SBN Staff

Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:00

Honoring the best of the best

Jamie SimpsonFor more than 25 years, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who make our economy vibrant.

Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year program to recognize those with a passion for “thinking big” and to bring together visionaries and leaders to inspire each other and our communities. We have gathered here and in 25 other cities across the United States to honor all of our regional semi?nalists and welcome a new class of entrepreneurs into our Hall of Fame, recognizing their resilience, ingenuity and innovation.

We applaud them for overcoming challenges, inspiring others, opening new markets and, ultimately, fueling economic growth in Michigan and Northwest Ohio. Let’s celebrate their achievements, perseverance and tireless pursuit of business excellence.

Congratulations to all our 2012 Michigan & Northwest Ohio semi?nalists.

-- Jamie Simpson, Partner/Program Director, Entrepreneur of the Year, Ernst & Young

2012 Winners, Finalists and Semifinalists

Business Services

Bradley Oleshansky, BIG Communications LLC (Winner)

Donald A. Hicks, LLamasoft (Finalist)

Frederick Minturn, MSX International (Finalist)

Richard B. Sheridan, Menlo Innovations LLC (Finalist)

Sabah Ammouri, ATM of America Inc. (Semifinalist)

Lynn Mustazza, JAWOOD Business Process Solutions LLC (Semifinalist)

Mark Symonds, Plex Systems Inc. (Semifinalist)

Consumer Products

Ryan J. Blair , ViSalus Sciences (Winner)

Pam Turkin, Just Baked (Finalist)

Michael Eckele, Eckele Health & Nutrition (Finalist)

Joseph M. McClure, McClure’s Pickles (Semifinalist)

Mark Peters , Butterball Farms Inc. (Semifinalist)


Kevin and Carole Chase , Chase Plastic Services Inc. (Winner)

John Eldred, Midwest Tap LLC (Finalist)

Jameel M. Burkett , Burkett Restaurant Equipment (Semifinalist)

Charles Elliott, Lake Court Medical Supplies Inc. (Semifinalist)

Industrial Products

Douglas J. Grimm , Grede Holdings LLC (Winner)

Tanvir Arfi, SPX Service Solutions (Finalist)

Charles G. McClure, Meritor Inc. (Semifinalist)


Christopher J. O’Connor, Humanetics Innovative Solutions (Winner)

Shiela Kaye Rossmann, Paramount Precision Products Inc. (Winner)

Noel Cuellar, Primera Plastics Inc. (Finalist)

Wilbert W. Williams, Williams-Bayer Industries (Finalist)

Jonathan Paul DeWys , DeWys Manufacturing (Semifinalist)

John Sztykiel, Spartan Motors (Semifinalist)


Manoj Bhargava, Innovation Ventures LLC and Living Essentials LLC (Winner)


Dr. David Kent, Lifestyle Lift (Winner)

Dr. Christopher Newton , Emergency Physicians Medical Group PC (Finalist)

Jeffery S. Prough , Critical Signal Technologies Inc. (Finalist)

Jane E. McNamara, GreenPath Debt Solutions (Semifinalist)

Jason Teshuba, Mango Languages (Semifinalist)

Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Nancy Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System (Winner)

Staffing & Support Services

Claudine George, ICONMA LLC (Winner)

Tel K. Ganesan, Kyyba Inc. (Finalist)

Dianne Marsh and Bill Wagner, SRT Solutions Inc. (Semifinalist)

Marie Seipenko, Preferred Solutions Inc. (Semifinalist)

Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:00

Honoring the best of the best

Congratulations to all of the nominees, finalists and winners in the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest Area program. For more than 25 years, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who make our economy vibrant. This has never been truer than it is today. The energy and passion from these entrepreneurs is being felt in a dramatic fashion throughout the Midwest right now. It is great to see!

Ernst & Young is the world leader in advising, guiding and recognizing entrepreneurs and founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year® Program to recognize those with a passion for “thinking big” and to bring together visionaries and leaders to inspire each other and our communities. We have gathered here and in 25 other cities across the United States to honor all of our regional finalists and welcome a new class of entrepreneurs into our Hall of Fame, recognizing their resilience, ingenuity and innovation.

We applaud them for overcoming challenges, inspiring others, opening new markets and, ultimately, fueling economic growth in the Midwest Area. Let’s celebrate their achievements, perseverance and tireless pursuit of business excellence.

