Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. is honored to partner with Smart Business to present the 2017 Pittsburgh Smart 50 Awards.
It’s humbling to learn about this year’s Smart 50 honorees and what they are doing.
We’re a city of champions — still! Not only are we repeat champions on the ice, but we continue to win in boardrooms all over the region.
The oil and gas industry is rebounding and the Pennsylvania Shell ethylene cracker plant project is underway. Harper’s Bazaar named Pittsburgh one of the Best Places to Travel in 2017. Researchers are leading the way with the development of autonomous vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence. And smaller stories are percolating in our business and nonprofit communities.
All of our Smart 50 honorees are people who 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 hear how they were describing 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 and the economy tightened. And, we were exposed to savvy leaders who were 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.
Marshall E. Wunderlich
Area President, Insurance & Risk Management
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
William Baker, Irwin Car and Equipment | Jim Berlin, Logistics Plus Inc. | Don Block, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council | Kevin Bolding, YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh | Yvonne Campos, Next Act Fund LLC | Michael Cherock, AE Works Ltd. | Susanne Cole, Pressley Ridge | Mary Frances Cooper, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh | John Cox, Turkey Hill Dairy | Patrick Cozzens, Modern Transportation Services | Jon DeArment, Channellock Inc. | Peter M. DeComo, ALung Technologies Inc. | Vanessa DeSalvo Getz, SALVO Strategies LLC | Adam DeSimone, AMPD Group | Alexander Dick, Dick Building Co. LLC | Linda Dickerson, 501(c)(3)2 | J.D. Ewing, JMJS Inc., dba COE Distributing | John Fink, McMurray Cooling & Heating Inc. | Louis G. Galliker III, Galliker Dairy Co. | James Gillespie, GrayMatter | Presley Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies | Robert Gottlieb, Gottlieb Inc. | Denise Grady, Berner International Corp. | Daniel Heit, JusticeWorks YouthCare | Carrie S. Holstead, Carrie S. Holstead Real Estate Consultants Inc./ITRA Global | Ron Keating, Evoqua Water Technologies LLC | Joseph King, Mt. Lebanon Community Foundation | John LaCarte, LaCarte Enterprises Inc. | Rick Losasso, George Junior Republic | Missy Lovrich, Imler’s Poultry | Ted Maloney, Keystone Containment Contractors | Patrick Mercier, Tucker Auto-Mation Holdings USA LLC | Dave Miller, Miller Welding & Machine Co. | Anthony Morrocco, GAI Consultants Inc. | Matt Myers, Myers Well Service | Diane Newland, Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh | Morgan O’Brien, Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC | Mark Perlin, Cybergenetics | Pam Petrow, Vector Security | Lucas Piatt, Millcraft Investments | Brett R. Randall, Aliner, dba Columbia Northwest Inc. | Dr. Kenton D. Rexford, Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center | Tara Rudnicki, Tobii Dynavox | Anthony Sanzo, Net Health | Paul Siefken, The Fred Rogers Co. | Lester C. Snyder III, i+iconUSA | Barbara VanKirk, IQ Inc. | Michael Wagner, Target Freight Management | Charles Walsh, Walsh Equipment Inc. | Jeffrey Wangler, Aires
Honorees listed in alphabetical order by last name
President and CEO
Irwin Car and Equipment
Irwin Car and Equipment has been a model of business continuity and stability, growing steadily and consistently through 24 years of William Baker’s leadership.
He has overseen 21 acquisitions of synergistically related companies and product lines over those 24 years, as well as additional distribution product lines and aggressive organic growth.
Irwin is structured in such a way that it doesn’t have a single competitor it deals with as a whole. It services more than 30 industries across nine business units. The engineering and manufacturing company has a willingness to think outside the box and pursue opportunities that others might shy away from. This, combined with Baker’s drive and vision of a company that is greater than the sum of its individual parts, has truly set Irwin apart.
Founder and CEO
Logistics Plus Inc.
Logistics Plus Inc. was founded in 1996 by Erie entrepreneur Jim Berlin with three employees, $120,000 in sales and a one-year purchase order to manage inbound, domestic transportation for GE Transportation, a division of General Electric Co. That relationship grew into a worldwide global supply chain partnership.
Today, the company has $150 million in annual revenue, over 450 employees and more than 50 offices in over 20 countries. It has been repeatedly recognized as one of the fastest-growing transportation and logistics companies in the U.S., a great supply chain partner, a top freight brokerage firm and a great place to work.
The “plus” in the name means always doing more for customers. Even with technology, it’s still a service industry and people are the differentiator.
Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council
The Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, the region’s leading organization for adult basic education and basic workforce skills, serves approximately 4,000 people each year. Its students either need to finish high school or improve skills to qualify for work, or are immigrants and refugees who need to learn English.
Don Block has led the GPLC for 33 years, so he has had time to shape the culture. The GPLC collects and analyzes data for continuous quality improvement. It even conducts “Using Data for Decision-making” classes for other nonprofits.
Recently, the GPLC began partnering with employers. For example, the GPLC trained foreign-born employees at the Westin Convention Center hotel in conversational English. Executives see this as a way to improve employee retention and save money in the long term.
President and CEO
YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh
The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh is one of the area’s oldest and largest community organizations. In 2016, the board picked Kevin Bolding, who spent 20 years at various YMCAs, to bring together the Y’s historic mission with its vibrant future.
He began with a bold program to get outside the confines of the Y’s buildings. Y on the Fly puts a van on the road to dozens of locations in the summer where there is no YMCA presence. It delivers 90 minutes of games, activities and healthy snacks to children in these underserved neighborhoods.
The YMCA follows three core initiatives: It seeks to address food insecurity through seven urban gardens, close the achievement gap for underserved students by operating 50 different sites that deliver after-school programs and eliminate health disparities.
