At his company’s national convention last year, founder and CEO Ed Kaloust was unsure of how to handle the announcement for Medi-Weightloss Clinics’ employee of the year. The problem wasn’t identifying a worthy candidate, but narrowing the success stories down to just one person.

“We just had three spectacular employees,” says Kaloust, who has grown the weight loss company from start-up to $16.5 million in revenue in 2011.

So he decided to announce three winners.

In today’s economic environment, having too many good people is hardly a problem a CEO is worried about. In fact, Kaloust says having the right people in the organization to grow its unique business model — a medically supervised and managed weight-loss program where physicians help clients lose weight through a combination of medication and diet – is why the Tampa-based business was one of Inc.’s fastest growing privately held companies in 2011.

“One thing that I believe in is what I call my ‘PLU’ method,” Kaloust says. “I believe that we need People Like Us. So we are very, very selective in the people that we choose to do this. By doing that, we can then be very supportive in helping them develop their program.”

From the time he started the company, Kaloust has been resolute in sticking to his PLU philosophy, carefully evaluating any business partner before he brings them into the enterprise, even if it means growing more slowly.

“People are really having a tough time out there,” Kaloust says. “I believe that it’s critical to keep that in front of us and to understand that growing through quality PLUs, people like us, is much better than trying to build 15 or 20 of these a month.”

Through deliberate organic growth, Kaloust has expanded the company from its initial three employees to 55 employees and 90 franchisees today. But in addition to having a company built with PLUs, he says, a leader needs to be able to support them effectively.

“My focus has changed from building the infrastructure to leading the infrastructure,” Kaloust says.

You need to let your people know that you are available to help them achieve their goals today, tomorrow and in the future, by “over-servicing” them. For example, Kaloust assigns a franchise field consultant to every 12 to 14 franchisees to help handle all of the marketing and compliance issues at each location so that they don’t need to worry about it.

“You need to do everything you can to protect the people who are investing in your program,” Kaloust says.

“That is one of the keys to not only growth, but it’s very key right now. Every time we turn around there is a new problem out there. So you’ve got to be there in front of them and keep reminding them, and you’ve got to be there to support them.”

It’s also important for leaders to demonstrate confidence and stability that people can look to and be inspired by.

“We have to protect the system and protect the clinics that aren’t doing well,” he says. … “We do whatever we can to help them get though the economy right now.”

Kaloust shows this by letting his people know that there is no problem too small for his involvement and no interference if an employee or franchisee calls him or comes to him with an issue.

“I’m not afraid to reach down to the smallest issue that we have in the company,” he says. “If I can help, I want to do that.”

In addition to having formal support systems in place for employees, an open-door policy lets them know you care about their wellbeing.

“I just make the time,” he says. “It doesn’t always happen and I don’t have that now as much as I used to because we have built such a strong company, but I would get involved.”

With the right team and support in place, Kaloust says, success is just a matter of letting people do what they do best.

“I believe that adage that you can take away everything I have and give me back the people, and I’ll do it again,” he says.

How to reach: Medi-Weightloss Clinics, www.mediweightlossclinics.com or (877) 633-5677

Mirror image

Ed Kaloust spent 43 years in the securities and investments industry before founding Medi-Weightloss Clinics in 2004. He had never planned on being in the weight-loss business. In fact, he was set on retirement, soon to be heading off in a custom-built sailboat to fulfill his dreams of blue water sailing. But then he got hit with a market opportunity that he couldn’t say no to.

“I felt that we were in the perfect storm, because we had a country that had an overweight issue and had 70 percent of its population dealing with it,” says Kaloust, CEO of the company.

In addition to making sure you have a clear problem, a differentiating solution and the right people to execute it, Kaloust says having a partner can be a key factor in how well you capitalize on a new market opportunity.

In addition to being an asset through complementary talents, partnerships can be a mirror to help you reflect on and guide decisions about a company’s direction.

“It’s a lonely office when you are a CEO or a president,” Kaloust says. “Everybody is looking at you, and where do you look?”

By partnering with James Edlund, now president of the company, Kaloust was able to balance his financial background with Edlund’s pharmaceutical experience to grow Medi-Weightloss nationwide.

“There are a lot of people who say that partnerships don’t work,” Kaloust says. “That’s not true. Some partners don’t work, but other partners will help you go on to do bigger and better things than you can do on your own.”