Join us in congratulating the leaders of today — those innovators that have achieved their American dream right here in the Midwest. Ernst & Young along with our sponsors continue to be inspired by the entrepreneurial success of our nominees. The following list of stories highlight those individuals who pursued and obtained the coveted distinction of an Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist. Ernst & Young is proud to recognize and honor the accomplishments of these finalists.

Congratulations to all of the Midwest Area Finalists from Ernst & Young on your continued success.

RANDALL L. TAVIERNE is the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest Area director, Midwest Area Strategic Growth Markets leader and a partner with Ernst & Young LLP. Reach him at (312) 879-3695 or or @RandallTavierne on Twitter.

2012 Honorees


Ryan Kunkel and Joe Reynolds, Red Frog


Bryan Johnson, Braintree Inc.

Elliot Weissbluth,




Jones, Accuity Inc.

John Pitzaferro, TransNational Bankcard



Mark Thierer, SXC Health Solutions


Dr. Stuart Bernsen, Chiro One

Wellness Centers

Parker Hinshaw, maxIT Healthcare



Storch, AAR Corp.

Steve Russell, Celadon Group Inc.


Rabine, The Rabine Group


John H. Weber, Remy International Inc.

Michael Werner, Gerber Plumbing



Wood, Sparton Corp.



Shekhawat, Fieldglass

Dr. Daphne Preuss, Chromatin Inc.


Maloney and Mike Evans, GrubHub Inc.

Dhiraj Rajaram, Mu



Glenn Lyon, The Finish Line Inc.


McEnery, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants


Schulman, Glentronics Inc.



Chalhoub, Heritage-Crystal Clean Inc.


Golden and Thaddeus Wong, @properties


Honomichl, Celergo



Small and Jack Blumenstein, Gogo LLC


Sieja, kCura Corp.


Maling and Geoff Cubitt, Roundarch Isobar

Last month I introduced the concept of a “dress rehearsal.” So here is where the dress rehearsal comes in. If you’re five years from retirement, begin to live now on that bottom-line number you identified to be your future retirement income need. Working within your budget and with your advisor will help you focus on what nonessential expenses need to be eliminated or adjusted prior to retirement. Statistics indicate that retirees will need 70 to 100 percent of their pre-retirement income during their retirement years. Rather than guess what that required income need is, let’s identify your future bottom-line monthly number now.

So as you begin to determine the actual monthly income need for your eventual retirement, you may stumble across insurance expenses for life, disability, long-term care and other insurance needs. What will you need to maintain and eliminate in retirement? Hopefully your children will be financially responsible and living on their own, minimizing your responsibility to cover their liabilities and commitments. However, if you have made assurances to your family to cover any of the shortfalls in their future, consider how these promises will affect your overall retirement income needs.

Having a conversation with your property and casualty agent is a good starting point to determine what coverage is needed on your homeowner’s, auto and excess liability exposure. Hopefully you have had the conversation with your wealth manager/life planner as to where you plan on retiring. Your residence location will definitely impact your decisions. Determining where you will live during retirement and what risks you will need to cover will give your agent an idea as to what proposals to prepare.

As you begin to address your future property and casualty insurance needs, you’ll need to evaluate the other insurances that you have previously budgeted during your earning years. Begin by reviewing the needs, purposes and future status of these policies by creating a spreadsheet of all of your life, disability, long-term care, personal, and business policies. Identify the date of issue, premium amount, length of coverage, portability, and the ability to maintain coverage, and its importance in your overall strategic estate plan.

Some of the policies, e.g. disability insurance, may terminate at a specific time or event (such as at age 65 or when you are no longer gainfully employed due to retirement, etc.). There may be some insurance policies that you will have no control over whether they continue  in your portfolio. Other policies, such as long-term care and life insurance, may provide you more flexibility with incorporating them into your new legacy plan. However, applying for any improvements into these policies may be dependent upon your current health and other factors. Once the spreadsheet is completed, identifying the various polices owned, your wealth manager can help you determine the relevance of each policy and how it fits in with your strategic estate and legacy plan.

With the increasing expenses of health care costs, a long-term care insurance policy should be a fundamental building block as you create the foundation for the preservation and transfer of your family legacy. As you receive proposals from your insurance agent, share this information with your wealth manager. Together you will determine which plan might best accomplish your overall strategic estate vision. Reviewing your LTC policy during this dress rehearsal phase pre-determines the budget allocation in your retirement expense projection.

