The Greater Akron Chamber is proud to honor four local businesses with the 2013 Excellence in Business Award.  The purpose of this prestigious award is to honor companies who have demonstrated outstanding performance, growth, staying power, innovation and leadership in our community.


This year, we are proud to add the Emerging Business Award.  This award honors a company that exemplifies the ideals of the Excellence in Business Award and has been in business for five years or less.

In 1982 the Greater Akron Chamber’s Small Business Council created these awards to recognize outstanding businesses in our region. The Small Business Council promotes and represents the interests of businesses with 250 or fewer employees within Medina, Portage and Summit counties. The members of the SBC provide oversight and strategic counsel relative to the recognition event, affinity programs, membership and advocacy work led by the Greater Akron Chamber in support of the Chamber’s mission to drive economic development and prosperity for the people of the Greater Akron region.

We would like to thank the following sponsors for their commitment and leadership to the 2013 Excellence in Business Awards: Apple Growth Partners, Day Ketterer, Westfield Bank, Smart Business and Rubber City Radio.

On behalf of the Greater Akron Chamber, Small Business Council and our sponsors, we hope you enjoy reading about these exceptional companies and their business accomplishments.  Congratulations to the 2013 Excellence in Business Award recipients.



Dan Colantone, CCE

President and CEO

Greater Akron Chamber

Emerging Business Award

Christy Creative                    

Excellence in Business Award

Gavin Scott Salon & Spa

Excellence in Business Award


Excellence in Business Award



Published in Akron/Canton

CLEVELAND, Thu Mar 14, 2013 — Insurance Partners Agency Inc. is expanding into Ohio’s Stark County by adding Sirak Insurance Agency Inc. to its family of merged companies.

“This is a fine agency with good personnel that will be a great addition to the Insurance Partners Agency family,” said Insurance Partners Agency President George Dadas.

Sirak Insurance Agency’s strength in the areas of business insurance, professional liability and medical malpractice insurance is similar to that of Insurance Partners.

“The new operation is known as Sirak Insurance Partners,” Dadas says. “The addition provides a sixth northeast Ohio office for our customers to call and stop in for exceptional customer service.”

The new Insurance Partners office is located in the Canton office Sirak Insurance Agency occupied.

“The result of this transaction is Sirak Insurance Agency joining an organization that is larger, but still small enough to continue to deliver the personalized service that clients have come to expect from us,” says Gary Sirak, president of Sirak Financial Services Inc., parent company of Sirak Insurance Agency, which was established in 1957 in Canton, Ohio.

“Our combined premium volume, access to more insurance companies, and professional depth will enable us to better compete in the current market place and, more importantly, continue to provide customers with state of the art insurance and risk management services.”

Insurance Partners Agency is a leading independent insurance agency that specializes in business and personal insurance, represents more than 50 select insurance companies, is licensed in all of the United States of America, and has worldwide reach through international affiliates. The company has built its reputation by drawing on more than 50 years of risk management expertise to provide exceptional service and innovative solutions that meet clients’ unique insurance needs.


Published in Akron/Canton

Entrepreneurs all have at least one thing in common: the desire to see their businesses thrive and grow. The connections they make – to business mentors, service providers and investors, as well as to regional resources – are critical ingredients to that success. IdeaCrossing (, a free online resource operated by the Northeast Ohio nonprofit venture development organization JumpStart Inc., brings the components of this entrepreneurial ecosystem together in one place. See what role you can play in this vital virtual community.

Entrepreneurial engagement

It’s important for an entrepreneur to have a central place where all of their advisers can engage and collaborate. IdeaCrossing offers every registered entrepreneur a private Workspace, a virtual meeting room where s/he can invite all advisers to convene and build off one another’s insights and experience.

Entrepreneurs can invite their existing mentors to join this virtual space, or they can use IdeaCrossing’s algorithm-based matching process to find new advisers with specialized expertise.

Once connections are made, Workspace members can start discussions, exchange documents and share ideas. Advisers can also solicit additional help for these virtual collaborations and facilitate personal introductions for the entrepreneur to other potential connections, whether it’s a marketing guru who can weigh in on strategy or a lawyer willing to offer advice on incorporating the business.

