NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Education and Non-profit
William Scott Duennes
Before the term “social enterprise” was coined, Cornucopia, Inc./Nature’s Bin, under the direction of William Scott Duennes, was a leader in setting the standard for socially responsible companies in northeast Ohio.
Duennes joined Cornucopia in 1986 and in just one year, due to his display of leadership qualities, the board of directors approached him about transitioning into the role of executive director. He accepted, and the organization has been flourishing ever since.
Cornucopia is a nonprofit organization that operates five community-based vocational training sites providing opportunities and employment services to people with disabilities. The primary training location is Nature’s Bin, a retail grocery store that Cornucopia operates.
Throughout Duennes’ tenure as executive director, he has maintained a focus on the organization’s mission to help people with disabilities develop their skills, confidence and workplace potential. This is evidenced by the partnerships that Cornucopia has made with retail and non-retail organizations.
Duennes decided to expand beyond the retail world with respect to rehabilitation training to meet the needs and interests of the individuals the program serves. Cornucopia placed 40 individuals with disabilities that were part of its training program into competitive employment in 2012.
To emphasize the organization’s focus on rehabilitation efforts and related success, Duennes recently arranged for the income statement to list rehabilitation revenue ahead of Nature’s Bin retail operation revenue.
While maintaining a steadfast focus on the training program affiliated with Cornucopia, the retail business associated with Nature’s Bin continues to thrive, breaking industry norms by being more than just an organic food market, and widening its target market base by appealing to the needs of people in the community.
Specifically, through product diversification and its ability to identify, develop and serve niche sub-markets, the organization under Duennes’ leadership is an industry leader in sales per square foot, averaging 32 percent more than its competitors.
How to reach: Cornucopia Inc., www.cornucopia-inc.org