For 27 years, Ernst & Young has championed the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women pursuing excellence in their businesses, teams and communities.

Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program to recognize the passion of entrepreneurs and to build an influential and innovative community of peers. We received more than 1,680 national entries for this year’s program, from the country's most deserving entrepreneurs. Their triumphs stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries and leaders.

Entrepreneurs change the world and make it a better place to work and live. We honor them for their fortitude and resilience, and we celebrate their ability to forge new markets, navigate uncharted territory and fuel economic growth.

We gather here in Northeast Ohio and in 24 other cities across the U.S. to honor all of the finalists and welcome the new class of entrepreneurs into our Hall of Fame.

Congratulations to all of the 2013 Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and winners. We applaud them all for their unyielding pursuit of business excellence and we are honored to share their inspiring stories with you.

 

Whitt Butler, advisory partner, Ernst & Young;  program director, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Northeast Ohio.

 

Here are the 2013 Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year winners and finalists:

Distribution and Manufacturing

Winner – Gary M. Schuster, president and CEO, OMCO

Finalist – Scott T. Becker, president and CEO, Chromaflo Technologies Corp.

Finalist – Jeffery L. Rand, owner and president, HB Chemical Corporation

Finalist – James R. Keene, president and owner, Keene Building Products

Finalist – Michael K. Baach, CEO, The Philpott Rubber Company

 

Education and Non-profit

Winner – Carol L. Klimas, president, Lake Ridge Academy

Finalist – William Scott Duennes, executive director, Cornucopia, Inc.

 

Financial Services

Winner – Jeremy E. Sopko, CEO, Nations Lending Corporation

Finalist – Brendan Anderson and Jeffery Kadlic, co-founders and co-managing partners, Evolution Capital Partners, LLC

Finalist – Jeffery Concepcion, founder and CEO, Stratos Wealth Partners, Ltd.

Finalist – Ralph M. Della Ratta, managing director, Western Reserve Partners, LLC

 

Health Care and Pharmaceutical Services

Winner – Drew C. Forhan, founder and CEO, ForTec Medical

Finalist – Dale M. Wollschleger, president, ExactCare Pharmacy

 

Professional Services

Winner – Joel Adelman, founder and CEO, The Advance Group of Companies

Finalist – Scot Lowry, president and CEO, Fathom

Finalist – Alan Jaffa, CEO, Safeguard Properties Management, LLC

 

Public Company

Winner – Michael F. Hilton, president and CEO, Nordson Corporation

Finalist – Walter M. Rosebrough – president and CEO, STERIS Corporation

 

Retail and Consumer Products

Winner – Jimmy Zeilinger, founder and president, Brand Castle, LLC

Finalist – James D. Braeunig, president and CEO, Ball, Bounce & Sport, Inc.

Finalist – Kimberly Martin and Sarah Forrer, co-owners, Main Street Cupcakes

 

Technology

Winner – Kris Snyder, CEO, Vox Mobile, Inc.

Finalist – Yuval Brisker, co-founder, president and CEO, TOA Technologies

Finalist – David Levine, president, Wireless Environment, LLC

 

Family Business Award

Winner – Marc Brenner, president and CEO, Ohio Technical College

Finalist – Marty Kanan, president and CEO, King Nut Companies

Finalist – Scott J. Balogh, president and CEO, and Steven Balogh, vice president, Mar-Bal, Inc.

 

Published in Cleveland
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Honoring the best of the best

 

For 27 years, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who have followed their dreams to pursue innovation and entrepreneurial excellence, changing the lives of countless others by building their businesses and giving back to their communities.

The passion they’ve poured into their businesses and the triumphs they’ve achieved stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries, leaders and innovators. Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year program to recognize these dynamic leaders and to build an influential and innovative community of entrepreneurs.

We have gathered here in Greater Los Angeles and in 25 other cities across the U.S. to applaud these entrepreneurs for taking the road less traveled, and welcome the regional award recipients into our entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.

Congratulations on your achievements! Ernst & Young looks forward to helping you find new and innovative ways to continue to grow your business and accomplish your goals.

Brian Ring is a partner and program director for Entrepreneur Of The Year, Greater Los Angeles.

April Spencer is a partner and program director for Entrepreneur Of The Year, Greater Los Angeles.

 

Business Services

Winner

Janice Bryant Howroyd, The Act 1 Group, Inc.

Finalists

Jamey Edwards, Emergent Medical Associates

Jessica Firestone, Tempest Telecom Solutions, LLC

Consumer Services

Winner

Clarence Daniels Jr., Concession Management Services, Inc.

Finalists

Mel Elias, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Rick Stollmeyer, Mindbody, Inc.

Emerging

Winner

Jeff Stibel, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

Finalists

Tim Cadogan, OpenX

Jeff Green, The Trade Desk

Financial Services

Winner

Robert V. Sinnott, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors

Finalists

Mike Rosenberg, James B. Freedman and Ed Bagdasarian, Intrepid Investment Bankers, LLC

Loren Bendele, Savings.com

Media

Winner

Moctesuma Esparza, Maya Cinemas North America, Inc.