How to reach: Medi-Weightloss Clinics, www.mediweightlossclinics.com or (877) 633-5677

Published in Florida

Last May, John Sensiba was elected to his second term as managing partner at Sensiba San Filippo LLP, a CPA firm with approximately 100 employees. Having been in the role for a little more than three years now, Sensiba has come a long way since he first transitioned from the practice side of the business to take the top spot.

“It has been a dramatic change,” he says.

One of the first lessons Sensiba learned was that he needed to be more confident in the strategic decisions he made and recommended to the firm. It was tempting to be overly participative in decision-making, but by taking a more laissez faire approach in everyday decisions about activities and investments, he realized he was freed to focus more on setting policy and strategy.

“In a professional services firm, the more that you involve the partners in those decisions, usually the better, because they are a bunch of smart people,” he says. “But sometimes you can do it to the point of distraction. Then you might wonder, ‘Why do you have a managing partner if the decisions are all made by a group?’”

While a leader should be able to make some decisions without too much input, Sensiba says you need a way to gain honest feedback on your choices. That becomes increasingly difficult the higher you get in an organization.

“Regardless of the fact that you know folks and you feel like you are approachable, you get different and filtered feedback when you are in the top position in an organization,” Sensiba says.

He now frequently looks outside of the organization to get critical feedback about his leadership and the business from other leaders.

“I learn a lot just talking to people who have been in different roles not within the profession but just in a variety of different businesses or nonprofit enterprises,” he says.

“It may not be the kind of praise that most of us would like to hear all of the time, but it can be really productive to hear things from somebody, and you change your behavior.”

That communication goes both ways. Sensiba found out the hard way that as a leader there is no such thing as overcommunication.

When he first took over as managing partner, he would very carefully craft communications and messages to the firm and for meetings only to have people approach him later on and be frustrated that they hadn’t received the information.

“I thought, ‘Ugh, can I go back to your e-mail for you and show you where I sent it to you?’” Sensiba says. “You get that frustration and sometimes that would come through in my communication.”

Sensiba knew it was damaging for the culture to show frustration with his people, but he admits it was a good lesson to learn early on. He shared his irritation with one of the other managing partners about how his efforts to communicate seemed to be futile.

“He said, ‘If for some reason they didn’t hear it, it’s still your fault,’” Sensiba says. “‘If you said it 10 times, maybe you need to say it 11, but the market is never wrong. Your people are never wrong.”

If people are not getting the message, you can’t blame them. As a leader you need to look at the way you are communicating and do something differently.

“You just cannot put the message out there enough,” Sensiba says.

That goes for communicating day-to-day info and strategy, but also communicating the everyday vision to inspire future leaders of your business. That has been the key to maintaining the firm’s 92 percent client-retention rate.

“My role is to continue to build leaders at every level within the firm — to convince people that you lead from the day you start in a business — you are a leader,” he says.

How to reach: Sensiba San Filippo LLP, www.ssfllp.com or (408) 286-7780

Relationship mechanics

For John Sensiba, retaining clients and generating new business at Sensiba San Filippo LLP is a matter of executing a simple and popular principle.

“It goes back to the golden rule,” says Sensiba, the firm’s managing partner. “Treat people the way you’d like to be treated.”

How does this apply to business? Sensiba gives the example of going to a mechanic to work on your car’s transmission, only to find out that it was your fuel injectors that needed work. Even though the mechanic might do an OK job, it’s not that person’s specialty.

“He might say, ‘You know what, it’s your fuel injection and I’ll work on that for you.’” Sensiba says.

“But I would have much more respect for that mechanic if he said, ‘It is your fuel injection and here is my business partner who does nothing but fuel injection, and he is the guy that you need to talk to.’”

While you may lose some business referring customers elsewhere, you earn their trust by showing them that you are looking out for their best interests.

“If you come to me with something that we don’t have the expertise for or we’re not passionate about it, we’ll tell you ‘Call my friend from X, Y and Z firm. They really focus on that. They will do a great job.’” Sensiba says. “Because that is what we would like people to do for us.

“Our growth is built on a very stable client base that tends to stay with us and refer us business. It’s a very good upward spiral when you do good things for people.”

How to reach: Sensiba San Filippo LLP, www.ssfllp.com or (408) 286-7780

Published in Northern California

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

SHARE Award

As part of the mission of Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co. LPA, employees maintain a strong commitment to helping communities ? those nearby and those in need around the world. And Managing Partner Allen J. Reis sees to it that employees are invited to step up to the plate.