Another way to protect, preserve, and/or provide heirs with liquidity of your legacy is through life insurance. What policies have you listed on your spreadsheet, and how are they owned? Are the policies personal or business? Which one(s) can you maintain or will you want to keep? Which ones are scheduled to terminate prior to or during your retirement? Remember, your health situation may limit your ability to purchase additional coverage or replace obsolescent contracts. So don’t cancel anything prematurely until you have your estate plan review with your wealth manager. Your discussion with your life planner will determine the policies or techniques to include in your strategic direction.

Initially, you are attempting to get a handle on your insurance expenses during this dress rehearsal phase. This in-depth discussion on estate planning and budgeting will now better prepare you for your discussion with your estate planning attorney to begin changes or amendments to your existing documents.

The focus of a wealth manager/life planner is to help you develop an ultimate legacy strategy. Once the vision is clear, then the techniques and products can more easily be assimilated to create your desired outcome. Many clients agree that they have been blessed with abundance, and they are concerned for the welfare of their children, grandchildren and other heirs. Long-term care insurance and life insurance can be great tools for wealth replacement or wealth preservation. Insurance may also perpetuate your commitment to your philanthropic institutions, ensuring your contributions continue assisting the non-profit(s) in accomplishing their mission. I am not advocating a one-size-fits all rule for all individuals and families. An objective discussion and analysis about insurance’s relevance to your family’s situation is necessary. Exploring your desires, passions, values and purpose drives the decisions as to whether insurances play a major or minor role in completing your strategic estate plan. Again, during this dress rehearsal phase, we are also attempting to determine the extent of your retirement income needs.

Make this dress rehearsal a powerful experience. You are preparing for the next phase of your life: a successful retirement.

Robert A. Valente, CFP®, AEP®, is CEO and Managing Member of RAV Financial Services LLC. He can be reached at

Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by RAV Financial Services LLC.

Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:25

Honoring the best of the best

For more than 25 years, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women pursuing innovation and entrepreneurial excellence in their businesses, their teams and their communities.

The hours, sweat and passion they’ve poured into their businesses and the triumphs they’ve achieved stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries, leaders and innovators. Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program to recognize this passion for excellence and to build an in?uential and innovative community of peers.

We have gathered here and in 25 other cities in the U.S. to welcome the men and women who are regional award recipients into our entrepreneurial Hall of Fame and to toast all of the ?nalists and their commitment to succeed. We applaud them for launching start-up companies, opening new markets and fueling job growth.

So let’s celebrate their achievements, their perseverance and their tireless pursuit of business excellence.

OSCAR SUAREZ is the Florida market leader for Ernst & Young LLP. Reach him at (305) 415-1305 or


Lifetime Achievement

William D. Morean, Timothy L. Main, Jabil (Winner)

Corporate Innovator

Jordan Zimmerman, Zimmerman Advertising (Winner)

Hannes Hunschofsky, HOERBIGER Corp. of America Inc. (Finalist)

Distribution and Manufacturing

Janna Ronert, Dr. Marc Ronert, Image Skincare (Winner)

R. Charles Murray, PPi Technologies Group (Finalist)

Amin Rahman Ramjee, BEL USA LLC, dba (Finalist)


Jorge A. Plasencia, Republica (Winner)

Bobby Harris, BlueGrace Logistics (Finalist)

Jose Prendes, (Finalist)

Financial Services

Eric R. Castro, Robert T. Castro, Albert C. Crawford, Bankers Healthcare Group Inc. (Winner)

T. John Jerger Jr., American Traditions Insurance Co. and Modern USA Insurance (Finalist)

David Miller, Michael Miller, Brightway Insurance (Finalist)

Health Care

Michael M. Early, Metropolitan Health Networks Inc. (Winner)

Richard L. Sanchez, Advantica (Finalist)

Shari Dingle Sandifer, Avant Healthcare Professionals (Finalist)

Real Estate and Construction

Charles Puccini, Bauer Foundation Corp. (Winner)

Michael I. Kaufman, Kaufman Lynn Construction (Finalist)

Craig Perry, Centerline Homes (Finalist)

Retail and Consumer Products

Rhonda Shear, Shear Enterprises LLC (Winner)

Oscar Horton, Sun State International Trucks LLC (Finalist)

Jesse Stein, (Finalist)


Harvey Massey, Massey Services Inc. (Winner)

David Clarke, BGT Partners (Finalist)

Steven A. MacDonald, myMatrixx (Finalist)


John Duffy, 3Cinteractive (Winner)

Carol Craig, Craig Technologies (Finalist)

Will Fleming, MotionPoint Corp. (Finalist)

Consumer Products & Services, Award Recipient

Earl Hesterberg knows cars. He’s worked in the automotive industry for 36 years, with experience as a manufacturer, independent distributor and retailer. He boasts three of the world’s biggest automobile companies — Ford, Toyota and Nissan — on his resume.

