When one of Katherine Caldwell’s closest friends was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, she began volunteering in the health care field.
Her mother had recently died after a lengthy illness, and while her mother was fully insured and had premium health care, her friend was not. That inequity in the health care system between the insured and uninsured turned into a passion for providing quality, compassionate health care to underserved populations in the Houston area.
As executive director of Legacy Community Health Services, she lives out that passion each day. In 2001, she faced potentially losing three-quarters of the agency’s annual budget due to federal budget cuts, but she pursued other funding streams. As a result, the organization became a federally qualified health center in 2004, which opened additional revenue streams through Medicaid and Medicare.
Caldwell has taken risks to ensure quality health care. In 2005, hundreds of Hurricane Katrina evacuees descended upon Houston, and without any funds to support the onrush, she ordered the clinic doors open over Labor Day weekend to provide them with health care services. After publicizing these efforts, Legacy received nearly $1 million in donations to help.
Most recently, she has initiated a strategic planning process for the next five years that involved everyone from the board to receptionists, allowing all employees to get involved in the future of Legacy and gain a stake in its success.
Outside of Legacy, Caldwell is an alumna of Leadership Houston, the American Leadership Forum and the Texas Lyceum. She currently serves on the board of directors of AIDS United, the Harris County Healthcare Alliance and Local Initiatives Support Corp., among other organizations.
How to reach: Legacy Community Health Services, (713) 830-3000 or www.legacycommunityhealth.org
Jerry Lasco used to fly planes for the U.S. Air Force and then Continental Airlines, but after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was furloughed and found himself out of work.
He saw this as an opportunity to shift gears. He and his wife enjoyed traveling internationally, and wine tasting had always been a part of that experience. So he took an hourly position at a Houston wine store, where he brushed up on the wine industry and fine-tuned his palette while planning his next move.
He saw the low-margin retail wine market and became drawn to the idea of a wine bar. In 2003, he and his wife invested all of their savings to open one of the first wine bars in Houston, The Tasting Room. It flourished and continues to set the standard for other wine bars. By 2006, he had opened two additional wine bars. He went through four expansions, and in early 2011 opened his flagship Tasting Room location with 14,000 square feet.
In 2008, he added MAX’s Wine Dive, a restaurant concept that combined gourmet comfort food and wines from around the world. Off-the-wall combinations such as fried chicken and champagne, or hot dogs with shiraz, made the concept a success.
Bon Appétit magazine named MAX’s Wine Dive concept one of the “Hot 10” wine bars in the country, and Texas Monthly named Lasco Enterprises as one of the “Best places to work in Texas.”
Lasco continues to push forward to grow his business. He now has more than 275 employees and is dedicated to offering a distinctive wine experience to customers -- excellent wine from around the world and delicious, approachable cuisine in a relaxed and enjoyable environment.
How to reach: Lasco Enterprises LLC, (713) 622-4003 or www.lascoenterprises.com
James E. “Jeb” Bashaw heard the call from President George W. Bush in 2001 and he responded. In response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the fear that it created, Bush asked people who had the means to start a business to do so and start hiring people. Bashaw took this request to heart and launched James E. Bashaw & Co. He quit his job at the time, forfeited a lot of money in deferred compensation and used his personal net worth to get started. But because Bashaw felt strongly about what he was doing, he didn’t let those things stand in his way.
When he founded it, the financial advisory firm had four employees. In 10 years, it has since grown to 50 employees in five offices across Texas.
One of Bashaw’s biggest priorities was to create a firm that put the customers first. He felt existing firms had gotten away from that philosophy and he wanted to bring it back with his business.
Bashaw, the firm’s CEO, believes in treating each client individually. Rather than offering pre-packaged solutions that have no personalization, he has his team work with clients to determine what their specific situation requires so that a solution can be found that ensures they get what they are looking for.
Bashaw promotes from within and looks for team members who want to grow in his organization, resulting in low turnover and high employee retention. Employees appreciate the collaborative nature of the business and the opportunity to be part of what’s happening.
To reinforce his desire to have good people in the company, Bashaw subscribes to the “No Jerk Rule.” Any employee who continues to be a “jerk” is asked to leave the firm.
How to reach: James E. Bashaw & Co., (713) 552-0505 or www.jamesebashaw.com
When David Walstad and Mike Sutton purchased controlling interest in General Plastics & Composites LP in 1997, they started to grow the business with oilfield service companies.
They began to actively market the company’s engineered composite materials to support the steady growth. They also shifted their market focus to supply turnkey assemblies rather than just individual components, allowing the company’s customers to place fewer purchase orders and simplify the supply chain.