Finalists

Martha de la Torre and Joe Badame, El Clasificado

Walter Driver, Scopely, Inc.

Technology

Winner

Sam Naficy, DTT

Finalists

Dinesh Ravishanker, CallFire

Demian Sellfors, Media Temple

Family Business Award of Excellence

Winner

Helene An, Elizabeth An, Hannah An, Catherine An, Monique An and Jacqueline An, House of An

 

Judges

Jim Armstrong, Clearstone Venture Partners

Chuck Davis, Technology Crossover Ventures *

Mark Hardy, Aurora Capital Group

Jeri Harman, Avante Mezzanine Partners

Carlton Jenkins, The Yucaipa Companies

Brad Jones, Redpoint Ventures *

Eric Kutsenda, Seidler Equity Partners

Barry C. Levin, Snak King Corporation *

J. Christopher Lewis, Riordan, Lewis & Haden Equity Partners

Dr. Linda Livingstone, Graziadio School of Business & Management, Pepperdine University

Mark Stagen, Emerald Health Services **

Kamran Pourzanjani, Bestcovery.com **

Julie Schoenfeld, Perfect Market, Inc.

* Prior award recipient

** Prior award recipient and national finalist

Published in Los Angeles

For 27 years, Ernst & Young has championed the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women pursuing excellence in their businesses, teams and communities.

Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program to recognize the passion of entrepreneurs and to build an influential and innovative community of peers. We received more than 1,680 national entries for this year’s program, from the country's most deserving entrepreneurs. Their triumphs stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries and leaders.

Entrepreneurs change the world and make it a better place to work and live. We honor them for their fortitude and resilience, and we celebrate their ability to forge new markets, navigate uncharted territory and fuel economic growth.

We gather here in Northeast Ohio and in 24 other cities across the U.S. to honor all of the finalists and welcome the new class of entrepreneurs into our Hall of Fame.

Congratulations to all of the 2013 Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and winners. We applaud them all for their unyielding pursuit of business excellence and we are honored to share their inspiring stories with you.

 

Whitt Butler, advisory partner, Ernst & Young;  program director, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Northeast Ohio.

 

Here are the 2013 Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year winners and finalists:

Distribution and Manufacturing

Winner – Gary M. Schuster, president and CEO, OMCO

Finalist – Scott T. Becker, president and CEO, Chromaflo Technologies Corp.

Finalist – Jeffery L. Rand, owner and president, HB Chemical Corporation

Finalist – James R. Keene, president and owner, Keene Building Products

Finalist – Michael K. Baach, CEO, The Philpott Rubber Company

 

Education and Non-profit

Winner – Carol L. Klimas, president, Lake Ridge Academy

Finalist – William Scott Duennes, executive director, Cornucopia, Inc.

 

Financial Services

Winner – Jeremy E. Sopko, CEO, Nations Lending Corporation

Finalist – Brendan Anderson and Jeffery Kadlic, co-founders and co-managing partners, Evolution Capital Partners, LLC

Finalist – Jeffery Concepcion, founder and CEO, Stratos Wealth Partners, Ltd.

Finalist – Ralph M. Della Ratta, managing director, Western Reserve Partners, LLC

 

Health Care and Pharmaceutical Services

Winner – Drew C. Forhan, founder and CEO, ForTec Medical

Finalist – Dale M. Wollschleger, president, ExactCare Pharmacy

 

Professional Services

Winner – Joel Adelman, founder and CEO, The Advance Group of Companies

Finalist – Scot Lowry, president and CEO, Fathom

Finalist – Alan Jaffa, CEO, Safeguard Properties Management, LLC

 

Public Company

Winner – Michael F. Hilton, president and CEO, Nordson Corporation

Finalist – Walter M. Rosebrough – president and CEO, STERIS Corporation

 

Retail and Consumer Products

Winner – Jimmy Zeilinger, founder and president, Brand Castle, LLC

Finalist – James D. Braeunig, president and CEO, Ball, Bounce & Sport, Inc.

Finalist – Kimberly Martin and Sarah Forrer, co-owners, Main Street Cupcakes

 

Technology

Winner – Kris Snyder, CEO, Vox Mobile, Inc.

Finalist – Yuval Brisker, co-founder, president and CEO, TOA Technologies

Finalist – David Levine, president, Wireless Environment, LLC

 

Family Business Award

Winner – Marc Brenner, president and CEO, Ohio Technical College

Finalist – Marty Kanan, president and CEO, King Nut Companies

Finalist – Scott J. Balogh, president and CEO, and Steven Balogh, vice president, Mar-Bal, Inc.

 

Published in Akron/Canton
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Honoring the best of the best

 

For 27 years, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women pursuing innovation and entrepreneurial excellence in their businesses, their teams and their communities. We are excited to announce that this year we received more than 1,600 national entries from some of the country's most well deserving entrepreneurs.

The blood, sweat and passion they’ve poured into their businesses and the triumphs they’ve achieved stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries, leaders and innovators. Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program to recognize this passion for excellence and to build an influential and innovative community of peers.

