Cascade Capital Corporation 2018 Business Growth Awards

48 outstanding companies that fortify the strength of our regional economy

It is with great pleasure that I congratulate the 48 Cascade Capital Corporation Business Growth Award winners for 2018. These companies are located within Summit, Medina, Portage, Stark, Wayne, Ashland and Holmes counties in Northeastern Ohio.

A company can earn a Business Growth Award by either increasing its sales level by 100 percent or $5 million, or by increasing its employee base by 50 percent or 25 people over the course of the past five years. These impressive growth standards also result in significant economic benefits for our local and regional economies.

Growing companies’ sales of their goods and services to other parts of the state, across the nation and even internationally, enrich our local and regional economies. Receipts and profits generated by these companies are positively manifested when these companies purchase local goods and services, invest in new operating facilities and equipment, and hire new employees. These wealth-creating mechanisms directly lead to the economic vitality of our local and regional economies.

Cascade Capital Corporation’s primary operating objectives are to provide attractive financing options to small and midsize companies investing in new operating facilities, equipment and human resources, and to invest, on a long-term basis, in the Northeastern Ohio communities that Cascade Capital Corporation services.

Cascade Capital Corporation provides below-market, long-term fixed interest rate financing options through its SBA 504 loan program. In combination with traditional bank financing, small to midsize companies receive 90 percent financing for new building, equipment or business purchases as follows: Bank Financing – 50 percent; Cascade Capital SBA 504 – 40 percent; Business Down Payment – 10 percent. SBA 504 financing term options include 10, 20 and 25 years with current fixed rates in the 5 percent range.

Cascade Capital Corporation’s Ohio 166 loan program offers an extremely competitive fixed interest rate of 3 percent for non-retail companies investing in operating facilities or equipment.

A number of 2018 Business Growth Award winners have received funding from Cascade Capital Corporation through its SBA 504 and Ohio 166 loan programs.

Cascade Capital Corporation is very proud to have invested its own financial resources throughout Summit, Medina, Portage and Wayne counties for several years. To date, Cascade Capital Corporation has invested over $1.15 million to support our local and regional economic development partners with their business development and job creation objectives.

Congratulations to all of Cascade Capital Corporation’s 2018 Business Growth Award winners on a job well done, and thank you, too, for your continuing role in supporting and revitalizing our local and regional economies as a result of your impressive growth! ●

Robert Filipiak is president 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 protected]


Huntington Legacy Award

National Interstate Insurance | Anthony Mercurio, President and CEO

National Interstate Insurance’s development framework has it building for a strong future

The insurance industry, particularly the transportation insurance marketplace, continues to experience a soft market. But despite this challenging economic environment, National Interstate Insurance is reporting 18 percent growth in revenue since 2013, and it has grown its alternative risk transfer portfolio of products by nearly 30 percent in that same period — a product segment that now accounts for most of the company’s revenue.

The company, led by President and CEO Anthony Mercurio, has grown in several other key ways over the past five years. For example, its Richfield campus expansion is complete, which added two floors of flexible, collaborative spaces as well as a fitness room, an activity room and a mothers’ room for new moms returning to work. And because its business is personal and relationship-driven, the expanded campus facilities are designed to host customers on-site with meeting, pre-function and entertainment spaces throughout.

National Interstate also improved its employee benefits package with expanded flex-time; a wellness program that earns employees points to redeem on Fitbits, gift cards and more; and on-site health and biometrics screenings.

The company takes an all-encompassing approach to wellness, beyond traditional body health and fitness, by helping employees focus on career growth and financial wellness through on-site and virtual seminars and financial consultations. National Interstate recently updated its performance management system, focusing on more frequent employee/manager check-ins with the intention of putting career control into the hands of the employee.

To inspire current employees to reach for new heights, the company offers web-based, on- and off-site training courses, a tuition reimbursement program and a leadership academy for managers to promote professional development and accelerate employee progression.

But before someone joins National Interstate, the company is striving to better equip potential employees to enter the workforce before they graduate college. Currently, the company partners with local colleges and universities to further develop insurance and risk management programs, and it offers scholarship funds and program support to students interested in risk management and insurance.

Additionally, five years ago, the company developed its ignition program as a graduate development program to prepare recent high-performing graduates for careers at National Interstate. The four-week curriculum comprises online learning and in-person business sessions, education sessions, professional development presentations and social activities. Many of its ignition participants reach their first promotion within 18 months and most program graduates are on second or third promotions.

Each year, National Interstate evaluates its program successes and looks for areas of improvement. Feedback has been a powerful tool as it continues to strengthen both programs and understand the needs of the future.

The company believes in strong preparations beginning while potential employees are still in school and continuing that learning and development throughout their career with tools offered by National Interstate. ●


Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

LeafFilter Gutter Protection | Matt Kaulig, CEO and Owner

Taking control has helped LeafFilter Gutter Protection realize exponential growth

Scaling from a home office to a top home improvement company in the nation is no easy accomplishment. Yet, that’s exactly what Matt Kaulig set out to do in 2005, while focused on selling only one product: LeafFilter Gutter Protection. Company CEO and Owner Kaulig’s entrepreneurial spirit, strategic direction and unique business philosophy have led his company to incredible success.

Much of that success can be attributed to Kaulig’s independent thinking. For example, in 2008, while many businesses recoiled against the risks of uncertainty with the tumultuous economy, Kaulig saw an opportunity to expand his business into three new markets — Virginia, Cincinnati and Baltimore — and invest in advertising. The moves helped the company nearly double its revenue from 2008 to 2009.