Founder and president
Next Act Fund LLC
After Yvonne Campos successfully sold her company, Campos Research, she could have relaxed. Instead, she founded Next Act Fund LLC to bring together women investors to fund women-led companies.
Next Act Fund is the only women-focused angel fund in the Pittsburgh region. Not only does Next Act Fund bring together accomplished, savvy women, Campos partnered with top angel group BlueTree Allied Angels, and put a focus on education.
In less than a year, Next Act has gone from an idea to more than $1 million in committed investment dollars. She also has led the fund to develop standing committees with regular meetings, screened dozens of companies for potential investment, and developed a board of advisers and membership of dynamic women (and a few like-minded men).
Michael Cherock, PE
Founder, president and CEO
AE Works Ltd.
Michael Cherock started AE Works Ltd. with a focus on leadership, craftsmanship and integrity, the values instilled upon him during his seven years in the Navy. AE Works, for example, uses an O card — similar to a submarine’s qual card — to help employees learn about and demonstrate knowledge of all aspects of the company. New hires must pass their oral boards with three chiefs, a chair and the CEO.
The B Corporation also follows a triple bottom line business model that focuses equally on social, environmental and financial. The architectural, engineering and building consulting services firm has grown from Cherock’s basement to 35 people in three offices. Until two years ago, most projects were in the federal market. Today, AE Works has a mix of projects in 16 states.
President and CEO
Susanne Cole has dedicated much of her career to Pressley Ridge. She joined the team in 1990 as a teacher/counselor for children with emotional and behavioral challenges.
Since 2011, Cole has been the visionary of Pressley Ridge. She oversees nearly 1,100 employees across offices in six states that serve 6,800 children and their families each year. During her tenure, Pressley Ridge experienced a 240 percent increase in net operating revenue and reduced debt by 72 percent. Cole keeps the best interests of the families in mind and her leadership style garners respect.
Pressley Ridge’s nationally recognized treatment foster care curriculum spurred growth over the past 50 years. But in response to demand for accessible mental and behavioral health services, the organization expanded its outpatient clinics and in-school supportive services.
Mary Frances Cooper
President and director
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
As the 11th leader of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Mary Frances Cooper champions the changing and increasingly important role of libraries in society, leads new efforts to secure avenues for sustainable funding and works to strengthen the CLP’s relationships with key community partners.
The CLP has 19 neighborhood locations that host 2.9 million visitors each year and circulates close to 4 million books, DVDs, e-resources and other materials.
With 30 years of experience, Cooper has built solid relationships with other leaders in the community, region and state. She also has led service innovations like the Library in Your Neighborhood, Community and School outreach program. CLP-LYNCS provides an array of outreach services to adults with a priority on special populations, including seniors, immigrants, veterans, the incarcerated and more.
Turkey Hill Dairy
During the Great Depression, Armor Frey would sell a few bottles of milk to his neighbors. Slowly, his “extra milk” business became his only business. His sons eventually bought the diary and expanded into ice cream production.
In 2013, John Cox was tapped to lead Turkey Hill Dairy after close to 30 years at the ice cream and drinks company. He previously led the development and opening of the Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where people learn how ice cream is made, milk a mechanical cow and more.
Under his leadership, the Turkey Hill brand went national, expanded its all-natural ice cream line, added an all-natural gelato and created a Turkey Hill Taste Lab where visitors make their own ice cream.
Modern Transportation Services
Patrick Cozzens believes we control only two things in life, our attitude and our level of effort. From the start, his high-performance standards were apparent at Modern Transportation Services, which provides dry and liquid chemical bulk transportation.
Cozzens is dedicated to continuous improvement and innovation. He likes to say, “If it’s not broken, break it.” For example, Cozzens and his team combined information from nine databases to establish a single data “warehouse” that further promoted a data-driven culture.
Modern also recently replaced its GreenRoad accelerometers, cutting-edge cab safety technology, with Lytx® DriveCam Event Recorders, the next generation of “safe.” Cozzens lost a friend to a tractor trailer collision while at John Carroll University, which inspires a companywide commitment to getting every driver home safely, every single day.
President and COO
Not only is Jon DeArment the fifth generation to run Channellock Inc., he is doing so as a U.S. manufacturer of a steel-based product that still grows profitably on an annual basis.
The company began in 1886 when blacksmith George B. DeArment started improving farriers’ tools. First called Champion Bolt & Clipper Co. and later Champion-DeArment Tool Co., in 1933 the chief engineer developed a multi-position, tongue-and-groove, slip-joint style pliers. By 1963, the company became Channellock to preserve its trademark and capitalize on the name recognition.
Today, two Meadville facilities produce more than 120 sizes and types of pliers and other hand tools, while employing nearly 400 people. With 20 years at Channellock, Jon recently spearheaded major technology and automation investments and helped develop several new products.
Peter M. DeComo
Chairman and CEO
ALung Technologies Inc.
ALung Technologies Inc. is the developer of a revolutionary artificial lung for patients suffering from acute respiratory failure. Peter M. DeComo has raised in excess of $80 million to complete the development of ALung’s technology, which is now approved in 35 countries outside the U.S. and has saved countless lives.
Originally developed at the University of Pittsburgh, ALung’s Hemolung Respiratory Assist System removes carbon dioxide and delivers oxygen directly to the blood, allowing a patient’s lungs to rest and heal. Next up is a U.S.-based trial for Food and Drug Administration approval.
For nearly two decades, DeComo has led a series of companies that have developed promising, life-saving medical technologies. He has directly raised, or assisted in raising, more than $150 million in equity capital.
Vanessa DeSalvo Getz
Founder and president
SALVO Strategies LLC
SALVO Strategies LLC specializes in identifying the right thing to say to the right people. Vanessa DeSalvo Getz founded SALVO in 2016 to help companies, nonprofits and government entities find their voice on the local, state and federal levels of government.
