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Cincinnati Pillar Award Finalist

Frederic Holzberger, Founder, Aveda Fredric’s Institute

www.avedafredricsinstitute.com | (513) 533-0700

 

Frederic Holzberger’s passion for giving has deep roots that stretch back to his childhood when he himself faced a number of struggles growing up.

It was with that history in mind that Holzberger, founder of Aveda Fredric’s Institute, became intrigued by Sister Bonnie Steinlage. Steinlage is a Franciscan sister of the poor who received her cosmetology license to cut hair for the homeless and less fortunate.

Holzberger was introduced to her by a mutual friend and instantly wanted to help. He donated much needed product and financial support to Steinlage’s new salon, St. John Daymaker, near downtown Cincinnati, and began plans to create a salon on wheels.

Project Daymaker soon came to life as a Winnebago that had been transformed into a traveling salon where licensed volunteers could use their talents to provide much-needed haircuts to men, women and children. More than 10,000 people have been helped by this service and been re-energized to pursue a new job or just a better way of life.

Holzberger shares his philanthropic philosophy with his people using the words, “Giving back is not optional; it’s critical to the health and well-being of our community.” He teaches students about the power of giving back and the change that can be made through each person’s generosity.

The result is a group of students, staff and guests that always have their eyes open for the next opportunity to help someone who needs it.

Published in Cincinnati

The Weatherhead 100 identifies the 100 top growth companies in Northeast Ohio based on sales from 2007 through 2011. Companies on this list must have sales of more than $100,000 in 2007 and more than $1 million in 2011. In addition, the companies on this list must have had a minimum of 16 full-time employees in 2011.

 

1. Magnus International Group Inc.

City: Painesville Township

Year founded: 2007

Sales growth: 2,735.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.magnusig.com

Magnus International is a manufacturer and distributor of unique, natural animal feed ingredients, natural waxes and alternative fuels.

 

2. MFS Supply LLC

City: Solon

Year founded: 2006

Sales growth: 2,306.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.mfssupply.com

MFS Supply is a leading manufacturer and distributor of security and hardware-related products for contractors, real estate agents and property managers.

 

3. CAFF LLC (dba Alego Health)

City: Westlake

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 1,483.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.alegohealth.com

Alego Health is a solutions provider of health care it services for hospitals and physician offices.

 

4. LeafFilter Inc.  

City: Hudson

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 1,441%

Employees: 50-249

www.leaffilter.com

LeafFilter Gutter Protection offers professionally installed gutter systems.

 

5. OuterBox Solutions Inc.

City: Akron

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 1,225%

Employees: 16-49

www.outerboxdesign.com

OuterBox Solutions offers website design, Web development, e-commerce and search marketing solutions.

 

6. OrthoHelix Surgical Designs

City: Medina

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 640.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.orthohelix.com

OrthoHelix is a medical device company developing a comprehensive line of implants for use in small bone surgery.

 

7. EverStaff LLC

City: Independence

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 611.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.everstaff.com

Founded in 2001, EverStaff is a leading provider of both temporary and permanent job placement in the staffing industry.

 

8. Crosscountry Mortgage Inc.

City: Brecksville

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 509.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.crosscountrymtg.us

Crosscountry Mortgage is a mortgage lender and Fannie Mae direct seller and servicer with 48 nationwide branches and 48 nationwide licenses.

 

9. Knotice

City: Akron

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 456.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.knotice.com

Knotice is a provider of data management, actionable analytics and digital messaging solutions.

 

10. Boundary Systems

City: Middleburg Heights

Year founded: 2006

Sales growth: 382.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.boundarysys.com

Boundary Systems implements product life cycle management solutions for companies involved in new product development.

 

11. MediQuant Inc.

City: Brecksville

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 338.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.mediquant.com

MediQuant creates health care IT efficiencies with intelligent applications for revenue and data life cycle management.

 

12. Recon Logistics LLC

City: Chagrin Falls

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 337.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.reconlogistics.com

Recon Logistics provides transparent and cost-effective freight management solutions for small- to medium-sized manufacturers.

 

13. TOA Technologies

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 323.4%

Employees: 250-999

www.toatech.com

TOA Technologies is a global provider of field service and customer experience management applications.

 

14. Excelas LLC

City: Mayfield

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 315.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.excelas1.com

Excelas provides medical analysis to help health care organizations and insurers settle and win cases.

 

15. SpaceBound Inc.

City: LaGrange

Year founded: 1987

Sales growth: 200.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.SpaceBound.com

Founded in 1987, SpaceBound is a global tech distribution company. It’s the parent company of SQRSolutions.com, NothingButSoftware.com, PricePlunge.com and xsDepot.com.

 

16. E-merging Technologies Group Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 187.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.etg1.com

E-merging Technologies Group is a professional services firm specializing in security and technical services.

 

17. Bright Ideas Press LLC

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 184.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.simplesolutions.org

Bright Ideas Press publishes Simple Solutions, providing lifetime mastery through educational materials for K-8 classrooms.

 

18. Fathom

City: Valley View

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 182.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.fathomdelivers.com

Fathom is a digital marketing agency specializing in delivering quality leads that drive profitable revenue.

 

19. SecureState

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 169.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.securestate.com

SecureState helps clients obtain and maintain their desired state of security through advisory services, audit and compliance, profiling and penetration tests, risk management, privacy, and research and innovation.

 

20. Moscarino Outdoor Creations Inc.

City: Columbia Station

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 169.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.CreateMyLandscape.com

Moscarino is an industry leader in landscaping design, maintenance and snow removal services in Northeast Ohio.

 

21. Amish Mills Inc.

City: Dundee

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 167.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.amishmills.com

Amish Mills Inc. manufactures solid wood kitchen cabinets and home and office furniture sold under the Amish Mills and Daniels Amish Collection names.

 

22. Adcom Communications Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1989

Sales growth: 166.2%

Employees: 50-249

www.adcom1.com

Adcom is a modern, strategic, integrated communications company providing focused creative solutions across all media platforms.

 

23. Optiem LLC

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 165.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.optiem.com

Optiem fuels bright companies by developing brands, websites and online marketing programs that produce measurable results.

 

24. MUM Industries Inc.

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 164%

Employees: 50-249

www.mumindustries.com

MUM Industries companies provide a diverse range of industrial products from AODD pumps to electrical enclosures.