We have gathered here and in 25 other cities in the U.S. to welcome the men and women who are regional award recipients into our entrepreneurial Hall of Fame and to toast their commitment to succeed. We applaud them for launching their companies, opening new markets and fueling job growth.

So let’s celebrate their achievements, perseverance and tireless pursuit of business excellence.

John Belli, office managing partner, Ernst & Young, Orange County

Kim E. Letch, partner, Entrepreneur Of The Year program director, Orange County

Kathy Beckman, Entrepreneur Of The Year program manager, Orange County

 

Family Business Category

Winner

Gennaro “Jerry” Paolone, Car Sound Exhaust Systems Inc.

Finalists

Jim Beck, Nature’s Best

Eve Yen, Diamond Wipes International Inc.

Real Estate & Hospitality

Winner

Alan J. Fuerstman, Montage Hotels & Resorts

Finalists

Doug Bauer, Tom Mitchell and Mike Grubbs, TRI Pointe Homes

David Kim and Jerome Fink, The Bascom Group

Retail & Consumer Products

Winner

Hezy Shaked, Tilly’s Inc.

Finalists

John Fuller, The Johnny Rockets Group Inc.

Nick Seedorf, nuCourse Distribution Inc.

Business Services

Winner

Heidi Golledge, CyberCoders and CareerBliss

Finalists

Dr. Vinod Jivrajka, AppleCare Medical Enterprises

Caryn Siebert, Carl Warren & Company

Technology

Winner

Joseph Renton, Systems & Software Enterprise

Finalists

Dominic Gallello, MSC Software Corp.

Jonathan Ord, DealerSocket Inc.

Financial Services

Winner

Anand Nallathambi, CoreLogic Inc.

Finalists

Stephen Gordon, Opus Bank

Michael Joseph Purcell, Global Cash Card

 

Judges

Bala Iyer, Board Member

Life Technologies, QLogic, IHS,

Skyworks Solutions, Power Integrations

Prior Judge – 2009, 2012

 

Bruce Hallett, Managing Director

Miramar Venture Partners

 

Dan Lubeck, Managing Director/Founder

Solis Capital

 

*Dean Yoost, Board Member

Union bank, Pacific Life, Emulex, Belden Inc.

Prior Judge – 2010, 2011

 

*Doug Ammerman, Board Member/Director

Fidelity, Stantec, William Lyon Homes, El Pollo Loco

Prior Judge – 2011, 2012

 

Gary Jabara, Founder & CEO

Mobilitie, Inc.

Prior Winner – 2012

National Winner - 2012

 

Glenn Schafer, Chairman

Janus Capital Group, Skilled Healthcare

Prior Judge – 2011, 2012

 

Matthew Jenusaitis, President & CEO

OCTANe OC

Prior Judge – 2012

 

  • * Judge’s spokespeople

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Orange County
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Entrepreneurs change the world

STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013

Recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious business award programs, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards celebrate gravity-defying innovators who build and run great companies. This June, we gather here and in 25 cities across the U.S. to honor all of our regional finalists and welcome the class of 2013 into our Hall of Fame.

Entrepreneurs change the world and make it a better place to work and live. We honor them for their fortitude and resilience, and we celebrate their ability to forge new markets, navigate uncharted territory and fuel economic growth.

Congratulations to this year’s finalists and winners for their unyielding pursuit of business excellence. We are honored to share their inspiring stories with you.

 

Randy Buseman, partner, Kansas City Ernst & Young Office

Mike Hickenbotham, partner, St. Louis Ernst & Young Office

 

Here are the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalists and winners:

 

Agriculture and Plant Sciences

Winner – J. Larry Sanders, Ph.D., president and CEO, Specialty Fertilizer Products, LLC

 

Engineering & Consulting

Winner – David Raboury, president and CEO, Terracon Consultants, Inc.

 

Entertainment

Winner – Robb Heineman, owner, president and CEO, Sporting Club

 

Industrial Products

Winner – J. Joseph Burgess, president and CEO, Aegion Corporation

 

Manufacturing

Winner – Joseph Suhor III, chairman and CEO, Suhor Industries, Inc.

 

Retail

Winner – Jim Schwartz, chairman and CEO, NPC International, Inc.

 

Technology & Business Services

Winner – Daniel Reed, CEO, UnitedLex

 

Transportation & Logistics

Winner – Artur Wagrodzki and Tomasz Tokarczyk, presidents, Artur Express

 

Turnaround

Winner – T. Michael Riggs, chairman, Jack Cooper Holdings

 

Finalists

-          Matthew J. Condon, CEO, ARC Physical Therapy

 

-          John H. Kramer Jr., president and CEO, Cambridge Engineering, Inc.

 

-          Jeffery Keane, founder and CEO, Coolfire Media, LLC; Coolfire Originals; Coolfire Solutions

 

-          Robert D. Taylor, chairman and CEO, Executive AirShare Corporation

 

-          Mark R. Bamforth, president and CEO, Gallus Pharmacueticals, LLC

 

-          Gary Jaffe, CEO, GL Group, Inc.