What role will you play?

Perhaps you are a successful entrepreneur yourself, or maybe you have specific expertise you can offer on a pro bono basis. Whether you can devote an hour per week or provide ongoing, longer-term guidance, consider becoming a Business Mentor. Once registered, you can create a profile that allows you to be matched with entrepreneurs looking for skills just like yours. Business Mentors interested in advancing a company can also ask for an invite to an entrepreneur’s Workspace.

Maybe you’re an accredited investor who’s looking for the next big thing or just looking to increase deal flow by adding a new startup/ small business venture to your portfolio. Angel investors, venture capitalists and other financial institutions can register as Investors and create an unlimited number of profiles detailing their specific interests. IdeaCrossing will match investors to compatible startups that fit their investment criteria, while keeping their identity private until they initiate a connection.

Finally, perhaps you provide a service to the small business community. Signing up as a Service Provider allows you to create your own listing in the IdeaCrossing Service Directory promoting what you do, who you serve and how you can help. Members can search this directory by keyword, business category or ZIP code.

Other resources

All users can take advantage of the IdeaCrossing Resource Center, which contains not only the Service Directory but also the latest startup news and access to best practices and startup tips. Written anything interesting lately? Submit your whitepapers and blog posts to the member-submitted articles area. Plus, use the Event Calendar to share events related to entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Sign up today to see what valuable connections you can make to grow your own business or help an entrepreneur succeed. Registering is simple and free. Visit


6701 Carnegie Ave.

Suite 100

Cleveland, OH 44103

(216) 363-3400

Published in Akron/Canton

Financial-services firm Edward Jones has been ranked No. 8 on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For 2013" list in its 14th appearance on the prestigious list, according to David Gottlieb of Pepper Pike.

Edward Jones' 14 Fortune rankings also include top 10 finishes for 10 years and consecutive No. 1 rankings in 2002 and 2003 and consecutive No. 2 rankings in 2009 and 2010.

Currently, Edward Jones has 4,630 positions available throughout the country, mostly for financial adviser and branch office administrator. Each Edward Jones branch office includes one financial adviser and one branch office administrator who work one-on-one with clients in the communities where those clients live.

To pick the 100 Best Companies to Work For, Fortune partners with the Great Place to Work Institute to conduct the most extensive employee survey in corporate America. Two-thirds of a company's score is based on the results of the institute's Trust Index survey, which is sent to a random sample of employees from each company. The survey asks questions related to their attitudes about management's credibility, job satisfaction, and camaraderie.

The other third of the scoring is based on the company's responses to the institute's Culture Audit, which includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programs and a series of open-ended questions about hiring practices, internal communications, training, recognition programs and diversity efforts.

Edward Jones provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada.  The firm's 12,000-plus financial advisers work directly with nearly 7 million clients to understand their personal goals.

In January 2013, for the 14th year, Edward Jones was named one of the best companies to work for by Fortune Mmagazine in its annual listing. The firm ranked No. 8 overall. These 14 rankings include 10 top-10 finishes, consecutive No. 1 rankings in 2002 and 2003, and consecutive No. 2 rankings in 2009 and 2010. Fortune and Time Inc. are not affiliated with and do not endorse products or services of Edward Jones.

Edward Jones is headquartered in St. Louis. The Edward Jones website is located at, and its recruiting website is Member SIPC.

Published in National

JoeTakashNo1VideoCan you really build morale in less than a second? Think about it. How possibly could it only take less than a second to boost the mood of someone – as well as a team?

According to Joe Takash, the president of Victory Consulting,  it can be accomplished by following a technique used by the late former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (1910-2010). Yes, that’s right. He lived to be 99 years old.

In his latest Smart Connection video, “Build morale in less than a second,” Takash describes how Wooden used his “Thank You Rule.”

The key to his success was threefold.

No. 1, he knew his trade extremely well.

No. 2, he knew discipline extremely well.

No. 3, and maybe most importantly, Wooden knew people and how to motivate them.

Watch the video in its entirety here.

