At the November Corporate Club breakfast, local business execs learned that one of Northeastern Ohio's highest-profile growth companies, Steris Corp., grew from the slenderest of roots.
Speaking on Election Day, Steris President Bill Sanford invited the audience to vote for candidates who support economic development, in order that Steris' success might be duplicated. The Mentor-based company, which manufacturers sterilization products for the health care market, got off the ground with a modest grant from the State of Ohio. "So from a $43,000 grant, we now have a company worth $2 billion," he said.
The company began just 11 years ago with five employees, and now has 4,500 people around the world. It went public in 1992, and last year purchased an older-line company several times its size, a strategy which initially met with hostility from Wall Street but which soon proved prescient.
Despite its size and success, Sanford says he battles institutional inertia by instilling his mantra about resisting the urge to operate like a large company. "We want to continue to act small, to grow big. If we continue to act like a bunch of small companies rather than one big one, we'll be successful," he said.
SBN is a sponsor of the Corporate Club breakfast. Because of the holidays,there is no December program. The next breakfast, featuring David Burner, chairman and CEO of BFGoodrich Co., will be Jan. 12. The events are held on Tuesday mornings, with breakfast at 7 a.m. and the speaker at 7:30. Cost is $25 per person.
Other dates and speakers:
- Feb. 9, 1999: Michael Salkind, president, Ohio Aerospace Institute.
- March 9, 1999: Robert Rawson, partner-in-charge, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue.
For more information and reservations, call Executive Caterers at Landerhaven, at (440) 449-0700.
Missing out on Newman's own
Though the Newman family has been doggedly successful in retailing through three generations, one might say it was a little less aggressive on the marketing front.
Reluctant to name-drop, even when it came to family members, then-owner Jim Newman personally settled on some artful language many years ago to describe the history of the company, then called Newman-Adler, as it related to his famous matinee-idol nephew, Paul. "...when Joe Newman started the store that was to become the great Newman-Stern Co. in 1915, Sam Brown was its vice president. Arthur Newman, the youngest sibling, was secretary-treasurer and, later on, father of a certain blue-eyed Hollywood star."
With Jim's three children, Chris, Gary and Donna, now overseeing what is known as Newman Outfitters, that reticence is still apparent. But it has softened. After all, the outdoor purveyor is marking a centennial of sorts this year, which it's using to launch the opening of a new store in Solon. It seemed the appropriate time to finally drop this extended-family reticence and pop the question.
So in late summer, when the movie idol came to Cleveland for an auto racing event, Chris Newman finally approached his cousin, asking him to consider appearing at a grand-opening or some other event.
For weeks, there was no word. Finally, as autumn rolled around, Chris knew that the cousinly silence meant there would be no such appearance. Which leaves sales and marketing experts to their idle conjecture: Just how many high-concept nylon tents or fisherman's sturdy hip boots might have flown off the shelves with an implied endorsement from one of the world's most famous set of baby blues?
Rolodexes aged like fine brandy
Investment banking is the ultimate relationship business, one in which the best contacts are built up over several generations.
If that's true, then Carleton, McCreary, Holmes & Co., the unit of KeyCorp's Key Capital Markets, is in pretty good shape. One of its principals, Doug Holmes, is the son of the late Allen Holmes, a legendary Cleveland power broker who ran Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue as managing partner between 1975 and 1984, and whose 1990 funeral was one of the best-attended in recent local memory.
Since being absorbed into KeyCorp, the investment-banking concern last year opened a Seattle office, which is overseen by Charles Clarke. His father, Charlie F., was once managing partner of Cleveland's second-largest law firm, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP.