Innovators Featured

5:57am EDT September 1, 2005
David Keller, president and CEO, The Babcock & Wilcox Co.
Many companies would be hesitant to implement “great place to work” programs while in Chapter 11 reorganization, but David Keller, president and CEO of Barberton’s Babcock & Wilcox Co. (B&W), took this innovative step in 2000 in the midst of crisis.

B&W implemented a compressed workweek program, a cafeteria-style benefits program, benefits for part-time employees and improved vacation, profit-sharing and tuition reimbursement programs. It also enhanced its development programs, launched wellness programs and invested in workplace aesthetics.

Five years later, B&W benefits from turnover of less than 3 percent each year, compared to an industry average of 8 percent.

HOW TO REACH: The Babcock & Wilcox Co., (330) 753-4511 or http://www.babcock.com

Edward Douglas, president, Midnight Syndicate Soundtracks, a division of Entity Productions
If you’ve been to a haunted house recently, you’ve probably heard the dark orchestral movie-style instrumental music and sound effects created by Edward Douglas, president of Entity Productions and half of the band Midnight Syndicate (with fellow musician Gavin Goszka.)

Redefining the horror music genre, Chardon-based Midnight Syndicate has earned a worldwide following in the gothic music, Halloween, horror music, haunted attraction and gaming industries. With their music used in video games, as the first official soundtrack to the role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons” and at every major U.S. theme park, Midnight Syndicate is working on a soundtrack for an upcoming horror film, along with another CD for release in early 2007.

HOW TO REACH: Midnight Syndicate Soundtracks, (440) 286-1494 or http://www.midnightsyndicate.com

Brendan Ring, owner, Nighttown
Nighttown may be 40 years old, but the Cleveland Heights restaurant and jazz club is just hitting its stride. Owner Brendan Ring bought the club in 2001 and has been working to maintain its regular customers while attracting a younger, hipper crowd and growing revenue more than 200 percent since taking ownership.

With extensive artwork on the walls, an eclectic menu and wine list, and constant server training, Nighttown is becoming a destination restaurant.

Ring created Stephen’s Green, Nighttown’s outdoor seating area for 130, which keeps summertime business booming and is heated for year-round entertaining. Nighttown is also putting Cleveland on the musical map, and was named to DownBeat magazine’s list of “100 Great Jazz Clubs.”

HOW TO REACH: Nighttown, (216) 795-0550 or www.nighttowncleveland.com

Ellis Yan, president and CEO, Technical Consumer Products Inc.
When major players in the lighting industry gave up on a twisted tube design for a light bulb, Ellis Yan, president and CEO of Aurora’s Technical Consumer Products Inc. (TCP), jumped in, encouraging a corporate culture of innovation to find a way to make the product work.

Through persistent research and painstaking development of the labor-intensive manufacturing process, TCP’s engineers overcame the hurdle, and within five years, the company was established as the dominant supplier in the energy-efficient lighting marketplace.

Known for its willingness to develop or customize products to meet customers’ needs, TCP’s catalog includes more than 1,200 items. It also has a national network of more than 40 reps, 1,200 electrical distributors and a strategic partnership with The Home Depot.

HOW TO REACH: Technical Consumer Products Inc., (800) 324-1496 or http://www.tcpi.com

J.J. DiGeronimo, founder, TechStudents.net LLC
TechStudents.net was founded by J.J. DiGeronimo in 2003 as a way to connect entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits that have technology projects and limited budgets with tech-savvy college students who want real-world experience.

Today, her Cleveland-based company supports more than 2,100 hits a week. Technology students are registered from more than 200 colleges, universities and vocational schools nationwide. By harnessing these untapped resources, DeGeronimo helps bridge the gap between the technology work force of tomorrow and businesses in need of technology today.

Within the year, DiGeronimo expects to award the first TechStudents.net scholarship, interview more businesses and students, and host regional conferences that will bring together small businesses, tech students and technology suppliers.

HOW TO REACH: TechStudents.net LLC, (216) 570-5519 or http://www.techstudents.net