How Basim Shami follows his plan to take Farouk Systems to even greater heights

Basim Shami, CEO, Farouk Systems Inc.

Basim Shami, CEO, Farouk Systems Inc.

Consumer Products

FINALIST

Basim Shami
CEO
Farouk Systems Inc.

So what did Basim Shami do to prepare himself to one day take the reins at the business his father, Farouk, launched 27 years ago in the family garage? Well, he started his own business, of course.

The younger Shami took leftover and excess chemicals from his father’s company and altered solution formulas to create a salon-inspired line of pet grooming products.

It was a strong hint that Basim Shami had the entrepreneurial genes in his blood, and it’s now allowing him to take Farouk Systems Inc. in some new and interesting directions. His goal is to create “a small L’Oreal,” though Shami claims he would do a better job of integrating acquisitions. He understands that new and different is a hit in the beauty business and works hard to support a research and development team that can help Farouk Systems on top of its game.

Shami has built a network of more than 1,500 educators that serves as a natural testing place for his company’s products, as well as a great source for new ideas and product enhancements.

But as committed as Shami is to his job and to the company that his father built, he understands that he can’t do everything by himself. His job is to create a vision that everyone can get behind and then remove obstacles so that employees can make it happen.

Shami is not the same man as his father. He takes a more deliberate approach to decisions and closely studies the markets and consumer trends to validate potential new opportunities. He brings people along for the ride so that everyone who shares in the effort can also share in the great sense of accomplishment when a strategy helps Farouk Systems achieve a goal.

This awareness of others led Shami to launch a partnership with a local community college to start a cosmetology program, where units earned via the partnership can count toward college credit.

How to reach: Farouk Systems Inc., www.farouk.com

 

 

 

How Stacey Gillman Wimbish led The Gillman Cos. through one of the toughest climates in the automotive industry

Stacey Gillman Wimbish, president, The Gillman Cos.

Stacey Gillman Wimbish, president, The Gillman Cos.

Consumer Products

FINALIST

Stacey Gillman Wimbish
President
The Gillman Cos.

Stacey Gillman Wimbish may have learned a lot from her father, a legend in the Houston automotive dealership business, but there was no playbook for the challenges she has had to face since taking over the family’s Texas automotive dealership business, The Gillman Cos., in 2008.

Gillman Wimbish, president, has led her 14-dealership company through the economic impacts of the Great Recession when there were two hurricanes, a Japanese earthquake and tsunami that caused numerous issues and delays from Japanese automakers, and domestic manufacturers were cancelling franchises.

Through all these unforeseen challenges, she developed and executed a strong and consistent plan. The tenet of that plan was to assess the situation honestly no matter how difficult and have the courage to make needed change.

Gillman Wimbish transitioned the organization through all of these crises allowing not only for the company to survive, but come out much stronger. She embodied the famous motto, “Keep calm and carry on.” She reduced cost in line with the expected medium to short-term volume declines and made the hard decision to cut employee headcount. She also emphasized to her management team the need to constantly measure performance and press for timely changes whenever they were needed.

While her path to leading The Gillman Cos. was not certain, the automotive retailing business has always been in Gillman Wimbish’s blood. During her career, she has worked in almost every function of the dealership operations including accounting, vehicle and parts sales and finance and insurance. Her knowledge of the automotive dealership business and all its many facets has been a key to her success in leading the company.

With her leadership and strategic plan, Gillman Wimbish was able to manage through these adversities and bring the company back to operating and financial success. In 2010, she was named one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.

How to reach: The Gillman Cos., www.gillmanauto.com

How Joel Bomgar took a personal problem and found a fix that has helped millions in Bomgar

Joel Bomgar, founder and CEO, Bomgar

Joel Bomgar, founder and CEO, Bomgar

Technology

FINALIST

Joel Bomgar
Founder and CEO
Bomgar 

Joel Bomgar was great at fixing computers, but the unbillable time he spent traveling from one client site to the next was making it pretty tough to make any money.

