Gallagher is honored to partner with Smart Business to present the 2019 Pittsburgh Smart 50 Awards.
It’s humbling to learn about this year’s Smart 50 honorees and what they are doing as our region continues to set an example.
Pittsburgh is reinventing itself as an innovation hub that’s advancing health care, education, software engineering and high-tech industries, and our region remains at the forefront of development for autonomous vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence. Plus, the center for heavy industry has replaced “smoky” with “green” for good.
All of our Smart 50 honorees are having a positive impact in the community. They are coming up with new ideas and making us more sustainable.
During Smart 50 judging day, where we heard directly from more than 30 of the honorees, it was inspirational to learn about innovation, impact and sustainability in so many different ways.
We heard about more than just new products and services, but also inclusive management styles, engaged corporate cultures and innovative approaches to leadership. We learned how they made the tough decisions as industries changed or the economy shifted. And, we were exposed to savvy leaders who are building upon the legacies of the past to write exciting new stories for their organizations’ futures.
This year’s Smart 50 honorees are from a diverse set of businesses and industries, yet they all share a passion for their work.
On behalf of the entire Western Pennsylvania Gallagher team, congratulations to each of you for your accomplishments and receiving well-deserved recognition for leading successful organizations.
The Smart 50 Awards will take place on November 20, 2019 at The Fairmont Pittsburgh.
Honorees listed in alphabetical order by last name
2019 Pittsburgh Smart 50 honorees
Shannon Baker has been a major contributor to a record-breaking 10 years of consecutive growth for Gatesman, a fully integrated, independent marketing communications agency. Since joining the organization in 2008, the company has become a regionally- and nationally-recognized PR practice.
Taking on the role of president in 2016, Baker has led award-winning Gatesman in redefining its marketing model to drive integration, innovation and creativity. She also co-spearheaded the successful acquisition of Noble Communications in 2017, in alignment with her focus on continuous growth and success.
Baker’s leadership has seen the organization’s portfolio grow exponentially in recent years, particularly in new business, securing notable global clients, such as the Center for Organ Recovery and Education and British Airways. She’s likewise grown and developed Gatesman’s staff, with a focus on empowering women.
President and CEO
Irwin Car and Equipment
Irwin Car and Equipment is a 127-year-old engineering and manufacturing company that specializes in the design and production of leading edge, heavy-duty material handling equipment for an array of heavy industries and specialty applications. It’s grown over the past 25 years under the vision of President and CEO William Baker, who has realized a diversified mix of markets, products and industries that eliminate a great deal of market cyclicality risk for the company.
Baker’s vision has seen Irwin Car and Equipment thrive in the face of the industrial economy’s downturn in recent years, with the business eagerly pursuing opportunities for growth, expansion and innovation. Recent developments include clean-diesel-powered underground mining locomotives, prototype sub-sea pumping systems and a diverse array of automated guided vehicles for heavy industry.
Leveraging his background as an international buyer for a U.S. stone company, Emre Basman founded Armina Stone in 2015. A full-service fabricator of solid surface quartz, granite, marble and other natural stones, the company has since grown from a small team of four associates to employ nearly 100 associates across two expanding locations.
Under Basman’s guidance, Armina Stone has grown steadily at a nearly 300 percent rate over the past three years. Focused on business intelligence, strategic networking and heavy investments in technology and equipment, Basman has developed a strong client base and competitive advantage with regard to fabrication excellence.
Today, Armina Stone is Pittsburgh’s largest indoor stone gallery and fabricator. It’s been featured on HGTV and has won multiple awards, including the 2018 Home Depot Fabricator of the Year.
Established in 1969, Milestone Centers is on a mission to provide quality, life-enhancing services that promote wellness and the development of human potential to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and/or behavioral health challenges. Led by Executive Director Gary Bell, the organization has grown to actively serve in 20 of Pennsylvania’s counties, employing a team of more than 400 associates.
Bell has been with Milestone Centers since 1998, overseeing geographic growth as well as the growth of the organization’s client programs, services and strategic partnerships. In addition to providing client services that impact the western Pennsylvania community, he oversees the Milestone’s Health Care Quality Units, which provide expert clinical training to professionals in the fields of intellectual disability and behavioral health.
Look Good Brands
Michael Blair, CEO of Look Good Brands — a subsidiary of fast-growing eyelash extension franchisee Deka Lash — is leading an ongoing plan to bring beauty, health and fitness brands together. Complemented with the acquisition recent of Salt Lake City-based Legends Boxing, this multi-brand infrastructure provides enterprise diversification and economies of scale by sharing resources across brands, enabling all entities to expand more than ever before.