Only 32 percent of all government affairs professionals are female, and the percentage of government affairs firms owned by women is even fewer, but DeSalvo Getz found success with her philosophy that all politics is local. She learned this from her father, a long-term Fayette County elected official.
Her experience in Pennsylvania politics reads like a “Who’s Who” history of the past 25 years. Today, the firm DeSalvo Getz created focuses on making government work with successful legislative initiatives, government procurement projects and public relations campaigns.
AMPD Group is an entertainment and hospitality management company formed in 2006 by Adam, Michael and Patrick DeSimone. The three have experience in asset management, commercial real estate, finance and international shipping, and a passion for entertainment and design.
Adam and his family started with Southside nightclub Diesel, which became the cornerstone of a growing collection of clubs, restaurants, coffee shops and delis throughout Pittsburgh. AMPD Group also owns Ten Penny and is expanding its Steel Cactus Mexican Restaurante & Cantina into a regional chain.
One of the things that really drives DeSimone to stay in the business and create another concept is the feeling he gets when he goes into a location and sees the energy and the vibe that he helped to create.
Dick Building Co. LLC
Dick Building Co. LLC was formed when Dick Corp., a major contractor, construction manager and design-builder active in the U.S., Caribbean and Pacific Rim, sold assets and transferred control of its contracts to a global construction management company.
The newly formed construction firm that emerged in 2008 is led by Douglas Dick, former co-chairman of Dick Corp., and owned by Alexander Dick. The new firm offers construction management and general construction services to clients in a variety of markets.
The multi-disciplined general contractor and construction management firm provides the innovative solutions a client needs to complete a project safely, on time and within budget.
Dick Building Co. conducts much of its business in western Pennsylvania, but has a national reach.
For nearly 20 years, Linda Dickerson’s consultancy, 501(c)(3)2 has helped nonprofits optimize their performance.
From birth, Dickerson has dealt with the consequences of Werdnig-Hoffmann, a rare type of spinal muscular atrophy that has progressively limited her mobility. As her health has been additionally affected by infections and other factors, she still patiently and creatively helps charities better connect with their stakeholders, raise money and find their purpose.
For decades in Pittsburgh, one measure of a nonprofit’s effectiveness has been whether Dickerson was on its board, helped it raise money or otherwise assisted the organization in fulfilling its mission.
Dickerson’s success in helping nonprofits has led to work with for-profit corporations as well, assisting them in measuring the impact and maximizing the ROI of their charitable investments.
President and CEO
JMJS Inc., dba COE Distributing
J.D. Ewing has done almost every job within JMJS Inc., dba COE Distributing, since starting the company as a one-man show more than 20 years ago. Even today, it’s normal to see him moving through the warehouse with purpose, picking up trash along the way. He makes himself available for any employee to discuss issues, opportunities and ideas to improve and grow the company.
COE differentiates itself with breakthrough products, such as The Edge Desk, an innovative kneeling desk. Sales growth has led to employee growth. As a result, the COE distribution center and corporate headquarters in Fayette County is expanding by 89 percent, to a total of 240,000 square feet. The company already has a North Carolina distribution center and is looking into adding a Texas location.
McMurray Cooling & Heating Inc.
Founded by Paul G. Fink in the 1950s in the town of McMurray, McMurray Cooling & Heating Inc. was originally called Paul G. Fink Plumbing and Heating. Paul changed the name in 1975.
His son, John Fink, has overseen transitions to Bethel Park, Canonsburg and now Eighty Four as the company has grown. With more than 100 employees, the new Eighty Four facility will be 30,000 square feet.
McMurray also purchased a sister company, Rexroad Heating and Cooling, in Morgantown, West Virginia. Fink’s sister and his two children work alongside him.
“I really feel connected to all my employees; we spend a lot of time with them and their success is mine. Our future is bright and I’m excited for our new facility,” Fink says.
Louis G. Galliker III
Chairman and president
Galliker Dairy Co.
A third-generation, family-owned regional dairy company in Johnstown, Galliker Dairy Co. has been in business for more than 100 years. The company got its start when Louis Galliker purchased Shreve Ice Cream Co. in 1914. Just over a decade later, it added milk production.
In 1992, Galliker became one of the first dairies to offer a container that protects milk from the adverse effects of light. The innovation, trademarked the “Lightsafe Yellow Jug,” has become one of Galliker’s signature products.
Today, under the leadership of Louis G. Galliker III, the Galliker Dairy Co. is recognized as one of the major dairies in the Mid-Atlantic region. Galliker distributes its products including milk, iced tea and ice cream, throughout major portions of Pennsylvania and Maryland, as well seven surrounding states.
Long before the internet of things was a buzzword, James Gillespie and the GrayMatter team were improving performance through technological innovation.
GrayMatter serves some critical industries — power generation, oil and gas, water and wastewater, food and beverage — that must operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day. GrayMatter helps ensure their environments remain operational, while providing data visibility to help improve operating costs.
Gillespie has been able to see what others couldn’t his entire career. For example, GrayMatter and DC Water created a smart sensor water fountain. Real-time data and analytics monitor water quality and flow levels via the cloud, alerting DC Water when quality measurements begins to deteriorate. With a special emphasis on lead, the fountain will be used initially in schools, hospitals, day cares, etc.
Since Presley Gillespie’s first day on the job in May 2014, he’s been committed to injecting new energy into community development partner, Neighborhood Allies, which is equal parts funder, lender, connector and consultant. His corporate background is helping the nonprofit operate with business principles so it remains mission-centric while preserving and growing capital.
Under Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies quadrupled its funding sources from four to more than 25, and added earned, fee-based revenue. It also invested over $6.5 million directly into neighborhoods, in addition to providing advice, training and support.