He decided there had to be a better way and after realizing there wasn’t a good product on the market, he went to work to develop his own solution.

He developed his own remote support software that enabled him to troubleshoot customers’ computers through the Internet from the comfort of his own desk.

More importantly, he didn’t have to drive anywhere to identify these problems.

Over the past decade, that piece of software has evolved into the Bomgar Box, a robust remote support solution now used by nearly 7,000 organizations in 65 countries worldwide.

As the founder and CEO of the company which he named after himself, Bomgar has forged his success by focusing on the niche remote support market versus diversifying. He targets large enterprises instead of consumers and produces an appliance-based solution instead of software as a service.

The company itself has a positive, fast-paced culture that is family friendly and is based on Bomgar’s own values and desire to work in a place he believes to be “the best place on the planet.”

Innovation is a priority for Bomgar and he gives employees the freedom to create as long as it feeds the company’s primary goal of improving tech support. This freedom within focus approach allows product engineers and developers to explore futuristic ideas while keeping everyone moving toward the same end goal.

There is also great freedom when it comes to choosing philanthropic causes to support. Bomgar wants employees to support causes that are important to them personally. The Bomgar Care Network is a rotating team that solicits ideas for philanthropic activities from employees and then leads activities in support of those programs. The company also donates its technology to nearly 100 missions around the world.

How to reach: Bomgar, www.bomgar.com

 

How Richard Weissman found the silver lining in The Learning Experience

 

Richard Scott Weissman, president, CEO and co-founder, The Learning Experience

Richard Scott Weissman, president, CEO and co-founder, The Learning Experience

Family Business

FINALIST

Richard Scott Weissman
president, CEO and co-founder
The Learning Experience

For Richard Scott Weissman, there’s a silver lining in each storm cloud.

“The best time to learn and grow a company is during the worst of times; adversity builds character and forces a company to develop systems that mitigate risk while never sacrificing the brand,” he says.

Through a focus on core competencies of motivating people and creating lasting concepts in business, Weissman has led The Learning Experience, one of the leading providers of child care and early childhood development services.

But it wasn’t easy street. After a few years as a boutique investment firm operator, he decided that his father Michael Weissman’s business, child care, had a lot of potential, and he wanted to be part of it.

Many serious discussions were held, and there were differences of opinions. Finally, they went ahead with expansion plans and bought a bankrupt rival chain. Michael retired and Richard located a fund to invest in the company. However, the fund wanted to change everything. Richard returned to his career on Wall Street — but then 9/11 occurred.

Richard and the rest of the management team strongly believed that if they could expand and build strong foundations for the company during the crisis, then they would be ready to “explode” when the economy stabilized.

The Weissman family put $6 million into the company to grow during the recession.  Richard felt the need to hand-hold certain franchisees during the economic crisis. Most stayed on board with TLE; however, the few that were not bought into the vision of the Company, left.   He heavily invested in technology, which has enabled the Company to cut from 95 employees to 70 in the corporate office.  TLE has more than 200 schools and is opening on average two new schools per month. It has also reached the mark of being one of the top 10 child care companies in the U.S. as ranked by license capacity.

How to reach: The Learning Experience, www.thelearningexperience.com

Leading the way — the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards

Todd Zuspan, partner and director of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area program, Ernst & Young LLP

Todd Zuspan, partner and director of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area program, Ernst & Young LLP

Each year in June, Ernst & Young celebrates entrepreneurial leaders in 25 regions across the country as part of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. This marks the 27th year in which Ernst & Young has recognized those leaders.

For 2013, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area program is called “Leading the Way.” There is no other place in the country where entrepreneurial innovation and leadership no matter the entrepreneur’s background is accepted and supported. We have continually seen significant innovative strides throughout a variety of industries in the Gulf Coast area, most notably in the energy, technology and the medical industries. It is the culture of the Gulf Coast that the individual or group of individuals working together can accomplish great things when they take the initiative in their own hands.

