The Pittsburgh Smart 50 help spark the region’s business success and strength

 

pit_JDEwingJ.D. Ewing
President and CEO
JMJS Inc., dba COE Distributing

J.D. Ewing’s business model encourages collaboration between himself, employees, customers and vendors to foster a culture of employee empowerment and satisfaction. Each employee at JMJS Inc., dba COE Distributing, is given the opportunity to be a part of company decisions and direction.

He also makes sacrifices in order to see his company thrive and his employees have a career, not just a job. Ewing has worked many holidays so that his employees can be off with their families, and even has forgone his paycheck to invest more into the business to see it grow to new levels.

He reviews the decisions he makes for the company often to ensure they are working with the current economy and technology.

Under Ewing’s leadership as president and CEO, the company’s revenue and employee base has grown substantially. Since January 2010, total revenue has grown while opportunities for existing and new employees has stayed in step with growth.


 

pit_MicheleFabriziMichele Fabrizi
President and CEO
MARC USA

Michele Fabrizi leads MARC USA as president and CEO with a five-year vision horizon to reinvent the marketing communications agency every five years as needed to stay ahead of industry changes.

The MARC USA teams are customized for each client to deliver integrated communication plans based on individual needs.

Fabrizi created a single profit and loss statement structure to foster collaboration and media-neutral solutions built on what’s best for the client. She also allied with Carnegie Mellon University to continuously develop her team’s skills in behavioral economics, decision-science, neuron marketing and advanced analytics.

Under Fabrizi’s leadership, MARC USA stands out from other agencies of its size for its breadth and depth of services, leadership in the application of behavioral economics and brain science, and its national focus with offices in Chicago, Boston and Miami as well as its Pittsburgh headquarters.

The company is marking its 60th anniversary next year and enjoys long-standing client relationships, including True Value Hardware since 1983 and Rite Aid since 1995.


 

pit_TomJosephThomas Joseph III
Founder and CTO
Epiphany Solar Water Systems LLC

Epiphany Solar Water Systems LLC co-founder and CTO Thomas Joseph III focuses the company on “why” certain choices are made. Employees are encouraged to question the purpose of an action, and decisions are based on the same model.

The company’s goal is to solve the world’s problems by starting locally with the purification of water produced by hydro-fractured gas wells.

Epiphany has challenged conventional approaches in design and production of water desalination and purification technologies. Products are designed to be modular, robust and lightweight, using as many common, off-the-shelf components as possible to build a replicable and sustainable business.

Conventional desalination technologies such as reverse osmosis and multi-effect distillation are expensive and energy intensive. Epiphany’s technologies address these concerns. Although the company’s current focus is on local and regional shale oil and gas wells, the long-term vision is to take the lessons learned in treating water and apply them to treating less contaminated ocean and salt water throughout the world.


 

pit_EdwardKennedyEdward Kennedy
President and CEO
Tollgrade Communications Inc.

Tollgrade Communications Inc. is a worldwide leader in broadband testing equipment with more than 200 million copper phone lines tested daily.

Edward Kennedy joined Tollgrade Communications as CEO and president in 2010. Within his first year, he launched Lighthouse, the company’s flagship offering for the smart grid market, to diversify Tollgrade’s product portfolio.

Deployments and revenue from smart grid sensors doubled in 2012 and 2013. Last year, the company was recognized as the market share leader in its technology category.

The platform has been deployed on three continents, won eight awards and was recognized by former President Bill Clinton at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative Americas meeting, where Kennedy presented Tollgrade’s commitment to build a predictive grid with DTE Energy in Detroit.

Kennedy also had a vision to transition the company’s fault detection solution for copper telecom lines to electric power lines to aid utilities to decrease large-scale power outages.


 

pit_JackKimbellJack Kimbell
General manager
The Rivers Club

Established in 1983, The Rivers Club offers full-service dining and athletic facilities, and is one of the top places to be seen in Pittsburgh.

However, membership and usage fell during the economic downturn. Club Corp., which owns and operates The Rivers Club, brought back original general manager Jack Kimbell to run the business and ensure the facility’s future.

As general manager, Kimbell conducted surveys, held focus groups and compiled an action plan of items to improve. Some were small things like uniform lighting, discarding mismatched silverware, painting, etc. Others were more significant — instilling a culture of service accountability, building a great place to work, changing staff who did not buy in, attracting great talent and bringing back a few senior staffers who left years ago. As a result, member dining is up 45 percent in the past 18 months and overall gross revenues are up 15 percent.

These efforts are leading towards The Rivers Club’s first Gold Circle of Excellence performance in the club’s 31-year history.