Aiming to promote a lifestyle where people want to look good, feel good and perform at their best, Blair drives Look Good Brands in listening to both customers and employees to foster continued product innovation. Embracing a hands-off management style, he believes that a leader can’t know everything, so it’s smart to hire people who can fill in the gaps — resulting in excellent products and services.
President and owner
Architectural Innovations LLC
In practice for more than 30 years, Jan Brimmeier drew on her experience to found Architectural Innovations LLC in 2004 as a certified woman-owned architectural firm. She has grown the business on a commitment to developing strong MWDBE/SDV — minority, woman-owned, disadvantaged business enterprises and service-disabled veterans — teams, building working relationships and recruiting companies to be part of AI’s response to both governmental and non-governmental projects.
Brimmeier’s efforts have resulted in AI developing teams uniquely suited to address the design parameters of a project, and to this end, AI recently developed a third professional design team that is 100 percent diverse. Strategic focus on diversity and inclusion has helped earn AI numerous accolades, including being named one of the area’s largest architectural firms.
Metz Lewis Brodman Must O’Keefe LLC
Under the leadership of President Christopher Brodman, Metz Lewis Brodman Must O’Keefe LLC delivers experienced, solutions-driven lawyers across several practice areas and industries to companies based both in Pennsylvania and globally. Self-described as a “true renaissance firm” — with members experienced in fields as diverse as banking and tax work, biology and technology — the firm’s solutions-oriented thinking sets it apart from its competition.
The firm takes pride in having no Team B. Rather than telling clients the firm can’t handle something when a new problem arises, Brodman relies upon its highly-experienced, senior-level legal specialists to identify the important issues and develop innovative resolutions. Big picture, his perspective is that these solutions help make the firm’s clients more sustainable businesses, which ultimately helps to foster sustainable communities.
Ken Burk helms full-service, integrated contractor and maintenance leader McCarl’s LLC. Taking up the mantle of CEO in 2018, he’s committed to building upon the organization’s 74-year legacy of values-based, relational service to its clients. He does so by investing in recruiting and retaining local, consistent, top-talent labor.
With the guiding question “Would I allow my loved ones to work here?” in mind, Burk has also ensured risk competency remains the bedrock of McCarl’s safety culture. The company has achieved industry-low incident rates through its Target Zero Program, which emphasizes leading indicators and front-line supervision engagement.
Participating in engineering, procurement and construction throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and the Northeast, McCarl’s specializes in complex heavy industrial processes and pipe fabrication for a multitude of industries.
Founder and president
Next Act Fund
Yvonne Campos recognized a win-win opportunity among two glaringly opposite data points: while women entrepreneurs face more challenges getting funding than their male counterparts, women-led companies that do get funding tend to produce higher returns for their investors. She founded Next Act Fund — the first and only women-focused angel fund in the Pittsburgh region — to bring together women investors to fund women-led companies.
In just two-and-a-half years, Campos’ has turned this idea into more than $3 million in committed investment dollars. Next Act Fund has invested in 14 portfolio companies, screened dozens more companies for potential investment and developed standing committees with regular meetings. Fostering an atmosphere of encouragement and support, each member meeting has an educational component to help women become more knowledgeable about investing.
Beemac Inc. is a premier trucking and logistics company providing asset-based trucking, logistics, port, warehousing and specialized services to customers throughout North America. It continues to grow, adapt and prosper through changing economic and business conditions under the strategic guidance of COO Richard Casoli, who prioritizes building collaborative partnerships and leveraging business intelligence to identify new opportunities for innovation.
Through new avenues for financial growth, Beemac has more than doubled in size each year over the last two years. Opening new offices in Pittsburgh, Denver, Birmingham and Houston, the company now serves more than 14,000 customers across a wide range of industries. Casoli upholds Beemac’s Swarm Values program across all operations to balance environmental stewardship, social responsibility and profitable growth wherever the company does business.
Gregory D. Cessna
Extrel CMS LLC
More than 50 years ago, two professors changed the landscape of mass spectrometry by developing innovative RF and DC power supplies. Their discoveries became the foundation of Extrel — the world’s leading manufacturer of state-of-the-art research and process mass spectrometers, residual gas analyzers and quadrupole mass spectrometry components.