Recognizing the need for more inclusion, Neighborhood Allies created a Community Development Fellowship that aims to build a pipeline of talented, minority professionals from underserved communities for the next generation of community development leaders.
President and CEO
Joseph Gottlieb and his son, Robert, founded Gottlieb Inc. in 1989. Cutting-edge engineering implemented by a team of dedicated, skilled employees is the foundation of the company, which is a scrap and metals recycler of aluminum and manufacturer of de ox bars and cones used to make steel.
Robert has a dynamic approach to sourcing materials as well as plant design. Over the past 25 years, he has provided outside-the-box thinking to build a plant that continues to strive for efficiencies and cost savings, while outperforming much larger competitors. Gottlieb’s agility makes them a key supplier for many of the nation’s largest steel producers. He has been able to maintain this niche through continuously refining and improving processes to maximize efficiencies and eliminate waste/costs.
Berner International Corp.
From the office lobby to shipping and receiving, the doors at Berner International Corp.’s headquarters and manufacturing facility have been outfitted with Berner air curtains (air doors). In addition to maintaining a comfortable environment and saving energy, it’s part of having all employees understand the different models and making research and development a central part of daily operations. Berner combines engineering, state-of-the-art equipment and skilled workers to produce the most efficient, cost effective, reliable air curtains on the market.
Berner’s continual growth and rise to become an employer of choice in the region can be attributed to leaders like President Georgia Berner and CFO Denise Grady. In business for 60 years, Berner has built a reputation for customer service, innovation, aesthetics, quality and performance.
President and CEO
Daniel Heit founded JusticeWorks YouthCare in 1999 with two employees and a contract with one county agency. A leader in developing and managing innovative programs for troubled youth, he has grown the organization to 40 Pennsylvania counties, all of South Carolina and several Florida projects.
JusticeWorks serves families within the child welfare system, youth on juvenile probation, and students in public schools and the two high schools it runs itself.
Much of JusticeWorks’ success and growth comes from staff enthusiastically doing whatever it takes to make a positive difference, while being a user-friendly organization.
Heit cares about his team. For example, during the state’s budget impasse in 2015, he borrowed from his personal pension to meet payroll. While Heit didn’t advertise this gesture, it did come out during a TV interview.
Carrie S. Holstead
President and CEO
Carrie S. Holstead Real Estate Consultants Inc./ITRA Global
Carrie Holstead founded the first woman-owned tenant representation and advisory firm in Pittsburgh. When Holstead established her firm in the late 1980s, not only did it introduce a new concept, she was in her 20s starting a woman-owned business in a field dominated by men. As a tenant representative, she advocates for users of corporate space, a buyer’s agent of sorts.
Today, successful executives and corporate real estate departments turn to Holstead for help. Additionally, her monthly newsletter increased from an open rate of less than 1 percent to 40 percent.
To expand the firm’s reach, Holstead underwent a rigorous process to become the Pittsburgh affiliate of ITRA Global, one of the world’s largest real estate organizations that advocates for corporate tenants and commercial real estate buyers.
Evoqua Water Technologies LLC
In December 2014, Ron Keating joined Evoqua Water Technologies LLC, the global leader in helping municipalities and industrial customers protect and improve the world’s most fundamental natural resource: water.
Evoqua’s cost-effective and reliable treatment systems and services ensure uninterrupted quantity and quality of water, enable regulatory and environmental compliance, increase efficiency through water reuse and prepare customers for next-generation demands.
Keating is charged with growing and improving a company that has provided innovation and industry firsts, market-leading expertise and unmatched customer service. To do so, he is overseeing continued investment in the commercialization of next-generation water treatment solutions; the company’s sales force, systems and product/service portfolio; and organic and inorganic growth opportunities.
Mt. Lebanon Community Foundation
Many scoff at a seemingly wealthy community like Mt. Lebanon needing donations. In Joseph King’s eight years leading the Mt. Lebanon Community Foundation, he’s heard, “Things seem fine here. I already pay a lot of taxes. Doesn’t the municipality take care of that?”
But community foundations improve and sustain the quality of life, such as programs and services for families and children, senior citizens and community life.
In 2012, the foundation had an operating budget and assets of approximately $60,000. Under King’s leadership, that multiplied to nearly $1 million, with nearly 40 percent of that total coming since 2015.
King leveraged his nearly 40 years in finance to motivate other community leaders to join the cause. The foundation also identified board members whose professional careers help it build for the long term.
LaCarte Enterprises Inc.
John LaCarte is the definition of a serial entrepreneur, and a past EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® honoree. His family-owned holding company, LaCarte Enterprises Inc., is run by five brothers and includes Model Cleaners and multiple real estate ventures. But that’s only part of the story.
John’s recent acquisition and resurrection of Stoney’s Beer is another part of his success. But what really epitomizes John is a drive and enthusiasm to make something out of nothing.
LaCarte has created well-documented governance policies to ensure the long-term sustainability and scalability of its business interests that include dry cleaning, industrial laundry, apparel sales and real estate. In total, these operations employ approximately 300 people and service thousands of customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
George Junior Republic
George Junior Republic was founded by businessman William Reuben George in 1909. Through the first 60 years, George Junior Republic was seen primarily as a place where court-ordered sentences would be served by delinquent youth. After a major renovation in the 1970s, a new residential treatment model focused on family-style living and behavioral modification.
Between 1980 and 2000, a broader continuum of care was emphasized, such as expanding programs for mental health services and drug and alcohol treatment.
With further expansion and improvements to the facilities, George Junior Republic, under the leadership of Rick Losasso, serves more than 3,000 youth and families a year. The organization has more than 700 employees, including full-time counselor/parents who live on campus and are available 24 hours a day.
