When he was in high school, Rick Case already had a sense of his calling. He bought an old fixer-upper car, renovated it, and then sold it right out of his parent’s front yard. While Case may have only been 15 years old when he sold his first car, he already possessed the vision and passion that would drive him throughout his career in the automotive industry.
As owner of Rick Case Automotive Group, Case has leveraged his ability to think in new and innovative ways to transform his industry and create lucrative business opportunities where none had existed. From the time he opened his first used car dealership in Akron, Ohio, he had the vision to see what consumers would want in the future — import cars — and found a way to bring it to them.
To popularize import cars in the U.S. market, Case’s No. 1 goal was to gain the attention of Honda. As president and CEO of Rick Case Automotive Group, Case accomplished this by starting small and planning big. After launching the largest Honda motorcycle business in the U.S., it didn’t take long for Japanese automakers to see that Case was the real deal with his innovative approaches to marketing and selling. More and more customers were drawn in by his passion for import cars. Case soon convinced Toyota to let him open a dealership, and before long, he’d landed his dream of getting his first Honda auto franchise.
Though in the 1960s in 1970s there weren’t many Americans buying import cars, Case’s vision combined with his enthusiasm for his product helped his risks pay off. Next year, Rick Case Automotive Group will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a U.S. automotive retailer as the 31st largest dealer group in the U.S. Currently, Case and his wife Rita operate 16 Acura, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Honda, Smart and Kia dealerships in Florida, Georgia and Ohio.
How to reach: Rick Case Automotive Group, www.rickcase.com
James Patrick was the first of his family to attend college. He earned his way through Boston University on a full NCAA football scholarship where he graduated cum laude. He attended law school, and by age 32, he opened his own law firm in California and thus began his entrepreneurial journey.
While in California, Patrick met two people who had previously built successful companies that provided health care services. Patrick had no business experience much less health care business experience. However, he had personally observed patients suffering from chronic wounds and how ineffective the current health care delivery model was.
Patrick and his two new partners all recognized the dysfunctional state of wound care in America and agreed that a patient-focused, coordinated approach was needed to replace the current model. They decided to form National Healing Corp., a health care service provider that focused on best practices and outcome-driven care. Patrick, CEO of National Healing, even turned down an offer from Wal-Mart to lead as its international counsel so he could help form this new business.
Utilizing a best-practices approach, National Healing provides whatever therapy works best for the patient from an outcome standpoint and incorporates that into the clinical plan with a focus on coordination of care. From the original center in Florida, National Healing has grown to manage approximately 160 centers in 33 states and is still growing.
The company is the second-largest wound care management company in America. All of the company’s growth has been organic except for one small acquisition. No other company in the industry has grown organically as fast and as far as National Healing. More than 600,000 people have had their lives dramatically improved by advances in wound care pioneered by James Patrick and National Healing.
The vision for the company is to continue to expand its business by further developing its mail-order supply business, its community wound care service and continuing to build its core base with community hospitals.
HOW TO REACH: National Healing Corp., (888) 332-0202 or www.nationalhealing.com
When he first started building a customer base for MotionPoint Corp., Will Fleming was used to hearing a lot of “no’s,” mainly from companies he wanted as customers. Yet despite that initial exertion, as CEO of the company, Fleming has succeeded in turning many of those initial rejections into sales by always finding new ways to better serve customers’ needs and interests.
Fleming and his MotionPoint co-founder, Adam Rubenstein, created the company when they were looking for ways to capitalize on the potential of the Internet. The partners saw that it represented a way for business owners to reach large populations of people faster and simpler than other media. Based on that notion, they developed the idea to create online brochures in multiple languages so companies could reach a more diverse audience of consumers. The problem was, with such a new idea they had trouble translating any initial interest into an actual investment in the product.
But hearing companies say no just spurred Fleming on. After doing more research and talking to customers, he soon came up with a new focus for MotionPoint that took the previous idea a step further. Instead of developing online brochures, Fleming would help companies translate their actual Web pages into different languages. He patented new technologies to support the offering, which simplified the IT coding and development for business to also make in an affordable IT investment that would be easy to maintain. Today, with many customers and widespread success, Fleming continues to listen to his customers and to the market, ensuring his customers have website content that is always improving to meet their needs and needs of their consumers.
In a recent interview, Fleming said, “Negative feedback is often the strongest sign you are onto something.” By learning from that feedback, he continues to turn a “no” into a customer.
How to reach: MotionPoint Corp., (954) 421-0890 or www.motionpoint.com
MasTec Inc. is a telecommunications company originally named Church and Tower before Jose Mas’ father, Jorge, took the company public in 1994. Jorge owned what used to be a struggling company. He turned it around, took it public as MasTec Inc. and made it the largest Hispanic-owned business in the United States at the time.
Jose Mas got his start in the company as a high school student. He worked on a construction crew digging ditches and got a chance to acquaint himself with the ground-level employees. This experience helped him to understand at an early age the effect that his family’s business made in the lives of its employees. As Mas progressed in the company, he served throughout all aspects of the business and gained exposure to its customers, products and services.
