the company’s proprietary software, EASYLABEL. Tom has long relied on his family members to help grow and expand the business, employing his sister for many years until her retirement a decade ago, as well as his son, Randy Thatcher.
Randy learned the business from the ground up, starting in 1991 in Tharo’s warehouse while attending college. He joined full-time in 1993 as a service technician and was promoted to director of operations in 2006. When Tom decided to retire, he transitioned Tharo to the next generation and Randy became Tharo’s president.
Because of Tharo’s success, and due to Tom’s positive family-business linkage, Tom became involved with a malt house in North Carolina, which was owned by his son-in-law. Tom quickly became interested in the malting industry, and realized the opportunity he had to bring the malting industry to Cleveland.
In an effort to support Ohio agriculture by working with farmers to provide the raw material to create locally made malt, Tom, with the help of Randy, made the decision to combine modern malting techniques and technology with locally sourced grain and create West Branch Malts. ●
Travis M. Mlakar
Millcraft Paper Co.
Millcraft Paper Co. is a family-owned business specializing in the distribution of premium paper, packaging and graphic arts products. It was founded in 1920 by Harold and Pauline Keil and is now led by Travis M. Mlakar, who serves as president and represents the fourth generation of family ownership.
One of the keys to the company’s success is knowing not just when to change, but when not to change. Millcraft has a firm regional footprint with 14 stocking locations, a strong network of partners with international capabilities and an offering of more than 20,000 products. Yet, it’s still regarded as the same hometown paper merchant it was when the company was founded.
Millcraft is guided by a clear company mission and vision, strong business values and principles, and an unwavering quest to innovate, evolve and succeed for the benefit of its employees, customers, suppliers and communities.
Mlakar takes his responsibility seriously as the next generation of his family to guide the company. He is a believer in the power of entrepreneurial spirit, as well as providing accessibility, flexibility and a spirit of creativity throughout the business. He also works hard to adhere to Millcraft’s principles, which tie employees to its history and serve as a platform for innovation and growth. ●
Vice president and general manager
TrustPoint Technologies Inc.
Since 1989, TrustPoint Technologies Inc. has been offering tailored IT solutions for its clients. Because the company doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions, TrustPoint always begins its process by spending the time to learn about short and long-term business goals and past technology challenges, and then customize a solution.
In 2013, Randy Houlas and Chris Snider bought into TrustPoint with Randy becoming the majority owner and CEO, and Snider and former president David Basile serving as minority partners. Each leader had a background in technology, creating a partnership that was strong in industry knowledge and had the drive to build a growing business. Randy spent the majority of his career working in corporate America for Storage Technologies, a competitor of IBM, before joining his father’s logistics business, ITS Traffic Systems, and eventually investing in TrustPoint.
Shortly after the change in ownership, both of Randy’s children, Abbey DeWitt and Marc Houlas, joined the board and became active in the strategic planning for the company.
In 2017, DeWitt began working directly in operations, as well as on the strategic side. In late 2017, she was appointed vice president and general manager at TrustPoint. Marc remains on the board and two generations and three members of the Houlas family are active in the company. ●
Patrick J. Pitrone
President and CEO
It was 1983 and Jeff Pitrone just had his house insulated with new state-of-the-art foam insulation. He could feel the difference immediately. The gas company could too, because within two months of the insulation being installed, they replaced his meter because they thought it was faulty.
Jeff knew then that he had to be involved in this business. He approached the owner of a small insulation company in Eastlake and asked to buy into the business. It took several lengthy conversations, but eventually Jeff became partner and by 1985, sole owner. He then focused on the growth of the residential retrofit business of re-insulating homes.
Jeff’s son, Patrick J. Pitrone, joined the company in 2004 to help run the Cleveland-based location and begin to focus on marketing and sales efficiency. With the help of his father and brother-in-law, Aaron Jais, they grew the business into three distinct, vertically integrated companies.
USA Insulation is a franchisor with more than 20 locations and has become the first and largest residential insulation franchisor in the country.
None of it would have been possible without the generosity, sage advice and clear direction from Jeff, the company’s founder, who passed away from cancer in October 2017. He was the driving force behind what USA Insulation has become. ●