That culture was the foundation of the Gulf Coast in the early years and that culture remains today. This is why we believe the Gulf Coast led the country during the recent down years and today in population and job growth. The companies represented at this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area awards grew the number of people employed by 20 percent and grew revenues by 16 percent over the last year. There can be no doubt these entrepreneurial leaders, through their leadership, will continue to strengthen our country’s economy. That is why we believe the Gulf Coast is once again “Leading the Way”!

Ernst & Young has been recognizing these risk-taking visionaries for 27 years and, over that time, has recognized more than 10,000 entrepreneurial men and women. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Award has grown to be recognized as the leading business award. While Ernst & Young is proud of this accomplishment, the credit goes to the thousands of entrepreneurial leaders who have been recognized over the years. The fact that the program has endured and grown for more than 27 years is a true testament to the entrepreneurial leaders themselves.

The program celebrates entrepreneurial leaders in 25 U.S. regions each year. The regional award recipients then participate in the National Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in November in Palm Springs, Calif. At that ceremony, 10 award recipients are selected and one is selected as the National Entrepreneur Of The Year overall award recipient. The National Entrepreneur Of The Year overall award recipient will then participate in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year in Monte Carlo, along with award recipients from 50 other countries. This truly is the world’s business award.

The National Entrepreneur Of The Year Program is the culminating event for a four-day Strategic Growth Forum that had about 2,000 participants last year. This is the only event of its kind that is focused on the CEOs of companies. The panelists and speakers are unparalleled and in the past have included special guests such as George W. Bush, former President of the United States; Frederick Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx Corp.; and Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin. This year will feature Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO, General Electric Co.; Bernard Tyson, incoming chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente; and Jeffrey Sprecher, founder, chairman and CEO, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.

We are honored to present the 27th Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards-Gulf Coast and to recognize the entrepreneurial leaders of the past, present and future in the Gulf Coast that are “Leading the Way” to keep this the greatest country in the world to do business.

Todd Zuspan is a partner with Ernst & Young LLP 
and is the director of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area program.

Family Business Award of Excellence

Award recipient
Kenneth L. Robison,
Crest Industries

Construction & Industrial Services

Award recipient
Stephen V. Pate
Strike, LLC

Finalist
James Joseph Frischhertz
Frischhertz Electric Co., Inc.

Finalist
Troy Collins
Nathan Granger
Quality Companies USA, LLC

Finalist
Jeffrey Gerald Davis
The Brock Group

Consumer Products

Award recipient
Donald P. Klein
Chesmar Homes, Ltd.

Finalist
Basim Shami
Farouk Systems

Finalist
Stacey Gillman Wimbish
The Gillman Companies

Finalist
Gary Kiedaisch
Igloo Products Corp.

Finalist
Jerry Lasco
Lasco Enterprises

Distribution & Manufacturing

Award recipient
Walter Emanuel Blessey Jr.
Blessey Marine Services

Finalist
Arthur Moore
American Alloy Steel, Inc.

Finalist
Amit Bhandari
Biourja Group

Finalist
John L. Magee
Crane Worldwide Logistics

Finalist
Mark C. Arnold
GSE Environmental, LLC

Finalist
Fred Koetting
Schulte Building Systems

Transformational

Award recipient
David D. Dunlap
Superior Energy Services, Inc.

Energy Services

Award recipient
Larry O’Donnell
Rockwater Energy Solutions

Finalist
Darron Anderson
Express Energy Services

Finalist
John T. Rynd
Hercules Offshore, Inc.

Finalist
Christian J. Beckett
Pacific Drilling

Exploration & Production

Award recipient
Mark E. Ellis
LINN Energy, LLC

Finalist
Michael Minarovic
Arena Energy, LP

Finalist
John D. Schiller Jr.
Energy XXI

Finalist
David H. Welch
Stone Energy Corp.