Imler’s Poultry has been family owned and operated since 1903, and today Imler’s is in the hands of the fourth, fifth and sixth generations and other valued employees like Missy Lovrich. While times are changing, the business philosophy remains the same: “Quality products delivered fresh at competitive prices.”
The company’s major suppliers are located in the southeast, so the distributor can offer 1,200 different cuts of poultry directly to customers 24 hours after pickup. The products are picked up several times a week to ensure freshness. Imler’s also stocks more than 4,500 products for retail and foodservice operators.
In addition, the company has its own trucking company, Imler’s Poultry Transportation, that it started in the 1980s because independent trucks often ran late.
Keystone Containment Contractors
Keystone Containment Contractors has been installing turnkey containment systems in the Marcellus and Utica natural gas fields since 2010.
Safety is the guiding principal at KCC under the leadership of Ted Maloney. The company’s zero recordable incidents places KCC at the top of the energy service sector in terms of performance. Regular training keeps the team at the forefront of safe work practices. The safety program at KCC entails mandatory monthly safety meetings for all team members, and regular and random drug testing ensures a drug-free work environment.
No operator or service provider wants to purchase containment and have to pay fines or suffer a reputation hit. Clients who partner with KCC ensure that they are always doing the right thing.
President and CEO
Tucker Auto-Mation Holdings USA LLC
Patrick Mercier took his innovative spirit into the door manufacturing business and founded Tucker Auto-Mation Holdings USA LLC in 2013.
Armed with his knowledge of the market, the industry, the product and most importantly the people associated with the door business, Tucker Auto-Mation hired an experienced team to challenge its competition by creating a new door paradigm.
Tucker Auto-Mation supplies swinging, sliding, folding and revolving automatic doors for airports, supermarkets, convenience stores, hotels, office buildings, etc. The company uses state-of-the art technology to integrate security cameras and traffic counting into doors, which can be monitored remotely.
Mercier is also a past EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® finalist. He previously founded, ran and sold BEA Inc., a manufacturer of motion and presence sensors for automatic doors.
Miller Welding & Machine Co.
Dave Miller has built on the legacy of Miller Welding & Machine Co. As a provider of high-quality, metal parts and assemblies, Miller Welding’s continual improvement of internal processes — whether meeting rigorous internal standards or industry standards — is a key driver of the company’s development, particularly over the past four years.
With Miller at the helm, strides have been made in communicating real-time production metrics on the shop floor, instituting accountability standards across employee roles and investing in new technology to deliver greater value to its original equipment manufacturer customers.
The company serves as a hub for both skilled trades and business professionals. Miller Welding also offers educational experiences to students, vendor suppliers and other community members through plant tours, events, presentations and more.
Anthony Morrocco, PE, PLS, MBA
GAI Consultants Inc.
A dedicated and forward-thinking professional, Anthony Morrocco, PE, PLS, MBA leads GAI Consultants Inc. with pragmatic optimism.
Beginning as a project manager in 1989, Morrocco established GAI’s Land Development and Survey groups, which won significant projects and changed Pittsburgh’s skyline. During his tenure as managing officer, GAI’s Pittsburgh staff grew by approximately 200 in only a few years. As executive vice president, Morrocco oversaw the integration of several acquisitions and helped GAI provide new services and open new offices when necessary.
In 2011, he championed the launch of GAI’s Client First program to help employees understand how to develop solid, long-lasting client relationships. Today, Morrocco continues to provide regular Client First training. He also started risk and quality management systems to improve project selection and delivery processes.
Myers Well Service
With headquarters in Export, Myers Well Service is a third-generation family-owned business dedicated to its clients. It provides trucking, water transfer, field, equipment rental and environmental services throughout Western Pennsylvania and in its Ohio division.
Starting with just one employee, one truck and a large dream by Matt Myers’ grandfather, the industry-leading oilfield company still has a small business mentality. Matt also paid homage to his grandfather by continuing to use the electric red color throughout the company.
The Myers employees uphold a commitment to safety, honesty and hard work, which allows Myers Well Service to maintain the same trusted reputation it has upheld from the beginning. The company also performs in-house training and makes it mandatory for employees to attend a number of other training sessions each year.
Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
Technology, data collection and analysis play a significant role as the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh explores new programs and initiatives. Diane Newland is at the center of this because she’s responsible for all things data.
Newland has focused on data intelligence — what information is needed, how to collect it, report on it and analyze it and who it should get to — over her 15-plus years at the JCC. She recently started the organization on its third software conversion, this time for the member database system. The software is being specifically created for JCCs, YMCAs and recreation centers. Her organization will be fourth in the U.S. to go live on it.
A leader on software conversions and data intelligence, Newland has also given presentations and consulted on the topic.
President and CEO
Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC
Since 2010, Morgan O’Brien has helped Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC grow from 500 employees to nearly 1,500. It’s also selling more gas than ever, going from 350,000 customers to over 750,000.
Peoples focuses on partnering with customers. O’Brien wants the company to not only help the region grow, but do so in a way that makes employees proud.
For example, about one-third of the underground pipes were 60-plus years old with a high risk for failure. Not only did Peoples start a pipe replacement program, its engineers meet monthly with Carnegie Mellon University researchers to prioritize replacements that consider air quality. The company also encouraged an environmental group to map Pittsburgh’s air quality, so it could take ownership of an issue that needs fixed.
Mark Perlin, Ph.D.
Chief scientific and executive officer
In 1994, Mark Perlin co-founded Cybergenetics to address a hurdle in forensic science. He commercialized his TrueAllele® technology, which uses advanced algorithms, to interpret DNA mixtures from two or more people. Several laboratories adopted the technology and a new term, probabilistic genotyping, was coined.
However, labs didn’t want to broach the possibility they’d previously misinterpreted DNA and less-robust technologies entered the field.