 

-          Stephanie Leffler, CEO, and Ryan Noble, president, Juggle.com

 

-          Cary T. Daniel, CEO, Pivot Employment Platforms

 

-          Mike O’Neill, CEO, John Nickel, president, and Kevin Quigley, executive vice president, Switch: Liberate Your Brand

 

-          Lenora Payne, president, Technology Group Solutions, LLC

 

-          Lisa Nichols, co-founder and CEO, Technology Partners

 

-          Geoff Coventry, COO, Rob Freeman, CEO, and Matt Gilhousen, chief development officer, TradeWind Energy, Inc.

 

-          Robert Griggs, president, Trinity Products, Inc.

Published in St. Louis
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Entrepreneurs change the world

Recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious business award programs, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards celebrate gravity-defying innovators who build and run great companies. This June, we gather here and in 24 other cities across the U.S. to honor all of our regional finalists and welcome the award recipients from the class of 2013 into our Hall of Fame.

Entrepreneurs change the world and make it a better place to work and live. We honor them for their fortitude and resilience, and we celebrate their ability to forge new markets, navigate uncharted territory and fuel economic growth.

Congratulations to this year’s finalists and winners for their unyielding pursuit of business excellence. We are honored to share their inspiring stories with you.

Todd E. Novak

Midwest program director

 

Consumer Products and Services

Winner

Chris Clawson, Life Fitness

Finalists

Bob Keller, Escalade Inc.

Howard Stillman, Level 6 Corp.

Tom Mazzetta, The Mazzetta Co. LLC

Emerging Entrepreneur

Winner

Al Goldstein, Pangea Properties

Finalists

John Barnicle, Doug Lee, Richard Knight, Scott Kell, Jim Brewer and Tony Hiller – Peerless Network Inc.

Matt Matros, Protein Bar

Brian Spaly, Trunk Club

Family Business Award of Excellence

Winner

Jim Sartori and Jeff Schwager, Sartori Co.

Financial Services

Winner

Hugh McKean Jones IV, BankersAccuity

Finalists

Judson Bergman, Envestnet

Theodore L. Koenig, Monroe Capital LLC

Health Care

Winner

Dr. Stuart Bernsen, Chiro One Wellness Centers

Finalists

J.P. Fingado, API Healthcare

Michael S. Butler, Life Spine, Inc.

Jason Beans, Rising Medical Solutions

T. Scott Law, Zotec Partners

Industrial Distribution

Winner

Paul Jones, A.O. Smith Corporation

Finalists

Warren Young, Acme Industries Inc.

Todd Berger, Transportation Solutions Enterprises

Peter C. Anthony, UGN Inc.

Private Equity/Venture Capital Backed

Winner

Brandon Cruz and Clint Jones, GoHealth

Finalists

Daphne Preuss, Chromatin Inc.

Scott Harris, Revolution Dancewear

Zachary Boca and Daniel Ushman, SingleHop

Services

Winner

Michael Golden and Thaddeus Wong, @properties

Finalists

Bradley J. Dannegger, ARCO/Murray National Construction Company

Michael Romano, Associated

Heather Sanderson, Overture, LLC

Michael Miles, SeatonCorp

Technology

Winner

Andrew H. Sieja, kCura

Finalists

Daniel Adamany, AHEAD LLC

Chris Gladwin, Cleversafe, Inc.

Stopher Bartol, Legacy.com, Inc.

 

Judges

Cheryl Beebe

Douglas Grissom

Jay Radtke

Chris Dalton

Cynthia LaConte

James Reynolds, Jr.

Michael Gauthier

Laura Pearl

Jai Shekhawat

Published in Indianapolis
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Entrepreneurs change the world

Recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious business award programs, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards celebrate gravity-defying innovators who build and run great companies. This June, we gather here and in 24 other cities across the U.S. to honor all of our regional finalists and welcome the award recipients from the class of 2013 into our Hall of Fame.

Entrepreneurs change the world and make it a better place to work and live. We honor them for their fortitude and resilience, and we celebrate their ability to forge new markets, navigate uncharted territory and fuel economic growth.

Congratulations to this year’s finalists and winners for their unyielding pursuit of business excellence. We are honored to share their inspiring stories with you.

Todd E. Novak

Midwest program director

 

Consumer Products and Services

Winner

Chris Clawson, Life Fitness

Finalists

Bob Keller, Escalade Inc.

Howard Stillman, Level 6 Corp.

Tom Mazzetta, The Mazzetta Co. LLC

Emerging Entrepreneur

Winner

Al Goldstein, Pangea Properties

Finalists

John Barnicle, Doug Lee, Richard Knight, Scott Kell, Jim Brewer and Tony Hiller – Peerless Network Inc.

Matt Matros, Protein Bar

Brian Spaly, Trunk Club

Family Business Award of Excellence

Winner

Jim Sartori and Jeff Schwager, Sartori Co.

Financial Services

Winner

Hugh McKean Jones IV, BankersAccuity

Finalists

Judson Bergman, Envestnet

Theodore L. Koenig, Monroe Capital LLC

Health Care

Winner

Dr. Stuart Bernsen, Chiro One Wellness Centers

Finalists

J.P. Fingado, API Healthcare

Michael S. Butler, Life Spine, Inc.

