Industrial and Distribution
Warren Young decided one day at age 50 to pursue an entrepreneurial path. His career had been full of diverse professional experiences. Over the years, he had learned that he was passionate about fixing problems and building businesses. He set off to look for a company to purchase and grow — and Acme Industries, Inc. came into view.
When Young purchased Acme from the founders of the company, he made the tough decision to remove members of management who did not share his vision. He did not stand for management members satisfied with the status quo and stagnant growth.
Rather, he believed in empowering and supporting his workforce and allowed for flexibility, which promotes innovation and loyalty.
Young leads his employees with the simple message, “You can do it.” He has faith and trust in his employees and in return, they respect and go the extra mile for Acme.
Without being overbearing, Young is a hands-on manager. He can describe each manufacturing process down to the smallest detail, and remains involved in warehouse operations and back-office support. He encourages his employees to learn from their mistakes and to accept failure as a possible outcome.
When Young purchased Acme, the company had two customers that accounted for 93 percent of its sales. He started to seek new customers to immediately diversify the sales portfolio, decrease risk and grow the business.
Within five years, he had developed relationships with additional clients and the 93 percent figure dropped to 66 percent. But after considering how they aligned with his direction, Young separated from the two large customers because they only valued low cost. He brought on an entire sales force to bring in new customers that aligned with Acme’s business model, a move that increased sales and margin.
How to reach: Acme Industries, Inc., www.acmeind.com
Michael Golden and Thaddeus Wong were top producers at a small brokerage firm when they took a leap of faith and founded their own company, the real estate firm @properties, after being dissatisfied with the service and support they received from their sponsoring broker.
The new company first started selling new construction, but expanded into existing home sales within the first few years. Over the next 12 years, Golden and Wong lead the four-person enterprise to become the largest real estate brokerage firm in Chicago and one of the 35 largest in the country — with much of the growth occurring during the recent housing market crisis.
The pair took a big financial risk to start @properties, being owed $1.5 million in commissions, which never were paid, by the previous firm. Foregoing a salary at first, Golden and Wong kept a tight budget and reinvested back into @properties. Their first payday finally came after two years when their initial client transitioned to, and completed, a high-rise development.
With that success in hand, and a strategy to expand despite the market crisis, Golden and Wong over the last five years has opened six new offices and more than doubled the number of Realtors from December 2006 to today.
The adoption of a conservative mentality through the expansion of the business has been a key factor to the company’s success. For instance, while many other real estate brokerage firms have extravagant offices, @properties has much simpler facilities. The company has invested the monies that could have been used for a more lavish office into employee resources.
Golden and Wong have studied opportunities for expansion, but want to grow strategically. They have and will continue to consider acquisitions but do not see an immediate need to acquire other firms, especially when they have been consistently drawing agents from other firms to work for @properties.
How to reach: @properties, www.atproperties.com
There is little argument that entrepreneurs are a unique breed in the business world.
They see opportunities where others do not. They take calculated risks that give other business leaders pause. And they refuse to accept failure as an option.
Each year, when Ernst & Young presents its U.S. Entrepreneur Of The Year program across 26 regions nationwide, it searches for the top entrepreneurs who are moving the needle. These are people leading organizations that are scalable, innovative and, in many cases, groundbreaking.
In a study of the 636 companies that were named finalists in the 2012 program, numerous commonalities came to light. The following are three that Ernst & Young identified.
Entrepreneurs embrace innovation.
Innovation comes from trying different things — often accepting failure as just another outcome of embracing change and new ideas. Successful entrepreneurs are agile and know it. They look for ways to attempt new ways of doing old things.
And while 21 percent of last year’s finalists were in the technology sector, that doesn’t mean innovation is the exclusive domain of those firms. In fact, those entrepreneurs who innovate products, services and solutions have been just as successful as technology firms when it comes to innovation and changing the way everyone looks at specific industry sectors.