 

25. Matrix Healthcare Management Solutions LLC

City: North Canton

Year founded: 1998

Sales growth: 162.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.matrixmso.com

Matrix Healthcare Management Solutions provide training, design, implementation and support for revenue cycle management using NextGen Healthcare’s suite of practice management software and electronic health record solutions.

 

26. One Wish LLC

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 152.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.audimutesoundproofing.com

One Wish LLC is the parent company of MedicBatteries.com, AudimuteSoundProofing.com, AudimuteAcousticPanels.com and RetrofitLEDLights.com.

 

27. Signature Health Inc.

City: Willoughby

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 147.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.signaturehealthinc.com

Signature Health Inc. is a mental health counseling agency featuring the signature Health Access Clinic that provides same-day psychiatric services.

 

28. Blackburn’s Hubcaps & Wheel Solutions

City: Macedonia

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 144.8%

Employees: 16-49

www.blackburnwheels.com

Blackburn is an original equipment hubcap and wheel distributor serving the U.S. and Canada.

 

29. Amotec Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 143.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.amotecinc.com

Amotec is a professional recruiting and staffing firm committed to “Recruiting with Integrity.”

 

30. LayerZero Power Systems Inc.

City: Aurora

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 142.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.layerzero.com

LayerZero is a leading supplier of high-reliability electric power quality and power distribution equipment for critical facilities.

 

31. Findaway World LLC

City: Solon

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 140%

Employees: 50-249

www.findawayworld.com

Findaway is the creator of Catalist Digital, Playaway and Playaway View products that provide immediate access to content.

 

32. SS&G Healthcare Services LLC

City: Akron

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 136.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.ssandg.com/healthcare

SS&G Healthcare is a leader in financial and operational health solutions.

 

33. Datacore Consulting

City: Independence

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 132.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.datacoreonline.com

Datacore Consulting is a premier managed service provider for an array of IT services.

 

34. Griffith Holdings Inc.

City: Medina

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 126.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.ghiis.com

GHI is a private holding company operating Web design, marketing, telecommunications and software firms.

 

35. Fidelity Voice and Data

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 122.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.fidelityvoice.com

Fidelity Voice and Data is a leading telecommunications provider of data, voice, co-location and cloud services.

 

36. Patton Painting Inc.

City: Westlake

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 115.8%

Employees: 16-49

www.pattonpainting.com

Founded in 2003, Patton Painting offers prolific professional painters, carpenters and artists.

 

37. Wojcik Builders Inc.

City: Oakwood Village

Year founded: 1986

Sales growth: 113.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.wojcikbuilders.com

Wojcik Builders has been a leading provider of commercial construction services in Northeast Ohio since 1986.

 

38. Neece, Malec, Seifert & Vitaz Inc.

City: Chardon

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 106.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.neececpa.com

Neece, Malec, Seifert and Vitaz is a full-service accounting and wealth management firm providing unique business and tax planning strategies designed to keep clients compliant while helping them achieve financial success.

 

39. Insight Services Inc.

City: Strongsville

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 106.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.testoil.com

Insight Services analyzes in-service lubricants in rotating equipment to assist in preventing catastrophic equipment failures.

 

40. Longbow Research LLC

City: Seven Hills

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 105.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.longbowresearch.com

Longbow Research provides investment research to institutional investors with a focus on mid- and large-cap equities.

 

41. Suburban Manufacturing Co. Inc.

City: Willoughby

Year founded: 1979

Sales growth: 102.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.submfg.com

Employee-owned Suburban Manufacturing is a precision machine shop, providing quality parts for more than 30 years.

 

42. Shankman & Associates Inc.

City: Solon

Year founded: 1978

Sales growth: 102.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.shankmanandassociates.com

Shankman & Associates is a regional manufacturers’ representative company serving the consumer packaged goods industry.

 

43. DuneCraft Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 102.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.dunecraft.com

DuneCraft domestically manufactures more than 250 themed seed-sprouting houses for premier retailers in the United States.

 

44. US Endoscopy

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1991

Sales growth: 93.1%

Employees: 250-999

www.usendoscopy.com

US Endoscopy is a leader in endoscopy device design and manufacturing, delivering solutions to improve patient care.

 

45. AtNetPlus Inc.

City: Stow

Year founded: 1998

Sales growth: 89.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.AtNetPlus.com

AtNetPlus offers connected, secure and working business technology.

 

46. County Fire Protection Inc.

City: Kent

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 88.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.county-fire.com

County Fire Protection offers a wide range of services from fire extinguisher upkeep to security/access controls.

 

47. ACU-Serve Corp.

City: Cuyahoga Falls

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 87.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.acuservecorp.com

ACU-Serve provides billing and collection services to home medical equipment providers nationwide.

 

48. OurPet’s Co.

City: Fairport Harbor

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 86.2%

Employees: 50-249

www.ourpets.com

OurPet’s provides innovative pet products for dogs and cats with emphasis on feeders, toys and waste management.

 

49. The Priority Group Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 85.8%

Employees: 250-999

www.prioritygrp.com

The Priority Group includes the combined operations of three companies providing home care services, medical staffing and oximetry studies.

 

50. Peoples Services Inc.

City: Canton

Year founded: 1914

Sales growth: 85.4%

Employees: 250-999

www.peoplesservices.com

Peoples Services is a third-generation logistics company providing warehousing and transportation services in six states.

 

51. Ohio Technical College Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1969

Sales growth: 84.1%

Employees: 250-999

www.ohiotech.edu

Ohio Technical College is dedicated to providing premier training to prepare students for careers in automotive, diesel, collision repair, power sport/motorcycle, welding, and high-performance and racing technology.

 

52. DCT Telecom Group Inc.

City: Westlake

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 81.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.4dct.com

DCT Telecom Group specializes in providing comprehensive telecom and cloud solutions to corporate customers.

 

53. Vocon

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1987

Sales growth: 80.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.vocon.com

Vocon is a leading architecture and design firm, creating distinctive work environments throughout the country.

 

54. Expert Construction Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 76.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.expertconstructioninc.com

Expert Construction Inc. is a leading commercial carpentry firm specializing in metal studs, drywall and acoustical ceilings.

 

 

55. Swift Filters Inc.

City: Oakwood Village

Year founded: 1995

Sales growth: 76.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.swiftfilters.com

Swift Filters designs and manufactures high-quality industrial filter elements, including both custom-engineered and OEM replacements.

