EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 Orange County Awards

Business to Business

WINNER oco_eoy_JonathanOrdJonathan Ord CEO DealerSocket, Inc. www.dealersocket.com   Creating loyalty is a perennial challenge in the auto industry, where customers can purchase the same model from multiple dealers. In 2001, Jonathan Ord jumped into the driver’s seat when he developed DealerSocket, Inc., a customer relationship management software program that helps auto dealers cultivate, manage and maintain valuable customer relationships.

Ord visualized a plug and play tool that could manage a variety of customer interactions from a single platform. In order to make the CEO’s vision a reality, he mortgaged his home, worked out of the garage and drew upon his diverse experience in business development. He also volunteered at a dealership for a year to gain a better understanding of customers’ needs and the factors that lead to success.

In addition to winning over the sales team at each dealership, Ord strove to make every customer a “raving fan” of DealerSocket and its products. In the first year, a small group of “fans” joined the movement, which doubled by the second year. Even during the near collapse of the automotive industry from 2006 to 2008, Ord helped dealers survive the recession while continuing to improve DealerSocket’s product. 

Today, DealerSocket services thousands of users in dealerships across the U.S., Canada and Australia. Instead of becoming complacent, Ord remains innovative and competitive. He launched a committee to keep tabs on the industry and evaluate customer feedback. He also encourages dealers to provide testimonials, which he shares via social media to build brand awareness.

Although DealerSocket has won numerous awards and accolades, such as the Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 50 and the International Stevie Award for Best Overall Company, Ord is focused and humble. He believes in work/life balance and fosters an innovative culture, which has led to 13 consecutive years of growth and high levels of employee retention.



oco_eoy_StephenGordonStephen Gordon Founding chairman, CEO and president Opus Bank www.opusbank.com

  Just as the recession was shuttering many financial lending institutions, Opus Bank opened its doors and its credit lines to local businesses when they needed it most. Directing this community-focused infusion of capital was the bank’s founding chairman, Stephen Gordon, who also serves as CEO and president of the Irvine, California-based lender. 

When access to capital was at a premium, Gordon coalesced a management team that was of the same mind in terms of getting the cash flowing. Together they infused small business owners, real estate investors and promising new businesses up and down the West Coast in an effort to spur a recovery that Gordon believed could only be achieved with a resurgence in capital investment from banks. 

The focus had to be on entrepreneurship, he believed, and this belief informs his leadership on meeting not only businesses’ needs, but also the aspirations of their principals as they look ahead to growth opportunities. Thus, the Opus culture was purposefully instituted to reinforce its “community-focus,” as it specifically seeks to fund non-profit and other charitable organizations. 

In 2011, he instituted and funded the Opus Community Foundation, providing grants that benefit programs in the cities the bank serves, targeting education, training and job placement, and for those in the direst need, food and shelter programs. 

In the same year and in line with this philanthropic philosophy, Gordon initiated an internship program at Opus Bank that gives high school and college-aged young adults valuable exposure to diverse facets of the financial services industry. 

In his 25-year career prior to founding Opus Bank, Gordon held leadership positions across investment, consumer and commercial banks including Sandler O’Neill and Partners in New York, Commercial Capital Bancorp, Inc., and Fremont General Corp. and its investment and loan subsidiary, which he was instrumental in rescuing during the downturn.

oco_eoy_JohnJordanJohn Jordan CEO DPI Specialty Foods www.dpispecialtyfoods.com

  Revenue was steadily dropping at DPI Specialty Foods because of its myriad operating inefficiencies. Employee morale sank under ineffective leadership and service delivery suffered as a result. The ultimate blow came when one of DPI’s largest customers left. As a subsidiary of the Irish Dairy Board, DPI’s financial troubles were a drain on the whole farmer-owned co-op. So John Jordan, chief marketing officer of the IDB at the time, agreed to move his family to California and take the helm as DPI’s CEO. Once he got inside the company, Jordan realized DPI wasn’t organized to serve its regional customers. He restructured the organization from a corporate office to a regional division model in order to mirror the way its customers purchased. The leadership team lacked direction and wasted time discussing details that didn’t impact the bottom line. So, Jordan streamlined meetings and structured relevant debates to gain buy-in on decisions, making the team more effective. He began investing in people by hiring an HR director, improving employee benefits, partnering with a local college to offer training programs, implementing incentives to improve safety and issuing the first pay raise in several years. Operationally, DPI had not adjusted to changes in its customer base. For example, after losing one of its largest customers, DPI kept the same trucks running the same routes — even though loads were now half-empty. Jordan identified other suppliers that were sending half-empty trucks on similar routes to the same retailers, and in what he calls “coopertition,” partnered with the competition for a more effective solution. By reorganizing delivery routes, DPI saved considerable money each year. Since Jordan arrived in 2012, the company has hit every monthly financial target. DPI has gone from steadily losing money to growing revenue, now profitable again and on track to keep growing.