While other gutter protection and home improvement companies are typically managed through a dealer network, Kaulig opted to take full control of his company, electing to run it through a no-dealer network. This gave him complete control over the customer experience, including the sales, installation and service process, in addition to complete quality control of the product.

In 2009, 69 dealers across the country were selling LeafFilter, and Kaulig was responsible for producing 70 percent of all sales.

By the end of 2009, Kaulig acquired the distribution rights to LeafFilter in the U.S. and Canada with the intention of mentoring the other dealers across the country so that they could expand and grow. At the time, some markets were poorly managed by dealers that did not meet customer expectations or handle customer grievances efficiently. Not wanting other dealers’ actions to sully the LeafFilter brand name, Kaulig moved to a no-dealer network and took full control of the company, brand and product in 2009, a move that contributed to the overall success and growth of LeafFilter. In fact, revenue grew eight times from 2010 to 2017.

And the growth isn’t stopping. Recently the company opened new locations in Austin, Texas; Houston; London, Ontario; Toronto; Denver; and Oklahoma City.

Kaulig brings the same passion and drive to his newest endeavor: NASCAR. Kaulig Racing is a full-time American stock car racing team owned by Kaulig, with LeafFilter positioned as the primary sponsor.

Kaulig Racing has already received a considerable amount of recognition on and off the track. During the first year of competition in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Kaulig Racing finished seventh overall in the championship standings. Off track, NASCAR presented Kaulig Racing with the “Marketing Team of the Year” for the innovative use of new marketing channels.

Not only has Kaulig Racing been a successful NASCAR team, it has also elevated LeafFilter’s brand in the market. ●


Akron Community Foundation Philanthropy in Business Award

GPD Group | Darrin Kotecki, President

Community, culture, clients are the focus at GPD Group

GPD Group is a team of over 600 architects, designers and engineers. While they come together from a diverse collection of disciplines, experiences and locations, the team is unified by its values. Its values ensure that the firm provides the highest quality of work to its clients while remaining true to its identity.

Headquartered in Akron and led by President Darrin Kotecki, the firm has offices nationwide. Founded in 1961, the original partners sold the firm to its employees in 1986. Employee ownership has enabled the company to grow in part because of its focus on the needs of its associates and the communities where it works.

GPD’s business concept can be summarized by the firm’s value statement and its credo, “We treat customers like our employees and employees like our customers.” It is through this bonding of its two most important assets that GPD Group is able to be a firm of choice for its customers while being a group with whom the best people associate.

The firm seeks to improve the well-being of its employees, clients, communities and business partners by transforming opportunities into success. Through its unprecedented broad-based and equal employee ownership structure, its owners are empowered to develop solutions to meet its clients’ unique needs. Further, its streamlined management structure sets the foundation upon which quick decisions can be made, and efficient and effective project delivery can be promoted.

GPD’s ownership structure also aligns with its purpose to transform opportunities into successes with its clients, communities, business partners and employees and foster long-term relationships.

GPD is a recipient of the 2016 NorthCoast 99 Award, an honor that marks the fourth time the firm was recognized by the ERC for building and maintaining a great workplace.

GPD’s culture has always valued a strong sense of community, and with that, it has a unifying desire to give back to others. While GPD likes to support all types of groups, the firm especially enjoys supporting organizations that help children in need. In 2014, GPD created the GPD Employees’ Foundation to support communities both financially and through volunteer work. Groups of employees formed committees to establish the foundation and provided the framework for the raising and distributing of funds, as well as informing potential recipients of application opportunities and constituents of its efforts. Through the foundation, GPD supports classrooms, therapy programs in hospitals, camps for children with terminal illnesses, inclusive playgrounds and much more.

The GPD Employees’ Foundation has distributed nearly $1.7 million since its inception, with over 1,600 volunteer hours completed in its communities last year. Major recipients in Northeast Ohio include A Kid Again, Camp Quality, The First Tee of Akron, Inclusion Day at the Soap Box Derby, Akron Public Schools and others. ●


Manufacturing | Greatest Employee Growth

LeafFilter Gutter Protection | Matt Kaulig | CEO and owner

In 2005, Matt Kaulig left his position at a local remodeling company to sell LeafFilter Gutter Protection as a dealer in the basement of his home. For a few years, he was a one-man show, scheduling appointments, answering phones, managing sales, overseeing the installation process, handling all customer grievances, and organizing a complete marketing strategy.

As Kaulig’s business grew, he hired one marketing manager, a small installation team and four sales reps. By 2008, he inched his way into new territories, expanding to nearby markets including Toledo, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

Despite growth, Kaulig remained cautious, strategically entering new markets and growing his team tactically, fueling growth through profits.

Kaulig continued to open three new offices a year for the next 10 years, growing revenue upwards of 25,000 percent from end-of year 2005 to 2015.

At the beginning of 2017, Kaulig took a big step and expanded internationally, opening two new offices in Canada. Currently, LeafFilter has over 37 offices in North America. The company, which began with just a single employee, now employs 1,500 people.

