EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 Gulf Coast Area Awards

Manufacturing & Distribution


hou_eoy_JohnMageeJohn Magee
President and CEO
Crane Worldwide Logistics


John Magee had made quite a name for himself in the logistics industry in his 10 years with Eagle Global Logistics. He led numerous turnarounds of troubled accounts around the world, moving six times in 10 years. Each time, he left the company with the gold standard of how operations should be run.
But in August 2007, EGL was acquired in a hostile takeover, and this placed Magee and several of his colleagues at a crossroads.
Displeased with the planned direction of the newly managed EGL and the culture it seemed to promote, Magee wanted a better way. He loved the industry and knew there was a way to succeed by doing things the right way for his customers and employees. So he and a group of his colleagues, who were all subject to 12-month noncompete clauses, tendered their resignations and made a plan.
His leadership and vision as president and CEO once his team launched Crane Worldwide Logistics turned nine guys looking for a better way into a vastly successful business that continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Magee looks back at the 12-month noncompete clause as a blessing. He and his partners were able to establish a vision and a clear plan of execution. The vision was to be a global, midsized company focused on high-touch, high-value customer service. The company’s value proposition focuses on five points: people, IT, compliance and quality, account management and service execution.
It crystalized and focused how the company could sell its vision to its customers. With employees and customers buying into the same vision, success had to follow.
Magee is passionate about the business and what it can do, but his passion runs deepest for his employees. He loves to get out on the floor and interact with people and focus on empowering and motivating them to be the best they can be.


hou_eoy_GaylaDellyGayla Delly
President and CEO
Benchmark Electronics, Inc.


Gayla Delly became the first non-founder CEO in the history of Benchmark Electronics, Inc. when she was appointed to the role in January 2012. Delly first joined Benchmark as corporate controller and spearheaded the acquisition of EMD Associates, which was Winona, Minnesota’s largest employer at the time.
The company proceeded to acquire an entity rivaling its own size in Lockheed Martin Commercial Electronics Co. in Hudson, New Hampshire.
By adopting a strategy of aggressive expansion through acquisition, Benchmark continued to grow into the Tier 1 electronics manufacturer it is today, a bold direction considering its conservative roots.
Delly began her career as an accountant at KPMG, doing everything from auditing to consulting and providing solutions to her customer’s issues. It was during this time that she fell in love with the manufacturing side of the business.
She also learned that she enjoys “looking beyond just closing the books.” Given that the industry she is in has extremely tight margins, it makes her financial acumen key to leading the business toward future success.
Delly is the company’s CEO and president, but she has a customer- and employee-first mindset. She feels acquiring and retaining key talent is crucial to the company’s success and focuses a lot of her energy on this key aspect of the business. Delly also has the mindset of serving her customers’ needs by embedding her talented engineers and team into the business.
Delly believes in “the ability of her team to come together, problem solve and show a customer-first attitude.” With regard to her management team, she works hard to ensure the company recognizes and respects family and work/life balance. Her passion is based in service and on ensuring that she serves her customers and her employees well.


Harold Pontez
President and CEO


There aren’t a lot of business owners willing to accept the risk of committing to ongoing operations in Sub-Saharan Africa. But Harold Pontez isn’t easily frightened by risk. An engineer by training and an entrepreneur by DNA, Pontez is incapable of uttering the words, “It can’t be done.”
He has led HPI from a startup that was comprised of a few people working in a garage in 2002 to a multinational corporation that has grown tremendously over the past seven years.
Pontez, the president and CEO of HPI, is clear in his desire to provide the most technologically advanced, reliable and cost-effective solutions for his global clients. But he is also intently focused on helping developing nations build the successful, continuous production infrastructure needed to sustain the economy.
Pontez is the quintessential salesman who clearly understands customer needs and has a fierce drive to win in his market. He exudes confidence both in himself and his employees. Pontez finds great joy and satisfaction in showing off the work of his team.
HPI has grown its global footprint and successfully executed contracts in some of the most challenging environments in the world such as the developing Middle East, Africa, Venezuela, Indonesia, India and Latin America. Finding success in these nations required a deft touch as Pontez had to deal with many political and financial challenges.
One of his engineering, procurement and construction projects in Africa survived through three presidential elections and was ultimately delivered. But Pontez did not stop there. He was able to successfully grow a business, which now includes more than two dozen manufacturers and 70 gas turbines that HPI supports.
There have been many sleepless nights and challenges as Pontez has built his company. But the commitment and personal investment from Pontez has resulted in a consistently thriving and growing business.

hou_eoy_LukeMotleyLuke Motley
President and CEO
Hunter Buildings, LLC


Hunter Buildings, LLC was launched in 1999 as the first manufacturer of customized portable buildings known as blast-resistant modules. Due to an exceptional offering of products, the company grew quickly, but problems soon arose. Operational challenges began to pop up due to the lack of a corporate infrastructure and internal processes, as well as a culture that did not foster teamwork.
The company’s founders produced industry-leading products and generated impressive profits, but the business was facing growing pains that threatened its momentum.
In 2012, the owners recognized a fundamental change in leadership was necessary and turned to Luke Motley, who is the cousin of one of the company’s founders. Motley had served as the founders’ de facto general counsel and was familiar with the company. He was enough of an outsider, however, that he could enact real change.
By accepting the role of CEO at Hunter Buildings, Motley took an enormous risk. He left his role as managing partner of a well-established law firm to head an organization with known challenges. He immediately got to work fixing the company’s broken culture and internal processes.
Motley discovered there were six functional leaders at Hunter Buildings who were each responsible for their own area. These leaders often failed to collaborate effectively and frequently made decisions based on the best interests of their team and not the company as a whole. Motley immediately worked to change this corporate culture and instill the notion that all employees must be accountable to the larger Hunter team.
He hired several new executives to head up functional areas in which the company previously suffered from a leadership vacuum. Motley does not micromanage his direct reports, but rather provides the general framework to enable their success. This along with other efforts has helped get Hunter Buildings on the right path.

hou_eoy_BrianFielkowBrian Fielkow
Jetco Delivery


Brian Fielkow first learned the importance of treating people right while working in his family’s retail business.
As a lawyer focused on corporate law and emerging companies, Fielkow gained vast experience learning from the successes and failures of entrepreneurial clients. It set him up to later take on the role of being an entrepreneur himself.
After working a few years at Waste Management, Fielkow decided it was time to get back to his roots and follow in his family’s footsteps. He scouted several businesses looking for something not broken, but ready to take the next step.
Having a background in trucking and logistics with The Peltz Group, he settled on a family-run business, Jetco Delivery, where some of the original family members still work today.
Jetco Delivery sells peace of mind, helping customers feel comfortable that their cargo will arrive on time and in good working order. The image of the Jetco truck, clean and never stopped on the side of the road for breakdowns, as well as the continuity of drivers, helps to sell the brand and continue the company’s growth.
One of the priorities for Fielkow, who serves as president, is to create a unique value to his customers that de-commoditizes the business. This value includes the safest drivers, innovative technology and openness with customers, employees and service providers.
Fielkow believes that profit and loss is rearview, and that success is measured by looking forward. He and his employees are focused on what it takes to get a better price for the work they provide.
Fielkow believes in using the strengths of those around him to complement his own abilities. He listens to advice and thoughts from everyone involved in a project, both internally and externally, to develop his game plan and create a sense of family in his organization.