WWR supports organizations such as the global agencies such as the March of Dimes and the United Way, and area groups including the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, YWCA Family Center, Marching Miles for Miracle Kids and Pelotonia. The company believes in the fact that we are all global citizens ? answering the call of those in distressed communities, helping others to help themselves and creating legacies of hope for future generations.

Corporatewide, WWR contributed nearly $90,000 directly to support numerous organizations last year. In addition, the company last year donated $50,000 to Pelotonia, a community of bike riders and volunteers working to support cancer research.

Reis inspires employees to get involved and make a difference. Rarely one to say no when asked for philanthropic support, he characteristically does much more than contribute financially. He lends his time, leadership and resources to a variety of charitable agencies.

For instance, as part of one local client’s meal hosting programs held by the YWCA Family Center, Reis volunteered his time and motivated other WWR employees to join in. He enjoyed the program and decided WWR should begin a similar one of its own. WWR now hosts meals every other month at the YWCA funded by employee “casual day” donations and staffed by volunteers from the local office staff.

When the Mid-Ohio Foodbank built a new facility near the firm’s Grove City office, Reis saw it as an opportunity to develop a community partnership between the food bank and WWR. Every month, 15 volunteers assist the food bank with sorting and packaging of food.

By leading by example, Reis sets himself as a model for employees through his commitment and dedication to community service, which then filters down throughout the company.

How to reach: Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co. LPA, (614) 228-7272 or www.weltman.com

Published in Columbus

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

The ViaQuest Foundation focuses on improving the lives of a wide array of people who have been diagnosed with developmental, behavioral or emotional disabilities. Since its founding in January 2005, the foundation has impacted the lives of 640 youth and adults. Currently, more than 80 adults with developmental or physical disabilities are employed at locations throughout Ohio thanks to the foundation’s program assistance.

The biggest initiative for the foundation is its vocational program that provides work opportunities for those diagnosed with various disabilities. The services provided to those individuals include job skills and job readiness training. However, the services don’t stop at training the individual. Job coaches work with employers to keep an eye on employee progress, working with the employer to set realistic expectations and help the employee become a successful and productive worker.

Another vital part of the foundation’s work centers on its recreational programs. The “Golf and Life Skills” program is sponsored in conjunction with the PGA, the USGA and the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. In the program, youth and young adults learn life skills through golf. The program is the only USGA- and PGA-founded golf program in the country targeted at those on the autism spectrum, and is also taught in secured juvenile detention centers using adaptive golf equipment.

In addition, ViaQuest facilitates the “Paws with a Purpose” program, which takes shelter and rescue dogs, and trains them to be service dogs. The dogs are then placed in residential treatment homes, group homes, vocational centers and with hospice caregivers to provide support and comfort for those receiving services.

The ViaQuest Foundation was established by management services company ViaQuest Inc., led by President and CEO Richard Johnson, which provides leadership and management oversight to various companies throughout the United States. The company currently operates in Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

How to reach: ViaQuest Inc., (800) 645-3267 or www.viaquestinc.com

Published in Columbus

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

It’s one thing to encourage your employees to be active in the community and give back to those who have less than you do. It’s quite another to give your employees two days off each year to go help those who need it, but that’s what happens at Safelite AutoGlass.

For one of those two days, employees can help any organization they like. On the other day, employees go as a team or a department and work together to give back. Much great work is done on these two days, but it doesn’t mean the other 363 days each year are forgotten.

Take Safelite’s efforts with Meals on Wheels for example. More than 40 Columbus-based associates donate their lunch hour and one paid volunteer hour each month to deliver food to seniors through the local Meals on Wheels Adopt-a-Route program. It takes about two hours to complete a route in pairs and President and CEO Tom Feeney says it makes a huge difference.

“I appreciate our associates’ support of this program because it saves LifeCare Alliance $12,000 per year, which is equivalent of the salary of a paid driver,” Feeney says. “More importantly, our volunteers might be the only smiling faces the Meals on Wheels clients see each day.”

Safelite is also a regular contributor to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, and this year, it added a special event to its support. The company held a hot dog sale and executive balloon toss that raised more than $3,200 for the food bank and gave employees a chance to pelt their favorite leader with a water balloon.