Led today by CEO Gregory D. Cessna under new ownership and renamed Extrel CMS LLC, Extrel’s analytical and process instruments have been applied in both research and industry, used by Nobel Laureates and thousands of others in a variety of applications worldwide. Since the 2004 ownership transition, the company has more than tripled in size by serving customers with innovative solutions — from individual components to full all-in-one systems — that enable them to reduce the carbon footprint of their process.
Byron Clayton, Ph.D.
Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM)
Formed in 2017, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) is the nation’s leading collaborative in robotics and workforce innovation. Structured as a public-private partnership, the organization is able to accelerate the advancement of transformative robotic technologies and education to increase U.S. global manufacturing competitiveness.
Led by CEO Byron Payton, Ph.D., ARM has secured more than 200 leading organizations who share this mission within its collaborative, including the likes of Lockheed Martin, Intel, U.S. Steel, Carnegie Mellon and more. Members typically participate in six-month-long projects —funded by the federal government as well as the members’ own resources — with 46 ARM projects currently underway. Beyond its regional impact as a cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s focus on robotics/AI and advanced manufacturing, ARM is expected to demonstrate U.S. industry leadership nationally and internationally.
Co-founder and CEO
A sixth-generation community banker, George Cook witnessed firsthand the downturn of the industry, and how the growing rate of community banks closing was limiting small business owners from getting the loans they needed to make their businesses thrive. Struggling to get capital for his own small business, despite his finance background, he collaborated to fix the problem — and Honeycomb Credit was born.
Allowing locally-owned small businesses to borrow fair expansion loans from their own customers, the Honeycomb platform unlocks capital for small businesses looking to grow and expand, while simultaneously allowing everyday people to invest $100 or more in their local economy. This model has already helped dozens of local Pittsburgh businesses raise funds to grow, and has expanded to support small businesses in Philadelphia, Ohio and New York.
Co-owner and president
Co-owner and controller
United Plate Glass Company Inc.
Family-owned-and-operated glass manufacturer United Plate Glass Company Inc. has evolved into a state-of-the-art provider of commercial, residential and architectural products. It was initially operated by Bill Cully as a one-location wholesaler of auto glass and stock sheets in the 1980s, employing just six associates. But through investment in fabrication equipment, the company continued to expand its competencies, and today employees 200 people, spanning multiple buildings throughout the state of Pennsylvania and one in North Carolina.
Currently led by President Mike Cully and Controller Joyce Cully, both co-owners, UPG has also improved production processes throughout the years by implementing new software and purchasing cutting-edge equipment.
Ultimately, the company’s family legacy of continuous improvement has allowed UPG to keep up with the growing demand for its services.
Not one to rest on his laurels, serial entrepreneur Mark DeSantis recently transitioned to a new challenge as managing partner of MIR Ventures, a Palo Alto-based venture fund that invests in under-the-radar, ‘sexy’ companies in ‘unsexy’ industries that are critical for solving 21st century global challenges. As an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering and cofounder and former CEO for RoadBotics, he’s certainly up to the task.
During his time at RoadBotics, DeSantis helped leverage deep learning algorithms that could evaluate road images captured by smartphone to produce an innovative, AI-based solution that monitors and manages roadway infrastructure. Today, he applies his creative critical thinking smarts to assisting MIR Ventures fund management in assessing and evaluating new venture opportunities.
Founder and CEO
A2U is a national IT services provider dedicated to developing business-optimizing solutions for clients across a range of verticals, but specializing in health care. The company has grown significantly from its start 16 years ago as a home-based, three-person business to become one of only 30 Citrix Platinum Partners in the country.
Under the leadership of Founder and CEO Dan Dillman — a 2018 winner of the CEO of the Year Award — A2U has earned numerous regional and national awards as an industry leader, including the 2019 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category. Focused on continued growth and excellence, Dillman recently led A2U’s acquisition by FutureTech Holding to expand its access to capital and resources to meet company revenue and service growth goals.
Founder and CEO
Technology group Accion Labs was founded in 2011 by CEO Kinesh Doshi with the idea that software development methodology was undergoing a global transformation from the traditional waterfall process to an iterative, collaborative agile process. Reimagining the supply chain of software development, Doshi launched Accion with the white box model as its core engagement model.
Today, Accion works with customers on projects that leverage emerging technologies and helps them utilize skills that are spread across the globe. The organization has grown rapidly from its humble start in a small, three-room office to span 13 global offices and six development centers, and it employs more than 2,200 associates. Doubling in size since 2016 alone, Accion has grown to $100 million in revenue since its founding.