Health Care

Award recipient
Dana Sellers
Encore Health Resources

Finalist
Taseer A. Badar
Altus Healthcare Management Services

Finalist
Andrew C. Knizley
Houston Orthopedic & Spine Hospital

Finalist
T. J. Farnsworth
SightLine Health

Midstream Services

Award recipient
R. Bruce Northcutt
Copano Energy, LLC

Finalist
Brad Childers
Exterran Holdings, Inc.

Finalist
Gregory L. Ebel
Spectra Energy Corp.

Services

Award recipient
Drake Mills
Community Trust Bank

Finalist
Bryan Leibman
Frosch International Travel, Inc.

Finalist
Michael L. Soper
Legacy Funeral Group

Finalist
Jose S. Suquet
Pan-American Life Insurance Group

Technology

Award recipient
Peter M. Duncan
MicroSeismic, Inc.

Finalist
Joel Bomgar
Bomgar

Finalist
Jonathan Brett Klein
Luis Luque
Cimation

 

Judges

Gregory D. Brenneman
Shelaghmichael Brown
Doug J. Erwin
Joe R. Fowler
Scott W. Smith
Cindy B. Taylor
Richard E. Zuschlag

 

 

How Gary Kiedaisch is revolutionizing the cooler industry at Igloo Products Corp.

Gary Kiedaisch, chairman and CEO, Igloo Products Corp.

Gary Kiedaisch, chairman and CEO, Igloo Products Corp.

Consumer Products

FINALIST

Gary Kiedaisch
Chairman and CEO
Igloo Products Corp.

When Gary Kiedaisch and private equity firm J.H. Whitney first targeted Igloo Products Corp., Wal-Mart had successfully driven down cooler prices and had a 60 percent share of the cooler business. In addition, Wal-Mart had been rotating regional sales among the three main cooler suppliers — Rubbermaid, Igloo and Coleman — so that no company would be able to be dominant in the market.

Kiedaisch did not see the “Wal-Mart model” as sustainable, as it did not inspire consumers to buy new coolers. Instead, he saw the situation as an opportunity. Kiedaisch thought he could re-energize the category by giving consumers a reason to update their current coolers. He shared this vision for Igloo and the opportunity he saw and along with J.H. Whitney they purchased Igloo in October 2008 making Kiedaisch chairman and CEO.

Kiedaisch’s vision for Igloo Products Corp. faced two primary challenges. First, the economy was in a downturn and oil prices were on the rise, impacting the price of resin and increasing the cost to produce coolers. Secondly, he had to work around Wal-Mart and determine a way to move Igloo away from its buying and pricing practices either by growing sales outside of Wal-Mart or convincing Wal-Mart of a strategy to implement price differentiation.

Kiedaisch started growing the Igloo business outside of Wal-Mart through the use of specialty retailers and introducing features into the coolers that Wal-Mart was not able to offer. By creating an entrepreneurial organization, and empowering his employees, Kiedaisch and his team have been able to successfully implement more than 200 new products to the market. This resulted in Igloo being able to grow the business outside of Wal-Mart by 20 percent.

Kiedaisch met with the Wal-Mart board and presented his strategy and success in growing sales outside of Wal-Mart, ultimately convincing Wal-Mart to get in the game. As a result, Igloo went from having low margins and low profitability and getting beat up by Wal-Mart to developing a strategic partnership.

How to reach: Igloo Products Corp., www.igloocoolers.com

How Jerry Lasco built a company that has revolutionized how people drink wine

Jerry Lasco, founder and CEO, Lasco Enterprises

Jerry Lasco, founder and CEO, Lasco Enterprises

Consumer Products

FINALIST

Jerry Lasco
Founder and CEO
Lasco Enterprises

Jerry Lasco did not grow up wanting to be a restaurateur. He was a pilot who had flown planes for both the U.S. Air Force and what was then Continental Airlines. He and his wife, Laura, loved to travel internationally and wine tasting had always been part of the experience.