In addition to these causes, Safelite is part of the effort to ensure Columbus is prepared should disaster strike. The company is the lead sponsor for the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus’s Ready When the Time Comes program for 2011 and 2012.

How to reach: Safelite AutoGlass, (614) 210-9000 or www.safelite.com

Published in Columbus

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

Roush Honda owes its very existence to the people of Central Ohio. The company began when Edwin “Dubbs” Roush began selling Honda motorcycles out of the back of his Westerville, Ohio, hardware store in 1965, moving into the motorcycle outfit into its own location, next to the hardware store, in 1966.

Over the years, the fledgling business grew into a respected automotive dealer due to the loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising of its customers.

So it’s probably no surprise that Roush Honda, which is now led by President Jeffrey Brindley, places a strong emphasis on giving back to the community that gave Roush Honda its start almost half a century ago. The company is involved in multiple charity and community causes in Columbus and the surrounding communities.

Roush Honda’s donations to the communities it serves are immediate and life-changing for the people who benefit from the programs that the dealership supports. From donating a box truck that allows the Westerville Area Resource Ministry to deliver food, to an educator-mentor award recognizing teachers, to providing all factory-recommended service and maintenance for a handicapped-accessible van owned by a single mother whose daughter suffers from a rare disease, Roush Honda’s collective community efforts have touched many lives in countless ways.

The company donates an average of $55,000 per year to nearly 20 area organizations, including the Westerville City Schools, Olentangy Local Schools, Big Walnut Schools, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Opera Columbus, the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the Westerville Symphony and the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Roush’s staff members also give freely of their time, donating more than 100 hours to the Gahanna Rotary Club and to the Westerville Rotary Club and 300 hours to the Olentangy Youth Athletic Association.

How to reach: Roush Honda, (614) 882-1535 or www.roushhonda.com

Published in Columbus

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year

R. Gabe Reitter II’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio isn’t just a recent endeavor. It goes back 28 years to 1983 when he attended the organization’s Taste of Class for Kids as a guest. Inspired by the youth-mentoring organization’s mission, he became a member of the Taste of Class committee ? and boosted the net revenue from $12,000 to more than $150,000 over his seven years on the committee.

He was on the board of directors for five years, serving as president in 1994. In addition, he is a member of the BBBS Foundation Board, having been on since 1999.

Reitter’s business experience, including being president of Reitter Wall Systems, combined with his interest in philanthropy, helped the organization learn how to raise funds effectively. His passion and leadership have been instrumental in getting the community involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

He was responsible for leading a strategic planning process, which increased the size of the board and launched school-based mentoring as a growth strategy. Under this plan, students during the school day are matched to mentors. It eventually would become a growth model for the national organization. Nearly every Big Brothers Big Sisters program in the country today has a school-based model. In Columbus, Project Mentor is in place at all middle and high schools in the city schools, as well as in other districts in Central Ohio.

Reitter is serving as chairperson of the Camp Oty’Okwa Comprehensive Campaign and has been the project manager for the construction of a new dining hall at the year-round residential camp. More projects are planned for the future to which Reitter has given his commitment.

But his most significant contribution has been the people he has put in touch with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Many of the friends, business associates and others that he has introduced to the agency have become partners in his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Many as well have become important in the agency’s ability to progress and grow. In effect, he has recruited a new generation of leaders for the organization and Camp Oty’Okwa.

How to reach: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, (614) 839-2447 or www.bbbscentralohio.org

Published in Columbus

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

Ohio Christian University, led by president Mark Smith, is one of the fastest-growing universities in Ohio. Over the past six years, enrollment has grown from 400 to more than 2,400. With increased size comes increased clout in the community. And OCU strives to use its clout to give back to the community, through community and academic endeavors.

A community action day is among the community programs at OCU. The program centers on a dedicated day of service provided by the staff, faculty and students. Service programs include repair and maintenance assistance to neighboring citizens in need, along with community cleanup projects for the city of Circleville and Pickaway County and beautification projects for those who are unable to complete maintenance on their homes and property.

OCU also coordinates a Kids on Campus program, which is offered to the entire community and allows families to send their children to an educational summer program in a safe and Christian environment. The highly structured program allows OCU students to give back to the community by teaching, tutoring and facilitating athletic activities for community children.