 

56. Lake City Plating Co. Inc.

City: Ashtabula

Year founded: 1949

Sales growth: 75.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.lakecityplating.com

Lake City Plating Co. Inc. offers application of industrial coatings on metal parts.

 

57. Northeast Factory Direct

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 72.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.northeastfactorydirect.com

Northeast Factory Direct provides warehouse direct pricing on big-ticket items, such as furniture, hot tubs, kitchen cabinets and mattresses, with no membership fees.

 

58. SeniorTV-Stellar Private Cable Systems Inc.

City: Akron

Year founded: 1992

Sales growth: 69.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.seniortv.com

SeniorTV-Stellar Private Cable Systems is a national provider of cable TV, Internet and LCD TVs to nursing homes and retirement communities.

 

59. EnviroScience Inc.

City: Stow

Year founded: 1989

Sales growth: 69.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.enviroscienceinc.com

EnviroScience specializes in ecological consulting including wetland and stream restoration, endangered species surveys and natural resource monitoring.

 

60. e2b teknologies Inc.

City: Chardon

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 68.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.e2btek.com

E2b provides ERP, CRM and its Anytime brand cloud business applications to businesses worldwide.

 

61. Group Transportation Services Inc.

City: Hudson

Year founded: 1995

Sales growth: 68%

Employees: 50-249

www.onestopshipping.com

Group Transportation Services is a nonasset-based third-party logistics service provider fulfilling the freight transportation cycles for business accounts.

 

62. Microplex Inc.

City: North Canton

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 67.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.microplex-inc.com

Microplex manufactures custom cables and wire harnesses for industrial automation, medical, military and OEM markets.

 

63. Grabowski & Co.

City: Uniontown

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 66.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.grabowskiandco.com

Grabowski & Co. is a strategic marketing communications firm that helps organizations discover and deliver their brand promises.

 

64. Angels in Waiting Home Care

City: Willoughby

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 65.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.aiwhomecare.com

Angels in Waiting Home Care offers professional skilled and unskilled home care services.

 

65. Ohio Realty Advisors LLC

City: Richfield

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 65.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.ohiorealtyadvisors.com

Ohio Realty Advisors LLC provides full-service commercial real estate management, development, advisory and brokerage services to corporate, private and institutional clients.

 

66. PartsSource Inc.

City: Aurora

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 65.3%

Employees: 50-249

www.partssource.com

PartsSource provides replacement parts and technology solutions to health care equipment service professionals around the world.

 

67. Wolters Kluwer Health Lexicomp

City: Hudson

Year founded: 1978

Sales growth: 64.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.lexi.com

Lexicomp is an industry-leading provider of drug information and clinical content for the health care industry.

 

68. Corporate United Inc.

City: Westlake

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 62.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.corporateunited.com

Corporate United is one of the nation’s largest group purchasing organizations.

 

69. OEConnection LLC

City: Richfield

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 59%

Employees: 50-249

www.oeconnection.com

OEConnection is the leading online parts and service exchange in the automotive industry and beyond.

 

70. SS&G Inc.

City: Solon

Year founded: 1968

Sales growth: 58.2%

Employees: 250-999

www.SSandG.com

SS&G is Ohio’s largest independent, full-service CPA, business advisory and management consulting firm.

 

71. Radcom Inc.

City: Hudson

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 57.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.radcomservices.com

Radcom is a custom learning solutions company that delivers content that counts.

 

72. Mutual Shareholder Services LLC

City: Broadview Heights

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 55.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.mutualss.com

Mutual Shareholder Services provides transfer agent and accounting services for mutual funds.

 

73. Briteskies LLC

City: Independence

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 55.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.briteskies.com

Briteskies delivers effective iSeries, IBM WebSphere Commerce, Magento and enterprise software solutions both nationally and worldwide.

 

74. Etactics Inc.

City: Stow

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 54.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.etacticsinc.com

Etactics offers revenue-cycle solutions including software, color print/mail, EDI and EBPP for health care and commercial businesses.

 

75. Alliance Solutions Group

City: Independence

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 52.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.alliancesolutionsgrp.com

Alliance is a full-service recruitment/staffing firm serving its customers with single-source convenience across multiple specialties.

 

76. Empro Job Network/Thomas Employment

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 51.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.thomasemployment.com

Empro Job Network/Thomas Employment is one of Northeast Ohio’s leading providers of temporary and permanent staffing in the industrial, clerical, managerial, medical and home care fields.

 

77. Life Force Management

City: Streetsboro

Year founded: 1992

Sales growth: 51%

Employees: 16-49

www.lifeforcemanagement.com

Life Force Management is celebrating its 20th year in business and operates as an industry leader in ambulance billing services.

 

78. The Dyson Corp.

City: Painesville

Year founded: 1984

Sales growth: 50%

Employees: 50-249

www.dysoncorp.com

The Dyson Corp. is a domestic manufacturer of specialty fasteners and forgings for critical infrastructure applications since 1884.

 

79. TMW Systems Inc.

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 1983

Sales growth: 49.6%

Employees: 250-999

www.tmwsystems.com

TMW Systems software powers freight transportation services and heavy-duty fleet productivity across North America.

 

80. Lazorpoint

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 49.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.lazorpoint.com

Lazorpoint delivers the peace of mind that comes with strategic IT guidance, systems and solutions.

 

81. Fleet Response

City: Seven Hills

Year founded: 1986

Sales growth: 48.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.fleetresponse.com

Fleet Response is a leader in custom-designed fleet management services.

 

82. Aqua Doc Lake & Pond Management

City: Chardon

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 47.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.aquadocinc.com

Aqua Doc is a full-service lake and pond management company dedicated to making water beautiful.

 

83. Project and Construction Services Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 45.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.pcscmservices.com

PCS is an employee-owned and -operated organization providing exceptional construction services since 1988.

 

84. Geauga Mechanical Co.

City: Chardon

Year founded: 1950

Sales growth: 43.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.geaugamechanical.com

Geauga Mechanical Co. is a full-service design/build mechanical contractor.

 

85. Perspectus Architecture

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 41.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.perspectusarch.com

Committed to Cleveland, Perspectus is a nationally recognized architectural firm focused on design, master planning and project management.

 

86. Sequoia Financial Group LLC

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1991

Sales growth: 39.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.sequoia-financial.com

Sequoia Financial Group offers comprehensive wealth management services for high-net-worth individuals and business.

 

87. 1-888-OhioComp

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 38.4%

Employees: 50-249

www.1-888-ohiocomp.com

1-888-OhioComp is a workers’ compensation managed care organization serving more than 37,000 employers and their injured workers.