A key point in LeafFilter is to develop people from employees to leaders. Kaulig, the company’s CEO and owner, finds it imperative to promote from within and provide the necessary training that will allow people to advance and maximize their potential for the betterment of the company. His people-first mentality has been responsible for much of the company’s success. ●

Manufacturing | Greatest Revenue Growth

MAC Trailer Enterprises Inc. | Michael Conny | President and CEO

MAC Trailer Enterprises Inc. is the nation’s foremost manufacturer of dump, flatbed and transfer trailers, straight trucks, dry bulk pneumatic tanks and liquid tank trailers. Headed by President and CEO Michael Conny, MAC is headquartered in Alliance with plants in Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and elsewhere in Ohio. It has added three manufacturing facilities in three states over the past five years. Sales and production figures have significantly increased. The company currently employs about 1,300 people with more than 800 of those employed locally.

For MAC, technology is not something it purchases. The company has the ability and vision to create it. Its research and development department is constantly innovating its products and has garnered several patents for its inventions.

MAC has consistently weathered economic storms while never sacrificing care and concern for its employees. For example, in the past five years, an on-site health clinic has been established at each of its plants that are staffed by a nurse practitioner. Employee luncheons are regularly held to gather feedback and suggestions for improvements from staff.

As a manufacturer, MAC Trailer recognizes the complexity of today’s ever-changing market and the necessity to make its clients more competitive. MAC incorporates alternative components, such as materials to improve fuel economies, maximize performance, reduce maintenance costs, increase payloads and focus on safety. This focus has helped the company realize an 11 percent increase in revenue year-over-year. ●

Manufacturing | Best Overall Story

Venture Products Inc. | Dallas Steiner | CEO

Venture Products Inc., headquartered in Orrville, is the manufacturer of Ventrac compact tractors and commercial grade attachments. Since the first release of Ventrac products in 1998, Venture Products has become a leader in the sub-compact tractor market, with its equipment being used by professionals worldwide — literally worldwide.

Export sales are 20 percent of total sales for the company. The success in exports provides diversity to its customer base and stability for its long-term growth.

For example, in June 2014, Venture CEO Dallas Steiner met with the company’s Ventrac distributor in South Korea to discuss the possibility of having Ventrac handle the snow removal needs at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Between 2014 through 2017, Ventrac Korea pursued the contractors that handled the snow removal for the Olympics. It was eventually awarded the contract to clear the snow from the main Olympic Stadium that would host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Steiner, who traveled to South Korea for the event, said it was exciting to have every Olympian pass within feet of the company’s tractors as they entered into the stadium. The company’s 232 employees all had a part in designing, manufacturing, distributing, supporting and sharing in the accomplishment to be a part of the world scene. The company was able to make a difference and to be a part of history. ●


Technology Services | Greatest Employee Growth

Open Practice Solutions LTD | Michael Teutsch | President

The computerization of medical offices began in earnest in the 1990s. The focus was on the automation of the billing process. By the time the internet became a platform for hosting business applications, the focus of the medical software industry had shifted from accounts receivable applications to medical records applications that also did billing.

The founders of Open Practice Solutions LTD saw that while physician practices were getting squeezed with ever-decreasing reimbursements, the quality of the A/R systems in the market was getting worse every year, as the market focused on the government-subsidized move to electronic medical records. Seeing both the need for a web-based solution and the need again for a solution that was focused on helping private practices stay viable, OPS was founded in 2005.

Its first years were spent working with early adopters to craft a solution that delivered the functionality and reliability needed to help a practice thrive. The last seven years have seen OPS begin the process of taking the system to market across the country. Since that time, the company has grown from three states to 40, and from a single developer to 22 employees.

The company, led by President Michael Teutsch, is focused on providing continuous improvement to the financial management tools that independent physicians need to survive and thrive in an increasingly difficult market, and providing the best possible client experience. ●

Technology | Revenue Growth

Excel Impact LLC | Craig Sturgill | President

Excel Impact LLC, founded in 2013, is a leading performance-driven online customer acquisition provider with a focus on the insurance industry. Specializing in Medicare, health and life insurance, among other growing verticals, it connects insurance shoppers with insurance agencies across the country that can assist consumers in purchasing the right insurance plan for their needs.

The company, headquartered in Medina and led by President Craig Sturgill, has a second office in Miami where its strategic marketing and technology team is located. The company currently has 12 employees of different nationalities, three of whom are immigrants. It plans to hire additional team members, as well as scale existing channels in 2018 to meet its goal of increasing gross revenue for the year. The additional hires will be spread between the Ohio and Florida offices.

From its first year in business in 2013 to 2017, its year-end revenue grew nearly 17,500 percent. This incredibly fast growth is partially attributed to its heavy focus on the senior citizen demographic, which is exploding at the rate of 10,000 consumers turning 65 every day. Excel Impact believes its highly efficient process, strategic partnerships, close attention to detail, top-notch team, transparency and high moral standard, data science and analytics, robust technology, and focus on the niche senior demographic has enabled it to achieve its record-setting growth over the past several years. ●

Technology | Best Overall Story

Razorleaf Corp. | Eric Doubell | President

Specializing in digital transformation technologies, Razorleaf Corp., headed by President Eric Doubell, has been on a strong growth curve for the past three years and has invested in the organization to support this growth long term.

The company opened its first international division in Northampton, U.K., and added both marketing and sales talent on its management team to drive more business growth across all sectors.

Razorleaf has more than doubled its consultant headcount to support its increase in contracts in aerospace and government organizations, and launched a new spinoff business, Razorleaf Government Solutions, which focuses on government contracts.

The company’s rapid growth in the government sector began when it landed a contract as the lead system integrator for deploying a product life cycle management solution to the U.S. Navy, and in less than 12 months delivered a turnkey PLM environment. Razorleaf managed the program team, trained the Navy resources and documented the complete solution.