On the academic side, OCU offers degrees in several areas of study that focus not just on academic development, but an increased emphasis on community service as well. The areas of study include an agri-business degree program and an emergency response/disaster recovery degree.

The agri-business degree program is specialized toward the development of the agricultural industry through opportunities to work with area farmers on a volunteer basis. Students serve the local farming community while receiving an education in their field of study.

The emergency response/disaster recovery degree program offers one of the rarest degrees in the nation ? an emergency response degree. As part of the program curriculum, students have the opportunity to serve the community during real-life disasters at no cost to the community. In addition, OCU is in the process of securing an emergency response vehicle that will broaden the volunteer response area within the community.

How to reach: Ohio Christian University, (877) 762-8669 or www.ohiochristian.edu

Published in Columbus

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

METTLER TOLEDO, a leading global supplier of precision instruments and services, cares about the tiniest details ? and it shows in its support of the United Way of Central Ohio, which awarded the company its highest honor, the Corporate Award of Excellence.

Ken Peters, head of North American Market Organizations, endorses the campaign in countless ways, from the establishment of new initiatives and goal setting to the implementation of innovative ways to encourage employees to contribute more volunteer time and financial donations.

Each year, campaign co-chairs meet with Peters to discuss all aspects of pledging and fundraising. He offers to support activities in any way possible. Among his efforts are many personal time commitments: engaging in face-to-face discussions with employees about United Way, communicating UW information in quarterly leadership calls, including UW content in monthly staff meetings, conducting at least one staff meeting each year at a UW agency, joining employees on volunteer visits and participating on a UW board.

Peters’ commitment to United Way inspires others to embrace his dedication. He encourages committee members to be creative about messaging and to embrace it with fresh eyes so that they can continue to promote the importance of their efforts to others in the company. Peters advocates a focus on impact areas of education, income, health and home.

The campaign also involves thanking those who donated. Most notably, Peters and his staff thank donors during regular quarterly meetings and in different venues, including leadership calls, “ride-along” visits and other face-to-face conversations.

METTLER TOLEDO employees also volunteer for causes such as Meals-on-Wheels, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Community Care Day, Faith Mission, Wendy’s Chili Open, Operation Buckeye and United Cerebral Palsy.

In addition to raising approximately $50,000 for the Japan earthquake, METTLER TOLEDO contributed almost $200,000 to United Way through its employee pledge process, company-match program and variety of fund-raising activities.

One more key philosophy that Peters employs is that he encourages employees to be advocates of United Way, not with any sense of pressure, but with a sense of personal commitment and dedication to something in which they believe.

How to reach: METTLER TOLEDO, (614) 438-4511 or www.mt.com

Published in Columbus

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award

for Community Service — Columbus

Executive Director of the Year

When you talk about Jane Scott and the Columbus Metropolitan Club, you can’t avoid talking about how much the organization has grown since she became executive director in 2003.

At that time, the club’s annual income was $243,474. Seven years later under Scott as executive director, the income was slightly greater than $774,000 ? a whopping 300 percent increase. In addition, corporate sponsorships went from $82,000 in 2003 to $222,000 in 2011; the number of corporation sponsors grew from 30 to more than 80. Membership increased from 600 to 800.

What is perhaps more important is that Scott has driven improvements in the club’s presence and reputation in the Columbus community, as measured by news media attention, the caliber of forum speakers and attendees. Scott has helped develop a recognizable and consistent brand. The organization regularly schedules well-known CEOs in the community, the Ohio governor, cabinet-level officials and even presidential candidates such as John McCain.

With the assistance of several club members who are with The Ohio State University, the CMC launched the Civic Engagement Class. This class is taught several times a year with more than 60 students attending the weekly forums.

Forums are now video recorded and photographed for use on the club’s website, greatly increasing the awareness of CMC. In addition, the videos are sold or provided to statewide television outlets such as the Ohio News Network.

The Columbus Metropolitan Club has adopted this premise as a main part of its mission: “the organization prides itself in being a credible source of information about current affairs — the organization to which Columbus citizens look to provide a platform for a discussion of social, political, economic and cultural issues of concern to the community.”

Jane Scott continues to fulfill that mission, even envisioning a for-credit class at one of the community’s colleges or universities where CMC forums would make up the major component in the curriculum.

How to reach: Columbus Metropolitan Club, (614) 464-3220 or www.columbusmetroclub.org

Published in Columbus