Entrepreneur’s Edge Awards: Midsized companies, the backbone of Northeast Ohio, are playing to win

cle_akr_ftr_LeadingEdge_LogoThe Entrepreneurs EDGE 2013 Leading EDGE Awards Program, now in its seventh year, highlights companies generating great economic value for the Northeast Ohio region. These companies embody a sense of purpose that extends well beyond their shareholders to all of their key stakeholders, including the community in which they reside and each employee they have.

Why midsized companies?

Midsized companies are the backbone of our regional economy. They have the greatest potential to grow and create more value for Northeast Ohio:

■  Value through spinoff business and meaningful job creation.

■  Value through spending with local vendors.

■  Value through civic engagement and philanthropy.

■  Value because they are dedicated to the region.

For instance, GE Capital and The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business came together to establish a research partnership focused on the middle market. The National Center for the Middle Market’s research efforts revealed, “The middle market represents more than a third of American jobs and more than $9 trillion in annual revenue. Further, many of its companies, through their longevity, act as community pillars, providing stable employment and acting as responsible corporate citizens.”

As a strategic resource serving this distinct segment of businesses, The Entrepreneurs EDGE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, sees that collectively this elite group of companies is poised to impact future growth and change in Northeast Ohio. It is the group’s mission to foster and support these businesses as the region moves past a time of uncertainty, and it does so with many great partners at their side.

A glimpse into Leading EDGE honorees

The Leading EDGE Awards targets companies driving the most value in the regional economy. Criteria for consideration include earnings and compensation, spending with local vendors, philanthropy, job creation and percentage of sales outside the region. From 2009 to 2011, an average of 69 percent of sales at the 101 companies was from outside Northeast Ohio, driving valuable sales dollars back into the region.

Further, these companies, representing both manufacturing and service industries, work for a variety of innovative and cutting-edge industries.

Perhaps best of all, they weathered the economic downturn well and not only kept people working but created new jobs. In 2011, they experienced a growth of 22 percent in full-time equivalent employees. That is nearly 1,200 new jobs with manufacturing companies and more than 800 new jobs with service companies.

Recognizing civic distinction

As part of each year’s program, EDGE recognizes one Leading EDGE honoree that has demonstrated civic distinction in their community.

Among the deserving recipients of this award are BrandMuscle, Fairmount Minerals, Human Arc, Main Street Gourmet, Marous Brothers and PartsSource. These organizations build civic engagement and philanthropy into their company culture and corporate value structure, making it a part of their DNA.

In the case of our 2012 recipient, Human Arc, it is a part of the business model as the company serves a segment of the population that otherwise may be forgotten. EDGE is proud to hold up these companies as great examples of companies serving the community in which they reside.

The 2013 Leading EDGE Awards

Our seventh annual Leading EDGE Awards event will showcase one of our university partners, Lorain County Community College, and multiyear honoree Dealer Tire. Honorees and special guests will gather on Thurs., May 23, at the Spitzer Conference Center at LCCC to celebrate.

Scott Mueller, CEO of Dealer Tire, will share how a shift in the business model and a culture driven around success drove the company to the next level. It will be the kickoff to a yearlong series of events that will bring this elite group of midsized company leaders together. ●

About EDGE

EDGE is a strategic resource serving the middle market in Northeast Ohio that develops leaders and builds companies by improving the performance of their management teams. Through engaging leaders of seven different functional areas (CEO, finance, HR, innovation, IT, marketing and operations), EDGE facilitates shared learning, innovation and growth. EDGE even engages the next generation of leaders through student programs that expose top student talent to great local companies.

2013 Leading EDGE Awards Presented by


MAGNET and Smart Business

Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland State University

Kent State University

Lorain County Community College

The University of Akron