That experience led to other digital transformation projects. In late 2017, Razorleaf began a multimillion-dollar digital transformation project with a research and development organization that contracts with the government. Razorleaf helped automate the organization’s manual business processes and realign its ways of doing business to support digitalization across the organization.

As more organizations seek to digitalize their business processes and improve their product innovation processes, Razorleaf will help establish a roadmap for success. ●


Service ◆ Established | Employee Growth

GPD Group | Darrin Kotecki | President

GPD Group, an architectural firm, wants to improve the well-being of its employees, clients, communities and business partners by transforming opportunities into success. Through its equal employee ownership structure, its employee owners are empowered to develop solutions to meet clients’ unique needs. Having a streamlined management structure means quick decisions can be made, and efficient and effective project delivery can be promoted. GPD’s ownership structure also promotes long-term relationships among its many internal and external stakeholders.

GPD is a 2016 NorthCoast 99 Award winner. The honor marks the fourth time that the firm was recognized by the ERC for building and maintaining a great workplace.

Headquartered in Akron and led by President Darrin Kotecki, the firm has offices across the U.S. It has been employee owned since the original partners sold the firm in 1986. Employee ownership has helped the company to grow. Between 2013 and 2017, the company has increased the number of employees from 445 to 613.

GPD’s business concept can be summarized by the firm’s value statement and its credo, “We treat customers like our employees and employees like our customers.” It is through this bonding of its two most important assets that GPD Group is able to be a firm of choice for its customers while being a group with whom the best people associate. ●

Service ◆ Established | Revenue Growth

KHM Travel Group | Rick Zimmerman | President

KHM Travel Group has seen another year of continued growth and achievement. Over the past five years, the travel agency, led by President Rick Zimmerman, has seen its independent travel agents drive a 69 percent increase in sales from 2013 to 2017.

The significant growth the company has realized can be attributed in part to KHM advancing its educational offerings and listening to the requests of its agents. In 2018, the company moved from bi-weekly commission payouts to weekly; established team-up networking events to forge stronger relationships among junior and senior agents; and launched its coaching program, which uses one-on-one sessions with team members at the corporate office to further agent knowledge of new or challenging areas of business, such as email and social media marketing. These resources have helped improve agent retention and helped them overcome the challenges of operating their travel businesses.

The success of its agents and its sales growth have landed KHM in Travel Weekly’s Power List for the third year in a row, placing KHM among the top players in the travel industry.

KHM continues to build upon the strong foundation it has laid. Its strong network of agents and dedicated team members have enabled it to thrive over the past five years, and its philosophy of working together will empower the travel agency to achieve great things in the future. ●

Service ◆ Established | Best Overall Story

Peoples Services Inc. | Douglas J. Sibila | President and CEO

Peoples Services Inc., led by third-generation President and CEO Douglas J. Sibila, doubled its sales and the number of employees in 2010 and continues to experience significant business growth.

The 104-year-old warehousing and logistics company is privately held with an employee stock ownership program — 20 percent of the company is owned by the employees. Last year, the company contributed $1 million in profit sharing to the employees and it’s on pace to contribute $1.2 million this year.

The company has been expanding rapidly through acquisitions. In September 2015, Peoples acquired the assets of Style Crest Logistics, with more than 1 million square feet of storage space in the Fremont, Ohio, area. In December 2017, Peoples acquired the assets of B&M Storage & Distribution Inc., based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, adding 90,000 square feet of warehouse space, including 60,000 square feet of freezer space. It also enhanced its service level in food-grade storage and distribution while expanding its Southeast regional footprint.

In April 2018, Peoples acquired the assets of Grimes Logistics Services Inc. based in Jacksonville, Florida, adding almost 1 million square feet of warehouse space and extending its footprint to the South.

Added up, these acquisitions give the company a presence in seven states, extending its footprint to include Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. It controls over 7.5 million square feet of warehouse space throughout 42 facilities. ●


Service ◆ Emerging | Employee Growth

Concept Services LTD | Dan Harsh | President

Concept Services LTD began in 2002 as a family-owned business and grew to become an 120-plus employee company.

In 2017, Concept’s management considered how to streamline its current operation, deciding ultimately to restructure and rebrand the organization. It looked first at its service offerings, revamping them by adding to its core service, outbound lead generation, to include a full suite of lead management services. Concept also invested in advanced technology to help provide a better quality experience for clients and employees.

With its services and technology upgraded, Concept began revamping its operational structure. New project management support roles ensured a quality experience for clients and employees.

With all the changes to its operations underway, the company looked to improve offerings for its employees. Concept added new employee programs and benefits, which included employee enrichment, increased paid time off and an improved health benefits plan to aid in the hiring and retention of quality employees.

The company also streamlined its work environment, merging its three locations into its new 26,000-plus square-foot corporate headquarters in Medina that is designed to house more than 200 employees. The new facility will include a modern look and feel along with a 2,500-square-foot training center.

Concept, led by President Dan Harsh, has tackled change head-on and has been able to use it to its advantage. ●

Service ◆ Emerging | Revenue Growth

VMI Group Inc. | Neille Vitale | President

VMI Group Inc. was formed in 2012 with two employees. The company focused its early operations on constructing concrete driveways and small-scale concrete work, with the goal of one day performing large-scale structural concrete work. Within the first year of business, VMI grew to a company of 12 employees with seven-figure revenue.