Jason Beans, Rising Medical Solutions

T. Scott Law, Zotec Partners

Industrial Distribution

Winner

Paul Jones, A.O. Smith Corporation

Finalists

Warren Young, Acme Industries Inc.

Todd Berger, Transportation Solutions Enterprises

Peter C. Anthony, UGN Inc.

Private Equity/Venture Capital Backed

Winner

Brandon Cruz and Clint Jones, GoHealth

Finalists

Daphne Preuss, Chromatin Inc.

Scott Harris, Revolution Dancewear

Zachary Boca and Daniel Ushman, SingleHop

Services

Winner

Michael Golden and Thaddeus Wong, @properties

Finalists

Bradley J. Dannegger, ARCO/Murray National Construction Company

Michael Romano, Associated

Heather Sanderson, Overture, LLC

Michael Miles, SeatonCorp

Technology

Winner

Andrew H. Sieja, kCura

Finalists

Daniel Adamany, AHEAD LLC

Chris Gladwin, Cleversafe, Inc.

Stopher Bartol, Legacy.com, Inc.

 

Judges

Cheryl Beebe

Douglas Grissom

Jay Radtke

Chris Dalton

Cynthia LaConte

James Reynolds, Jr.

Michael Gauthier

Laura Pearl

Jai Shekhawat

Published in Chicago
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Honoring the best of the best

NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013

Since 1986, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who have followed and achieved their dreams, changing the lives of countless others by building their businesses and giving back to their communities.

Their passion, vision and persistence stand as a testament to their dedication. It was 27 years ago that Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year program to recognize these dynamic leaders and to build an influential community of innovative entrepreneurs.

We have gathered here and in 25 other cities in the U.S. to welcome the men and women who are regional finalists into our community and to toast their vision. Their energy and self-confidence have turned their dreams into reality. We applaud them all for taking the road less traveled to launch new companies, open new markets and fuel job growth.

So let’s lift our glasses to celebrate their passion, innovation and unwavering commitment to win in the marketplace.

Ernie Cortes, program director, Ernst & Young Northern California

Here are the Northern California Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award recipients and finalists:

 

Advertising Technology

Award recipient – Tod Sacerdoti, founder and CEO, BrightRoll

Finalist – Aaron Bell, founder and CEO, AdRoll

Finalist – Bill Demas, president and CEO, Turn Inc.

 

Financial Services

Award recipient – Renaud Laplanche, founder and CEO, Lending Club

Finalist – Harpal Sandhu, president, founder and CEO, Integral Development Corp.

Finalist – Hayes Barnard, founder and CEO, Paramount Equity Mortgage

 

Life Sciences

Award recipient – Mark Fischer-Colbrie, president and CEO and Rich Ellson, Co-founder and CTO, Labcyte, Inc.

Finalist – Maky Zanganeh, D.D.S., COO, Pharmacyclics, Inc.

Finalist – Jeffrey Dunn, president and CEO, SI-BONE, Inc.

 

Platform Technology

Award recipient – Gurbaksh Chahal, founder and CEO, RadiumOne

Finalist – Chris Friedland, president and founder, Build.com

Finalist – Fabio Rosati, president and CEO, Elance

 

Retail and Consumer Products

Award recipient – Neil Grimmer, co-founder and CEO, Plum Organics

Finalist – Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, co-founders, Method Products, Inc.

Finalist – Katie Rodan, M.D. and Kathy Fields, M.D., co-founders, Rodan + Fields Dermatologists

 

Services

Award recipient – Lyndon Rive, co-founder and CEO, SolarCity

Finalist – Mike Sechrist, CEO, and Elena Whorton, president, ProTransport-1

Finalist – Burton Goldfield, president and CEO, TriNet

 

Software

Award recipient – Aneel Bhusri, co-founder, co-CEO and chairman, and David Duffield, co-founder, co-CEO and chief customer advocate, Workday, Inc.

Finalist – Lewis Cirne, founder and CEO, New Relic

Finalist – Erik Swan, co-founder and CTO, Splunk

 

Technology Infrastructure

Award recipient – Ashar Aziz, founder, FireEye, Inc.

Finalist – Steve Smith, president and CEO, Equinix

Finalist – Robert Pera, founder, Chairman and CEO, Ubiquiti Networks

Published in Northern California

Jim Kudis and a partner started Allegheny Petroleum Products Co. for the same reason many people start a business — they loved what they did and saw a niche that their company could exploit.

While the company, a manufacturer of industrial lubricants and additives, was seeing annual growth of 20 percent in its early years, Kudis and his partner struggled with money and didn’t take a salary for the first year or two.

“Most small businesses are generally undercapitalized, which we were,” says Kudis, president. “We lived off whatever money we had, which definitely helped because it cut back on the expenses and some of the money going out the door.”

Starting a business is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You have to live it and love it. You have to roll up your sleeves and do anything you have to do to run that business.

“If you don’t want it that bad, don’t do it,” Kudis says.