When you refuse to accept the word “no” as an option, you’re on your way toward achieving successful results. Entrepreneurs understand that setbacks occur as part of the normal process of growth. They are nimble enough to change tactics, rebound quickly in the face of adversity, as well as redefine their strategy if they see it’s not going to work. Most important, entrepreneurs do not focus on the failures. They learn from the mistakes, adapt and then move on to try new things.
communicate vision and instill
passion within their teams.
Ask any entrepreneur where the ultimate key to his or her success lies, and he or she will point to his or her team of managers and employees. The entrepreneurs will further explain that by communicating their vision to this group, they’ve been able to inspire them and instill a sense of passion to achieve success. Savvy entrepreneurs recognize that when you get everyone rowing in the same direction, it’s hard to stop an organization’s progress. l
You can find more commonalities identified by Ernst & Young at www.ey.com. Nominations for this year’s program will be accepted through
late March/early April and can be downloaded by visiting www.ey.com/us/eoy.
The 636 companies that were finalists of the Ernst & Young U.S. Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Award defied the recession between 2009 and 2011. Here’s how:
- They employ in excess of 700,000 people.
- They experienced collective job growth of 30 percent compared with 1 percent in the overall U.S. economy.
- This translated to 150,000 new jobs during that time period, with the average finalist’s workforce at 1,060 people.
- Finalists experienced revenue growth of 48 percent compared with 6 percent for the average U.S. company.
- They generated $165 billion in revenue in 2011, a 26 percent jump from 2010.
- Median revenue per company was $44 million in 2011.
FINALIST - Technology
co-founder and CEO
After top executives at several companies told Will Fleming and his co-founder, Adam Rubenstein, that they saw a need in the future for having multilingual websites, they created MotionPoint Corp.
While there was a demand for multilingual websites, companies did not want the costly IT investment necessary to maintain mirror sites.
So Fleming went to work on ?nding a better solution. Initially when MotionPoint, a translation and globalization services company, was founded in 2000, its focus was to help online retailers provide more complete, accurate and timely product information to shoppers.
One of the most popular features of MotionPoint’s “virtual product brochures” was consumers’ ability to view product information in different languages.
MotionPoint soon learned that while retailers had a limited need for its virtual brochures, nearly every company with a diverse customer base was interested in making its website multilingual.
As co-founder and CEO of MotionPoint, Fleming listened to what people were asking for.
The company developed a suite of patent-protected technologies that make it quick and easy to add any language to any website — without any client IT development.
Companies can provide MotionPoint with the main language site and its software translates the website into multiple languages.
MotionPoint’s systems are capable of performing the same change to the translated sites without someone having to maintain a mirror site and sift through coding to isolate the change, resulting in a more cost-ef?cient option.
This approach continues to be a game-changer, eliminating the cost and complexity traditionally required by website translation.
MotionPoint’s ?rst multilingual website client debuted in Spanish in 2003. Fifteen more sites followed in 2004.
By 2007, MotionPoint was launching more than 100 websites every year. Today, MotionPoint services hundreds of clients, serving billions of multilingual Web pages each year.
HOW TO REACH: MotionPoint Corp., www.motionpoint.com
FINALIST - TECHNOLOGY
founder, president, CEO and CFO
Carol Craig has never let anything stand in the way of achieving her goals and leads by example.
After graduating from college and despite a fear of ?ying, Craig joined the U.S. Navy. She ?ew the P-3 Orion aircraft, which utilized the cockpit software she developed while working for the Department of Defense.
After leaving the Navy, she returned to software engineering and began working from her home as a consultant for government and commercial clients. She started Craig Technologies in her kitchen and began to grow the technical consulting business into a full-scale operation.
When Craig talks about the business and reasons behind its growth and success, she consistently refers to two key terms: situational awareness and unconventionality.
Situational awareness is a term pilots use to describe their state of mind while ?ying in which they are constantly processing data and anticipating changes in their surroundings.
Craig has instilled this belief in her employees, motivating them to seek out and look for information others may have missed and anticipate changes in the environment in order to place the company in a better position than the competition.
Craig also describes herself as an unconventional CEO.