 

88. Hurricane Labs LLC

City: Independence

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 38.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.hurricanelabs.com

Hurricane Labs monitors corporate computer networks for security incidents caused by hackers, criminals and malware.

 

89. BearWare Inc.

City: Chagrin Falls

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 38.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.bearwareinc.com

BearWare provides freight tracking, payment and claims systems in specialty retail and other vertical markets.

 

90. South Shore Marine

City: Huron

Year founded: 1989

Sales growth: 33.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.southshoremarine.com

South Shore Marine is the regional dealer of high-quality new and select pre-owned boats and is a full-service marine facility.

 

91. Paragon Consulting Inc.

City: Mayfield Heights

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 32.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.paragon-inc.com or www.sitecorecleveland.com

Paragon is a premier IT consulting company, specializing in software development, digital marketing, content managed websites and mobile applications.

 

92. Guild International Inc.

City: Bedford

Year founded: 1958

Sales growth: 30.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.guildint.com

Guild International is a worldwide supplier of coil end-joining equipment for the strip processing industries.

 

93. Jarrett Logistics Systems Inc.

City: Orrville

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 29.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.jarrettlogistics.com

Jarrett Logistics Systems specializes in supply chain management services for high-growth North American companies.

 

94. Sheet Metal Products Co. Inc.

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1924

Sales growth: 29.4%

Employees: 50-249

www.smpohio.com

Sheet Metal Products is a precision contract metal fabricating company providing parts to major O.E.M. manufacturers.

 

95. Foundation Software Inc.

City: Brunswick

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 29.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.foundationsoft.com

Foundation Software is the developer of Foundation for Windows construction accounting, project management and scheduling software.

 

96. Cohen & Co. Ltd.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1977

Sales growth: 26.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.cohencpa.com

Cohen & Co. is a regional CPA firm that focuses on helping privately held companies grow.

 

97. Weed Pro Ltd.

City: Sheffield Village

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 25.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.weed-pro.com

One of Ohio’s fastest-growing lawn care companies, Weed Pro serves thousands of customers in Cleveland and Columbus.

 

98. Interlift Enterprises

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1967

Sales growth: 23.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.ilttoyotalift.com

Interlift is Cleveland’s ‘‘Can Do’’ Toyota forklifts and material handling solution provider since 1967.

 

99. CRESCO Real Estate

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1991

Sales growth: 23.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.crescorealestate.com

CRESCO Real Estate is Cleveland’s leading locally owned, full-service commercial real estate company and Cushman & Wakefield Alliance partner.

 

100. Razorleaf Corp.

City: Stow

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 22.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.razorleaf.com

Razorleaf is a professional services group that provides expertise for engineering and manufacturing organizations by optimizing business processes through the use of leading technologies.

 

101. Assembly Specialty Products Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1971

Sales growth: 19.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.assemblyspecialty.com

Assembly Specialty Products Inc. designs and manufactures wire rope fittings and custom-fabricated assemblies.

Published in Akron/Canton

95.  Weatherhead 100

Foundation Software Inc.

City: Brunswick

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 29.14%

Chairman and CEO: Fred Ode

Foundation Software is the developer of Foundation for Windows construction accounting, project management and scheduling software.

 

Since Fred Ode first struck out on his own as a programmer in the early 1980s, he has made several decisions in business that have proved successful for Foundation Software Inc., the developer of Foundation for Windows construction accounting, project management and scheduling software.

In 1985, Ode, who serves as chairman and CEO of Foundation Software, spent two years writing the company’s original software application for the construction industry. It took about a year before he sold it in 1988. From there he converted the program to Microsoft DOS in 1990 to run under that environment and then introduced a Windows application in March 2000. The company has been in business for 27 years.

“Our main product is offering software and services to the business sides of commercial, industrial and government contractors — heavy highway, bridge builders, roofers, electrical and mechanical contractors,” Ode says.

One of the biggest turning points for the company was Ode’s decision to upgrade its software application from Microsoft DOS to Windows.

“In 1996, we decided instead of taking our DOS application and doing what’s called an overlay to make it look like it’s a Windows application, we decided to start from scratch and write a whole new application, and that took four years,” Ode says. “That decision is paying off huge now.”

Many of Foundation Software’s competitors took the easy road reworking their existing applications instead of taking advantage of new technology and new ways to design software.

Another crucial point in the company’s past was in 2008 when the recession hit. The market and the company’s competitors were suffering. While the competition was pulling back on advertising, trade shows and cutting staff, Ode stuck to his guns.

“Part of my philosophy has always been to conserve cash,” he says. “I’ve always accumulated cash, and we had a lot of cash in the company. So we didn’t change anything.”

Everything stayed the same with one exception –— Ode decided to increase research and development efforts.

“We kept our marketing and staffing equal and we increased our development, because the idea was when the recession starts to settle down and business starts coming back, we’ll be several steps ahead of our competitors both from a branding and marketing perspective but also in product development,” he says.

At this same time, Foundation Software decided to add a side company called payroll4construction.com, a symbiotic relationship where one feeds off the other.

“We get payroll service companies that want our software, and we get software companies that want our payroll service,” Ode says. “In 2008, the idea was to put our foot on the gas pedal as opposed to hitting the brake. It has paid off huge.”

In the first half of 2011 alone, Foundation Software saw sales revenue increase by 60 percent, and the company added 25 new employees. That success, however, didn’t come without challenges.

“The part that was hurting was our client services,” Ode says. “We have a great reputation in this industry for responding quickly, giving quality answers and for our training, but we fell a little behind.”

It took three to four months to get people up to speed in client services. Customers were used to getting their responses in 30 minutes and it dropped to 90-120 minutes.

“That was a barrier we had to overcome, but we are back down to 30 minutes and we’ve been that way ever since,” he says.

Currently, Ode and Foundation Software are in a great position to continue and improve upon the growth the company has seen.

“Positive cash flow is happiness and we maintain a lot of cash in the business,” he says. “Right now our assumption is we are going to continue growing.”

While being smart with cash has put Ode and the company in a strong position, he says he wants to make sure he keeps his focus on where the business is heading.

“The challenge is not getting too caught up in this current stage of accelerated growth and to be thinking five to 10 years from now,” Ode says. “The idea is to keep adding product that’s specific to the construction industry that has to do with the business side.”