So Perlin hired staff and interns to help provide targeted education and expanded publicity. Casework services grew. DNA requests increased from 17 states in 2014 to 38 today. The number of labs using TrueAllele increased by about 50 percent per year.
Despite dips in interest and new players in the field, Cybergenetics has adapted and thrived, making science work for a more just society.
President and CEO
It’s not often a company as large as Vector Security has a leader as down-to-earth and approachable as Pam Petrow. She recently celebrated her 34th year and has held most major roles with the organization.
Employees think nothing of calling or emailing her — and she always responds. She spends several months every year visiting every office. For the past several years, Petrow and her senior team have conducted stay interviews to find out why employees stay, what the company has done well and where it needs to improve.
Vector Security also championed the electronic data transfer from alarm companies to 911 centers, known as Automated Secure Alarm Protocol. Vector Security’s team has helped every company that has come on board with the ASAP program, including its competitors.
President and COO
Lucas Piatt leads the corporate division of Millcraft Investments. Continuing the mission of his father, Piatt strives to bring innovative and viable real estate to the region.
The real estate developer and management company has developed Southpointe in Canonsburg; Piatt Place, with its condos, retail and office space in the former Lazarus department store building; Market Square Place and River Vue apartments; and Tower Two-Sixty.
Believing in placemaking instead of simply constructing, Piatt has a passion for transforming old blocks into new destinations. He takes time to consider an appropriate tenant mix that serves the neighborhood.
Piatt also participates in and sponsors a variety of organizations, including the Pittsburgh Film Office, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Brett R. Randall
President and CEO
Aliner, dba Columbia Northwest Inc.
Brett R. Randall has led a turnaround of Aliner, dba Columbia Northwest Inc., a company that was struggling financially and operationally. Randall made the company successful and profitable in less than three years.
He has focused the organization on doing the basics every day, like setting realistic and clear metrics. Over communicating with the team is essential. This is done through internal emails, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. MailChimp emails also are sent quarterly to dealers.
By listening via social media, conferences and in-person meetings, Aliner has modernized its product portfolio to meet the needs of today’s marketplace. New products, such as diversifying the trailer amenities to include solar panels and USB ports, have energized the distribution base, creating strong retail demand.
Dr. Kenton D. Rexford
Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center
The Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty Emergency Center was formed in 2008 as the union of two long-term leaders in veterinary care in Western Pennsylvania. The PVSEC has one location in Pittsburgh’s North Hills and a second location just opened in the South Hills. The hospitals feature board-certified veterinary specialists, 24/7 emergency care, CT scanning and the region’s only onsite high-field MRI and radiation therapy for pets.
Dr. Kenton D. Rexford has been instrumental in the rapid growth of the emergency group in the multispecialty-emergency hospital. Kenton is board chair and president of the PVSEC’s Animal Care and Assistance Fund, a nonprofit that assists qualifying family-owned pets who need emergency or specialty care if owners cannot afford treatment. The fund also created the Rogan Redford Animal Blood Bank.
President, North American market
Tobii Dynavox, part of the Tobii Group, is the leading provider of touch and eye tracking-based assistive technology hardware and software for those with communication and mobility challenges.
The company’s North American market is led by Tara Rudnicki. It has helped thousands of individuals with disabilities such as aphasia, autism, cerebral palsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy, Rett syndrome and spinal cord injury lead fuller and richer lives by helping them communicate. Tobii’s innovation is driven by a strong engineering group on the cutting edge of technology and product development.
At the forefront of assistive technology and special education, Tobii Dynavox pushes the boundaries of what is possible, delivering the most advanced, effective and empowering communication and computer access tools available.
Anthony Sanzo, a health care executive for over 30 years, has seen the industry evolution firsthand. Net Heath, a health care information technology company, must constantly adapt and employ smart strategies.
Over the past five years, Sanzo has guided Net Health into a private equity board structure, directed multiple corporate acquisitions, managed it through $30 million in revenue growth, led a spike from fewer than 50 to almost 300 employees, and oversaw the expansion from one city to four national offices.
He does all this with a relaxed versatility because he too wants to work at a great company. Through fiscal and geographic growth, he’s mentored executive leaders who help him run Net Health with a culture of idea-driven work and accountability to results.
President and CEO
The Fred Rogers Co.
Attracting and investing in talent are hallmarks of Paul Siefken’s leadership of The Fred Rogers Co. Siefken’s commitment enables the organization to drive creative development and program production, as well as positive educational and social impact on children and families, in Pittsburgh and around the world.
These investments have resulted in award-winning, critically acclaimed children’s series, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Peg + Cat” and “Odd Squad,” on PBS KIDS as well as “Through the Woods,” a new production for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s “Curious World” mobile platform and the first created in-house since Mister Rogers.
In the past five years alone, company projects have contributed nearly $5 million to the local economy, such as website, digital game and app production at Schell Games, and professional development services with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.
Lester C. Snyder III
President and CEO
Lester C. Snyder III is a visionary at i+iconUSA. Snyder has brought a sense of realistic optimism to the company that has everyone reaching for a continuing higher bar of customer delivery and, in turn, higher value for shareholders. His philosophy has been to ensure i+iconUSA’s achievements are on par with those of much larger companies.
Snyder firmly believes in the importance of growing the company from within. The construction market’s labor shortage led i+iconUSA to create a five-year development plan that would steadily upgrade skills and capabilities across the entire firm. The program began with middle management before expanding to field operations. Several members of the first leadership development program have already implemented changes in scheduling and use of technology to improve overall corporate performance.
President and founder
In 1994, Barbara VanKirk wanted to create a collaborative, flexible and rewarding work environment while providing stimulating projects and opportunities for employees to grow. Today, IQ Inc. provides software engineering, software testing, software quality assurance and recruiting services. While it wasn’t painless to grow in the male-dominated high-tech field, VanKirk’s people-first philosophy is the No. 1 reason for IQ’s continued success.