After becoming CEO in 2007, Mas faced a company that was underachieving. He established three goals aimed at challenging and improving his company. He wanted to diversify the company’s customer base, penetrate new markets with sustainable growth opportunities and improve profit margins.
What Mas also found when he became CEO was that the company’s revenue composition consisted of approximately 90 percent telecommunication installations and 10 percent utilities construction. Mas recognized that the company’s landline installation business was becoming out of date and would threaten the sustainability of the company.
He decided to reinvent the telecommunications division with an emphasis on wireless telecommunications to take advantage of the 3G and 4G craze. The company began to construct cell phone towers for companies like Verizon and AT&T and grew its wireless telecommunications revenue.
Albeit during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, Mas has completely revamped his company’s business and improved its overall financial performance across industries. In just four years, the company has achieved his goals of diversification in service offerings and expansion into new markets. MasTec Inc. has earned the respect and trust of its 9,400 employees by providing them with a stable and profitable company.
HOW TO REACH: MasTec Inc., (305) 599-1800 or www.mastec.com
Every CEO has moments that define who they are as a leader. One of Neal Asbury’s moments came amid political upheaval in the Philippines, and it put the safety of him and his family in danger.
The founder and president of The Legacy Cos. was living in the Philippines in the mid-1980s during the People Power Revolution. He had recently starting his first company and had been awarded a contract to fabricate kitchens for McDonald’s restaurants opening in the Philippines. But his success hit a major roadblock when a CIA agent met with him and told him that communist insurgents were seeking out high-profile Americans for assassination attempts.
Asbury could have taken his wife and fled back to the safety of the United States. But he elected to stand his ground and continue to build his business in spite of the danger.
It was that experience more than any other that taught Asbury how to face his fears head-on and meet challenges.
It’s a mentality that he took to The Legacy Cos., a foodservice equipment manufacturer and distributor he founded after moving back to the U.S. in 2000. Asbury is very excited about his companies and the opportunities that are ahead. He is actively acquiring other companies and working on strategic alliances with well-known brands throughout the country and the world. Approximately half of his company’s revenue comes from the export business, with the other half from his domestic business. Asbury’s ability to grow a global business shows both the explosive growth of The Legacy Cos. domestically, as well as Asbury’s ability to adapt to unfamiliar environments.
Each of the companies under Asbury’s umbrella are unique, have distinct histories and exceptional quality standards. Asbury owns the intellectual property of each product, and his goal is to market to different people across various distribution channels.
How to reach: The Legacy Cos., (954) 202-7419 or www.thelegacycompanies.com
Two weeks after Sept. 11, Joseph Acebal and Richard Mikles opened their first Ideal Image location after both giving up successful chiropractic businesses. The laser hair removal industry was just starting. There was no proven model of success. But they believed that a business built on integrity and ingenuity could succeed.
Their business skills played an important role, along with their development of proprietary and industry-leading resources, in growing the business to 65 locations in 18 states since then. In fact, when many of their peers did not survive the recent economic downturn, Ideal Image Development Corp. tripled its size between 2008 and 2010, realized 20 percent same-store sales growth and continued to expand its team.
Until recently, two-thirds of the clinics were franchised. Today, Ideal Image owns two-thirds of the clinics, enabling it to more efficiently open new locations that are based on its proven business model.
Acebal and Mikles point to their team of talented and dedicated employees as an important element of their success. They have also created a culture of empowerment, accountability and teamwork that results in satisfied customers and employees. To provide for a direct line to management, Acebal and Mikles have created the Ideal Ethics program for employees to anonymously report any concerns.
One of their recent initiatives includes creating the International Aesthetic Laser Association as a regulatory body over the industry. There was no singular organization to oversee the industry, but thanks to the co-founders of Ideal Image, the IALA has brought together different industry participants and has actively worked to bring about national standards and regulations for laser hair removal.
The co-founders are a sponsor of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and provide funds to help priests build orphanages in Haiti and also give gift cards each Christmas to Tampa’s migrant workers.
How to reach: Ideal Image Development, (813) 286-8100 or www.idealimage.com
Mindy Grossman has shown entrepreneurial spirit time and time again throughout her career. Her ability to take risks was never more evident than when she left Nike for HSNi in 2006.
Grossman led Nike’s global apparel division during the same time HSN was a struggling company with limited branding, offering generic products to the public through a 24-hour television station and hard-sell techniques.
Many people questioned and doubted Grossman’s decision to take over as HSN’s eighth CEO in 10 years. She wasn’t very familiar with the company or the show, but that didn’t stop her. After watching HSN for only a few days, she began developing ideas that would transform and revolutionize the company.
She wasted no time in her plans to reinvent the business and immediately began a cultural and talent assessment and customer-base study on the company. She found a company operating at a subpar level that had stalled and was not reaching its potential customer base nor was it differentiating itself from competition.
One of her bold moves was to sell the company’s foreign operations, which were only mildly profitable and served as a distraction to what Grossman viewed as the company’s rebranding in the U.S. She then set out to revolutionize the company’s product mix. She wanted the sales of cookware to look like watching the Food Network and selling fashion to look like Style TV. Her relaunch also included getting household names to help move the products.
