How Christian Beckett recruited a seasoned management team to garner success at start-up Pacific Drilling

Christian J .Beckett, CEO, Pacific Drilling

Christian J .Beckett, CEO, Pacific Drilling

Energy Services

FINALIST

Christian J. Beckett
CEO
Pacific Drilling 

Christian Beckett is the CEO of a start-up offshore drilling company that specializes in ultra-deep water drilling — one of only two drilling companies in the offshore drilling industry capable of drilling at those depths.

Beckett’s vision was to build an elite fleet of drilling ships that serviced only the biggest and most prestigious customers, providing the client with the most advanced equipment to produce efficiently and safely while providing a healthy return on investment to Pacific Drilling’s shareholders.

Beckett was the first employee of Pacific Drilling and was involved in selecting and recruiting each member of the management team. He recruited from the best in the industry as well as those from other professional backgrounds, building a team that was highly seasoned, well-rounded and had the ability to think outside the norm. He would be building a fledgling company into a major player in the market.

Beckett’s philosophy has allowed Pacific Drilling to have an international management team which averages more than 25 years of experience in the offshore drilling industry, which is no easy task for an upstart company.

Aside from staffing a new company, Beckett’s first and foremost difficulty to overcome was a lack of customers. He had to overcome the negativity and doubt from customers who had been in long-standing relationships with Pacific Drilling’s larger competitors. Beckett had experience on his side and his persistence with these potential customers eventually paid off securing the company’s first contract with Chevron.

Today, Pacific Drilling has a two-year backlog with a top-notch customer base including Chevron, Total and Petrobras. Beckett’s other challenge was to acquire the assets and the manpower to service its customers while growing the business.

He strategically planned growth, assessing when new assets would be ordered and delivered while securing contracts. Pacific Drilling went from 16 employees in 2008 to more than 1,100 employees in 2013.

How to reach: Pacific Drilling, www.pacificdrilling.com

How Naomi Whittel took a trip to France and came home with the inspiration for a game-changing business idea

Naomi Whittel, CEO and founder, Reserveage Organics

Naomi Whittel, CEO and founder, Reserveage Organics

Emerging

AWARD RECIPIENT

Naomi Whittel
CEO and founder
Reserveage Organics

Naomi Whittel got the idea for Reserveage Organics while she was in the south of France contemplating the French paradox. It’s a belief many have that centers on findings showing the French have a relatively low rate of coronary heart disease despite a diet rich in saturated fats.

As she looked for clues, she began to research the benefits of daily consumption of red wine. This ultimately led her to develop exclusive relationships with seventh-generation organic vineyard farmers to purchase raw materials for a line of health and wellness products.

Whittel, the company’s CEO and founder, has built a sophisticated team of leaders and advisers to conduct research and get access to cutting-edge ingredients that can help people feel better and be healthier.

This team plays an integral role in the company’s operations, and leaders have the opportunity to make a difference on the front lines. When the company succeeds, Whittel wants her people to share in the glory.

One reason for this kind of culture is that Whittel knows what it’s like to have to fight for recognition. When she started the company, she was one of the few female CEOs in the health and wellness industry. She knew there would be challenges in marketing women, but also knew that it was crucial to the business. That was a driving factor in lining up female leadership to help guide her company.

Of course, there have been other challenges too. As more and more people become familiar with wellness products, the industry has become more scrutinized to ensure products are doing what they claim they can do. Whittel has a strong legal counsel on hand to advise her and to make sure that she never makes a false claim about one of Reserveage Organics’ products.

The result is a company that continues to grow and a culture that is thriving with new ideas and determination, limited only by the creativity of the people who work there.

How to reach: Reserveage Organics, www.reserveage.com

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Gulf Coast Area judges

Gregory D. Brenneman, chairman, CCMP Capital Advisors, LLC

Gregory D. Brenneman, chairman, CCMP Capital Advisors, LLC

Shelaghmichael Brown,board member, Weingarten Realty Investors

Shelaghmichael Brown,board member, Weingarten Realty Investors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doug J. Erwin, chairman and managing director,Redhouse Associates

Doug J. Erwin, chairman and managing director,Redhouse Associates

 

Joe R. Fowler, president, Stress Engineering Services, Inc.

Joe R. Fowler, president, Stress Engineering Services, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott W. Smith, CEO, Vanguard Natural Resources

Scott W. Smith, CEO, Vanguard Natural Resources

Cindy B. Taylor, CEO, Oil States International

Cindy B. Taylor, CEO, Oil States International

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard E. Zuschlag, CEO, Acadian Ambulance Service

Richard E. Zuschlag, CEO, Acadian Ambulance Service

 

How Crystal Culbertson finds a way to help her clients every time at Crystal Clear Technologies

Crystal Culbertson, CEO, Crystal Clear Technologies

Crystal Culbertson, CEO, Crystal Clear Technologies

Technology

FINALIST

Crystal Culbertson
CEO
Crystal Clear Technologies

Crystal Culbertson had launched a successful business, but there was something missing that would make Crystal Clear Technologies even better. Culbertson decided she needed to begin performing the services that she was selling in order to bring the consulting firm to its full potential.