Employees are offered competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits and professional development opportunities. They know how the business is doing and where their help is most needed. Plus, “One Team” was formed to bridge the gap between the headquarters office and onsite employees.
Now, as VanKirk prepares for semi-retirement with a detailed, documented succession plan, she entrusts her leadership team to take IQ to the next echelon.
President and CEO
Target Freight Management
Michael Wagner started Target Freight Management in 2009. Since then, TFM and its division TFM Truckload have been two of the region’s fastest growing companies. He’s managed this growth with innovation and vision.
Wagner hand-selected the truckload division’s director, and the less than truckload division has a patent for its propriety software solution. TFM’s in-house technology developments help it rate higher than typical third party logistics companies. TFM also has a transparency guarantee, which shares with clients the actual costs and savings it negotiates from the carriers.
As a leader, Wagner is a problem-solver who doesn’t micromanage. He reliably does the right thing, is open to new ideas, and has the future of TFM in mind. He sets clear goals for himself and the team.
Walsh Equipment Inc.
Charles Walsh has taken his family business, Walsh Equipment Inc., and grown it to new and unexpected success.
He first grew the business from the inside out and then negotiated a sale to Stephenson Equipment Inc. that leverages the success of Walsh Equipment and provides an opportunity for not only himself, but also all of his employees. Walsh has proven to be a savvy businessman who cares about the folks that helped him achieve his success.
Walsh Equipment, founded in 1932, initially centered on the corrugated metal pipe industry. Today, it serves Pennsylvania’s construction, highway, paving, municipal and agricultural industries, offering a full range of equipment sales, rentals, parts and service from the two locations. Walsh Equipment is also a full-line JCB dealer serving a 23-county market area.
Aires opened its doors in 1981 as a freight-forwarding company. Over the last 36 years, Aires has developed into a technologically advanced global relocation company.
Aires, under the leadership of Jeffrey Wangler, handles the most complex relocations for high-ranking executives throughout the world because it utilizes technology and has become a standard in efficiencies and reliability.
The company listens to trends and uses customer feedback to develop and enhance technology applications that streamline processes, improve estimator accuracy and provide real-time data, customization, easier self-service, quicker decision-making and more robust reporting.
Aires’ strong financial practices have allowed it to remain independent, unlike many competitors, providing long-term stability and consistent performance. As a result, it has a client retention rate of more than 98 percent.
At Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., we employ innovation, impact and sustainability to help our clients. It’s about impacting the cost of risk and cost of benefits, so that their risk management program and benefit offerings are sustainable. Each business is unique and has challenges that cannot be resolved by “off the shelf” coverage.
In order to do that, our teams have to be innovative. We are most effective when we get to know and understand each client’s specific challenges and objectives.
When it comes to rising health care costs — which can be in double digits every year — you’ve got to be innovative and strategic in what you want to impact, whether that’s managing your employee benefit risks across the entire organization, or wellness initiatives and determining how to motivate people to be well and stay well. It’s also critical from a productivity standpoint. When your employees are not well or hurt, they’re not at work.
At the same time, business leaders are looking to protect their companies at a cost lower than their competitors.
You have a much better chance of doing these things, if you have advisers who specialize in different industries and practice areas. At Gallagher, we can put together the right team to offer the best solution. Our office has specialists that can assist you with all of your commercial insurance or benefits and HR consulting needs. We can help you stay informed of evolving challenges and issues in your industry.
Creativity is a hallmark of Gallagher. We encourage innovation at all levels of our organization, so when traditional solutions don’t fit, our teams routinely reach beyond what’s been done before, to build cutting-edge solutions from scratch. We see solutions where others see problems.
Highmark Inc. is a proud sponsor of this year’s Smart 50 Awards. We believe in celebrating the innovation, talent and hard work that has made Western Pennsylvania vibrant, successful, and a great place to live and work. “Smart” businesses and smart, energetic leaders are investing their resources and time to further grow this region.
At Highmark, it’s important that management leads by example and all employees exemplify our core behaviors in their everyday work. Our organization’s values are reflected in these core behaviors which are the foundation of our success. We believe these core behaviors embody the success of a “smart” leader or organization, and include:
- Placing the customer at the center of everything we do. By placing ourselves in our customers’ shoes, we can anticipate their needs and deliver solutions.
- Continuously challenging ourselves, our peers and our teams to improve. We inspire through vision, action, and tangible results.
- Trusting to work together. Collaborate to achieve shared success.
- Valuing outcomes not activity. Relentless in our pursuit of excellence.
Congratulations to the Smart 50 Award recipients and thank you for investing your time and services to our region.
Highmark and its health insurance subsidiaries and affiliates collectively are among the 10 largest health insurers in the United States and comprise the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated organization. Highmark and affiliates operate health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5 million members and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the BlueCard® program. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance, vision care and other related businesses. Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.
Welcome ‘smart businesses’
At Huntington, we believe in celebrating the talents, contributions and hard work that sets Western Pennsylvania apart generation after generation.
There are so many positive things happening in our region. We see it in the continued economic stability and job growth. We see it in the smart businesses that are growing and expanding here. And, we see it in the smart, energetic leaders who invest their time and talents to make a difference.
Thanks to all the “smart businesses” for your shared commitment to our region and for creating a positive impact within our community.
Helping bring progress and promise to communities since 1866
More than 100 years ago, Huntington opened our first branch. There were no debit cards, ATMs or mobile apps. There wasn’t even electricity. All we had were our bankers, their pens and a promise — a promise that we’d help build the community; a promise to communicate honestly with our customers; and a promise to do the right thing.
Keeping this promise has led to some extraordinary things over the last century and a half, but none greater than the privilege of helping transform the lives of people and businesses right in our own backyard.