How to reach: Foundation Software Inc., (330) 220-8383 or www.foundationsoft.com

Published in Akron/Canton

17. Weatherhead 100

Bright Ideas Press LLC

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 184.54%

Co-Founder and President: Nancy McGraw

Bright Ideas Press publishes Simple Solutions, providing lifetime mastery through educational materials for K-8 classrooms.

 

As an elementary school teacher trying to find new ways to help her students remember what they learned, Nancy McGraw tried a different approach. Her approach happened to work and the results she saw were so great she decided to write her approach out for every grade level in her school.

Eventually, she got another teacher outside of her own school to try it as well. The school’s test scores improved dramatically and other teachers and principals in the area started asking if the approach was available.

That’s how Bright Ideas Press LLC, the publisher of Simple Solutions, a series of educational books for K-8 grade levels and subjects, came to fruition.

“It began with a passion for making a difference in the lives of children and still today it’s our company’s goal to try to help students feel confident and successful,” says McGraw, co-founder and president of Bright Ideas Press. “We try to get our books into the hands of as many students as we can across the country.”

In the company’s founding days, that task was easier said than done. A fellow teacher, Kim Dambrogio, who is co-founder and vice president of Bright Ideas Press, agreed to help McGraw publish the original book, but traditional publishers gave them a tough time. So the pair decided to publish the book themselves.

While the company is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2013, its growth to this point has been primarily word-of-mouth and the use of free trials.

“We give away free trials and people see that it improves their scores, and they buy it and they tell other people,” McGraw says. “That’s how we’ve grown as big as we are. It’s just word of mouth endorsements from other people and letting people try it for a year to see that what we are saying is the truth.”

The company’s growth has also been aided by the addition of employees who share McGraw’s and Dambrogio’s passion for education. However, that success has been accompanied by growing pains.

“We started as a home-based business and up until a year and a half ago, that’s exactly what we were,” Dambrogio says. “At that time we had nine people.”

In February 2011, the company moved into a commercial space and now employs 20 people.

“A lot of things have had to change,” she says. “It’s been a lot of human-resource type things such as employee handbooks and policies. That was a good transition for us and we had to shift our thinking and so did our staff. That was one of the most difficult things that we’ve faced so far.”

That challenge was enhanced by the fact that neither McGraw nor Dambrogio had a background in business.

“The larger you get the more important knowing things about business and marketing and things like that become,” McGraw says. “We had to learn on the fly.”

Despite any challenges or shortcomings the co-founders had to overcome, Bright Ideas Press has seen steady growth over its 10 years. It has moved from one math book product line to publishing several areas of study and is gearing up for the future.

“Across the country there is a very big shift in education right now toward something called the common core state standards,” Dambrogio says. “Right now, 46 states have adopted the same set of standards for curriculum in math and language arts. That’s a first for this country.

The company is in the process of coming out with a whole new line of math books to meet these standards and is looking to revise and rewrite its English series according to those standards as well. In addition, the company is looking to move away from print books to focus more on digital content.

“Schools and parents are asking for it, so that’s the direction we are going to be moving in,” she says.

The company’s current direction and growth has meant a lot to its co-founders.

“For me it means that the dream that I had initially of trying to help children be successful has multiplied exponentially,” McGraw says. “Hundreds of thousands of students are using our products each year. So it’s been great seeing the dream explode.”

How to reach: Bright Ideas Press LLC, (877) 382-7537 or www.simplesolutions.org

Published in Akron/Canton

Weatherhead 100

1. Upstarts

Content Marketing Institute

City: Cleveland

Founded: 2007

Sales growth: 1,684.28%

Founder and executive director: Joe Pulizzi

Content Marketing Institute runs the largest international event in content marketing, Content Marketing World, and the leading magazine, Chief Content Officer.

 

When Joe Pulizzi left a media company some six years ago to found what is now the Content Marketing Institute, he knew the traditional way that companies go to market was changing — and changing big time.

“Instead of mostly through advertising sponsorship of some sort, more and more of those companies were creating their own content, looking and feeling just like publishers, and that’s what content marketing is,” he says. “Basically, it is regular talk about small, big, medium-sized and large companies, saying, ‘Look, in order to get any kind of attention, we need to create valuable, relevant, compelling content all the way through the buyer’s journey.’”

Pulizzi also knew it wasn’t easy for companies to get their own content marketing rolling through websites and social media as well as other channels and they needed somewhere to go for help.

“Content marketing takes a lot of effort; it takes a lot of processes,” he says. “It’s multiple channels; it’s both strategic and tactical. And most companies are really bad storytellers — I mean let’s just put it out there. And that’s why they want to hand it over to someone else. There is such a huge need for education, and we are trying to fill that need.”

The crowning jewel of the Content Marketing Institute, of which Pulizzi is executive director, is its Content Marketing World events, held in cities such as New York, Sydney and Cleveland. The event is the largest in content marketing and grows each year. A Columbus version last year drew 1,000 participants. Pulizzi’s goal is 1,500-2,000.

CMI also publishes a magazine, Chief Content Officer, and does consulting for Fortune 1,000 companies, such as Petco, AT&T and Allstate.

Pulizzi finds some real challenges working with content marketing and larger companies.

“If you are a marketer in a midsized to large company, you are dealing with hugely complex content issues because in a larger organization now, content is the most political beast in the marketing department,” he says.

“It is owned by everybody, there are lots of feuds regarding it but there is no real strategy behind it in most organizations. Most of the time, the content creators in big organizations don’t even talk to each other. It’s just all over the place now. So what we really try to focus on are complex content issues and how as a large enterprise marketer you can really try to figure those out.”

While any size of business can find help at CMI, Pulizzi realizes that midsized or large companies and PR professionals are the organization’s secret sauce.

“That’s where we feel the bigger problems are — and also a lot more revenue because these companies have the money to spend on this,” he says.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, Pulizzi feels very passionate about content marketing. He takes the Content Marketing World stage wearing a burnt orange three-piece suit. It gets the audience’s attention that it might be wise to hold on to their seats for his message.

“You’ve got to be a little bit different from the rest, and that could be the things you wear, the colors you like, things you do,” he says. “And those are the people at least in our industry who are getting the most attention. They do things a little bit differently.”

That’s why good, creative, compelling content that answers customers’ questions serves to differentiate a company from its rivals.

“Why the heck would they spend time with you?” Pulizzi says. “There are 10 million other resources where they could go to but what makes yours the best?