But soon after Lasco and his wife moved to Houston, the tragedy of 9/11 struck. Lasco was furloughed and suddenly found himself out of work. Fortunately, he looked at it as an opportunity to start a new career. He was willing to take an hourly position at a wine store to learn more about the wine industry, as well as fine-tune his palate and plan his next move.

He became drawn to creating a wine bar that also sold retail wine. He and his wife invested all their savings to open one of Houston’s first wine bars, The Tasting Room Wine Cafe. It flourished and continues to set the standard for wine bars.

As founder and CEO of Lasco Enterprises, he leads with three principles in mind: Employees and business partners are the highest priority, customers must have an enjoyable and memorable experience, and the company must give back to the communities that support his business.

The focus on employees is critical because they are the ones who touch customers and if they are happy, your customers are more likely to be happy. Business partners are also critical to your success, and Lasco focuses intently on building a strong rapport so both sides can achieve success.

When customers have a memorable experience, they’ll tell people about it and your business will take off, Lasco says, and it has to be at every level of service as one bad aspect of a customer’s experience has the potential to spoil the good. And building strong bonds with your community fosters even more relationships and creates a positive image for your business.

How to reach: Lasco Enterprises, www.lascoenterprises.com

 

 

How Kris Snyder provides mobility services to companies at Vox Mobile

Kris Snyder, CEO, Vox Mobile

Kris Snyder, CEO, Vox Mobile

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Technology

Winner

 

Kris Snyder

CEO

Vox Mobile

 

Kris Snyder is a driving force in the high growth, billion-dollar managed mobility services market. Having founded Vox Mobile as an entrepreneur inside a $200 million systems integrator and ultimately spinning it into its own venture, Snyder demonstrated his thought leadership and insight into the growth trends in enterprise mobility.

Starting Vox Mobile in 2006, Snyder recognized the potential to create value through mobility services before anyone else. At that time, organizations were becoming increasingly reliant upon mobile devices.

While plenty of competitors and organizations had invested in technology to implement and deploy personal computers, he recognized that there would soon be a need to provide these same services for mobile equipment, which has increased since consumer products like the iPhone and iPad were released.

Enterprises are now facing significant challenges ensuring issues like mobile enterprise security, employer software configuration and customer support do not decrease the productivity of their respective organizations worldwide. These issues are coming to a head as organizations contemplate how to allow employees to “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, rather than issuing company devices.

Snyder’s customers call upon Vox Mobile to design, procure, deploy, support, manage and analyze their mobile devices. Snyder emphasizes and provides a culture to enable and empower his employees to provide satisfactory solutions to its callers every time to reduce customers’ frustrations and potential down time.

This requires a commitment to hiring top talent who are inventive, knowledgeable and believe in his vision. During 2012, he nearly doubled the number of employees, and Snyder continues to promote the innovation of software that allows for incremental scalability.

Snyder’s vision and ability to innovate in this niche industry has enabled the growth of Vox and mobile technology as a whole. This has created more than 40 percent sales growth during the last two years, with an additional 40 percent growth being forecast in 2013.

How to reach: Vox Mobile, www.voxmobile.com

How Brad Dannegger found his niche in ARCO/Murray National Construction Company

Brad-Dannegger-ARCO2

Services

FINALIST

At age 30, Bradley J. Dannegger approached the owners of ARCO/Murray National Construction Company and asked to open a Chicago office of the firm. He had already worked at the St. Louis and Florida offices, and the owners recognized that he was a rising star, so they support his plan.

The result was a substantial decrease in pay for Dannegger as well as an increase in risk.  But his hard work, perseverance and his top talent has grown the Chicago office into one of the most successful in the ARCO/Murray family.

He continued to grow ARCO through the recent recession by focusing on complicated, niche construction projects with Fortune 2000 companies – for example, clean-rooms and laundry services for hospitals and hotels. The market is large, the construction is complicated, and few competitors are in the market. Staying away from construction that only requires “four walls and a roof” has helped differentiate his company from the competition and drive repeat business.

