Dr. Steven St. Peter
president and CEO
Aratana Therapeutics, Inc.
Dr. Steven St. Peter wasn’t a doctor of anything at the age of 14, but it was already clear to those who knew him that he was cut out to be an entrepreneur. His resume included managing the nacho stand at the Kansas Coliseum; owning his own lawn mowing business for which he employed many of his friends; and then using the capital from mowing lawns to purchase part interest in a motel.
He was once asked how many lawns he could mow, to which he responded, “How many lawns do you have?” It was an example of his ability to manage capital, to lead others to achieve success and the strong work ethic and passion he possessed.
These attributes have served him well as the president and CEO of Aratana Therapeutics, Inc. St. Peter sets a vision for his business and then gets everyone engaged in working hard to achieve it. His goal was not to create a business and then flip it, but rather build a company that would be an industry leader with the ability to change the entire animal health industry.
It hasn’t always been easy. St. Peter had to work hard to educate the health care investment community on the regulations of pet therapeutics. He had to manage a developmental stage business with minimal revenue to meet stock price and analyst expectations, which is an ongoing challenge.
And there are other challenges. But St. Peter is not afraid to take risks and maintains a diverse, talented team of employees who share his philosophy and appreciate the explicit, constant communication that are hallmarks of the culture at Aratana.
The result is abusiness that is changing the way pets are cared for and is stepping out as an industry leader in the space.
Dr. Dan Siegel
Deli Star Corporation
Dr. Dan Siegel has spent most of his life around meat. He attended the University of Illinois and earned his bachelor’s degree in biology, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in meat science. He maintains a role in the food industry as a consultant addressing issues involving quality, safety and regulatory issues.
Siegel founded Deli Star Corporation in 1987 inside a 4,000-square-foot slaughterhouse. The company now has two main locations and processes turkey, pork, beef and chicken for large national accounts. Siegel is the chairman of Deli Star and vice president of King’s Food Products. He is an inventor of a new case-ready vacuum packaging format that employs a nitrite-containing film to cause and maintain the consumer-preferred red color of fresh meat. His FreshCase technology received the DuPont Diamond Award and has 17 worldwide patents.
Justin Siegel, Dan’s son, is president of Deli Star. He has been with the company for 11 years and in the meat industry for 12. He also attended the University of Illinois, but he was on a different path than his father, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in finance.
Despite the different path, Justin has proven to be a leader in the field, having overcome challenges in the industry. He has developed innovative meat solutions that have led to much success for Deli Star’s customers.
His first job was selling irradiation food machines. Justin started his career at Deli Star doing sales and marketing. It took some time, but the duo now delivers to both national and international processors, sandwich makers, quick-service restaurants, restaurant distributors, wholesale food distributors and supermarkets.
Justin has helped the company add new product lines and improve work productivity, inventory and process control. He also partnered with a company in St. Louis to build a Web-based software system to manage Deli Star’s business.
Adam Blake has built a business in Brightergy that is both innovative and successful, but the path to prosperity wasn’t without a few bumps along the way.
The clean energy business struggled in its early days with employee turnover and a hiring process that wasn’t the best it could be. Blake, the company’s CEO, knew that a change was needed in both the system used to hire new employees as well as the process that was followed to get them acclimated to their new jobs.
So he created a new position, the director of culture, to make Brightergy a great place to work. The move paid immediate dividends and has helped Brightergy continue its growth trajectory.
Blake manages through a flat management structure, which allows employees to connect with management quickly on any business issue they might face. Blake does not force his will on his team or the company. Instead, he specifically encourages an environment where others can present alternative ideas and solutions.
One of the key operational challenges Blake has faced is the development of innovative financing tools to help Brightergy clients make strategic investments in solar and other energy management solutions.
Although it has been a struggle to make the complicated process of project financing simple for Brightergy’s clients, the company’s success in this area provides it with an innovative competitive advantage. This is because Brightergy can provide several financing vehicles from which potential customers can choose.
The company’s great work extends beyond the operations of the business. Brightergy’s corporate responsibility initiatives include volunteering in the community, sponsoring environmental events and educational programs, and participating in the Clinton Global Initiative through the Clinton Foundation.
And through BrighterSchools, a proprietary renewable energy classroom curriculum, Brightergy has introduced more than 150,000 K-12 students to renewable energy education that is tied directly to services provided to those schools.