So she and her husband, who was also the company’s president, brought services in house. It wasn’t easy and the Culbertsons had to raise some of the money for the firm by borrowing against their own property. But the risk paid off, despite a lot of sleepless nights.

CCT provides IT services to the military and government and advises companies seeking help through federal procurement policies. As you might expect when doing business in the government sector, there can be a lot of obstacles to work through. But Culbertson, the company’s CEO, has proven to be effective at making sense of it all and helping her business stay ahead of the curve.

She’s even shown a willingness to take a loss to help her customers when they really need it. It was March 2010 when CCT sent eight employees to Japan to install a secure broadband network at Kadena Air Base. The company had $1 million of supplies en route just as a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the island country.

Shipping delays ensued and additional time was needed to locate supplies. But word of the cooperation and willingness of her people to find a way to make it all work spread quickly to others and opened the doors to new projects opportunities for CCT.

The drive and determination Culbertson showed to be there for her clients when they needed her most have been key factors in the company’s success. The company continues to grow and has reached a point where potential buyers have approached Culbertson. But the strong commitment she has for her people has kept her from seriously considering any of these offers.

How to reach: Crystal Clear Technologies, www.crystalcleartec.com

How Mark Ellis continues to grow LINN Energy’s portfolio of long-life oil and natural gas assets

Mark Ellis, president and CEO, LINN Energy, LLC

Mark Ellis, president and CEO, LINN Energy, LLC

Exploration & Production

AWARD RECIPIENT

Mark Ellis
President and CEO
LINN Energy, LLC

As the president and CEO of LINN Energy LLC, an upstream exploration and production company, Mark Ellis demonstrates innovation in a unique business model, and his steadfast commitment to a strategy differentiates LINN from any other competitor in his industry.

Ellis’ guidance has been instrumental to LINN as it has grown from a handful of natural gas wells with a few employees into a top-15, publicly traded, multi-billion dollar E&P company employing more than 1,100 people in more than 24 offices across the U.S. Ellis employs a very diverse management team and relies on them to make quick and valuable decisions.

To avoid a big company mentality, he balances LINN’s entrepreneurial spirit and values consistent with a smaller company, while pushing for continued growth and expansion. In his view it’s a marriage of financial and operational.

A common theme in Ellis’ career has been acquiring smaller companies, which plays into the unique business model at LINN. Since inception, LINN has completed 58 acquisitions, including the most recent acquisition of Berry Petroleum. LINN’s acquisition program focuses on U.S. oil and natural gas basins that provide significant opportunities for future growth. The program also targets assets that are financially accretive and provide long-lived, high-quality production with relatively predictable decline curves and low-risk development opportunities.

Ellis’ strategy has allowed the company to grow proved reserves at an average of approximately 59 percent per year to 4,796 Bcfe in 2012 from 255 Bcfe in 2006.

LINN is dramatically different from its upstream peers in vision and business structure and is larger than all the rest put together. LINN has upheld a strategy of acquiring, developing and maximizing cash flow from a growing portfolio of long-life oil and natural gas assets. Ellis has been able to maintain LINN’s distribution stability through the recent credit crisis, while 23 percent of its competition has been forced to either reduce or suspend distributions.

How to reach: LINN Energy LLC, www.linnenergy.com

How Darron Anderson led Express Energy Services out of bankruptcy with a focus on a grander future

Darron Anderson, CEO,  Express Energy LLP

Darron Anderson, CEO,
Express Energy LLP

Energy Services

FINALIST

Darron Anderson
CEO
Express Energy, LLP

In late 2009, as Express Energy LLP was contemplating emerging from bankruptcy proceedings, Darron Anderson and his executives sat down to craft a five-year strategy for the firm.

With survival of the firm not a certainty, Anderson, CEO, had the foresight to move his leadership team beyond the then-present challenges and get them focused on a grander future. He recognized that the company needed a cultural shift to affect a dramatic and needed change.

A key driver of Express Energy’s renewed success has been the impact of Express University. The University is the company’s training facility, and is one of the biggest enablers of the firm’s strategy. In the planning stages for several years, the University opened in May 2012.

In an oilfield services business where success and failure is tied to the outcomes of the workforce, it is critical to attract, develop and retain top-performing client-servicing crews. New employees at Express attend classes for 10 days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to gain exposure to what they will face in the field.