GP&C’s growth rate has averaged 25 percent annually for more than 10 years. As a result, Walstad’s challenges have been continuous, intense and varied. He’s worked to develop a closer, deeper relationship with his customers to avoid just trying to convert metal parts to a composite material, so he has to jointly engineer products with his customers early in the design process. Another challenge has been figuring out when to allocate resources such as facilities, people and equipment to stay in front of the growth in revenue and profits and not allow GP&C’s service levels to deteriorate.
He also recognizes the need to innovate, which is critical to long-term growth, and he supports an R&D team whose short-term and long-term objectives are centered around next-generation materials solutions. That team reports directly to him, sending a clear message to the organization about the importance of R&D and eliminating communication breakdowns by providing clarity and accelerating decisions, while ensuring the work is in direct alignment with the strategic plan.
Under Walstad’s leadership and planning, GP&C is strategically positioned for 40 percent growth during the next five years.
How to reach: General Plastics & Composites LP, (713) 644-1449 or www.genplastics.com
Growing up in the Republic of Uzbekistan, Tatiana Golovina experienced firsthand the oppression of the former Soviet Union, corrupt business practices and limited opportunities.
She proved her work ethic early on and remembers, at 13, becoming frustrated with the poor-quality clothes available to her. Although she was young, she enrolled in seamstress school with women nearly three decades older than her and learned to make better clothes that would last for herself and her family.
Golovina was later accepted to the Polytechnic Institute of St. Petersburg. Her education, mastery of English and independent spirit inspired her to strike out on her own and form an import/export business with friends. She hit a lot of bumps in the road and was frustrated by the red tape and under-the-table deals necessary to do business in Russia, so in 1992, during the fall of the Soviet Union, she moved to London, determined to start over and make it on a level playing field.
She enrolled in business and accounting classes at the Imperial College of Business to learn Western accounting and business practices. This time, her business was a success, and in 1994, she moved to the United States to test her true abilities.
In 2003, she invested in a small company that sold collapsible intermediate bulk containers, as well as flexitanks. The company didn’t take off as she thought it would, but she saw potential in the flexitank portion of the business and bought the patent rights for that product and launched Environmental Packaging Technologies in 2006.
The company has continued to grow under her leadership as chairman, and she sees even more growth potential in the future.
How to reach: Environmental Packaging Technologies, (713) 961-2795 or www.eptpac.com
Dr. Toby Hamilton had spent years working in overburdened, overcrowded emergency departments, where wait times were long and patients’ frustrations were high. He realized he could either spend his career apologizing to patients and their families for the wait, or he could follow his dream.
He knew there had to be a better way to treat patients, so he founded Emerus Emergency Hospitals in 2004 with the idea that the emergency medicine system should be built around the patient and not around the hospital, and that care could be delivered efficiently.
To mitigate the financial risk, he brought on five partners, all of whom were emergency medicine specialist physicians who subscribed to his philosophy of top-notch care delivered quickly.
He saw the competition that he faced, and it annoyed him. Others took advantage of a license the state issued for free-standing emergency rooms and delivered care well below where he wanted it to be. He knew the standards for his hospitals would need to be far higher than those in the guidelines for free-standing ERs because his concept was more robust and needed to allow for inpatient beds to treat the types of cases he envisioned his business taking on.
And to further prove the difference to patients, in 2010, he launched a “15 minutes or it’s free” campaign that promised patients that they would be seen by a physician within 15 minutes of filling out their paperwork, or their care would be free.
His commitment to higher standards paid off. The hospitals have experienced tremendous growth over the past seven years and his competitors are attempting to replicate his initiatives in their own models. But while many try to imitate, none has succeeded because of how high those standards are.
How to reach: Emerus Emergency Hospitals, (281) 292-2450 or www.emerus.com
The word Contango isn’t found in any dictionary, yet it is used every day by natural gas and oil traders and NYMEX floor brokers.
Contango describes a market condition of expected rising prices. Expected declining prices are referred to as backwardated. Because Kenneth Peak, founder, chairman and CEO, takes prides in his company’s forward thinking, he thought Contango Oil & Gas Co. sounded better than Backwardated Oil & Gas Co.
Peak founded Contango, an independent natural gas and oil company, at the age of 54 using his life savings. He has built the business by outsourcing as much as possible and running the company with only a handful of employees. The continuing decline in computing power costs are revolutionizing business, lowering barriers to entry, leveling the competitive playing field between big and small companies and allowing talented people to freelance as never before.
Consolidation continues to dominate the natural gas and oil exploration industry, with companies rationalizing their assets, and downsizing their staffs. “Do more with less” is the industry’s credo, creating opportunity for Contango by increasing the pool of talented people, as well as making available prospects and producing assets that no longer fit the strategy of larger companies.
Peak believes what sets Contango apart from other companies is not what it does, but how it does it. The company has organized itself and set goals that are simple and clear: to build a profitable, independent natural gas and oil company.