In order to transition into larger-scale structural, industrial, commercial and site concrete work, VMI invested in laser-guided horizontal concrete placement screeds to create consistently flat concrete surfaces. VMI also invested in universal total station technology, which enabled the tightest grading and concrete placing precision. With the investment in state-of-the-art equipment, talented people and a commitment to quality, VMI was able to earn the trust of owners, developers and contractors throughout Ohio. Because of that trust, VMI was able to achieve its goal and get much larger concrete work in Ohio over the ensuing five years.

VMI also became certified by Ohio Unified Certification Program as a Disadvantaged Business Entity and is certified by Cleveland as a Female Business Enterprise for poured concrete foundation contractors and structural concrete contractors.

In 2018, VMI has approximately 100 full time employees with offices in Macedonia and Columbus, and its revenue has grown 1,600 percent since its first year. VMI, led by President Neille Vitale, is committed to investing in people and leveraging technology to provide the highest quality concrete work on time and on budget. ●


Honor Roll | Manufacturing

Daniel’s Amish Collection | Christopher J. Karman

Daniel’s Amish Collection believes that its entrepreneurial management style and decentralized decision-making have been a key factor in its rapid growth. The manufacturer of wooden bedroom and dining furniture encourages entrepreneurism and innovation at every level. The company’s most significant achievement over the past five years is carving out a profitable, American-made niche in the highly competitive furniture industry, offering customized furniture and infusing the entire organization with quality. This has helped it grow sales dramatically.

Fire-Dex LLC | Bill Burke

Since its move to Medina more than 20 years ago, Fire-Dex LLC has acquired three businesses and introduced many new products focused on firefighters’ health and safety. In 2018, Fire-Dex celebrated its 35th anniversary in part by revealing its completed 29,000-square-foot headquarters expansion. As Fire-Dex grows, increasing its headcount by 27 percent between 2016 and 2017, it’s also helping Medina grow, estimating that the expansion will develop at least 30 new jobs over the next three years in the city.

Flohr Machine Co. | Gerard Flohr

Flohr Machine Co., a family-owned and operated company established in Akron in 1966, started in a backyard garage and now owns 22 CNC machines. Through timely upgrading of equipment and technology, the manufacturer of components for tire molds and energy equipment has been able to maintain consistent and sustainable growth. The company is actively in the process of training the third-generation workforce to continue into the foreseeable future the growth and technological advances it has so far achieved.

LeafFilter Gutter Protection | Matt Kaulig

LeafFilter Gutter Protection scaled from a home office in 2005 to a top U.S. home improvement company. Headquartered in Hudson, the company recently opened new locations in Austin, Texas; Houston; London, Ontario; Toronto; Denver; and Oklahoma City. In the past five years, the company experienced tremendous growth, increasing its sales revenue by more than 262 percent. Its newest endeavor, Kaulig Racing, has elevated LeafFilter’s brand in the market via its NASCAR exposure.

MAC Trailer Enterprises Inc. | Michael Conny

MAC Trailer Enterprises Inc., a truck and trailer manufacturer, has added three manufacturing facilities in three states over the past five years. Sales and production figures have increased significantly, with MAC realizing an 11 percent boost in revenue year-over-year. The company currently employs about 1,300 people with more than 800 of those employed locally. It has added an on-site health clinic at each of its plants that are staffed by a nurse practitioner, which emphasizes the care and concern it has for its employees.

Main Street Gourmet LLC | Steve Marks and Harvey Nelson

In the early 2000s, Main Street Gourmet LLC re-invented itself, establishing a custom baked goods division that produced exclusive bakery products for its customers. The move helped Main Street win the business of many premier food and restaurant operators, which spurred company growth. During the five-year period between 2012 and 2016, its employee growth has neared 40 percent while sales growth jumped to nearly 55 percent. The custom baked goods division now represents more than 80 percent of Main Street’s sales.

Midwest Industrial Supply Inc. | Steven Vitale

Midwest Industrial Supply Inc. is a national and international provider of dust control, soil stabilization, anti-icing/deicing and rail solutions. Headquartered in downtown Canton, the family company has experienced growth during almost every one of its 43 years in business. It has a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent since its inception, and in just the last year, it grew 26 percent in total revenue. Midwest also added 24 new employees in that time, largely because of a May 2017 acquisition.

Packaging Material Services LLC | Greg Bobonik

Packaging Material Services LLC began with a less than 20,000-square-foot warehouse, a three-item product line and a customer base of four. It employed four people and its market range centralized in a two-county radius. Since then, Packaging Material Services has seen remarkable growth. Its revenues have doubled, and its customer base has increased to over 45 companies. It expanded its product line and moved to a 70,000-square-foot building, and its headcount increased to 20 employees.

Rittman Inc. dba Mull Iron | Chester M. Mull III

Rittman Inc. dba Mull Iron might operate in Wayne County, but it’s made its mark on the Akron skyline. As a structural steel erector, the company has built the infrastructure for University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium, the Akron Art Museum, Goodyear’s world headquarters and more. Within the last five years, the company has doubled its sales and created over 80 new jobs, now employing more than 160 field, shop and administrative personnel.

Venture Products Inc. | Dallas Steiner

Venture Products Inc., the manufacturer of Ventrac compact tractors and commercial grade attachments, has become a leader in the sub-compact tractor market, with its equipment being used by professionals worldwide. Export sales are 20 percent of total sales for the company. The success in exports provides diversity to its customer base and stability for its long-term growth. During the past five years, the company’s sales have grown 124 percent while it has added 123 employees to its headcount.