When she started out, Craig was told she needed to develop a niche in the marketplace in terms of the product she was going to supply to the government or a speci?c service she would provide.
However, Craig did not want to put the company within a niche market. Instead, she insisted her company become diverse in many different areas of government contracting, and this broad range of services is what has allowed the company to thrive.
Craig Technologies supports many organizations in Brevard County, and Craig devotes countless hours in leadership positions with more than 20 organizations and makes generous ?nancial contributions.
HOW TO REACH: Craig Technologies, www.craigtechinc.com
AWARD RECIPIENT - TECHNOLOGY
founder and CEO
As the founder and CEO of 3Cinteractive, John Duffy looks for new technologies that create shifts in behavior, on the side of businesses as well as consumers. With 25 years of experience in communications and payment processing, he’s channeled this core entrepreneurial philosophy to grow 3Ci.
By creating a business plan that capitalized on the opportunity for growth and innovation in mobile communications, Duffy launched the company in 2005.
Initially he focused on enterprise-level clients, which used small mobile apps, ringtones and wallpapers.
However, under his leadership 3Ci has grown from a self-funded start-up into one of the nation’s fastestgrowing private businesses and the leading provider of enterprise mobile payment solutions for Fortune 1000 companies.
Today, Duffy’s primary focus at 3Ci is providing a strategic direction to guide the company’s future success in the fast-changing mobile industry.
The biggest obstacle the company has faced has been getting its mobile programs live on the many different wireless carriers available in the U.S. — especially because all have unique subscriber policies and standards.
To overcome this, Duffy has dedicated signi?cant people and resources to developing relationships with the various carriers.
This strategy has helped the company build a foundation to interface with a vast number of mobile carrier networks, including all four major mobile carriers that operate in the U.S.
Making 3Ci an expert in carrier processes and infrastructure has allowed the company to turn a barrier to entry into a competitive advantage for the business.
Since founding the company Duffy has always stayed committed to his people, living the philosophy, “Be loyal to people, not companies.”
As a result, the company has only lost one employee since its inception.
HOW TO REACH: 3Cinteractive, www.3cinteractive.com
FINALIST – Services
co-founder and CEO
David Clarke co-founded BGT Partners by envisioning the massive potential that the Internet had for interactive work.
As the company’s co- founder and CEO, Clarke’s pursuit of this vision has been critical in establishing the business as a leading global digital agency, whose clients include Fortune 1,000 companies and has 150 people as its employees nationwide today.
At BGT, Clarke wants his employees to “trade their job in for a career.” A committed entrepreneur, Clarke is fanatical about the retention and acquisition of talented people.
Through the near-impossible obstacles he’s faced in growing the business, including great ?nancial strain in the company’s initial years, Clarke has held himself and his team up to uncompromising standards of excellence.
But he also credits much of the company’s success to the “employee-centric” mentality he and his leadership have taken to cultivate in BGT’s team.
To make BGT a best place to work, Clarke has implemented numerous initiatives designed to create a fun, engaging and challenging employee culture.
For example, the company offers a unique training and education program called the BGT Plus Program, which provides cross-training, professional development and coaching for its employees.
BGT also has developed a Twitter page that allows team members to give their anonymous feedback, ensuring every employee has a voice in the direction of the business.
Other perks for employees include catered lunch every Friday, beer cart Fridays, BGT Palooza — a week of employee appreciation — and more. By investing in a happy culture, Clarke invests in the happy clients that continue to drive BGT’s growth.
In 2011, the company celebrated its 15th anniversary by moving its national headquarters into a custom-built, 30,000-square-foot building that will accommodate its growing staff.
HOW TO REACH: BGT Partners, www.bgtpartners.com
AWARD RECIPIENT – Services
Harvey L. Massey
chairman and CEO
Massey Services Inc.
After more than two successful decades in the pest control industry — including serving as the youngest vice president in the history of industry leader Orkin — Harvey L. Massey decided to take on a new challenge.
He leveraged everything he had to buy Walker Chemical and Extermination, cutting his salary in half in the hopes of turning the company around and growing it into something greater.