Her changes reinvented every minute of television coverage HSN had done, but she wasn’t finished. She also realized the potential to use technology to reach a broader customer base. The first phase was investing in HSN.com, which is now one of the top 10 most trafficked e-commerce sites.
Grossman’s changes to the company have brought about new life and it is clear that she has found a home at HSN. The company no longer settles for medium quality and is constantly looking for the next big idea and ways to expand.
HOW TO REACH: HSN Inc., (727) 872-1000 or www.hsni.com
Ron Roma is always a step ahead of the rest in his industry, especially when it comes to finding ways to better serve the interests of his customers and employees.
Even from his early days as a student in the pharmacy field, Roma saw the benefit of being able to make pharmacy benefit management processes more efficient, from creating and streamlining computer systems to cutting costs or translating paper transactions into electronic services. So after selling his first company, which created processing systems for pharmacy chains and the PBM industry, and taking off several years to travel the world, Roma never lost his passion for being an entrepreneur. When he was approached by one of the largest payers of workers’ compensation in the U.S., Roma soon was on his way to launching Healthesystems LLC as the first fully integrated workers’ compensation prescription solution. He knew he had more to do.
As a breakthrough pharmacy management program for the workers’ compensation industry, Healthesystems uses advanced technology to provide customized solutions for customers. It is also an industry innovator as the first PBM company designed specifically for the worker’s compensation industry. Under Roma’s leadership, Healthesystems has grown to provide pharmacy services to more than 1.5 million injured workers.
When the economy had many health care companies downsizing, Roma knew that his people were the key to his company’s continued success. During this time, he’s actually doubled Healthesystems’ payroll, hiring 80 employees in 2009. Starting out with seven employees in 2002, the company now employs 300 people. With these additional employees he’s ensured that Healthesystems has the flexibility to take on the challenges ahead and keep providing top service to customers. With the goal of meeting both the needs of his customers and the career objectives of his employees, Roma continues to improve his company and industry from the inside and out.
How to reach: Healthesystems LLC, (800) 921-1880 or www.healthesystems.com
Michael D. Means could see the potential that would one day be Health First, even if others around him could not. He had traveled the country and studied how other health care systems went about pursuing consolidation, and Means felt like it could work in Brevard County.
As a result, he merged Holmes Regional Medical Center, where Means served as president, with Cape Canaveral Hospital and Palm Bay Hospital to form the nonprofit health care network.
Once the organization was formed, Means and his team set out to obtain HMO licensing and form a health plan. While many physicians were initially uncertain about the newly formed health care plan, Means was devoted to it and that shone through and brought opponents over to his side.
Means wanted to bring the hospitals together to share resources, cut costs and bring cutting-edge technology and talent to the area for the benefit of the residents of Brevard County. He wanted Health First to be a one-stop shop for all the health care needs of the region. He took the passion that he felt for the community and was able to transfer that energy into Health First.
Another aspect of Health First that has helped the community is the Pro-Health & Fitness Centers that have opened throughout the county and drew 1.38 million visits in 2010. Membership is free for Health First Health Plan members as well as for Health First employees.
In this case, too, Means went against the grain. Fitness centers are often not profitable, but Means and his team recognized the long-term value in promoting overall wellness. The result is fewer services and fewer claims because people stay healthier.
Means remains driven to making Health First an even more valued member of the community. Through his leadership, the company is a leader in contributions and participation in philanthropic efforts.
How to reach: Health First, (321) 434-4300 or www.health-first.org
As an entrepreneur looking for the next fresh idea to set his business apart, Zalmi Duchman decided to take the concept literally.
The inspiration behind The Fresh Diet started when Duchman’s old roommate called to suggest they team up to launch a kosher meal delivery service. In researching meal delivery services, Duchman saw the opportunity to take the idea of diet food delivery to another level in a way that would break open a whole new market with no direct competition. The end result was The Fresh Diet, a meal delivery service with fresh, not frozen, calorie-measured meals delivered to customers every day. Yet to get his idea off the ground meant a lot of legwork and time commitment on Duchman’s part, especially because there was nothing quite like The Fresh Diet out in the marketplace. Providing fresh meals every day took careful planning and coordination to carry out.
Yet by taking aggressive action to control costs and expenses, utilize marketing and acquiring other small competitors, Duchman grew operations organically from coast to coast and internationally to Montreal and Toronto. Since Duchman signed up his first three clients for his fresh food daily meal delivery service in 2006, he’s expanded his business across the United States and into Canada, with customers in major cities nationwide. From 2009 to 2010, The Fresh Diet generated a 145 percent increase in annual sales with a 200 percent increase projected for this year.
With few established competitors, Duchman has leveraged his knowledge of his concept even further by planning his marketing to uniquely target not just weight-conscious dieters but also consumers who embrace a healthier lifestyle of eating fresh food. This “lifestyle” wellness market isn’t targeted historically through marketing, but because of Duchman’s marketing strategy, today it makes up approximately 50 percent of The Fresh Diet’s clientele.
How to reach: The Fresh Diet, (866) 373-7450 or www.thefreshdiet.com