President and CEO
Office furniture distributor COE Distributing is known for its selection of wholesale office furniture, led by industry-savvy President and CEO J.D. Ewing. Described as an inspirational leader throughout the various stages of the company’s growth for more than 20 years, Ewing has performed nearly every job with the organization — having started out as a one-man show.
In recent years, Ewing has balanced a focus on lean operation with investment in continuous improvements that span profitability and employee wellness. His strategies resulted in COE’s revenue growing 16 percent last year, with 36 percent employee revenue growth year to date. To keep up with increasing demands, Ewing has also opened COE’s third distribution center in Houston, Texas, set to be fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2019.
President and CEO
Ford Business Machines
Technology solutions company Ford Business Machines is an independent full-line authorized dealer of Canon, Konica Minolta and Lanier products for copier, printer and multifunction product technology, as well as a provider of an array of business solutions spanning document management, IT services and managed print services. The organization is led by Johnathan Garlow, son of Ford Business Machines’ founder.
Garlow’s insight into the growing industry has led to many of the company’s solution portfolio additions, enabling the business to serve customers as a one-stop-shop for business needs. Continuing his focus on opportunities for additional expansion to remain at the industry forefront, Garlow’s efforts have seen the business grow throughout western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, with future goals of expansion into eastern Ohio.
CEO and co-founder
Ariel Precision Medicine
Ariel Precision Medicine is an integrated genomics and digital health company delivering precision medicine solutions for the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of complex chronic diseases and disorders. Its mechanistic diagnostic approach enables informed intervention prior to the development of end-stage disease outcomes — uniquely automating the use of systems biology focused on each patient, rather than population statistics.
Ultimately, this ability helps the world’s experts manage their most difficult patients, often mitigating their symptoms or stopping disease progression. Helmed by CEO and co-founder Jessica Gibson, the company’s long-term vision is to create a machine learning and AI-powered platform that will flag patients as early as possible in their disease progression and suggest therapies to providers while they are still easy to treat, preventing conditions from becoming chronic.
Co-founder and CEO
GrayMatter is committed to transforming operations and empowering people by providing innovative, data-driven technology solutions to customers in the oil and gas, manufacturing, water and wastewater, and power generation industries. With more than 25 years of experience in the industrial automation market, the organization has reached a critical time in its development as it surpasses the 100-employee mark, with growth fast accelerating.
Navigating GrayMatter through this is co-founder and CEO James Gillespie. He’s led the organization in not only expanding its staff but its geographic reach and capabilities through strategic acquisition. He’s also worked to establish a first-of-its-kind Industrial Intelligence Conference to bridge the divide between technology companies and technology consulting firms, facilitating opportunities to co-innovate and bring disruptive solutions to the industrial intelligence market.
President and CEO
Vivek Gupta leads Mastech Digital, taking over as president and CEO in 2016 with a mission to transform the organization to add sustainable value. Leveraging 25 years’ experience with a larger IT services company, he took the challenge head on — and has since driven Mastech to evolve beyond its core business of IT staffing to become a one-stop digital transformation IT services company.
His multi-phase approach has seen the company undergo a rebranding, add expert staff and geographic locations, introduce staffing of specific digital technology skill sets and undertake a strategic acquisition to add data and analytics-based services and solutions to Mastech’s portfolio. Ultimately, Gupta’s efforts have been a notable success, resulting in business revenues that increased 38 percent, with company share price up 205 percent since his start.
Jocelyn Horner, Ph.D
Co-President and executive director
Strong Women, Strong Girls
Strong Women, Strong Girls is a multi-generational mentoring organization for women and girls, championing the aspirations and potential of those from under-resourced communities. Each year, it connects more than 1,000 professional women, college women and elementary girls to build strong mentoring relationships, confidence and capacity, and a pipeline of female leadership in the Pittsburgh region.
Co-President and Executive Director for the Pittsburgh office Jocelyn Horner’s strategic leadership has transformed the organization in just over a year from a struggling program to industry leader. She not only oversees programming, but also takes a hands-on role in SWSG’s mission — serving as a direct mentor for college women in the program. Horner visits program sites several times a month and has created countless youth development opportunities for girls in the program.
President and CEO
Intervala is a full-service manufacturer of high-reliability, precision electronic and electromechanical products serving large, technology-driven companies — primarily in the industrial, medical and transportation industries where quality and reliability are paramount. Customer products must perform reliably in harsh or difficult environments, adhere to strict quality and regulatory standards, and are often subject to rapidly changing forecasts.