Employees sleep in dormitories similar to what they will encounter in the field and never leave campus — in order to create a real-world experience for the recruits. Not just a training exercise, the recruits are exposed to Express senior leadership who will visit the campus to lead a workshop session or discuss a different aspect of the firm’s guiding principles.

The University serves as a filtering tool to weed out those not up to the demands of the job physically or otherwise. It immerses new employees in the company’s culture, core values and leading business practices. The ultimate goal of the University is to get the graduates to “Bleed Express Blue.”

The University has not only helped to improve Express’s safety record, but has delivered huge returns with new recruits, existing employees and customers.

How to reach: Express Energy LLP, www.eeslp.com

How Vanessa Valera Nolte and Diego Valera are shaking up the houseware industry at Holstein Housewares/Distrivalto

Vanessa Valera Nolte,  co-founder, Holstein Housewares/Distrivalto

Vanessa Valera Nolte,
co-founder, Holstein Housewares/Distrivalto

Family Business

FINALIST

Vanessa Valera Nolte
Diego Valera
co-founders
Holstein Housewares/Distrivalto

Most 20-something-year-olds are still trying to choose a career path, but not the Valera children. Vanessa Valera Nolte and Diego Valera are unlike others. The young duo launched Distrivalto, a kitchenware company, in 2007. Vanessa and Diego are co-founders of Distrivalto and its Holstein Housewares brand, which is adding light to the world of houseware items.

The brother-sister team believes in going to great lengths to do what’s best for consumers by providing high-quality products and services. Today, the brand Holstein Houseware is a clear reflection of Vanessa and Diego’s vision. The company is forward-thinking, family-owned, diversified and debt-free, which differentiates itself from other houseware companies.

Diego Valera, co-founder,Holstein Housewares/Distrivalto

Diego Valera, co-founder,Holstein Housewares/Distrivalto

Distrivalto has 21 employees which support the business and its clients. Due to the growth of business, the company is expanding its warehouse and moving into a new office in Miami and needs to hire more employees to support the growth of the business.

As young and emerging entrepreneurs in the houseware industry, Vanessa and Diego face a concerning challenge to prove that age is nothing but a number. They have grown up in the houseware industry as their father was the founder of Distrivalto Venezuela.

In 1998, Diego established a distribution company with his father and approached his sister to combine their talents and open a kitchenware line that would differentiate itself from brands like Oster and Kitchenaid and serve a different target market.

The houseware industry is saturated with traditional and conventional houseware products that are household names. Therefore, Vanessa and Diego identified a need for highly stylized and affordable houseware products that would separate themselves from their competitors. Holstein Hardware’s demand ignited following the International Home and Houseware show in Chicago, where they received outstanding press from various TV networks.

Holstein Houseware products are now sold in Walmart, Walgreens, Bed Bath and Beyond, HSN and many other big name retailers.

How to reach: Distrivalto, www.holsteinhousewares.com

 

How Michael Kosloske overcame tremendous adversity to build Health Insurance Innovations into an industry leader

Michael Kosloske, Chairman, president, CEO and founder, Health Insurance Innovations

Michael Kosloske, Chairman, president, CEO and founder, Health Insurance Innovations

Emerging

FINALIST

Michael Kosloske
Chairman, president, CEO and founder
Health Insurance Innovations

Michael was probably thinking about being in the insurance business before he even knew what insurance was. Born into the third generation of Kosloske insurance business owners, he had developed acumen for the industry at an early age.

After countless conversations around the dinner table, his dream was to one day take over his parents’ business. His plans continued to evolve as he attended Florida State University when he began to see the potential for technology to revolutionize insurance product distribution and sales.

His new plan was to create a scalable online platform to bring consumers, agents and carriers together to transact business.

This desire to create a new business model led him to sell the family business he had dreamed of owning and eventually start raising capital for what would be a new business, Health Insurance Innovations. But he never banked on having to deal with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Raising funds to start his company became a huge undertaking. Kosloske eventually scraped together the money he needed, but the tough times were not over.

There was barely enough money to cover payroll and it got to the point where his wife, having just delivered a baby, encouraged her husband to quickly hit the road and see what he could do to drum up more business.

The challenges continued but all that hard work finally began to pay off and the business started to boom. The entrepreneurial spirit that drove Kosloske and his wife to work so hard to make HII a success is firmly embedded in the company’s culture.

Kosloske encourages employees to come up with their own ideas about how to make the business function even better for its customers. It all leads to a company that continues to grow with employees who are proud to be key factors in the growth.

How to reach: Health Insurance Innovations, www.hiiquote.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Ken LaRoe turned vision into opportunity and changed lives through First Green Bank

Kenneth E. LaRoe, chairman and CEO, First Green Bank

Kenneth E. LaRoe, chairman and CEO, First Green Bank

Financial Services

FINALIST

Kenneth E. LaRoe
chairman and CEO
First Green Bank

Ken LaRoe thought he was done working. He had just sold Florida Choice Bank in 2006 and set out with his wife on a trip across the United States in a mini-motor home. As they traversed the country, LaRoe began reading a book his brother had given him.