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based executive and organizational development firm. He advises clients on leadership strategies and has helped executives prepare for $3 billion worth of sales presentations. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales meetings and management conferences and has appeared in numerous media outlets. Learn more at

Published in Chicago

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer prices rose for the 11th straight month in May but at a slower pace amid easing energy prices, official data showed Wednesday.

The consumer price index climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent, the Labor Department said. Year-on-year, prices were up 3.6 percent, chewing away at consumers' earnings.

Core inflation - a key measure that excludes volatile fuel and food prices, and is watched by the Federal Reserve to set interest rates - jumped by 0.3 percent in May from the previous month. That was the sharpest increase since July 2008.

But the core inflation figure, despite May’s surge, remained 1.5 percent year on year, still well within the Federal Reserve's inflation comfort zone. The month’s headline CPI figure was half the 0.4 percent increase in April but double the average analyst forecast of a 0.1 percent gain.

Overall energy prices led the slowdown, with gasoline prices falling for the first time since last June, by 2.0 percent. But household energy prices rose, as did food prices, which surged 0.4 percent for the second consecutive month.

The pullback in energy costs for US consumers “is a positive development that should help limit some of the fallout from the May report, especially since the spike in energy prices has been widely regarded as a major catalyst contributing to the soft patch of data of late,” said Patrick O'Hare at

The latest numbers on a 12-month basis showed building momentum in consumer prices. Broad inflation was only 1.1 percent as recently as November, the department noted.

Published in National
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 14:07

Boeing announces plan to build more planes

Boeing Co plans to increase the production rate on its hot-selling 737 narrowbody plane to 42 per month, starting in 2014, the company said on Wednesday.

The world’s second-largest plane-maker after EADS unit Airbus produces 31 1/2 737 airplanes per month and expects to increase to 35 per month in early 2012, 38 per month in the second quarter of 2013 and then 42 per month in the first half of 2014.

Boeing has 2,101 unfilled orders for 737 models, according to its website. The company has taken a net total of 65 orders for the plane this year.

Boeing is deciding whether to redesign its 737 or put a more fuel-efficient engine in the current design. A redesign would take longer but would save more fuel for budget-conscious airlines.

Airbus has said it would put a new engine in its competing A320 narrow-body. Airbus expects its sales to be boosted by the planned revamp.

In May, the European plane-maker said it will increase production of its best-selling A320 family of aircraft to a record 42 planes a month, underlining signs of a global economic recovery.

Commercial aircraft demand is picking up as air travel recovers and funds return to the leasing market. Soaring oil prices, meanwhile, are forcing airlines to renew fleets with more fuel-efficient planes.

The Airbus A320 competes with Boeing's 737 for sales estimated at $1.7 trillion over the next 20 years.

The two competing 100-200 seat aircraft are the backbone of most airlines’ medium-haul fleets and are credited with powering the dramatic growth of low-cost carriers.

“We see this as a positive development for Boeing and the aerospace supply chain. A potential 737 rate increase has been widely discussed, but we had expected an announcement on 737 rates to occur later this year,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Stallard said in a research note.

“The earlier-than-anticipated decision would imply continued robust airline demand for the plane, but also Boeing's ability to reassure suppliers that this is a realistic, achievable and sustainable rate increase,” Stallard said.

Boeing’s shares were down 19 cents at $74.45 in midday trading.

Published in National

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed expanding scrutiny of how brokerages handle trillions of dollars in client assets in a measure that reflects the enduring regulatory impact of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

SEC commissioners voted 5-0 today to seek comment on a rule that would increase disclosures required of broker-dealers who hold investor funds, building on a 2009 rule for investment advisers. The measure would require enhanced audits of 300 brokers with custody of client assets and quarterly disclosures from all 5,000 registered firms on how they handle funds.

“While current rules require broker-dealers to protect and account for customer assets, today’s proposal would mandate an audit of the controls that the broker-dealer has put in place to ensure compliance with those rules,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said before commissioners voted at a meeting in Washington.

The rule - subject to a 60-day comment period - would require that a broker-dealer’s internal controls be checked by a registered public accounting firm and would let regulators examine audits. Brokerages would have to tell the SEC whether they have access to client money and how access is controlled.