The company’s focus in the beginning was providing industrial lubricants to the various manufacturers in the Pittsburgh area. Back then the major oil companies were retreating from the marketplace, becoming very big and going through distributors. Most of the distributors didn’t have the technical know-how of what the lubricants do and how they work.

So Kudis saw a void in what the major companies used to be strong at and what the distributors couldn’t do and that ended up being the niche that Allegheny Petroleum jumped into.

“That was the big advantage to going into the manufacturing part of the business,” Kudis says.

Last August, Kudis and Allegheny Petroleum Products Co. celebrated 25 years in business. In December 2012, Kudis bought out his partner to become the sole owner of the 85-employee company, which saw 2012 revenue north of $110 million.

Here’s how Kudis has grown Allegheny Petroleum Products Co. from a start-up into a successful organization.

Bring in the right talent

While Kudis and Allegheny Petroleum struggled with capital early on, the turning point for the company came around its fifth or sixth year in business.

“We were supplying one of the plants in Cleveland and we made a proposal to do what was a new concept at the time, fluid management,” Kudis says. “We had to put in 125 bulk tanks, which are carbon steel, 500-gallon tanks that ran about $1,500 each.

“So we had to make a more than $200,000 investment to put these tanks in and put in consigned inventory, which ran us another couple of hundred thousand dollars. So we were about $400,000 into this.”

A year later the global buyer for that company called Kudis and told him what a great job Allegheny Petroleum was doing managing their Cleveland plant. He offered Kudis the contract to manage the company’s remaining 70 plants.

“So off it went and today they are my largest customer,” he says.

From that point on, the business has had to function much differently and required new skill sets to keep the company growing.

“My biggest focus today is making sure my managers have all the tools and things they need to do their job, whereas 20 years ago I was doing it myself,” he says. “Now it’s managing people, keeping them excited, making sure they have ownership in the things that they’re doing, and have the tools to do the job that they need.”

Allegheny Petroleum has five fairly distinct areas and Kudis is in touch with each one of the people that manage those areas.

“I’m not trying to do their job, but I’m trying to help them so they can do their job and that’s the key thing,” he says. “It’s all about people.”

To find the right leaders for his business, Kudis chased those executives down and drafted them all.

“I handpicked them and coerced them into coming to work for the company,” he says. “I chose them because I saw the qualities they had. I saw a real desire in each one of them to do well, and that’s where my attention started.

“What I saw in my interaction with them was that they could handle themselves well and present themselves well in front of people. They were knowledgeable and wanted to be more knowledgeable.”

The first thing Kudis looked for in the people he brought in was whether they were good quality people and good solid citizens.

“That’s probably the common thread through most of the people who work here,” Kudis says. “Talent would be second after that — they can manage people and enjoy the ownership of their part of the business. They embrace it and treat what they’re doing like their own.

“It’s just looking in someone’s eye and seeing that they have a desire to do well, not only for themselves, but for the company too. A lot of people want to punch in, get a paycheck, punch out and go home, and that’s not the kind of people I want managing.”

Kudis gives his team the autonomy to do things on their own, which means they have the power to make decisions.

“I give them a free hand to do what makes sense,” he says. “My motto is to make the decision on your own and if you don’t think it’s your decision, then come to me. As long as you have an explanation about why you made that decision, you’re never wrong. You’ve got to be in the game and engage and make decisions.”

Decide how to grow your business

Making decisions is a very important aspect of running a business, especially when it regards growing your company to the next level. Kudis has had to make countless decisions over 25 years and each one helps the company continue its growth. Now those decisions rest on the shoulders of his managers.

“That’s what I expect from the people in a management role,” Kudis says. “In the dealings they have, there comes a point where maybe it’s beyond where they should make a decision on something. In involving putting part of the company at risk or something of that nature, every one of them knows where that line is, where that decision should not be theirs.

“All the other decisions whether they are small, large or whatever, I expect them to make it. It’s really easy to say three or four days later that you made a wrong decision, but to be in the game and make the decision right there, to me that’s important as long as they have an answer why they made a certain decision.”

Every month or every other month Allegheny Petroleum has what it calls a What’s Up Meeting to check in on the different areas of the business.

“I grab each of the managers and we sit down for about two hours and we go around the table while everyone exchanges what they’re doing,” he says. “You get so focused on the part of the business that you’re in and sometimes you have two different groups sort of working on the same things, or maybe they’re doing something that somebody in another group has worked on and knows the answers to help them out. So those meetings have been very beneficial.”

One of the biggest decisions Kudis has made for Allegheny Petroleum was to give the company a global presence. However, global business carries many challenges along with it.

“Learning how to deal financially in different countries has been a challenge,” Kudis says. “One thing you have to learn is what the tax implications are. Each country is different. You should do business with an accounting firm or law firm that can find out answers for you. That really makes it easy.”

Allegheny Petroleum didn’t utilize those resources in the beginning on the first two countries where the company launched its efforts and there were snags.

“Had I used our law firm or our accounting firm, it would have been a lot easier,” Kudis says. “Make sure you understand what it takes to do business in a foreign country before you start doing business there.”

