Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:48

Problem solver

Of the numerous products patented by Byrne Medical Inc., founder and CEO David Byrne holds 12 of those patents. That’s because since before he even launched the company, he’s lived its mission of using innovation and creative thinking to create products that solve real client problems.

Byrne started the company in 1997 as a part-time business in his home. Having already founded his first entrepreneurial venture ? an endoscope repair company – he was working frequently with technicians to repair scopes. In talking to a technician, Byrne discovered that the water bottle connected to the scope for testing was never cleaned. Other technicians confirmed this, so Byrne began raising funds to produce the Endo SmartCap cleaning solution for small local repair businesses. By reinvesting initial revenue in the company, after two years he turned Byrne Medical into a full-time business.

Much of Byrne Medical’s expansion is the result of his commitment to both new business development and building a staff of dynamic thinkers. In addition to challenging himself to think outside the box, Byrne leads and encourages employees to think independently. His team spends most of its time on relationship building and educating the company’s customers ? including nurses and technicians ? on how to use its products to improve their current practices. Byrne makes it a priority to ensure that every customer’s needs are always met.

Byrne is also involved in building relationships with domestic and international partners, companies and communities. Solidifying these relationships has benefited Byrne Medical in many ways, such as expanding distribution opportunities and ensuring there are more new products in the pipeline for clients. In addition, as a forward-thinking leader, Byrne has developed a strong company infrastructure to support exponential growth and ensure that his company can react even faster to customer and industry needs.

How to reach: Byrne Medical Inc., (800) 490-9868 or www.byrnemedical.com

Published in Houston
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:46

Connecting the dots

Joel Bomgar founded his company while working part-time at a local technology integrator.

Still in college and holding down a part-time job, Bomgar realized that his on-site travel to troubleshoot customer requests wasn’t an efficient use of time or money. However, at the time, there was no solution on the market to help his clients remotely. Seeing the chance to improve efficiency, Bomgar developed his own remote help desk software to troubleshoot the customer’s computers using the Internet, and in 2003, he founded Bomgar Corp.

In the first 18 months, Bomgar relied solely on Google Ads to generate profit. By communicating the value of his help desk software to provide more efficient, cost-effective IT support options, he was able to spearhead key financing deals with venture capitalists. To date, Bomgar has generated a substantial amount of venture backing, which has been vital in Bomgar Corp.’s steady growth.

At 31 years old, Bomgar’s youthful energy translates directly into the culture he’s built at Bomgar Corp. Most of his employees are under the age of 40, and his Generation X leadership style is apparent in how he promotes the exploration of new technologies and innovation among his team members. His encouragement of employees to embrace the opportunities of new technology has helped further the company’s ability to provide clients with high-tech software solutions.

Bomgar’s age and unconventional business background -- he was home-schooled for most of his education -- have given him a unique business sensibility and entrepreneurial mindset that has helped him grow Bomgar Corp. into an enterprise with more than 5,000 customers worldwide. Some of the company’s current clients include MIT, Zappos, Humana, Carestream Health, CSC, The Ohio State University and the Salvation Army.

How to reach: Bomgar Corp., (601) 519-0123 or www.bomgar.com

Published in Houston
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:41

Strong track record

When John Hoffman founded Black Elk Energy LLC, he did so with an extensive background in the field. In previous roles, the founder, president and CEO of Black Elk Energy held leadership positions at Amoco, Gulf of Suez Petroleum, BP Americas and Stone Energy before founding Black Elk Energy, an independent oil and gas company.

Hoffman has vast exploration experience and knowledge and has demonstrated a track record of increasing reserves and production while lowering costs. He understands all facets of the energy industry and uses that knowledge to the benefit of the company.

He also acknowledges the expertise and experience of his team, which he regards highly.

He understands the benefits of teamwork and the success that team efforts foster, and as Black Elk grows operationally and financially, each employee feels the positive impact of that growth.