“If you’re not offering compelling content, you had better start investing time to both have an understanding of technology but more importantly to understand what your content strategy is.”

His advice is a three-pronged approach.

“Let’s say, you want your website to get found in Google — that’s search engine optimization. You want to drive online leads — that’s lead generation. Or you want to be successful in your social media efforts.

“None of those three start without first a good content marketing strategy. Because what are you going to have to say? You have to have something compelling to say to drive your business objectives.”

How to reach: Content Marketing Institute, (888) 554-2014 or www.contentmarketinginstitute.com

 

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:22

Unity demands diversity: Tom Nies

“E Pluribus Unum” — it’s the motto of the United States of America found on our national seal and all coins currently being manufactured. Its translation from Latin means, “out of many, one.”

It’s no surprise that the United States adopted this motto in 1776 upon its founding as a nation — the forefathers took 13 separate colonies and created one United States to which we continued adding states and territories over the years.

The same is true of the American people themselves. They came from many countries but together those many became one people, one nation.

I didn’t set out to write a history lesson when I began this column, but as I was reflecting on unity, I came to understand how relevant these words were for entrepreneurs or, truly, any business leader.

Out of many, one

A company is best when its employees come together with one another to develop unity.

There must be mobilization around a central theme or an organizing unity of purpose — a mission statement, an idea or culture.

Since no one is exactly the same, unity by its very nature demands diversity. The more diverse the different members of an organization may be, the greater the need for union and harmony.

Diversity does not mean division any more than solitary means solidarity. Nor can unity tolerate division. Because of this, the important idea seems clear enough: Diversity in unity strengthens, but division from unity weakens.

A truly successful business will only develop when this idea is taken into account. You have to find the delicate balance between personalities, work styles and ideas to unify a diverse group of individuals and strengthen an organization.

Good leaders will not want to surround themselves with “yes-men,” or those who are unified with the leader on every subject possible. Diverse viewpoints and ideas will only serve to strengthen an organization.

The value of a dissenter

Great leaders can also recognize the benefit of having at least one person surrounding them who can play the devil’s advocate. That person will present a differing viewpoint to the one commonly agreed upon.

This is not to say that a person should continuously argue for argument’s sake, but a confidant who can push and needle an issue is of great importance. It forces one to dive deeper into one’s views on a subject to ensure that it is the best route to take and either defend the position or discard it in favor of another.

This devil’s advocate must not cross the line as a negativist. However, when that occurs, that person will be a division from unity and weaken the institution.

This guidance can come into being during many different times in an organization’s life. When an entrepreneur brings in business partners, they all must work together to reach the unity to become one organization.

When a start-up discusses a corporate strategy with angel investors or future buyers, they must work together to find harmony and reach an understanding that strengthens the business or brand.

When an organization puts a board of directors in place, it is seeking counsel from a diverse group of individuals who can mobilize around a central theme of bettering profits or extending a company’s reach.

But these ideas extend even deeper into an organization. A group of employees may find value in them during a meeting as they attempt to implement a social media strategy or discuss internal purchases.

The best meetings will come out of the fact that diverse employees with differing ideas can unite and strengthen an organization. ?

 

Thomas M. Nies is the founder and CEO of Cincom Systems Inc. Since its founding in 1968, Cincom has matured into one of the largest international, independent software companies in the world. Cincom’s client base spans communications, financial services, education, government, manufacturing, retail, health care and insurance. Go to tomnies.cincom.com/about.

Published in Cincinnati
Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:18

Movers and Shakers January 2013

Magnus International Group announced that its founder, Eric Lofquist, has been named the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Distribution and Manufacturing Category Award winner.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award is the country’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.

 

Alliance Solutions Group, a full-service staffing and recruitment agency with offices in Cuyahoga, Summit, Portage, Franklin, Lorain, Mahoning, Lake and Wyandot counties, appointed Mark D’Agostino as president of Alliance Solutions Group of Akron. D’Agostino is opening a new staffing “hub” facility in Akron that offers the company’s full complement of staffing and recruitment services from all nine of its business units. Previously, Alliance Solutions Group operated a smaller office in Akron that only served the manufacturing and warehouse industries

 

Medical Mutual recently announced that Kathy Golovan has been appointed executive vice president and chief information officer. Golovan will be responsible for the information technology division including IT infrastructure and development.

Before joining Medical Mutual, Golovan was a tax consulting manager at Ernst & Young. She joined Medical Mutual in 1998 as a tax coordinator. In 1999, she moved from finance to legal.

 

Kaiser Permanente Ohio recently announced that Dr. Nabil Chehade has been named the next president and executive medical director of the Ohio Permanente Medical Group (OPMG), the exclusive physician network for Kaiser Permanente members.

Dr. Chehade began his new role Jan. 1 and will lead more than 200 health care clinicians and professionals who work for OPMG in 15 Kaiser Permanente medical offices in Northeast Ohio.

 

C.C. Hodgson recently announced the addition of two architects, Mark Duluk, senior design architect, and George Gatta, design architect/project manager.

Duluk is a graduate of Harvard University and has more than 20 years of experience in master planning and design.

Gatta returns back to working with Hodgson where he had previously worked on the master planning and designing of several senior living campuses.

 

Interlake Industries Inc. announced that Lisa M. Habe has been appointed chairman of the board of directors. The corporation specializes in short- to medium-run metal stampings with facilities in Ohio and Florida.

 

Western Reserve Partners announced that David P. Mariano has rejoined the firm as a director. Mariano will focus exclusively on building Western Reserve’s buy-side advisory practice. ?

Published in Cleveland

Domestic mergers and acquisitions decreased 28 percent from October to November, according to S&P Capital IQ, but the transaction values made up for the lack of volume by increasing 21 percent across the same period.

The strong purchasing power capabilities of both financial and strategic buyers, aging baby boomers needing to transition their businesses, and financials needing to exit aging portfolio companies are positive signs for the M&A market. Despite these factors, the future seems as murky as ever.

The fiscal cliff is rapidly approaching and we may have already taken the proverbial plunge before you even read this story.

Regarding corporate buyers, Lincoln Electric Co. snatched up three businesses from ITT Corp. near Charleston, S.C. Applied Industrial Technologies Inc. acquired HyQuip Inc., a 19-employee company that is a distributor of hydraulic, rubber and plastic industrial hose and tubing. Nordson Corp. purchased certain assets of Kodama Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., a licensed distributor for Nordson’s EDI business in Japan. Nordson acquired EDI last June.