Another big decision that has streamlined business for the company was using a global pricing index with its major direct customers.

“We now move our pricing quarterly as these prices move,” he says. “In the past every time there was an increase you had to go in and present everything to your customer and sit and argue about the pricing. Now that it’s indexed at the end of the quarter, it’s just a matter of how the pricing has moved and that has really streamlined the pricing.

“Our customers feel very good because they know it’s indexed to something that they can see. I feel good because as my raw material costs rise or drop it keeps my profits pretty steady. It really makes it easy to not worry about the pricing side of your business as much.”

Now that Allegheny Petroleum has streamlined business, entered into global markets and become a substantial player in its industry, Kudis is excited to find where the next level is.

“My vision is how do I double and triple the business,” he says. “Everything had been done organic and we might look at doing some acquisitions. The next level will also mean being more global.

“You have to think down the road and get out of the box to think about things that maybe you haven’t thought about in the past, because once you stop growing you’re done.”

How to reach: Allegheny Petroleum Products Co., (412) 829-1990 or www.oils.com

 

Takeaways:

Find the right talent for your leadership team.

Give the leadership team the autonomy to make decisions.

Constantly look at how to keep growing your business.

 

The Kudis File

Jim Kudis

President

Allegheny Petroleum Products Co.

 

Born: Homestead, Pa.

Education: Graduated from Penn State and received a bachelor’s degree in business logistics.

What was the very first job that you had and what did you learn from it?

I worked in a steel mill. I was a laborer so I drove a high lift and moved different things around. My dad worked there and he said, ‘This man is going to pay you, so you better work so that you make sure you earn every dollar you get.’ I still live by that today.

Who is someone that you looked up to?

My grade-school basketball coach. If we played bad we would come back and practice until 11 o’clock at night to make sure we did things right. We won the state championship that year. Hard work eventually pays off.

What Allegheny Petroleum product are you most proud of?

We make what’s called a backup bearing oil for the steel mills, which is called a Morgoil. When steel mills roll steel it goes between these rolls and on the end of these rolls there are bearings. They are huge bearings that get very hot. The oil goes through to lubricate the bearings and they also cool the bearings on the outside with water to keep them from getting too hot.

So the oil has to be able to accept water and kick out the water as it goes back to the tank and it gets circulated back through the bearings. You don’t want water lubricating your bearings, so our oil kicks out the water pretty good. That’s one of our hallmark products.

If you could speak with one person, whether from the past or present, with whom would you want to speak to?

Joe Paterno. I admired the way he ran the football program at Penn State. I’m not in total agreement with what happened at the end of his career. All through the history of what he did, he represented a class act. He was very well-respected. I enjoyed watching him and what he represented for the school.

Published in Pittsburgh

When Michael Armento talks about Philadelphia being a tight-knit community, he speaks from the heart. As a young boy, he would often take a ferry across the Delaware River from New Jersey to South Philadelphia where his father worked for the U.S. Navy.

“There is some history and there are some good memories here,” Armento says.

This memorable locale from his childhood is now the place where Armento goes to work each day as leader of the Philadelphia market for Red Bank, N.J.-based Torcon.

That sense of belonging he has always felt for the area was front and center in Armento’s mind eight years ago when the construction management firm set up shop in the City of Brotherly Love.

“What we set out to do was hire only employees local to Philadelphia with deep roots in the region,” says Armento, a vice president in the firm. “Philadelphia is a very parochial community and we knew that for us to succeed, we had to base our Philadelphia office with Philadelphia-based employees.”

Armento and John DeFazio, Torcon’s project executive, felt strongly that potential clients in Philadelphia wanted to do business with people that they felt a connection to, people who understood what they were all about.

At the same time, Torcon was not a new company. It has more than 200 employees and is one of the most active construction management firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. Torcon has done more than $4 billion worth of construction in the past decade.

“The challenge for us was to learn how to introduce Torcon to the local Philadephia community,” says Armento, who has more than 30 employees in his Philadelphia office. “In the beginning, it was a lot of knocking on doors to visit with people John and I knew from years back working in Philadelphia. It was spending a lot of time out on the street, getting out there and introducing ourselves.”

The effort has paid off in the form of 3.5 million square feet of construction work in Philadelphia, amounting to $70 million in 2011 revenue and about $105 million in revenue for 2012.

Here’s a look at some of the steps Armento has taken to build a team that could make those valuable connections and ultimately drive growth.

Set clear standards

If you’re looking to establish a strong presence in your community, make sure your employees and everyone on your leadership team is up to speed with your expectations.

“Our strategy can be very complicated if it’s ambiguous,” Armento says. “We’re in the construction management business. The reality is it’s a customer service business where our client always and without exception comes first.

“I try to provide clear and candid communication with our employees on whether they are excelling or falling a bit short. I’m forever reinforcing the importance of Torcon’s core values so that any confusion is eliminated.”

The message is often conveyed through the prism of Torcon’s own strong history of close relationships. The company was founded by Benedict Torcivia in 1965 and is now run by his sons, Benedict Jr. and Joseph.