Dannegger sets high expectations for himself and his team, but he leads with an inclusive style — realizing that less experienced employees need coaching and encouragement. He faced challenges in the first couple of years trying to find the right talent to build his team. Starting in 2005, he focused on hiring the brightest students from the best engineering schools. When interviewing, he began focusing more on a candidate’s potential rather than experience. These new hires came onboard with no bad working habits and an eagerness to learn every aspect of the construction business.

In client relationships, Dannegger has always strived to form a strong partnership. As a design/build firm, ARCO is present at the earliest stages of the project until the building is complete.

Subcontractors and vendor relationships are just as important. Each year, ARCO honors its top 10 vendors in an annual ceremony to celebrate the year and their hard work.

How to reach: ARCO/Murray National Construction Company, www.arcomurray.com

Entrepreneurs change the world

Todd E. Novak, Midwest Program Director, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Todd E. Novak, Midwest Program Director, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious business award programs, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards celebrate gravity-defying innovators who build and run great companies. This June, we gather here and in 24 other cities across the U.S. to honor all of our regional finalists and welcome the award recipients from the class of 2013 into our Hall of Fame.

Entrepreneurs change the world and make it a better place to work and live. We honor them for their fortitude and resilience, and we celebrate their ability to forge new markets, navigate uncharted territory and fuel economic growth.

Congratulations to this year’s finalists and winners for their unyielding pursuit of business excellence. We are honored to share their inspiring stories with you.

Todd E. Novak

Midwest program director

 

Consumer Products and Services

Winner

Chris Clawson, Life Fitness

Finalists

Bob Keller, Escalade Inc.

Howard Stillman, Level 6 Corp.

Tom Mazzetta, The Mazzetta Co. LLC

Emerging Entrepreneur

Winner

Al Goldstein, Pangea Properties

Finalists

John Barnicle, Doug Lee, Richard Knight, Scott Kell, Jim Brewer and Tony Hiller – Peerless Network Inc.

Matt Matros, Protein Bar

Brian Spaly, Trunk Club

Family Business Award of Excellence

Winner

Jim Sartori and Jeff Schwager, Sartori Co.

Financial Services

Winner

Hugh McKean Jones IV, BankersAccuity

Finalists

Judson Bergman, Envestnet

Theodore L. Koenig, Monroe Capital LLC

Health Care

Winner

Dr. Stuart Bernsen, Chiro One Wellness Centers

Finalists

J.P. Fingado, API Healthcare

Michael S. Butler, Life Spine, Inc.

Jason Beans, Rising Medical Solutions

T. Scott Law, Zotec Partners

Industrial Distribution

Winner

Paul Jones, A.O. Smith Corporation

Finalists

Warren Young, Acme Industries Inc.

Todd Berger, Transportation Solutions Enterprises

Peter C. Anthony, UGN Inc.

Private Equity/Venture Capital Backed

Winner

Brandon Cruz and Clint Jones, GoHealth

Finalists

Daphne Preuss, Chromatin Inc.

Scott Harris, Revolution Dancewear

Zachary Boca and Daniel Ushman, SingleHop

Services

Winner

Michael Golden and Thaddeus Wong, @properties

Finalists

Bradley J. Dannegger, ARCO/Murray National Construction Company

Michael Romano, Associated

Heather Sanderson, Overture, LLC

Michael Miles, SeatonCorp

Technology

Winner

Andrew H. Sieja, kCura

Finalists

Daniel Adamany, AHEAD LLC

Chris Gladwin, Cleversafe, Inc.

Stopher Bartol, Legacy.com, Inc.

 

Judges

Cheryl Beebe

Douglas Grissom

Jay Radtke

Chris Dalton

Cynthia LaConte

James Reynolds, Jr.

Michael Gauthier

Laura Pearl

Jai Shekhawat