WARDJet Inc. | Richard Ward

WARDJet Inc. has changed over the years from a waterjet consulting company to the largest reseller of used waterjet cutting machines in North America, to the leader in refurbishing waterjets, to the largest custom CNC and automation company in North America specializing in waterjet cutting systems. Once a home-based business, the company now occupies a large portion of a 220,000-square-foot building in Tallmadge and has close to 100 employees. It has seen its sales grow 81 percent in the past five years.


Honor Roll | Technology Services

Corporate Technologies Group Inc. | Jeff Sumner and Brett Harney

Corporate Technologies Group Inc. has experienced significant growth and change as it heads toward its 20th year in business. This year, CTG has added two new positions. The new technical intern helps the technical support team, while the new full-time marketing coordinator and sales support staffer is vertically integrating the overall marketing approach, a function that had been outsourced in the past. CTG has added 67 new customers since 2014, with 27 added in the past two years.

Etactics Inc. | Michael Teutsch

Etactics Inc., which delivers time-sensitive documents, has invested significantly to prepare for its next stage of growth. As it adds clients, the company continues to develop new products and services while looking at ways to outsource services outside of its core competency through new partner relationships with other businesses. The company currently employs 44 employees, a 10 percent increase from the previous year, and expects to hire more employees during the next 12 months.

Excel Impact LLC | Craig Sturgill

Excel Impact LLC, a performance-driven online customer acquisition provider headquartered in Medina, has seen its year-end revenue grow nearly 17,500 percent between 2013 and 2017. It’s incredibly fast growth is partially attributed to its heavy focus on connecting the growing demographic of senior citizen insurance shoppers with insurance agencies across the country. The company plans to hire additional team members and scale existing channels to meet its goal of increasing gross revenue for the year.

Lead to Conversion LLC | Sean Bolton

Lead to Conversion LLC has experienced growth in both its headcount and its organization, especially in the past several years. Since 2013, the company has seen its employee base grow from six to 14, and its sales revenue grow 130 percent. The company emphasizes benefits to its employees such as flexible hours, monthly and quarterly bonuses, continuous improvement and cross-training opportunities. It expects its growth trajectory to continue, requiring the addition of more employees in the coming years.

Metisentry | Marling Engle

Metisentry is a software as a service factory. The Akron-based company works to solve complex business problems through a combination of web and software development, and cloud services, with the hope that it will change the way people do business. Metisentry has continued its trend of increasing its income year-over-year. Between 2013 and 2017, the company’s sales increased 909 percent, with its headcount rising from five employees to 21 in the same period.

Open Practice Solutions LTD | Michael Teutsch

In recent years, Open Practice Solutions LTD, a developer of web-based medical billing applications, has accomplished much. The company has grown its presence from three states to 40. It now serves 4,800 providers and more than 6,000 users. During the past five years, the company also has seen its sales increase 385 percent, while increasing its staff by 120 percent. The company is looking forward to accelerating that growth over the next five years.

QualityIP | Ryan Markham

QualityIP, an IT services company, has added 19 new jobs in the past five years — an almost 112 percent increase to its staffing levels. In addition, two years ago the company added a third location. It’s now in Kent, Independence and Akron. Its fleet of 10 tech trucks brings its services to over 400 active clients throughout the region. Over the past five years, 2013 through 2017, QualityIP experienced sales growth of more than 150 percent.

Razorleaf Corp. | Eric Doubell

Razorleaf Corp. has seen its sales nearly double in the past five years and has made investments to support this growth long term. The company has added both marketing and sales talent on its management team to drive business growth across all sectors. It launched Razorleaf Government Solutions, a spinoff that focuses on the support and fulfillment of government contracts, and more than doubled its consultant headcount to support an increase in contracts in aerospace and government organizations.

S3 Technologies | Nancy Larker

S3 Technologies, a full-service technology company providing services in the commercial and institutional markets in Northeast and Central Ohio, has gained traction over the last several years. Finding the right solution for each unique space and budget is where S3 thrives. The result has been happy customers, steady company growth with more than 95 percent of its customer base being referrals, an increase of 76 percent in overall sales and 55 percent in employee growth in the last five years.

Sanctuary Marketing Group | Kelly Brown

Sanctuary Marketing group, a digital marketing agency, has gone from working in the living room of an old house to a newly renovated facility in the heart of North Canton at the Hoover building. The company has won the Weatherhead 100 award four consecutive years. It has actively partnered with over 60 companies in Northeast Ohio on their digital marketing strategies and has grown its revenues by 454 percent since 2012.

SecureData 365 | Michael Campanelli

While SecureData 365’s own data centers are rapidly growing, so are its staff and sales. The company has seen its sales increase 104 percent and its headcount grow from 16 to 22 employees. More significantly, the company’s customers are able to employ robust IT staffs locally and send them to a local data center to keep their operations always available. To that end, more than 5,000 IT technicians came to work at either its Canton or Cleveland data center last year.

Sherlock Services Inc. | Ronald Pollard

In the past six years, Sherlock Services has grown from nine to 25 employees and more than doubled its revenue through organic and acquisition growth. The computer hardware sales and service company expanded its product portfolio and hired sales account executives to drive direct business in 2014; acquired Atlantic Tech Services in 2017, adding over 200 customers and two technical personnel; and in 2018, acquired Black River Computer, hired its four employees and again grew its customer base.