“As far as we are concerned, in every respect and in every level of service we provide, we act fairly, with integrity and with honesty,” Armento says. “Ben and Joe are the two brothers who run this organization and through an incredible amount of hard work, they have built a stellar reputation for the company.”

But without the constant reinforcement that helps drive smart decisions, a reputation that took several lifetimes to build can collapse in an instant.

“That is so true in our industry of construction,” Armento says. “It’s very competitive and you work hard to finally win a project for a client that you have been pursuing for quite some time. It’s not just winning the project. You have to work very hard to be sure you are providing the services that the client is expecting.

“All it takes is one little error or mistake and in five minutes, that reputation can be ruined. That is what I teach and profess all the time. Try to look at things from the perspective of your client.

“Then you can understand what is important to them,” he says. “Business is built on reputation and performance and we have to show that in everything that we do.”

Performance has to be strong at all levels in order to maintain your great reputation. If a project is late in being completed, exceeds its budget or doesn’t fulfill your customer’s expectation, it’s clearly not a success.

“The definition of success is when a client says to us at the end of a project, ‘You folks at Torcon delivered on every promise and every commitment you made from the outset of the project,’” Armento says. “That is when we know we were successful in executing the project. We want to be sure that everyone involved views the project as a success and not just the construction manager.”

It’s the difference between possessing a reputation based simply on knocking out projects as quickly as possible and one that is consistently focused on a high level of customer satisfaction.

Reinforce the team concept

One key to building a team that is of one mind and can make strong connections with your customer base is to empower them to do what they do best. Build confidence in your people so that they know you see them as the experts at what they do. Create an environment where they don’t need to check in with you every time a decision needs to be made.

“We try not to be dictatorial,” Armento says. “We believe very much in allowing our people to be autonomous, to allow them to express their opinion and tell us about their findings and what they think the solution is to a particular challenge. We want them to feel like they are an integral part of the solution to problems on projects. When they do, they take ownership in solving those problems.”

Teamwork is part of the culture of the construction industry from your earliest days on the job, no matter where you work.

“Most people who are educated in construction management or construction management-related curriculum understand that every project is performed and completed by a team of those core positions,” Armento says.

“If there is a particular portion of the project that is struggling and needs some extra attention, we would expect the other team members to jump in and help out. It’s understood in our industry that it’s a group effort.”

Teamwork can easily fall apart, however, if that commitment to your team begins to waver or if you begin to provide evidence that you value one group in your organization over another.

“The key is to be consistent with your message and spend as much time listening to your people as you do talking to them and providing direction,” Armento says. “It’s essential for us to reinforce our message and reaffirm our employees’ value to our organization.”

When employees come to you with ideas or suggestions about how to do something better, demonstrate that it hasn’t been a waste of their time to come up with this new idea.

“It becomes a matter of personal pride,” Armento says. “If an employee has an idea after living with a certain situation day to day, they want to know that the time they have spent thinking about how to improve our approach is valued time and that their opinion is respected by management.

“When you hear an employee or a staff member who has a good idea on how to do something better, allow them to act on it. Give them the opportunity to take ownership if it was their idea.”

Take the time

You work each day to build a stronger team that is focused on providing the best service to your customers. Armento felt that was a winning strategy to achieving customer satisfaction.

But to drive home the connectedness that he wanted customers to feel with Torcon’s Philadelphia operations, Armento strongly encourages participation in the community.

“I’m a newly appointed board member with the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” Armento says.

He’s also involved with the American Heart Association and took part in the company’s effort to do a 9/11 memorial along the Schuylkill River.

“That was done gratis by Torcon along with a group of subcontractors,” Armento says.

These efforts were part of an overall push to show potential customers in Philadelphia that Torcon understood what they were all about and could relate to what it meant to be part of the Philadelphia community.

“The way we have overcome that challenge is one, to make sure everybody we employ here in the Philadelphia office comes from Philadelphia construction,” Armento says. “And two, to entrench ourselves as deeply as we can in the community and with community functions.”

How to reach: Torcon, (215) 271-1449 or www.torcon.com

The Armento File

Born: Camden, N.J.

Education: Construction management degree, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa.

What was your very first job?

My first job as a kid was working for a local concrete contractor who did replacement sidewalks and driveways. My job was to break up the old concrete in preparation for the new. If it did anything for me, it gave me an appreciation for the difficulty of laboring on a daily basis.

What is the best business lesson you ever learned?

This is a very challenging business. We rely heavily on the performance of others in order to make a project successful. When I say others, I mean our own people as well as other members of the team.

To the best of your ability, try to manage situations on a project without emotion. Treat people the same way you expect to be treated. And that is coupled ironically with the understanding that you can’t blindly trust everyone. Remain objective and keep the clients’ interests in mind at all times.

What skills are essential for a leader?

Be firm when you need to be firm. Listen to people as much as you talk to people. Recognize it’s not always about issuing directives and establishing policies. A good leader sometimes has to be a teacher, a cheerleader and sometimes a confidant. Be open to your people when necessary, but be firm when being firm is necessary.

Takeaways

Set clear expectations.

Promote a team concept.

Be civic-minded.

Published in Philadelphia
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