As chairman and CEO of the Orlando-based pest control company — now called Massey Services Inc. — he’s achieved that, fostering 27 years of consecutive growth.
Massey accomplished this by implementing immediate change upon purchasing the business. He set up budgeting criteria, created operations standards and established price increases.
Every trimester he budgets and con?gures the company from the bottom up. With the acquisition of another company in 2009, Middleton Pest Control, Massey Services has expanded beyond its original staff of 100 employees and four service centers to a staff of 1,300 employees and 350,000 customers.
Massey has seen his role within the company evolve into that of “coach.” He makes it a priority to listen to his associates and provide ideas, supporting his team and encouraging them to build long-term trusting relationships.
Toward this end, Massey Services employees routinely give out their cell phone numbers to clients with an invitation to call any time.
Other hallmarks of excellent customer service include a 24-hour response time, environmentally responsible pest control methods and detailed explanations of customized service plans, all conducted by expert technicians.
And Massey Services doesn’t keep its best practices within the company — Massey and senior leadership are frequent contributors to the National Pest Management Association as seminar leaders and panel members for industry conferences and summits.
HOW TO REACH: Massey Services Inc., www.masseyservices.com
FINALIST – Retail and Consumer Products
Jesse Stein has always been a self-made entrepreneur.
At age 6, he carried around a briefcase just like his businessman grandfather. At 10, he’d collect tips from serving drinks to party guests. And by 15, he mowed lawns, sold luggage and cold-called for the Dean Witter brokerage agency.
As an adult, his hunger for challenge and intuition for business prompted him to take on the Internet. He founded and sold several Internet-based ventures, which eventually led him to his current position — founder and nonexecutive chairman of SportsMemorabilia.com.
The website sells authentic sports memorabilia, autographs and signed gifts from MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL players.
Stein bought and developed the company from scratch, competing against multiple established competitors. Today, SportsMemorabilia.com is the largest retailer of authentic sports memorabilia, according to multiple sources.
The site features more than 400,000 products across 13 sports leagues. Stein views his ventures as a means to pursue his passion — giving back to the community.
He admires the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, and he strives to make an impact on the world in whatever ways he can.
He purchased a food truck and often gathers employees to pass out food in impoverished areas around Miami, aiming to instill and encourage a socially responsible mindset in his associates.
Prior to his work in Internet ventures, Stein worked and lived in Tokyo for six years.
He holds an MBA from The Wharton School, an M.A. in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute, and a B.A., with honors, in sociology and Asian studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
HOW TO REACH: SportsMemorabilia.com, www.SportsMemorabilia.com
AWARD RECIPIENT – Retail and Consumer Products
Shear Enterprises LLC
Rhonda Shear has continued to reinvent herself over the years, evolving from successful actress to traveling comedian to self-made businesswoman.
In 2003, she acted on the desire to own her own company and invested all she had to found St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Shear Enterprises LLC — an intimate apparel company.
She designed the ?rst eight products herself and connected with other start-up companies in the manufacturing industry that would work with her on small minimum orders and cash management.
Today, Shear Enterprises has grown from a staff of three to a staff of 25, but Shear still designs all of her products personally.
Aiming to make fun apparel ?attering for all body types, she pays particular attention to style, fabric, color and sizing. To further set her company apart, she uses the highest quality materials and takes risks to ?nd new ways to reach her customers.
Recently, Shear launched Rhonda Shear TV — covered on both Roku and Yahoo TV — to move beyond retail outlets and traditional shopping networks.
Taking risks to further differentiate, she also is launching a swimwear line, a fragrance line and a cosmetic line to complement her intimate apparel products this year.
Dedicated to her community, Shear has been involved in charities such as Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude’s and the American Cancer Society.
But her real passion lies with organizations focused on breast cancer survivors and breast cancer detection education.
In addition to donations of money and time, Shear is working on a bra that will accommodate the needs of women who’ve been through breast cancer surgery, soliciting the advice of medical professionals.
HOW TO REACH: Shear Enterprises LLC, www.rhondashear.com