His experience has enabled him to significantly grow Houston-based Group 1 Automotive Inc. since joining the company as president and CEO in 2005. Group 1 is now the fourth-largest dealership group in the U.S. Today, the dealership owns and operates 111 automotive dealerships, with 143 franchises and 28 collision centers in the U.S. and the U.K.

Hesterberg’s first step in fostering success at Group 1 was implementing a restructuring. He transitioned all company stores to the same IT platform and implemented a standard chart of accounts to enable comparable evaluation of dealerships. He also consolidated and streamlined back-end operations. These efforts reduced overhead costs and improved efficiency for the dealership.

His next step to ensure company success was to transition the business to geographically and brand-mixed sales. Expecting the challenge to domestic automobile companies, Hesterberg cut poor-performing domestic stores and focused on strategic imports of alternative brands, such as Toyota, Honda, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Lexus. This padded the company against the 2008 automobile crisis involving the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler.

In addition to ensuring product security through brand variety, Hesterberg has added services to bring in additional sources of revenue including used vehicle sales, finance and insurance income and parts and service operations.

The company is now focusing on acquiring strong-performing domestic stores as the domestic automobile market is recovering, aiming to regain market share and better compete with import brands.

How to reach: Group 1 Automotive,

Business Services, Finalist

Creating a sustainable company is a top goal for any business leader, and for Charles Schugart, it’s no different. Yet for Schugart, leading his company to sustainable growth started with digging it out of a hole.

As president and CEO of U.S. Legal Support, Schugart spearheaded a 180-degree turnaround of the company, from its sales strategies to its service offerings, that has turned it into a leading provider of legal services. Coming into the company in 2004, Schugart knew that the business was in bad shape. If U.S. Legal Support was going to avoid bankruptcy, he’d need to roll up his sleeves and make some changes.

Learning the company’s business inside and out, Schugart helped develop a new business strategy and balance sheet that was restructured for profitability. The company was also missing key areas such as IT and human resources departments, infrastructure and strategic sales strategies, which he and his team built from scratch.

Getting the company back on track also meant focusing on finding and keeping the right people. To create a culture of teamwork and high expectations, Schugart put together his own management team of “go getters” to pursue the task of completely reinventing the company. Over the last eight years, he’s also taken steps to make U.S. Legal Support the employer of choice, from increasing community involvement to emphasizing a companywide mission to be the best in customer care.

By developing a comprehensive business strategy of aggressive growth and a culture where employees refuse to fail, Schugart has rebuilt a litigation support company with a fresh approach and clear vision for the future.

“When I look back at our operations in 2004, I can’t believe how far we’ve come,” he says.

How to reach: U.S. Legal Support,

Michael UckeleFinalist, Consumer Products

When Michael Uckele began negotiations to take over his family’s nutrition supplement business in 2005, it was a troubled time for the company. Uckele Health & Nutrition Inc. had just been hit with a large lawsuit settlement and sales had plummeted 50 percent to $1 million. Uckele negotiated a purchase of the company from his father and his uncle and set to work turning the company around.

Uckele put in a great deal of time and effort in the early stages of building up the company but eventually realized he could work 24 hours a day and never complete all the tasks needed to grow the company, so he began hiring a team to share the workload.

Among the new team members were an operations chief and a team of nutritionists to create the detailed formulas used in the company’s products. Uckele says the best advice he received was from one of his mentors: “Don’t overload your superstars.” Today, Uckele’s leadership style is a collaborative one. He recognizes that his forté is working with customers to develop concepts for products that will meet their needs. He works with his executive team to brainstorm the details of the products, and then they turn it over to their staff to carry out the production. Uckele de?nes success by how innovative his people are working together, how well the products they develop meet their customers’ needs and how happy his employees are.

Since Uckele took over the company, things have fallen into place. Uckele Health & Nutrition has quadrupled its staff, boosted its revenue and now ships its products to more than 40 countries worldwide.