The book was titled, “Let My People Go Surfing,” by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia.

Patagonia is a highly successful outdoor clothing and equipment company and Chouinard’s philosophical approach to business greatly influenced LaRoe. He began to believe that in addition to making a profit, a business could have a positive impact on society.

When LaRoe returned from his journey, he decided to put his newfound philosophy to work by creating First Green Bank. It’s not that he was a completely changed man. LaRoe had been an environmentalist his whole life and has always been a leader who cares about society and the world around him.

But armed with the knowledge he had gained reading Chouinard’s book, he was now energized to build a bank that took personalized customer service to another level.

He bought a space that had been used as a physical therapy facility and had it retrofitted with many green features to serve as First Green Bank’s first office and headquarters. The second branch office formerly was a restaurant and was retrofitted in a similar way to the first.

In November 2011, the bank’s chairman and CEO opened a new state-of-the-art headquarters in Mount Dora, Fla., that exceeds most if not all of the standards for energy efficiency in the United States.

It includes a butterfly roof, which funnels collected rainwater to a 75,000-gallon subterranean storm vault. The stored rainwater provides 100 percent of the water used to irrigate the landscaping, which was sustainably designed to utilize plants native to the Florida ecosystem.

LaRoe is confident First Green Bank can and will change attitudes about what is possible when it comes to being financially, socially and environmentally responsible.

How to reach: First Green Bank, www.firstgreenbank.com

Honoring the best of the best, 2013 Entrepreneur Of The Year Florida

Gregory Rosica,

Gregory Rosica, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Partner

For 27 years, Ernst & Young has championed the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women pursuing excellence in their businesses, their teams and their communities. Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program to recognize the passion of entrepreneurs and to build an influential and innovative community of peers.

We received more than 1,680 national entries for this year’s program from the country’s most deserving entrepreneurs. Their triumphs stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries and leaders.

In 25 US cities, we are gathering to toast their commitment to succeed. We applaud them for taking risks, breaking ground, opening new markets and fueling job growth.

Let’s celebrate their achievements, their perseverance and their unwavering commitment to winning in the marketplace.

Greg Rosica
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Program Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

 2013 Entrepreneur Of The Year Florida

Distribution & Manufacturing

AWARD RECIPIENT

R. Charles Murray
PPi Technologies Group

FINALIST

Manny Hernandez
George Hernandez Sr.
Solo Printing, Inc.

FINALIST

Crystal Morris
Gator Cases, Inc.

Emerging

AWARD RECIPIENT

Naomi Whittel
Reservage Optics

FINALIST

Michael J. Wright
William “Glenn” Durie
Andre Uribe
Power Grid Engineering, LLC 

FINALIST

Michael Kosloske
Health Insurance Innovations

Family Business

AWARD RECIPIENT

Wayne Johnson
Accuform Manufacturing Inc.

FINALIST

Vanessa Valera Nolte
Diego Valera
Holstein Housewares/Distrivalto

FINALIST

Richard Weissman
The Learning Experience

Financial Services

AWARD RECIPIENT

Trevor Burgess
C1 Bank

FINALIST

Marc Glazer
Business Financial Services

FINALIST

Kenneth E. LaRoe
First Green Bank

Health Care

AWARD RECIPIENT

Mark Montgomery
Axium Healthcare Pharmacy Inc.

FINALIST

Dr. Matt Leavitt
Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery

FINALIST

Dr. Stephen C. Vogt
BioPlus Pharmacy Services Inc.

Hospitality

AWARD RECIPIENT

John Kunkel
50 Eggs, Inc.

FINALIST

John Rivers
4R Restaurant Group

FINALIST

Rick Silva
Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc

Retail & Consumer Products

AWARD RECIPIENT

Norbert P. Donelly
Tervis

FINALIST

Mario Murgado
Brickell Motors

FINALIST

Matthew K. Smith
Shoes for Crews, LLC

Services

AWARD RECIPIENT

Philip Anson Jr.
STS Holdings, Inc.

FINALIST

David Hernandez
Alberto Daire
Liberty Power

FINALIST

Michael I. Kaufman
Kaufman Lynn Construction

Technology

AWARD RECIPIENT

Dan Doyle Jr.
DEXImaging

FINALIST

Crystal Culbertson
Crystal Clear Technologies

FINALIST

Paul Demirdjian
Jagged Peak

Judges

Gregory Celestan
Denise E. Dickins, Ph.D.
Michael K. Ferris
Jay Freeland
Mindy Grossman
Steven T. Halverson
Mark A. Llano
Darryl Shaw