Since joining the organization in 2016, President and CEO Teresa Huber has ensured Intervala is up to the challenge — implementing a smart growth strategy and company culture initiative, which has transformed the organization from near shut down into a formidable player in the competitive electronics manufacturing services industry. Focused on making Intervala an indispensable manufacturing partner, Huber’s efforts have returned it to growth and significantly expanded its base of high-caliber global customers.
CEO and founder
What started as an innovative idea for an indestructible cellphone case in 2011, led to the development of an industry-first line of insurance-backed cellphone accessories. Led by Michael Kane and David Eldridge, the resulting mobile accessories manufacturer and distributor cellhelmet would go on to earn national spotlight on the investor-driven reality television show Shark Tank in 2013.
cellhelmet’s business model and product offerings have evolved over time to meet the demands of the retail wireless market as competitors have entered the space. However, its focus on growing its consultative partner program with wireless retailers remains strong. cellhelmet today boasts trusted partnerships with more than 3,500 stores locally, nationally and globally.
Kencove Farm Fence Supplies
Charles and Phyllis Kendall started Kencove Farm Fence Supplies in 1980 as a means to service a void in the farm fence market, initially aiming to help farmers and ranchers source better materials and options for their vast fencing needs. In the years since, and with the addition of son and current President Don Kendall, they’ve expanded Kencove into one of the larger farm fence distributors in the country, with locations across the U.S.
Leveraging technology to innovate processes and create efficiencies, the company is able to sell through multiple sales channels to customers across the country through four distribution points, while providing fast customer service and response times. Additionally, Kencove’s KIWI Fence Training School provides hands-on training around agricultural fencing skills and services.
Former EMT Matt Kesinger didn’t plan to become an entrepreneur. However, after experiencing firsthand the difficulty of identifying a stroke outside of a hospital environment and failing to develop a physical exam process to aid in more reliable prehospital identification, he co-founded Forest Devices in 2015 to create a device that could.
Today, Kesinger has blended his deep medical knowledge of acute stroke with the practical understanding of health care economics of stroke care logistics to run the smart organization, which is developing ALPHASTROKE, a device to help first responders identify stroke and triage patients to the right hospital. By reducing delays in diagnosis and treatment, Kesinger ultimately hopes to reduce stroke as the leading cause of disability and fourth-leading cause of death in the world today.
Senior vice president, Architectural Coatings, and president, Europe, Middle East and Africa
senior vice president, Packaging Coatings
PPG Industries is one of the world’s leading producers of coatings that are applied to the interior and exterior of metal packaging for consumer goods, including applications such as aluminum beverage cans and steel canned foods. Company leaders Tim Knavish and Amy Ericson foster significant growth for the company, even as the global packaging industry experiences a seismic shift in response to consumer demand for sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic packaging.
Ericson, a member of both PPG’s Executive Operating and Sustainability committees, plays a key role in guiding the development of innovative packaging coatings products to position recyclable metal as the obvious solution. Knavish focuses on driving many of the company’s key development strategies around digitization, the future of mobility, sustainability and innovation.
Twin Pines Manufacturing
What started as a business that built rubber molding machines has evolved to engulf the oil and gas well industry, providing companies of all sizes with quality products while making them more readily available and at a lower cost. Led by President Robert Kovalcik, Twin Pines Manufacturing’s continuous smart focus on diversifying income streams has seen the company grow year over year, throughout market changes.
Most recently, Kovalcik developed unique proprietary products and repair processes for fluid ends used on hydraulic fracking pumps for the oil and gas industry. His hands-on process and focus on small-batch manufacturing and repair provide a level of quality control that has led Twin Pines to enormous opportunity across North America and has positioned the company for a global launch.
Tim Krise has built school transportation organization Krise Transportation on collaboration with school officials, parents and the community to shape transportation needs that always meet and exceed expectations. Leveraging his 14 years of industry experience, this principle provides true value beyond the standard industry focus on low pricing, emphasizing reliability, efficiency and safety, as well as a true partnership with clients.
Krise’s smart mindset has led to Krise Transportation’s rapid expansion since 2016, growing from a single employee to more than 330. Providing for transportation needs small to large, the growing business can fully customize a school’s fleet, driver and monitor requirements for maximum efficiency, backed by a dedicated staff of site managers, expert mechanics and safety leaders.
Technical outsourcing and careers leader System One was formed following a management buyout from Hudson Highland Group in 2008. Greg Lignelli, System One’s COO, was part of this buyout and has since led many of the corporate initiatives and implementations surrounding corporate development, workforce solutions, vendor management systems, operational tools, performance tracking systems and training.