“Broker-dealers hold custody of far more investor assets than investment advisers do,” Commissioner Luis Aguilar said before the vote. “In fact, our staff estimates that the customer securities positions held by just the four largest broker-dealers total several trillion dollars.”

Existing law requires broker-dealers to be audited each year by a firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The PCAOB, which is required by the Dodd-Frank Act to start inspecting the audits, established an interim program for the reviews yesterday. Today’s SEC proposal would expand what the audit watchdog sees in those examinations.

The SEC’s 2009 effort to look more deeply at investment advisers’ custodial practices was a response to Madoff, who is serving a 125-year prison term after pleading guilty to defrauding clients out of billions of dollars.

The earlier rule “would not have prevented much of the harm that Madoff did,” Aguilar said. “That’s because, for decades, his firm was registered solely as a broker-dealer, not as an investment adviser.”

Published in National

NEW YORK — JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Tuesday said the head of its international business will retire from the bank early next year in a realignment that will expand responsibilities for other executives.

JPMorgan Chase announced the departure of Heidi Miller a year after she was named president of international operations. The 58-year-old previously served as head of treasury and securities services. The international post was a new one for the New York-based bank, which has been looking to expand overseas.

The duties of three other executives also will shift under the changes announced Tuesday:

Charlie Scharf, CEO of retail financial services, will become a partner in One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase.

Todd Maclin, head of the commercial bank, will succeed Scharf as head of the company's retail business, including the branch network, consumer franchise, small business banking and the Chase private client business. He will continue as CEO of the commercial bank.

Gordon Smith, CEO of card services, will take on responsibility for JPMorgan Chase's auto finance and student lending businesses, in addition to his current role.

It is the second year in a row that the company has shuffled executive positions, part of a program JPMorgan Chase set up to have executives work across multiple divisions to broaden their experience.

Last June, in addition to making Miller the head of international operations, Doug Braunstein was named chief financial officer. He succeeded Michael Cavanagh, who took Miller's position at the time as head of treasury and securities services.

Miller "worked closely with our key business leaders to help develop a comprehensive and coordinated international business strategy, growth plan and governance structure," CEO Jamie Dimon said.

Miller's career in banking and finance spans more than 30 years, including serving as chief financial officer of Citigroup and Bank One.

Jes Staley, CEO of the JPMorgan Chase's investment bank, will also oversee the company's international franchise across all its businesses.

That move "is consistent with Heidi Miller's recommendation that responsibilities for international activities be embedded back into the businesses," a statement from the bank said.

JPMorgan Chase announced the moves after its shares fell 6 cents to close at $41.61. In aftermarket trading, the stock gained 5 cents.

Published in National

BETHESDA, Md. - Lockheed Martin is cutting nearly 8 percent of jobs in its space systems unit, a move that will improve efficiencies but affect workers in California and Pennsylvania.

The company on Tuesday said about 1,200 employees would be removed in a combination of voluntary and involuntary layoffs. Most of the workers belong to middle management, which will be reduced by 25 percent.

The defense contractor’s space systems unit employs 16,000 workers in a dozen states to develop and manufacture technology ranging from ballistic missiles and missile defense shields, to human space flight systems, space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft.

Lockheed is working to remain competitive following a decline in commercial and public sector orders, combined with the recession and increased competitive activity.

Orders for space satellites are down. In addition, the U.S. Congress has decided to end the government's use of F-22 Raptors in favor of the F-35, which military officials say is a more nimble and versatile fighter jet.

Apart from the layoffs in facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Delaware Valley, Pa., the workforce reduction will affect the company’s plant in Denver. The cuts will be completed by the end of the year.

“In today’s economic environment, we have two choices: make painful decisions now or pay a greater price down the road. This is a difficult but necessary action to improve efficiencies and make our business more competitive going forward,” Joanne Maguire, executive vice president for the space systems unit, said in a statement.

“We will remain relentlessly focused on achieving operational excellence and mission success for our customers as we position to deliver more affordably in the future,” she added.

Published in National
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