Hoffman holds himself to the highest standards and expects his staff to meet and exceed those standards of excellence. All potential employees meet with the person who would be their direct supervisor and primary teams during the interview process and then meet with Hoffman himself.

Utilizing his team of experts, Hoffman has led the company from sunset property development to a focus on properties in areas that meet certain investment criteria, while providing significant upside without unnecessary environmental impact. Black Elk’s team of highly skilled professionals leverages their knowledge toward the success of the business.

Precision, experience and skill allow Black Elk to find unrealized and underestimated value through development drilling, recompletions in existing wells, or optimized facility management with sights on clean-burning natural gas. Under the direction of Hoffman, Black Elk is well positioned for continued growth and to double in size in 2011. The focus of the company has evolved, but it still strives to maximize the life of all wells and fields.

HOW TO REACH: Black Elk Energy LLC, (281) 598-8600 or www.blackelkenergy.com

Published in Houston
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:37

Growth track

When C. Allen Bradley Jr. joined Amerisafe Inc. in 1994, he brought with him a strong legal background, an attention to detail and an understanding of the intricacies of insurance regulation and claims.

In other words, he was prepared for the challenge of managing the company’s contrarian business model, which involves taking on accounts that its competitors avoid. So when Amerisafe hit a period of crisis a few years later, it was Bradley who rose quickly through the management ranks to lead the company’s survival.

In 2001, Amerisafe became embroiled in a major lawsuit with reinsurers and its principal rating agency. The suit make-or-break for the company, and as CEO, Bradley oversaw Amerisafe’s re-entrenchment strategy, which included difficult and complex changes such as a reduction in the work force, withdrawal from unprofitable markets and a rewrite of the company’s book of business.

In addition, Bradley recognized that taking Amerisafe public was critical to keeping the company on track for long-term growth. So while leading his team through the process of re-entrenchment, he also had to keep the company at an A- Best rating to support a successful initial public offering. By executing the offering successfully, Amerisafe became a public company in 2005.

Bradley’s leadership in launching the company in a new direction positioned Amerisafe for increased capital and resources, improved technology and a reputable distribution network. Since restoring Amerisafe to profitability, he’s continued to look for opportunities to expand, emphasizing the application of technology to support its strategy of risk differentiation.

As a result, Amerisafe has achieved significant growth, becoming the leading monoline workers’ compensation carrier in the U.S. In 2009 and 2010, Amerisafe was ranked as one of the top 50 performing property and casualty insurance companies in the country by Ward’s Financial.

How to reach: Amerisafe Inc., (337) 463-9052 or www.amerisafe.com

Published in Houston
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:01

Ready for action

Kirk Headley is always preparing for disaster. As president of American Pollution Control Corp. (Ampol), being ready when opportunity strikes has been the key to success for his environmental business venture.

When Headley was hired to launch Ampol as a part of American Oilfield Divers (AOD) in 1993, he was charged with hiring the initial employees and purchasing  equipment. Though Ampol was awarded its first contract soon after, the company was left adrift when AOD’s new president and CEO chose to sell it off.

Although it was a risk, Headley decided to take control of Ampol himself and oversee its day-to-day management. He believed that by returning all profits to invest in the company’s environmental capabilities, such as acquiring two 110-foot utility vessels, the company could differentiate itself from its competitors and excel. With the vessels, Ampol became the only privately held company with assets to compete offshore. During this time, its response to environmental disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita set Ampol on course to generate increased revenue.

By preparing employees proactively for disaster scenarios, Headley ensures Ampol can respond quickly and effectively to unique crises. When other companies declined to respond to the anthrax attack in Washington, D.C., in 2001, Headley’s company was able to handle the dangerous job. In three years, the company completed the cleanup with zero accidents and injuries.

Because of its knowledgeable and skilled teams, Ampol was also ready when the BP oil spill occurred in 2010 and brought in revenue of more that $120 million for its services.

Headley continues to invest Ampol’s time and resources in developing new technology for its clients, including oil spill clean-up technologies and adding new green services and products.