Cedar Fair LP, which owns the Cedar Point amusement park, sold Knott’s Soak City in California to SeaWorld. It will become SeaWorld’s third aquatic park in the United States.

Eaton Corp. completed the acquisition of the electrical equipment supplier Cooper Industries plc for $13 billion.

The Riverside Co. made a total of four acquisitions in November. It acquired Digital University, which is the sixth add-on since 2007 to OnCourse Learning. Riverside also purchased Learning Seat, an Australian-based provider of e-learning courses. The other two companies are in the transportation and health care industries.

Finally, Sherwin-Williams Co. announced plans to acquire Mexican competitor COMEX for $2.4 billion.

 

ALBERT D. MELCHIORRE is the president of MelCap Partners LLC, a middle-market investment banking firm. He is also a director on the ACG Cleveland board. For more information on MelCap Partners, please visit www.melcap.co. For more information about the Association for Corporate Growth, please visit www.acg.org/cleveland.

 

Deal of the Month

Parker Hannifin Corp. is going out with a bang in 2012 as it completed two acquisitions with combined sales of $215 million in November, earning them the Deal of the Month award.

The first acquisition was Velcon Filters from the private equity firm, The Sterling Group.

Velcon is a niche manufacturer of filtration systems with 300 employees.

Parker’s second purchase was Houston-based PGI International. PGI is manufacturer of specialized, high-pressure flow control components and systems.

PGI has 550 employees and approximate sales of $100 million. This marks Parker’s 13th M&A transaction in 2012. The company has increased its annual dividends paid to shareholders for 56 consecutive fiscal years, among the top five longest running dividend increase records in the S&P 500 index.

Published in Cleveland

Steve Davidson wanted to do a better job of listening to his franchisees at Robeks Corp. It was the biggest complaint he heard upon taking over as president and CEO of the smoothie franchise chain, which has 116 stores around the world and nearly 1,000 corporate and franchise employees.

Franchisees were frustrated that the previous leadership regime didn’t take advantage of the depth of knowledge they gain each day from interacting with customers across the country.

“You have a lot of very bright, talented and creative people in your franchisees with lots of great ideas,” Davidson says. “They like to implement those ideas, and they are businesspeople. The challenge is to channel those ideas in the right direction to make them productive and utilize them as best as we possibly can.”

Davidson wanted to give franchisees an outlet to share their bursts of inspiration. But any system he put in place needed structure so that the great ideas could be researched and implemented and the suggestions that wouldn’t work could be gently turned down.

“There are so many ideas that, in order to be cohesive, we can’t implement them all,” Davidson says. “There are disappointments for some franchisees if they have a great idea that they think will work in their particular store in a particular part of the country; it just may not be something that works universally.”

If he chose to do nothing, turning a deaf ear to the ideas that were out there, Davidson risked damaging the Robeks brand.

“The franchisees will implement these things on their own and then you find different stores all going in different directions, which is not good for a chain,” Davidson says.

Davidson wanted to make it work and wanted to make franchisees feel like the valued part of the team that he believed them to be. He felt the best way to do that was to go out and share his thoughts face to face.

 

Be a good listener

Davidson has seen companies hold conventions for its franchisees where everyone in the organization converges on one location for a few days to talk about how great their company is.

“There is a big dog and pony show in Las Vegas or Chicago or wherever,” Davidson says. “I’ve done a number of those in my life with other companies, and I find them to be much less intimate. There are opportunities for about three days for everybody to get excited and then everybody goes back into their old routines again.”

Davidson thought a better approach would be to hit the road with his executive team and make personalized, less formal visits to various Robeks locations across the country.

“They were much smaller, much more intimate meetings, and they were in much smaller rooms so we had more one-on-one contact with people,” Davidson says. “It was much less dog and pony show and much more direct communication.”

When Davidson and his team of four to five people would visit a location, he wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t a site review. He wasn’t going around with a white glove trying to nail people for petty mistakes.

“It was about the franchisees,” Davidson says. “It was about us being out there. We did some presentations to talk about what the company was doing, but we spent a lot of time just listening. Our Q-and-A sessions were quite long.”

Davidson wanted to set the tone that even though these franchisees weren’t technically his employees, they were part of the Robeks team. And just as he was making himself available to the leaders of each location, he wanted to impress upon those leaders how important it was that they do the same with the people who reported to them.

“I wasn’t the only one up there,” Davidson says. “I got members of the various departments up there as well. They learned from the very beginning that not only was I open to direct feedback and sometimes attack, particularly in the early days, but I also expected every member of the team, the department heads, to make themselves available in the same context.”

A big part of Davidson’s approach was the priority he gave to listening. During his first 90 days on the job, listening was pretty much all he did when he came into work or went on his road trips across the United States.

“I sincerely took their input, took copious notes and made it clear that I wasn’t going to make any decisions and wasn’t in a hurry to make any changes, if I was going to make any at all, until I had an opportunity to meet as many stakeholders as I could,” Davidson says.

When you step into a situation where employees are calling for change, the easy thing to do is often to respond with change. But if you implement change without a real understanding of how things work in the organization, it could easily come back to haunt you.

“I stuck to my guns and said, ‘OK, I recognize that there are urgent matters, but I want to make sure I fully understand the issues and how any decision I might make may impact the whole organization,’” Davidson says.

 

Build the respect

As Davidson seeks to build relationships with his franchisees and learn more about the organization, he also seeks to build trust. He takes the approach that his people want to accomplish the same thing he does, which is to position Robeks to be successful.

“My approach to empowerment and to get the best out of people is to trust them immediately,” he says. “If we communicate clearly in terms of what the strategy and direction is, after we’ve spent as much time as we can listening and making sure we’re moving in the right direction, we believe we’re going to be followed.”

He does offer a caveat, however, to this philosophy.

“You’re not going to give someone so much rope that they can take risks that would bet the farm,” Davidson says. “You give everyone a tremendous amount of latitude, but you check in with them. I guess it’s called delegation.”

He wanted to continue the dialogue that had been established through his road trip meetings, so Davidson began forming committees to give people a clear voice in what happened in the company. There was a tactical marketing committee, a strategic marketing committee, a supply chain committee and an IT committee, just to name a few.

The committees were populated with people who Davidson felt could serve not only their own best interests but those of their direct reports as well.

