Beyond the basics Featured

6:09am EDT November 30, 2010

Five years ago, Lawrence Neibauer Jr. and his partner, Ralla Orlow-Wright were frustrated employees working for a company that delivered restaurant meals to corporate and residential clients.

In 2000, Larry co-launched CEO Deliveries Inc., thinking he and Ralla could do a better job. Within the first four years, they watched revenues grow from zero to more than $5 million. Today, CEO Deliveries has grown to staff more than 100 employees and works with more than 90 restaurant partners, including 17 Lettuce Entertain You restaurants.

The company, which produces a print and digital menu book of its restaurants that it distributes to clients, takes the orders via phone, fax and e-mail, and handles the delivery. Orders typically take one hour to fill, and the food is transported in insulated bags to maintain the proper temperatures.

Neibauer was named one of 2010 Smart Leader honorees by Smart Business and U.S. Bank. We asked him how he overcomes challenges, innovates and gives back.

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

Less than a year after we opened our doors, a well-funded, out-of-town company entered our market. Armed with a database (a significant asset in our industry) acquired from a failed dot.com, they opened their doors and immediately went after our top clients. Despite significant marketing investment on their part, we have through our unrelenting focus on our relationships and service, retained all of the clients we had when we opened our doors.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

In our industry, most companies use independent contractors to perform deliveries. When we opened, we committed to using employees. This gave us greater control of the last mile by allowing us to set very high standards of performance, appearance and professionalism. Utilizing employees also allows us to grant them access to the latest technology to improve their efficiency and earning potential.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

We are committed contributors to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and have contributed to the general fund of a local elementary school. Through our partnership with Trees for the Future, we make ongoing contributions to renewing our environment.

As a company, we bring revenue to over 100 local restaurant partners that would normally be outside their trading area. Our commitment to a local call center retains jobs that could be out sourced (out of the country in the case of our competitor).

How to reach: CEO Deliveries, http://www.ceodeliveries.com/

In October 2010, Smart Business and U.S. Bank recognized nine business leaders for their commitment to business excellence and the impact their organizations make on the regional community. Treated to a keynote address by Middleby Corp. Chairman and CEO Selim Bassoul, these nine leaders composed the honor roll:

Nancy Ruscheinski

Bill Skeens

Dave Brittsan

Amanda Lannert

Scott Morey

Joel Fruendt

Jason Beans

Jim Signorelli

Larry Neibauer