How to reach: American Pollution Control Corp., (337) 365-7847 or www.ampol.net

Published in Houston
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:38

Get with the program

Before he started his career in technology, Rick Pleczko taught himself computer programming at night.

In the years he spent working at technology companies in various jobs, he learned the skills that would be invaluable in launching his own systems management software company, BBS Technologies. Since founding the company in 2004, Pleczko has served as its chairman, president and CEO.

Pleczko first recognized the opportunity to launch BBS in 2003, when he saw the challenges that many IT organizations faced in acquiring and deploying systems management software, which was expensive and complex technology. These organizations were spending millions of dollars to install, configure and deploy software, but Pleczko believed he could create a new generation of software to make it easier and faster to solve the same customer issues.

With this vision, Pleczko left his well-paying job at a software company and founded BBS with a staff of five, one product and a few initial customers. He also personally funded the seed money to get the business off the ground. That meant that BBS not only face the challenge of building products that could be deployed and operating in minutes but could also manage thousands of servers, he also had to find a way to raise capital. Yet with the drive of a talented team, BBS has overcome these obstacles and developed leading technologies in its industry. Today, the company employs hundreds of people and has grown from offering one product to dozens for its 9,000 customers.

As a hands-on CEO, Pleczko, also used his versatile IT background to leverage BBS’s risk-taking approach by taking advantage of the economic downturn to invest in new product development. Pleczko’s strategy paid off in positioning the company for the upturn, and in 2010, BBS posted record revenue.

How to reach: BBS Technologies, (713) 862-5250 or www.bbstech.com

Published in Houston

Joel Adelman knew what the skeptics were saying. He had heard what people thought of his plan to launch a business in the payroll funding industry for temporary staffing firms. But it only served to make him even more committed to make his vision a reality.

Adelman had done his research and he saw the lack of entrepreneurial energy in the industry. But he also saw profitability and opportunity. There was no dominant supplier and a fragmented pool of at least 8,000 prospective staffing firm customers.

Adelman proceeded cautiously but with a high level of determination. He wanted to build a business in Advance Payroll Funding Ltd. that was oriented around the partnership principle.

As CEO, he wanted Advance to grow, but he didn’t want it to do so at the expense of his clients. His motto of “Entrepreneurs serving entrepreneurs” emphasized this idea of doing what he could to make sure his clients were growing, too.

Another key to success was his ability to develop innovative solutions to help clients deal with their issues, including tax credit processing, insurance services and merger/acquisition support. He would also provide marketing services to assist clients with website development, social media campaigns and brand identity, allowing them to focus on their core activities of selling and recruiting.

Adelman knew he couldn’t do it alone, so he has focused on expanding his leadership team and putting people in positions to help continue growing the business. In 2010, he promoted his COO to president so he could stay focused on client growth.

By always keeping his eye on the future and the needs of his business, Adelman has positioned Advance to continue serving its clients at an exceedingly high level.

How to reach: Advance Payroll Funding Ltd., (216) 831-8900 or www.advancepayroll.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:01

A big chance

Andrew E. Harold Jr.

president

A. Harold and Associates LLC

All of Andrew E. Harold’s experiences as a trained musician and as a U.S. Navy helicopter pilot have proven instrumental in running A. Harold and Associates LLC.

Harold serves as president and CEO of the company, which provides technology, education, engineering, training and management services for both the public and private sector in the United States and abroad. He started the business in 2003 while keeping his day job, but by 2007, he finally was able to become self-employed full time. He knew the risks of leaving a well-paying, full-time job to fulfill his dream of owning his own business, especially with a wife and three children. In spite of the risks, he also knew that he had a lot of passion for having his own business and a drive that could make him succeed.