Huntington has been serving generations of individuals, families, small and large businesses and communities. We provide full-service consumer and commercial banking services, as well as wealth management, treasury management, equipment financing, automobile financing, trust services, brokerage services, commercial real estate financing, insurance programs and other financial products and services.
Huntington Bancshares Incorporated is a regional bank holding company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, with approximately $100 billion of assets and a network of more than 1,000 branches and approximately 2,000 ATMs across eight Midwestern and Northeastern states.
Clark Hill PLC is an entrepreneurial full service law firm serving clients in all areas of business legal services, government and public affairs and personal legal services. Clark Hill is built upon a core set of values that guide us in our relationships with our clients, our interactions with each other and our connection to the communities in which we serve.
These values have a real and lasting impact on the way we conduct our business, the way we treat our clients and colleagues, and the way we go about growing our firm. We believe these values come into play in each and every client experience, and are essential to the ultimate success of our lawyers and our firm. We believe these values are essential to a “smart” leader:
Relationships Fuel Our Firm. Respect is the foundation of our strong relationships with clients and colleagues. We are tenacious advocates for our clients while being approachable and supportive.
Everyone Matters. We value the contributions of each individual in our firm and encourage fresh ideas and diverse perspectives. We embrace the differences among our colleagues, enriching our experiences.
It’s Not Just About Us. Making a positive impact is central to who we are. We devote our personal and collective time, talent and resources to making our communities better places to live and work.
By embracing new ideas, technologies and cutting-edge business solutions, we provide relevant legal counsel with industry perspective. Our experienced attorneys and other professionals consistently deliver client-centered solutions. Clark Hill clients expect the best, and we deliver by responding quickly to their needs, understanding their business issues and providing outstanding legal advice.
There are many qualities that make a leader great. Leading by example, being humble and remaining positive are the three most important. It’s not just one of these three qualities that make a great leader, but a combination of these, along with a certain amount of luck and intuition, that make leaders excel.
Leaders must lead by example. Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself or have attempted to do in the past. Be everything you want the team to be. Share the vision for the company with the team and act it every day. Leading by example puts leaders in a position to delegate and communicate more effectively with their teams.
Leaders must be humble. It is important to have a realistic view of one’s own importance. Employees don’t want to work for a leader who is full of his or her self. Be everything you want your team to be, and realize they are an intricate piece of getting it done (so let them know it). Interact with the team and learn from them every day to enable you to be more creative and gain confidence from your team.
Leaders must remain positive. Never let the unexpected get you down. Stay positive and don’t foster negativity with the team. Get leaders under you who encourage team members to be passionate about the vision. Optimism is contagious to both your employees and customers. Even when enforcing hard policies, remaining positive and describing the reasons are paramount.
All Covered – Managed IT from Konica Minolta
Who is All Covered? Your single point of accountability for all your technology needs.
We provide support across the entire IT spectrum; from optimizing resources and End User services to maintaining infrastructure including Cloud and Voice solutions. With over 1,000 engineers in more than 30 locations nationwide, All Covered helps companies through a full range of IT services and technology support.
In the beginning, there were fires, caves and the story. Since the dawn of civilization, humans have embraced story as our fundamental communication style. Story is hardwired into our psyche, has driven the growth of civilization and frames our experience in the 21st century.
At WordWrite, the importance of an authentic story drives everything our leaders do:
Rooted in truth: The best leaders anchor everything they do in what their employees, customers and other stakeholders know to be true. We all have opinions and interpretations — the ones that win the day are those that come from a place of truth.
Fluent storytellers: Leadership is about engagement and motivation. Great leaders are great storytellers. They enable their teams to do the unthinkable, create solutions that delight their customers and add lasting value to society through persistent commitment to advance more than their bottom line.
Engaging the audience: Remarkable leaders understand that if their audience isn’t engaged, there’s no success. The best leaders continually read their audience to ensure they are engaged — and they adapt their messaging, their tone and their approach to ensure engagement that delivers results.
WordWrite has spent years perfecting an approach that helps organizations develop and share their valuable, unique story in a way that is unique, compelling and memorable. StoryCraftingSM links our expertise in marketing, messaging and public relations with our clients’ business expertise to reach and engage their important audiences.
A “smart” leader cares about his or her employees, demonstrates clear and effective communication and is passionate about selecting and developing talent.
A Fairmont Pittsburgh leader inspires trust through actions that demonstrate empathy and genuine care for others. This creates a motivating and energizing work environment in which employees are empowered to take ownership of their efforts. Smart leaders recognize that their personal influence is more powerful than their positional authority.
Clear and effective communication is also crucial. In order to set employees up for success, leaders must first make sure they know what is expected of them. Employees look to their leaders to communicate clear expectations for their roles and to provide ongoing performance feedback. They also rely on their leader to follow up and assist them when expectations are not being met. At Fairmont Pittsburgh, leaders are viewed as coaches who understand that effective feedback drives positive behavior and achieves results.
A Fairmont Pittsburgh leader understands that skills, knowledge and experience are important but selecting talent is the key to building a high performing, talent-based organization — and establishing a true competitive advantage. A successful leader hires for talent and trains for technical skills. Leaders at Fairmont Pittsburgh are also passionate about developing that talent once it is in place and providing the guidance and resources employees need to grow within their careers.
In practice, these three traits can be seen in a variety of personalities and management styles within the leadership team at Fairmont Pittsburgh. They provide a solid foundation while still allowing individuals to execute their leadership authentically.
Engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It is the result of a long-term commitment by your organization to connect with and invest in the wants and needs of your target audience.
Convero develops content marketing programs that increase engagement and performance. Our five-step process delivers detailed plans — from strategy and planning to execution and measurement — for organizations across a wide range of industries, including banking and finance, health care, higher education, manufacturing and associations.