HOW TO REACH: Uckele Health & Nutrition Inc.,

Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:01

Pam Turkin, Founder, Just Baked

Pam TurkinFinalist, Consumer Products

Even the most daring entrepreneurs wouldn’t consider the midst of a recession to be the best time to start a business, especially one in which they had no experience while using their entire retirement fund to do so. But that’s just what Pam Turkin did in 2009 when she launched Just Baked, a Livonia, Mich.-based cupcake bakery.

Without experience in the culinary arts, Turkin began learning everything there was to know about the baked goods industry by researching existing companies, studying numerous recipe books and reading Internet blogs. She spent her weekends trying out cupcake recipes, and a year later, she opened her ?rst bakery selling wholesale to local stores. After selling excess cupcakes from an order to the public resulted in a high return, Turkin quit her job in marketing and dived into the bakery full time, selling to the public.

Just Baked has since grown into a 12-store chain throughout metro Detroit. The company has investment to expand the franchise nationally and into approximately 10,000 grocery stores, already selling to The Kroger Co., Meijer Inc. and within Detroit Metro Airport.

Despite its rapid growth, Turkin has maintained a high level of personal involvement in her company. She often places orders, personally delivers cupcakes and even makes an effort to work a full day in the bakery so that she is familiar with both her product and her employees.

All of Just Baked’s cupcakes are made fresh daily using the highest-grade ingredients, with time put into presentation. The company offers more than 50 different ?avors of gourmet “jumbo” cupcakes, as well as “mini” cupcakes, homemade brownies, cookies, scones, granola, decorated layer cakes and more.

HOW TO REACH: Just Baked,

Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:01

Ryan J. Blair, CEO, ViSalus Sciences

Ryan J. BlairWinner, Consumer Products

Ryan Blair’s life is an open book, literally. His story of graduating from the life of a gang member to that of a millionaire is portrayed in The New York Times best-seller titled, “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I went from Gang Member to Millionaire Entrepreneur.”

Blair is the co-founder and CEO of ViSalus Sciences, a marketer and distributor of health and wellness products. He founded his ?rst company at the age of 21 and started and sold two others before he helped found ViSalus. The company employs thousands of people and has more than 60,000 distributors worldwide.

ViSalus grew quickly, and in 2008, it was sold to Blyth Inc. A few months later, the economic recession hit and ViSalus was left one month away from having to declare bankruptcy. Blair and his co-founders invested all of their savings to give ViSalus one more month of operating capital to test an idea they believed would save the company — the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge. In July 2009, the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge was launched with little response. The move was a total corporate transformation and a huge risk, which looked as though it would result in failure. However, Blair’s industry disruptive business model of acquiring customers by leveraging mobile and social technology started to gain traction. That year, the company’s revenue tripled, and in 2011, ViSalus saw sales increase sevenfold, and they haven’t slowed since.

The new business platform leveraged the primary strengths of network sales: momentum and social marketing. ViSalus continues to gain customers through a customer-?rst approach and a focus on customer acquisition and retention. In February 2012, the company added 113,000 new members and currently boasts an 8-to-1 customer-to-promoter ratio.

HOW TO REACH: ViSalus Sciences,

Business Services, Finalists

Antonio “Tony” Grijalva and John W. Allen experienced a lot before joining together to lead G&A Partners.

Grijalva arrived in the United States at 19 with $25 in his pocket and a desire to become a self-sufficient individual. Allen spent two years in South Korea on a mission trip for his church and returned to the U.S. with a passion to help minorities, especially those who wanted to start their own businesses.

Each got a chance to fulfill their dreams through G&A. The company evolved from a CPA firm to a professional employer organization that provides a variety of staffing and HR services to its clients.

Both men say the key to making it work is developing and maintaining a corporate culture that is centered on ethical and professional values. The culture has got to permeate through every level of the organization and be something that employees believe in.

The growth of G&A did not come without struggles. Grijalva, chairman and CEO, and Allen, president and COO, were not always confident enough in their instincts and that occasionally got them into trouble. They hung on too long to employees who couldn’t do the job and ended up hurting the organization.

But they learned from their mistakes and built the company into a success. They’ve stayed in touch with their people and work hard to make sure employees have what they need to do their jobs.

It’s a philosophy that makes for productive employees and happy clients and keeps the company poised for even more success in the future.

How to reach: G&A Partners,