Peak judges Contango like a competition, and the company is shooting for 10s for originality in its daily work. When Contango does a routine job that everybody in the business does, its goal is to do it better than anyone else. Peak strives for exceptional execution of any ordinary task, and if the business can score mostly 10s, it will foster a fun, exciting, and profitable company.
HOW TO REACH: Contango Oil & Gas Co., (713) 960-1901 or www.contango.com
In 2003, James A. Taylor and Arun Pasrija joined to co-found a company to address the fragmentation of services within the communications industry. They anticipated the convergence of information technology and telecommunications and positioned CHR Solutions Inc., a provider of technology solutions and business operations services, to meet the need.
In 2006, CHR and Global 1 Source Group merged to form an entity focused on rural telecom and energy companies. Taylor, who serves as chairman and CEO, and Pasrija, who serves as president and COO, have been growing the company through acquisitions ever since.
In 2009, CHR acquired Martin Group, a software provider, tripling its annual revenue and adding 275 employees. CHR’s national reach expanded to the Pacific Northwest when it acquired SaaS provider Western Datapro. And in 2010, the company acquired Inkrea Consulting, of Bangalore, India, firmly establishing the company as an global business.
In an industry that moves at break-neck speeds, where the latest technology is often dated by the time it reaches the marketplace, CHR remains steps ahead of the competition. With innovations such as cloud services and partnerships providing 4G wireless, it maintains a dynamic and flexible approach to adopting new solutions in anticipation of client needs.
Taylor and Pasrija continue to pursue CHR’s strategy of organic and acquisition growth. In addition, a great deal of emphasis is being put on developing and enhancing unique practices that bolster the customer experience. This includes monitoring and training programs for new and existing services, which increase client profitability through improved practices.
Today, this multifaceted powerhouse provides a robust and comprehensive portfolio of solutions and outsourcing services, with 10 offices and two network operating centers in six states and two countries.
HOW TO REACH: CHR Solutions Inc., (713) 351-5111 or www.chrsolutions.com
Chief R. Davis, owner, president and CEO of Chief Solutions Inc. and Chief Contractors Inc., has been in the sanitary engineering industry for more than 28 years.
In 1985, he started Chief Contractors Inc. to begin installation of sewer systems and related work. Davis founded Chief Solutions Inc in 1999 with a brand name that better fit the engineering and wastewater industry, and Chief Contractors remains an active company and hard assets holding company.
For more than 20 years, Davis has grown Chief Solutions into a successful and competitive business that keeps up with the latest technology and trends in the sanitary engineering industry and pre-engineering evaluation and inspection services, providing crucial engineering data for more than 108 million feet of storm and sanitary sewer lines. He holds several patents on inspection equipment and renewable energy patents in the United States and abroad and is always open to new ideas pertaining to the market and his business to help move the company to the next level.
His company has offices in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Indiana, with plans to expand into several more states in the near future. Davis has continued to provide his clients with the very best service and strives to complete all projects on time and with exceptional service.
Davis is a hard-working business leader who continues to look for growth opportunities and ways to put his company ahead of competition. In 2007 he was inducted into the National Hall of Fame of the National Association of Minority Contractors and in 2010 he was awarded the Minority Mentor of the Year Award by Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum.
HOW TO REACH: Chief Solutions Inc., (713) 202-8573 or www.chiefsolutionsinc.com
When Jack Fusco took the helm of Calpine Corp., it was just emerging from Chapter 11 reorganization. As he stepped in as president and CEO, he established a vision for the company to become the premier independent power company in the United States.
Since 1984, Calpine Corp. has been a leader in environmental stewardship while developing, constructing, owning and operating power plants that provide reliable generation. However, operating in deregulated wholesale markets posed challenges and led Calpine into Chapter 11 reorganization. When Fusco came on board in 2008, he began to realign the company to provide clean, reliable and efficient energy and energy-related products to customers while earning meaningful returns for shareholders.
As part of Calpine’s realignment, Fusco put a strong emphasis on fostering customer relationships. By understanding customers’ needs, Calpine has been able to provide innovative solutions, such as environmentally responsible products that help minimize greenhouse gas footprints, flexible products to adjust customer demands for energy supply and products that integrate with solar and wind resources.
The company not only tries to serve its customers the best it can, but it also creates an unparalleled culture of pride for employees. Fusco and the executive leadership team recognize that the company’s employees are its most valuable resource. To this end, he has created company values based on the ASPIRE acronym: accountability, safety, passion, integrity, respect and esprit de corps. Fusco has displayed his commitment to these values by demonstrating them in his daily actions.
Under Fusco’s leadership, the company has continued to pioneer best practices that represent sound, sustainable models for the industry. Going forward, Calpine stands well positioned to take advantage of economic recovery, as well as market and regulatory trends, and the company continues to look for opportunities to economically improve its asset base and benefit from organic growth investment opportunities.
HOW TO REACH: Calpine Corp., (713) 830-2000 or www.calpine.com