Under his smart guidance, System One has earned a national reputation for exceptional talent, flexible delivery and full accountability across staffing, workforce solutions and integrated services. Currently ranked the 20th Largest Staffing Firm in the U.S. by Staffing Industry Analysts, Lignelli’s efforts have earned recognition for himself, as well as the business, including being named to Staffing Industry Analysts’ list of the 100 most influential people in the industry.
SHOP ‘n SAVE, UNFI (United Natural Foods, Inc.)
Recognized as one of the most effectively managed U.S. companies by the Wall Street Journal in 2017, UNFI (United Natural Foods Inc.) is a renowned distributor of natural and organic foods, specialty foods and related products in the United States and Canada. It notably serves as the primary distributor to Whole Foods Market, among other grocery and natural food stores.
Last year, the growing organization completed its smart acquisition of SUPERVALU, creating North America’s premier food wholesaler and accelerating UNFI’s “Build out the Store” growth strategy with SUPERVALU’s comprehensive product portfolio. Through this move, it also acquired the leadership savvy of current UNFI vice president Bill Lipsky, who previously oversaw the division of independently owned-and-operated SHOP ‘n SAVE stores supplied by SUPERVALU for more than a decade.
CEO and COO
Elysian Fields LLC / Pure Bred
Pure Bred CEO and COO Keith Martin leads the brand — part of Elysian Fields LLC — with a focus not just on the lamb end-product it provides, but on how the lamb is raised and grown. He’s created and shared a holistic model for raising lamb founded on a respect for nature and the nature of the lamb itself, to provide the best possible product for consumption.
Pure Bred’s industry-respected, patented system Safe Alternative® is reflected in Martin’s “Holistic Lamb®” philosophy, which demands observation of the animals, data collection regarding feeding and growth and a verification of their source once they reach the consumer. This system allows the consumer to be connected with the farmers and united in this philosophy of care and respect for the animals they raise.
Under the leadership of President Michael McClaine, global management consulting firm Aspirant is fundamentally changing the management consulting industry by being intensely client-focused and passionately values-driven. It is also leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools — developed in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University — to accelerate client value. The company’s highly skilled team leverages this AI-led technology to innovatively accelerate data collection and analysis, as well as team insights and recommendations for a more efficient, effective and affordable partnership.
This format reflects McClaine’s smart approach to consulting, which advocates a team approach rather than the typical partner-track approach. Unlike at other firms, Aspirant associates work together to meet client needs, regardless of where they sit on the organizational chart. This strategy and McClaine’s dedicated leadership have seen Aspirant achieve long-term sustainability.
A family business opened in 1923 with just one location selling gasoline, Coen Oil has grown over the past century to encompass brands Coen Markets, Coen Tire and Thomaston Land. Today, it employs more than 700 team members throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, helmed by CEO Charles Mcllvaine.
Coen Markets in particular has seen significant growth in recent years, with more than 65 locations serving fresh food and convenience items. These locations fit one of three company formats: full foodservice, extended grab-and-go and basic grab-and-go. Mcllvaine oversees these operations with the goal of being better known for selling food than gas, and he is focused on replicating Coen’s store prototypes and foodservice offering to scale the business further through new store openings and selective acquisitions.
ARM EnerTech Associates LLC
Founded in 1976, ARM EnerTech Associates LLC (AETA) is a provider of electrical and mechanical engineering, automation and electric power distribution services to a broad array of industrial, transportation, energy and commercial clients. Guided by President Sam Morello, the organization has grown significantly beyond its roots in the steel industry and is now recognized as one of fewer than 100 organizations in the nation to hold the coveted Siemens Solution Provider certification.
AETA is trusted by some of the largest transportation authorities in the country, differentiating from competitors with two in-house UL-508A panel design/build assembly facilities where it develops, builds and tests a wide range of customized electrical and automation systems. The company reliably fields projects for some of the most critical infrastructure in the U.S.
President and CEO
DQE Communications LLC
Under President and CEO James Morozzi, DQE Communications has grown to become the premier provider of fiber-optic network services to businesses in Pittsburgh and across Western Pennsylvania. Morozzi has maintained the company’s top spot in the fast-paced, competitive telecom services industry by focusing on continuous evolution of business processes, cutting-edge product development and expansion into new markets.
DQE’s success also stems from its operation as a customer-driven business, with its team opting for innovative network expansions and product portfolio growth to meet evolving client needs, rather than sticking to the status quo of retrofitting out-of-date networks or limiting itself to one-size-fits-all services. And because DQE builds, owns and maintains its own fiber network, it’s directly invested in its integrity and can respond quickly.