“These various committees deal with key areas in our business where the key indicators tend to lie,” he says. “We have a supply chain committee, and we schedule that meeting once a month. If we have issues that are important to talk about, we set the agenda and we meet. If there is nothing going on, we cancel the meeting because we don’t want to have meetings just for the sake of having them.”

If you cancel meetings when there is no business to be conducted, you don’t send a bad message to your team. You actually send a positive message that you’re cognizant of their time and doing what you can to maximize it.

“That assures that meeting is a meaningful meeting and will be held if we clearly have issues,” Davidson says.

The IT committee is a prime example. When Robeks was implementing a new point-of-sale system, there were a number of issues that needed to be resolved.

“Now that we have resolved most of those and things are fairly routine, we disbanded or at least suspended that committee,” Davidson says. “We could always reinvigorate it at any point in time if some issues started to crop up again.”

The message he has focused on conveying is that he is there to help his franchisees make the business better, whether it’s meeting one-on-one or forming a committee to solve a problem.

“It opens up the communication, and you find fewer people are intimidated by, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy is the CEO,’” Davidson says. “I still get that to some extent from franchisees who will call me and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I know you’re busy. I don’t want to take up too much of your time.’ I’m always very careful that I let them know right up front that their issues are my issues. Don’t ever apologize for calling me about anything.”

As Davidson looks at Robeks today, he sees a company that is much more collaborative and empowering. Contests have been held for new product ideas and have generated a lot of enthusiasm, giving customers curiosity about what they’ll find on the menu the next time they come to the store.

“Once we’ve listened and got that input, the key is getting back to the franchisees and telling them where their ideas are and what we’re doing with them,” Davidson says. “If they don’t get answers back, they stop giving us ideas. We want the ideas because they are the lifeblood of our business.” ?

 

How to reach: Robeks Corp., (310) 727-0500 or www.robeks.com

The Davidson File

Born: Sun Prairie, Wis., a town just northeast of Madison.

 

Education: Bachelor of arts in social psychology; MBA, University of Wisconsin

 

What was your very first job?

I was 14, and I went to work in Lake Mills for the summer. I worked on a feeder pig farm.

 

What did you learn from that experience?

When you’re 14 living in a mobile home when you’d rather be visiting your girlfriend, it’s a very lonely place to be. But aside from that, even at 14, they trusted me a great deal and gave me a great deal of responsibility. I was impressed by that. It had a strong impact in terms of my views on trust and where that fits in the work world.

 

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

Francis Sheehan. He was a chemistry teacher at the senior high school in Sun Prairie. He was also the coach, but he was responsible for managing the city public swimming pool. For whatever reason, he came up in my life many times. When I needed a job, he would find me a job. Whether it was the only bicycle cop Sun Prairie ever had for the kids who rode bikes in the summer, to being a manager and lifeguard at the swimming pool, to taking care of athletic facilities at the senior high school. He just kept popping up in my life at various places. It was almost like he was a guardian angel. He seemed to be there whenever I, as a kid, needed some male adult direction and supervision and guidance.

 

Takeaways:

Don’t act before you have the facts.

Give your people a chance to prove themselves.

Don’t waste anyone’s time.

Published in Los Angeles

Often overlooked in discussions about improving Ohio’s economy is the fact that actions taken by state and local governments are primary drivers of the cost of doing business. Their ability to levy taxes and impose costly regulations directly impact a company’s bottom line. When governments are inefficient, they need more revenue. When they take a command and control approach to regulations, they often become an obstacle to growth.

To ensure a strong, competitive economy, we need efficient governments that tax less and provide greater value. That’s why the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and our state’s eight metropolitan chambers undertook an important study issued in December 2010, called Redesigning Ohio. It offers a road map for transforming Ohio’s state and local governments into 21st century institutions.

Burdened with an unprecedented fiscal crisis and a projected $8 billion deficit, state government leaders were at an important crossroads. They could continue to accept the status quo or they could embrace reforms aimed at improving services and heightening productivity through greater flexibility and innovation.

The ideas advanced in Redesigning Ohio provided a framework for thinking boldly about ways Ohioans can receive more value for their state and local tax dollars.

Redesigning Ohio offers 10 specific areas for reform. The first proposes changes to the budgeting process itself by employing a unique approach called Budgeting for Outcomes. Two other innovations, Charter Agencies and Entrepreneurial Management, incentivize greater efficiency by providing more freedom to manage in exchange for less funding and by bringing market-based competition to government services.

Redesigning Ohio also proposes pension and civil service reforms that harmonize the public and private sectors and regulatory reforms that use incentives to boost voluntary compliance. In the health care arena, the report urges the government to leverage its buying power to foster greater competition, lower costs and better results. Redesigning Ohio also offers ways to reduce the cost of the criminal justice system and urges a more thorough and regular review of tax credits, exemptions and deductions.

Finally, Ohio has a costly and outdated system of 3,700 local governmental units that must be brought into the 21st century by enhancing productivity and promoting greater collaboration.

Now, two years after the release of Redesigning Ohio, the same nine Chambers of Commerce have issued a Redesigning Ohio Update. The new report details the progress that has been made and sets out the next steps in this critical transformational process.

As a result of bold actions taken by Gov. John Kasich and Ohio lawmakers, clear progress has been made in reforming our criminal justice system and Medicaid program. Most importantly, the reforms are not just reducing costs; they are also improving results.

One of Gov. Kasich’s first actions established the Common Sense Initiative, which focuses on creating a more jobs-friendly regulatory climate in Ohio. CSI has achieved a number of successes that are making Ohio’s regulatory process more transparent, efficient and less costly for businesses.

Also in 2012, the Ohio Legislature enacted public employee pension reforms that are an important first step in ensuring the long-term solvency of those funds and reducing the cost for taxpayers.

During the past two years, many local governments and school districts embraced greater innovation and collaboration, but additional work remains. The successes highlighted in the Redesigning Ohio Update can serve as excellent models for the additional work ahead.

Today, our economy is improving. Unemployment is at 6.9 percent and tax revenues are increasing. But, we cannot allow these improvements to justify a return to the status quo. With Redesigning Ohio as a guide, we must continue the work necessary to transform our state and local governments into 21st century institutions. ?

 

Linda Woggon is executive vice president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As Ohio’s largest and most diverse statewide business advocacy group, the Ohio Chamber has been an effective voice for business since 1893. To contact the Ohio Chamber, call (614) 228-4201 or visit the website at www.ohiochamber.com.

Published in Akron/Canton