Honor Roll | Service

Cohen & Co. | J. Michael Kolk

Expansion and growth continue to be a recurring theme at Cohen & Co. Over the past few years, the accounting and consulting firm has added offices in Pittsburgh; Detroit; St. Clair Shores, Michigan; Baltimore; and Chicago, bringing its total to 10 offices. From 2016 to 2017 alone, its employee count grew from 380 to 556.
Cohen & Co. is now focused on integrating its growing teams, which it is working to achieve through technology and community service initiatives.

Concept Services LTD | Dan Harsh

Concept Services LTD, which began in 2002 as a family-owned company, now has 120 employees. That growth required Concept to spread its workforce among three campuses. But that is changing. The company is merging into a new 26,000-plus square-foot corporate headquarters in Medina that is designed for the future with room to house more than 200 employees. As it expands, Concept is revamping its operational structure, adding project management support roles to ensure a quality experience for clients and employees.

General Transport | Joseph Ostrowske

In the past five years, General Transport has experienced steady growth, fueled by its ability to quickly respond to customer needs as the economy has steadily improved. As an asset-based company, General Transport is heavily invested in both tractors and trailers, purchasing more than $7.5 million in equipment since 2013 through local reps and dealers. The company also has invested more than $550,000 since 2013 in its South Akron offices, showing its commitment to Akron and setting itself up for growth.

GPD Group | Darrin Kotecki

GPD Group’s more than 600 architects, designers and engineers are part of an employee ownership structure that has enabled the company to grow in part because of its focus on the needs of its associates and the communities where it works. The firm seeks to improve the well-being of its employees, clients, communities and business partners by transforming opportunities into success. That effort is paying off — the firm has seen both its revenue and employee count increase steadily in the past five years.

Great Lakes Fasteners Inc. | Kevin R. Weidinger

Great Lakes Fasteners Inc., through organic growth and acquisitions, has established an exciting growth curve by building a diverse group of customers. Its aggressive acquisition strategy and investing in salespeople and marketing tools have propelled its sales higher over the past several years. The company entered the maintenance and repair and cutting tool segment and has steadily added new clients with that service offering. Further, its packaging division has created several new jobs, and has driven value and created opportunities for customers.

Group Management Services Inc. | Mike Kahoe

Twenty-two years after starting as a one-man organization, Group Management Services Inc. is growing faster than ever. The professional employer organization now has nearly 270 employees across eight offices. In fact, the company’s most significant obstacle over the past five years is keeping up with the growth. After reinvesting its profits into the business, the company has expanded from its offices in Richfield, Columbus and Cincinnati, to Indianapolis; Fort Myers, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; and Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Innovation Food Services | Thomas Lane

Innovation Food Services has grown from producing 50 meals a day to over 4,000 meals per day for charter schools, summer meal programs, mobile meals, PASSPORT programs and senior centers. In the past five years, the company’s full-time staff has more than doubled as it has realized significant sales revenue growth. It’s also expanding its geographic footprint, growing to provide services in six counties. Innovation Foods is focused on creating new products and ideas as it looks to impact more Northeast Ohio citizens.

J&K’s Akron Medina Trucks & Parts Inc. | Joshua Slattery

J&K’s Akron Medina Trucks & Parts Inc. is a family-owned and operated business newly located in Uniontown. And though the commercial truck and parts sales company was experiencing sales growth at a good clip, its numbers have been affected by a move the company expects will ultimately facilitate better growth. The company left an area with accessibility and flooding issues to one its customers love. As a result, sales have already begun to climb again.

Jarrett Logistics Systems | W. Michael Jarrett

Jarrett Logistics Systems has seen its sales grow 125 percent between 2013 and 2017. In August 2016, its new 10,000-square-foot JLS Routing Center opened across the street from its headquarters. When it first opened, the building had space to grow. With the recent growth of the past year, it is nearing full capacity. Additionally, the company added, a 105,000-square-foot warehouse in 2016. The six-phase project is headed into phase two, as space is quickly filling up in the current warehouse.

KHM Travel Group | Rick Zimmerman

Over the past five years, KHM Travel Group has seen its independent travel agents drive a 69 percent increase in sales from 2013 to 2017. The agency is dedicated to advancing its educational offerings and listening to the requests of its agents, implementing several new programs designed to increase agent retention and knowledge, and facilitate networking. The success of its agents and its sales growth has placed KHM among the top players in the travel industry.

Katar Holding Inc. | Kenneth J. Brown

Since Katar Holding Inc.’s first Buffalo Wild Wings franchise opened in 1995 in Ashland, the franchise count has grown to seven and its presence has expanded to include Richland, Stark, Wayne, Lake and Lorain counties. The businesses have provided career opportunities to thousands of employees over the past 20 years, including management and other restaurant career positions. Both the company’s sales and employee count have increased steadily over the past five years, with the latter growing 14 percent just between 2016 and 2017.

Laudan Properties | Kevin R. Weidinger

Laudan Properties’ performance-based culture has been a huge differentiator for the national mortgage field services company. It recruits vigorously for candidate fit, while hiring for attitude and training for skill. That approach has helped the company attract the best and brightest in Northeast Ohio and enabled it to keep its foot on the gas as it pursues growth. Over the past five years, the company has added to its staff and seen sales increase 55 percent.