Kroff Inc. was formed in 1988 by Keith Kronk and Frederick Potthoff, providing industry-leading water treatment products and services to an array of industry sectors. Today, it has grown to encompass a family of seven companies toward that end, with product applications including cooling water treatment, waste water treatment and process water treatment.
The company’s innovation and diversification across these avenues of business has ensured its sustainability, with the agility to take advantage of niche markets such as oil and gas, while still maintaining its core business in steel mills and foundries. Under Potthoff’s leadership, Kroff has also somewhat reinvented this core business to serve other segments, including health care, leveraging its expertise in advanced chemistry and innovative delivery systems.
Highmark Inc. is a national, diversified health care partner serving members through its businesses in health insurance, dental insurance and reinsurance. Backed by more than 30 years of experience in the health insurance industry, President Deborah Rice-Johnson is well positioned to drive its company mission to make high-quality health care readily available, easily understandable and truly affordable in the communities Highmark serves.
Holding a number of positions within the company before taking on the presidency, Rice-Johnson’s leadership has redefined the payer-provider relationship and yielded unparalleled financial performance for Highmark, which boasts more than $15 billion in revenue. She has also delivered innovative clinical solutions that aim to improve health outcomes for the company’s members. Additionally, Rice-Johnson oversees Highmark’s insurance-based subsidiaries United Concordia Dental and HM Insurance Group.
Founded in 2002, Spreadshirt is an e-commerce company that offers print-on-demand for clothing and accessories. Led by Philip Rooke, the company emphasizes self-expression, empowering people through a variety of options to create, discover and sell products with messaging including create-your-own, marketplace and shop approaches.
Rooke began his tenure with Spreadshirt in 2009 as head of sales and marketing before taking on the role of CEO in 2011. His leadership efforts have helped the company grow from a two-person start-up endeavor to a highly profitable, global enterprise, achieving $130 million in revenue in 2018, with record-breaking profits up 23 percent. Today, Spreadshirt employs more than 800, operates five global production sites and reports more than 100,000 selling partners. Rooke continues to look at M&A options for further growth.
CEO, founder and head distiller
Allegheny Distilling LLC
Leaving a successful corporate position in 2013, Tim Russell set out to launch Allegheny Distilling LLC based off his experience homebrewing beer and working with other beverage alcohol producers. Coinciding with Pennsylvania lifting restrictions on the distilled spirits industry, Russell saw an opportunity and quickly became one of the first Pennsylvania distilleries to operate under the new regulations, offering product directly to consumers rather than relying on a wholesale-only model.
Russell has since grown Allegheny Distilling into an internationally recognized brand, realizing an average of 40 percent year-to-year revenue growth since its start. The successful distillery produces Maggie’s Farm rum, now arguably recognized as the most-awarded brand of American rum, garnering more than 80 medals from American craft and international spirits competitions.
What started as founder Mont Handley’s humble kitchen experiment with organic soil in 1994 served as the foundation for PittMoss LLC, a provider of the most sustainable, organic soil mixture to date with locally sourced and American-made products. Boosted with investments secured on ABC’s hit reality television show Shark Tank and now under the guidance of CEO Brian Scott, PitMoss has since evolved to provide a full and expanding lineup of retail and commercial materials.
It’s recognized in the horticulture industry as the only company in the world that has developed a way to use waste paper, cardboard and other natural ingredients to grow plants using less water and less fertilizer, while preventing fertilizer runoff and using peat-free ingredients to eliminate the carbon emissions prevalent with current peat-mined products.
Chief administrative officer
Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services
Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services (PMHFOS) is a private, nonprofit human services provider whose mission is to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism and behavioral health needs to live successfully in the community. Providing a continuum of care, more than 11,000 clients benefit from the organization’s resources for physical, spiritual and intellectual needs.
Since joining the nonprofit last year, Chief Administrative Officer Zachary Senft has already made a notable impact on PMHFOS. He has overseen its corporate management team and led the optimization of existing systems and workflows, implemented data-driven decision making and pursued expansion opportunities to streamline and grow the family of organizations. Senft’s efforts have seen the organization’s revenue grow 5.9 percent, with a significant increase in operational income.
Joseph S. Sheetz
President and CEO
Sheetz Inc., an American chain of convenience stores and coffee shops, has been in the Sheetz family since 1952 when founder Bob Sheetz purchased one of his father’s five dairy stores. Joined by brother Steve, the duo would go on to grow the company to encompass more than 100 stores, complete with gasoline pumps. This legacy of growth and innovation has been carried on within the family since, currently overseen by President and CEO Joseph S. Sheetz.
