NorthPoint Development Co.
Nathaniel Hagedorn has wanted to be an entrepreneur for as long as he can remember. While still in high school, he started his own business mowing lawns, growing it to nearly 50 clients. His love for small business carried on into adulthood.
Today, he leads NorthPoint Development Co., a commercial real estate development firm, as CEO, where he’s created an organization where innovation, integrity and loyalty thrive.
Hierarchy does not play a big part in the way things are done at NorthPoint. The management structure at the company is very flat and each member of the executive team, including Hagedorn, has his or her own specialty. It makes for a powerful group that can cover a great deal of technical and economic ground.
Monthly meetings with the entire staff allow each team member the opportunity to voice questions, concerns and thoughts.
Hagedorn works hard to find the right people and then works even harder to keep them at the company. He understands that they are the most critical asset in a market that involves incredible amounts of both technical and creative expertise.
Employee ownership and project bonuses are used to give employees both direct and indirect incentives for meeting goals and completing projects.
One of Hagedorn’s favorite quotes comes from Warren Buffett, who said, “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.” The words define the reason Hagedorn has been able to keep NorthPoint profitable, despite fierce competition and a fluctuating economy.
But it’s not just about work at Northpoint. The company matches 100 percent of contributions employees make to charity. NorthPoint also is a dedicated contributor to Down’s syndrome organizations and the Special Olympics.
In this year’s Polar Bear Plunge, which benefits the Kansas City Special Olympics, NorthPoint alone contributed 85 percent of the total amount raised.
president and CEO
NextGen Information Services, Inc.
Carmen Jacob leads with her heart in a very visible, very genuine way. She once attended a breakfast seminar where she noticed a woman arriving late, after breakfast had been served. Jacob felt the need to help the woman, so she made the woman a plate of food so she could eat breakfast.
After the speaker, the woman could not thank Jacob enough. As it turned out, Jacob learned that the woman had been going through some rough times and Jacob’s act of kindness had made a significant impact.
For Jacob it’s simply the way she lives her life and leads her business, NextGen Information Services, Inc. A native of Guatemala, Jacob grew up with next to nothing other than an appreciation of the value of money and the ability to overcome obstacles in order to follow her dreams.
Her idea for NextGen came from listening to friends and neighbors who primarily worked in the IT field. Jacob herself did not have a background in the field, but was very inquisitive, allowing her to gain the knowledge she needed.
The company she co-founded has grown into a leading provider of staff augmentation to St. Louis and companies throughout the U.S.
One thing the company’s president and CEO learned early on was that she needed a good team to tackle the areas that she wasn’t an expert in. She found a great support system in her co-founder and in Lori Eaton, her vice president and right-hand person who she has worked with for more than 14 years. Jacob and Eaton balance each other with Eaton providing the strategic direction and Jacob driving the vision and overall mission of the organization.
The result is a company with a diverse and dedicated group of professionals who take after their leader.
chairman and CEO
Service Management Group, Inc.
Andy Fromm has always been driven and entrepreneurial, even when he was spending days cleaning neighborhood swimming pools. He now takes the same customer-focused approach to do the job right as chairman and CEO at Service Management Group, Inc., and the result is a company that has a global presence.
One of the reasons Fromm has enjoyed success is that he understands you can’t get too excited with just winning a new client. The trick, and the true value for your business, is to keep them coming back for more.
As a result of SMG’s devotion to this tenet, the company maintains a 98 percent client retention rate and more than 50 percent of its new business comes from client referrals. This is also a testament to the company’s ability to drive products forward knowing that clients are not going to stick around if the offering does not evolve.
SMG’s first project was measuring associate engagement for a local drugstore chain. With a strong focus on catering to multi-unit businesses in the restaurant, retail, grocery and entertainment industries, the company began taking on more client projects, and measurement of the customer experience quickly became the company’s bread and butter.
Since Fromm found the company in 1991, SMG has been focused on the future. It has offices in the United Kingdom and Tokyo and is currently exploring new markets for expansion as the company continues to grow.
Fromm is also dedicated to serving the Kansas City community. He recently concluded a six-year term on the executive committee of the Kansas City Zoo board of directors and his company has been offering customer experience measurement services pro bono to the zoo for the past nine years. As a result of the insights gained, zoo attendance has doubled.
TVH Parts Co.
Els Thermote first began working for TVH Parts Co. at the age of 7. Sweeping floors and counting inventory gave her a sense of what the company her father, Paul, started was all about.
As the company grew from a small, local company to a major international supplier, Thermote grew with it. She worked her way up through the ranks with hard work and determination. Early in her career, she focused on expanding the international reach of the company, which had been founded in Belgium.
She even took the bold step of moving to South Africa so she could work on saving a branch that had not been performing well. When TVH acquired the Kansas-based SMH in 2003, Thermote volunteered to relocate to Olathe, Kansas, to establish the company’s American presence. Since becoming CEO of TVH Americas, Thermote has been a key factor in the growth of the business.
One of those key factors is Thermote’s commitment to highly enthusiastic customer relationships. She understands that customers rely on TVH to supply a wide range of quality parts at competitive prices. She created a customer experience management initiative in 2010 that documents every point of contact the company has with its customers. It creates the opportunity to continually check in on processes and come up with new and innovative ways to provide even better service to customers.
As hard as Thermote works for her customers, she brings the same passion and energy to the well-being of her employees. Her goal is to create a challenging and rewarding work environment that encourages teamwork, growth and development, along with creativity and the initiative to help the company keep getting better.
Thermote believes in a healthy work/life balance and strives to make that possible for everyone.