He earned an SBA certification early on, and his company immediately started winning large contracts from the U.S. Marine Corps, Jacksonville Airport Authority, Army Research Institute and Naval Surface Warfare Center. In the last few years, the company has also been able to earn contracting efforts involving a multiyear project to support Everglades restoration from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Harold places a large emphasis on building relationships with both large and small businesses, and he also focuses on strong communication. He recognizes that if he runs his business using these types of principles, it will bring him many new opportunities for the future.

Under Harold’s leadership, his big risk paid off, and it has been worth the challenges. The company has been ranked as one of America’s 500 fastest-growing companies in 2010 by Inc. magazine. It is also ranked as the No. 3 African-American run company in the U.S. with a three-year growth rate of 1,564 percent. The company is also ranked as the No. 29 company in the government services industry and No. 182 overall.

How to reach: A. Harold and Associates LLC, (904) 265-1940 or www.aha-llc.com

Published in Florida
Friday, 01 July 2011 14:01

Learning from failure

[caption id="attachment_32529" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Bob Castro, founder and president, Bankers Healthcare Group Inc."]

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Bob Castro was only a sophomore in high school, but he already had a pretty good sense of the path his life was going to follow. He was going to make his mark on the world by becoming an entrepreneur.

His first step toward meeting that goal was a bit unconventional. Castro dropped out of high school and asked his parents to take out a second mortgage on their home so that he could start a janitorial business. Unfortunately, the risk didn’t pay off and the business failed to catch on. After trying and failing with three more businesses, things weren’t looking good for this young businessman.

But rather than look back with regret at his decision to quit high school or at the failure of these businesses, Castro took the lessons he had learned to heart and used them to bolster his entrepreneurial skills for the next opportunity that presented itself.

In 2001, that opportunity was a business that would become Bankers Healthcare Group Inc. Castro, and his brother, Eric, met Albert Crawford at a networking event and out of that meeting, each decided to invest their limited capital in a new health care financing company.

There were more challenges to overcome, of course, but Castro had been a diligent learner. He saw the importance of putting your customers on a pedestal and finding employees who believe in the same values and work ethic that you do as a leader.

He rewarded his people for hard work and did what he could to foster a culture that was filled with positive energy and a collaborative spirit. He felt this type of environment would result in employees who were filled with self-motivation, self-assurance and a focus on doing the job the right way.

How to reach: Bankers Healthcare Group Inc., (866) 297-4664 or www.bhg-inc.com

Published in Florida
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:01

Going all in

[caption id="attachment_32533" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Bobby Harris, president and CEO, BlueGrace Logistics Group"]

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As the old saying goes — nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Four years ago, when his employer went out of business, with a wife and two small children at home, Bobby Harris took a huge risk and opened his own company in the freight and logistics industry. He pulled together all of his personal wealth, including all of the money from his 401(k) and invested it in all in starting BlueGrace Logistics Group, which he established in November 2007.

Harris, the company’s founder, president and CEO, pulled from his 18 years of experience in the transportation industry and designed software that allows his customers to quickly pick the fastest shipping routes as well as leverage their relationship with BlueGrace to get the best freight rates.

Harris strategically targeted smaller to medium-sized companies that did not have the resources to create their own transportation logistics department. It turned out to be a win-win situation for all parties, as Harris’ customers see immediate savings via outsourcing transportation and logistics needs, along with enjoying the benefits of BlueGrace’s negotiated rates with the carriers.

Harris has navigated the company’s expansion from the eight original employees to more than 70. The company is on track to meet its 2011 sales projections with double digit growth expected in 2012. BlueGrace currently has a portfolio of 2,500 customers across the U.S., but Harris believes it’s not even the tip of the iceberg regarding the industry’s potential.

Future growth is expected to include the international market, as well as the development of new service offerings that will be available for existing customers, including freight auditing services and bill payment services.

Through his own cunning strategic decisions along with a positive, winning and empowering culture, Harris has developed BlueGrace from his entrepreneurial dream into the company it is today.

How to reach: BlueGrace Logistics Group, (800) 697-4477 or www.mybluegrace.com

Published in Florida