Leppo Group Inc. | William “Glenn” Leppo

The most significant achievement for the construction equipment seller Leppo Group Inc. in the past five years has been the success of its experiments — suggestions from employees at all levels of the company that cover a wide range of opportunities to improve and grow. For example, in 2013, Leppo formed a new operating company, Razor Rents, after a couple years of experimenting with the new shale exploration contractors in eastern Ohio. Razor Rents is now the fastest growing part of its business.

National Interstate Insurance | Anthony Mercurio

Despite a challenging economic environment, National Interstate Insurance is reporting 18 percent growth in revenue since 2013, and has grown its alternative risk transfer portfolio of products by nearly 30 percent in that same period — a product segment that now accounts for most of the company’s revenue. The company’s Richfield campus expansion is complete, which added two floors of flexible, collaborative spaces as well as amenities for employees and hosting clients.

Peoples Services Inc. | Douglas J. Sibila

Peoples Services Inc. is a 104-year-old warehousing and logistics company that is privately held with an employee stock ownership program. The company has been expanding rapidly through acquisitions, giving the company a presence in seven states — Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. It controls more than 7.5 million square feet of warehouse space throughout 42 facilities. In the past five years, the company has added 111 employees and grown sales 49 percent.

Pritt Entertainment Group | Ryan Pritt

In the past five years, Pritt Entertainment Group has grown, both in employee numbers and in revenue. Shortly after hiring its first employee, the company expanded from three people to five, and relocated, conveniently, across the street to another downtown Akron office with three times the space. The extra space allowed the company to grow to nine full-time employees at the end of 2017. Pritt’s client list has grown over those five years, as well, with new client revenue increasing exponentially.

Proforma 3rd Degree Marketing | Steve Flaughers

Proforma 3rd Degree Marketing, a graphic communication company, has grown its sales by more than $1 million in the past five years. The company has done this by taking an innovative and aggressive approach to acquiring its competitors through mergers and acquisitions, hiring sales professionals and leveraging social media. To lead and inspire its employees, the company is hands on with its sales teams, invests in the latest and greatest in sales tools, and shows its appreciation for their work through special events.

QualCare LLC dba Home Instead Senior Care | Therese Zdesar, RN, BSN

Over the past five years, Home Instead Senior Care has increased its headcount by 36 employees — a significant achievement given the effort required to meet its retention and recruitment expectations. Knowing that employees are the No. 1 driver of its success, the company initiated programs to improve its performance in that area that focus on facilitating a culture of care and compassion. Additionally, it created a new administrative position specifically for recruiting the best candidates.

Sequoia Financial Group | Thomas Haught

Sequoia Financial Group’s strategic plan works toward achieving success by growth, acquisition and client loyalty. Key to its strategic plan is business line expansion and acquiring and developing talent. Sequoia has acquired multiple firms since its beginnings, which has stretched its presence from Michigan all the way to Florida. The company increased its sales by 109 percent in the past five years, and added 25 employees to its headcount during the same period.

Shoemaker Rigging & Transport | Steven Shoemaker

Shoemaker Rigging & Transport, an industrial and commercial rigging, trucking and heavy machinery moving company, began operations with three employees in 2014. It has invested millions of dollars in both equipment and real estate since then. Today, over 30 employees make up a diverse pool of individuals with various levels of expertise and experience, and the company supports multiple local subcontractors with hundreds of thousands of dollars in business annually. Since 2014, Shoemaker’s sales have grown 701 percent.

Spray Foam Solutions Inc. | Aaron Raber

Spray Foam Solutions Inc., a spray foam insulation company, has grown from four employees at the start of 2013 to eight by the end of 2017, and nearly doubled its revenue in the same period. The company expects that the current structure and planning it has in place sets it up to grow by at least 20 percent in 2018 and double by 2020. It also has a plan in place for a new building that will accommodate that growth.

The Village Network | Richard Graziano

The Village Network has achieved significant growth over the past five years, realizing surpluses in the past four years — reaching the $1 million-plus mark in four of the last five years and for the first time exceeding the $2 million threshold last year. This year, in partnership with the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Wayne & Holmes Counties, The Village Network will open a new therapeutic stabilization center at its Wooster campus to serve area youth ages 10-21 in crisis.

Unified Construction Systems | Jason Haws

Unified Construction Systems has seen its sales increase 64 percent and its headcount grow 46 percent in the past five years. The contractor, working in commercial glass, insulation and masonry restoration and caulking, has been a part of several projects in Stark, Summit, Wayne, Portage and Cuyahoga counties. The company believes in giving back to the communities in which it works through fundraisers and supporting charitable causes. It also prides itself on having a family-like culture.

VMI Group Inc. | Neille Vitale

While its early work was focused on constructing concrete driveways and small-scale concrete work, VMI Group Inc. has since transitioned into larger-scale structural, industrial, commercial and site concrete work. The company has done so through investment in state-of-the-art equipment, talented people and a commitment to quality. VMI has approximately 100 full-time employees with offices in Macedonia and Columbus, and its revenue has grown 1,600 percent since its first year.

Westfield Bank | Jon Park

Since its inception in 2001, Westfield Bank has grown rapidly by focusing on long-term customer relationships. The growth was accelerated with the acquisition of Western Reserve Bank in 2012, and Valley Savings Bank in 2014. Westfield Bank’s headcount has grown 47 percent in the past five years. It operates in five counties in Northeast Ohio and has more than $1.45 billion in assets. Westfield Bank will continue to grow, while striving to become Northeast Ohio’s highest performing and most admired community bank.