Continual modernization and improvement efforts across all facets of the business have led Sheetz through a period of unpreceded growth to almost 600 stores and $7.2 billion in annual revenue, living up to the company’s internal mantra of “putting the Sheetz of today out of business tomorrow.”
In 1904, brothers Charles and Francis Davis purchased Wampum Hardware Co., a general hardware and explosive store, and quickly grew it into a household name. In the years since, successive leadership has followed the Davis brothers’ example of keeping up with the times, seeing the store expand to providing building materials, barbed wire fencing, dynamite and eventually bulk explosives and complete blasting services.
Today, Wampum is highly regarded in the explosives industry, with its 200-person staff mainly focused on contract blasting — making it one of the largest blasting companies in North America in terms of shot service. Under expert guidance, including that of CFO Bill Sommers, it maintains stringent safety regulations and a growing fleet of state-of-the-art equipment and embraces new technologies to efficiently overcome demanding blasting challenges.
The Learning Lamp
What started in 2003 as a simple idea — to provide area children with access to high-quality tutoring at affordable pricing — has grown into a multifaceted program that gives children, families and schools greater options for improving academic achievement regardless of ability or income. Led by CEO Leah Spangler, nonprofit The Learning Lamp today serves more than 37,197 children and adults in 19 Pennsylvania counties and communities in Maryland and West Virginia.
The agency’s portfolio of services has continued to evolve as its reach has grown, now including programs ranging from nationally accredited child care and specialized classrooms for at-risk youth to substitute teacher management, in addition to one-to-one tutoring. Likewise, its workforce has grown from a staff of one to nearly 800 full- and part-time associates.
President and founder
In 1994, Barbara VanKirk had a vision to create a collaborative, flexible and rewarding work environment while also providing stimulating projects and opportunities for employees to grow, both personally and professionally. She realized this vision as president and founder of IQ Inc., a software engineering and consulting firm that thrives off its balanced workplace culture.
Under VanKirk’s passionate and persistent leadership, the now-multimillion-dollar firm has continued to grow to be ranked among the fastest-growing technology companies in Pittsburgh. VanKirk attributes her success to her people-first philosophy and “serving leader” model, which encourages employees to find passion, purpose and happiness in their work and their lives, and to lead from their hearts in service to clients and one other.
Jo Ana Vaz
PIT Shop LLC
Recognizing an unmet need, PITShop Founder Jo Ana Vaz has developed a niche in the corporate wellness community, delivering affordable healthy snacks and fruit boxes to offices in the Pittsburgh area. Working with local businesses and nonprofits to determine their corporate wellness and employee needs, the organization sources local products and trades with local businesses as much as possible to provide healthy, delicious and unique options tailored to each customer’s tastes and budget.
An award-winning minority business, PITShop’s success has stemmed largely from Vaz’s emphasis on “good, old-fashioned nurturing of relationships.” Investing in delivering outstanding customer service as well as products, the organization’s efforts help to keep area employees happy and healthy — a great ROI for client businesses, particularly in today’s tight labor market.
Target Freight Management
Drawing on a decade of experience in the freight and shipping industry, CEO Mike Wagner founded Target Freight Management (TFS) in 2009 to realize an opportunity to build something different. He led the company to develop the Dimensionalizer, an API-driven proprietary system of cameras and software that scans and measures freight.
Equipped with this patented tool — which accurately measures, weighs and gets pictures of the freight from five angles in under 10 seconds — TFS helps shippers eliminate data entry errors, make better use of the dimensional data collected in their system, field damage claims and realize better negotiated rates. With Wagner driving constant improvements, TFS has been named the Fastest Growing Company in the region by the Pittsburgh Business Times every year since 2012.
President and CEO
Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
Formed by downtown businesses, professionals, civic organizations, foundations and residents, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) is a nonprofit community development organization dedicated to fostering economic vitality and improving downtown life. Led by President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup since 2011, the PDP has helped attract significant residential and corporate growth to the area. Last year, the PDP reported 31 downtown projects under construction, representing new residential units, hotels and commercial redevelopment valued at $1.2 billion.
Waldrup’s efforts to ensure downtown Pittsburgh remains a vibrant and innovative place to live, work and play have earned him recognition as a Bike Pittsburgh’s Advocate of the Year and Pittsburgh Business Times Fast Tracker. He’s complemented these efforts with participation in the inaugural class of Lead Now, and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh Class XXXI.
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