By Mark Scott, Dennis Seeds, Gregory Jones, Laura Green, Erik Cassano and Pete Fehrenbach

(Numbers in parentheses are 2012 rankings.)

When you look over this year’s Power 100 list, there are 10 new faces, 90 familiar faces and a good bit of movement. That’s not to say that the Smart Business Columbus editors could only find 10 rising stars in the power landscape, but the stable of influential leaders of Central Ohio had a full year of ups and some downs, some wins and losses, and a general sense that economic conditions are improving.

As the years go on, perhaps most would rather forget they are aging, but not so with cities. Columbusmarked its 200th birthday in 2012. Ty Marsh headed the planning committee forColumbus’ party, which included exhibitions and educational programs honored the city’s founding as well as more than 40 events, including the “Red, White and Boom” fireworks celebration.

Eric Fingerhut, already well-known in Greater Cleveland as a legislator as well as chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, is now helping a train a new crop of science and technology leaders as vice president, education and STEM learning, for the Battelle Memorial Institute.

New addition Tom Lennox is the founder of theColumbus- based nonprofit organization that plans and promotes an annual bike tour of the same name, Pelatonia, which sends all of its proceeds to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

As for politicians new to the list, we add one — Andrew Ginther, president of Columbus City Council, who has worked closely with Mayor Michael Coleman to bolsterColumbus’ image with tourists and conventions. He’s chaired council’s finance and economic development committee and supports building safe and strong neighborhoods, too.

Many of the other influential leaders have also been busy in 2012 creating new jobs, growing their businesses and making positive contributions to Central Ohio. They’ve not been standing still. They’ll be in their roles until it is time for the changing of the guard. And that’s part of the evolving landscape the editors hope you will see as you look at the most influential business, civic and political leaders for 2013.


1. Les Wexner

chairman and CEO, Limited Brands Inc. (1)

Wexner will mark an impressive milepost in 2013 — his 50th year of running The Limited. From opening his first Limited store in 1963 in the Kingsdale Shopping Center in Upper Arlington with first-year sales of $160,000, to leading what today has become a $10 billion business, Wexner, 75, is enthusiastic as ever about growing his business and philanthropy efforts. In recognition of a $100 million pledge from his family and the Limited Brands Foundation, The Ohio State University renamed the Wexner Medical Center in his honor. This was the largest such single gift the university had ever received.

Wexner announced in June that he was stepping down as a trustee at OSU after serving 18 years, including several years as chairman of the board.


2. John F. Wolfe

publisher, Columbus Dispatch; chairman and CEO, Dispatch Publishing Co. (3)

Wolfe was given a special recognition award in September from the Associated Press Society of Ohio for “exemplary service to print journalism.” Given to “those who surpass their peers in their dedication and accomplishments,” the honor adds to the Dispatch’s influence on delivering the news. The newspaper was named best newspaper among Ohio’s largest papers and was named the best website. Dispatch staffers won 39 other awards in the annual AP competition honoring work done in 2011.


3. Michael Coleman

mayor, Columbus (2)

When a New York Times Magazine article in September detailed the economic recovery steps that Ohio has been taking, the author noted that Coleman had been mayor for 12 years and “can probably keep the job for life if he wants to.” But that’s just one reason why he tops our list this year.

Coleman continues his efforts to improve the economic strength of Central Ohio and played an important role in ending the gridlock that stalled the Hollywood Casino Columbus project.

He also created a new taxpayer-funded nonprofit development group, the Columbus Next Generation Development Corp., to encourage development in the city’s most needy areas. A similar group folded three years ago after being $4 million in debt. Not to be left out, the Columbus City Schools also received attention from Coleman. He announced an effort to assess and improve the schools and named former Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut to advise the city in the program.


4. John Kasich

governor, Ohio (5)

From May to July, Ohio added more jobs than every state but California. In just two years in office, Kasich has helped create more than 120,000 new jobs in the state. It’s all part of a gradual turnaround fueled by several factors, including Kasich’s pro-business policies. Kasich gave Mark Kvamme and JobsOhio credit for the 120,000 jobs, but that claim has been clouded by questions of constitutionality that have held up JobsOhio’s deal with the state for liquor department profits as a dedicated source of spending money for the next 25 years. Kasich has actively pursued various revenue streams for the state, including leasing the Ohio Turnpike. He also supports the use of compressed natural gas in state vehicles to create a market for fuel that energy companies are starting to extract from Ohio’s Utica shale.


5. Steve Rasmussen

CEO, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. (4)

Nationwide spent much of 2012 recovering from the $582 million lost in 2011 on storm claims and investments, but it was able to make a major acquisition — Harleysville Mutual Insurance Co. and Harleysville Group Inc., an $834 million deal.

Rasmussen says the transaction sets Nationwide apart from the competition as a top independent agency partner in the United States while maintaining its strong commitment to agency partners. Rasmussen and his wife, Cindy, were named co-chairs for the 2012 United Way of Central Ohio campaign, which has a goal of raising $52.55 million.


6. Ron Pizzuti

chairman and CEO, The Pizzuti Cos. (6)

A collection of contemporary art owned by Pizzuti is being housed in a new 20,000-square-foot building on North Park Street. But that’s not all Pizzuti, who was ranked by ARTnews magazine as among the world’s top 200 art collectors, has in mind for the Short North site. Construction has begun for a new public parking garage, Class A office building and boutique hotel, to be called The Joseph.


7. E. Gordon Gee

president, The Ohio State University (7)

Called “Ohio’s best politician” by Gov. Kasich, Gee, finds himself involved in yet another effort — to develop a new funding formula for the state’s colleges and universities. Gee was also reappointed to the board of directors for JobsOhio, the Kasich administration’s economic development arm. But Gee, 68, came under fire as Ohio State has spent $64,000 since 2007 on bow ties, bow tie cookies and O-H and bow tie pins for Gee and others to distribute as was revealed in a Dayton Daily News story. In his defense, supporters said university presidents, such as Gee, should spend more time and energy fundraising to compensate for the decline in government support for higher education.


8. Don Casto

partner, Casto (8)

As one of the investors in improvements to LeVeque Tower, Casto received $4 million in July in property-tax breaks for the location to continue over the next 10 years, with an additional $2 million for streetscape improvements around the tower. This includes areas on Broad Street, Front Street and the adjacent alleys. The project also received $5 million worth of Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits through the Ohio Department of Development. Casto also began work on Secur-It building in downtown’s RiverSouth district after several years of speculation on the former Adler Building’s future.


9. Tanny Crane

president and CEO, Crane Group (9)

Crane, noted for her support and encouragement of the Columbus community, gave $1 million to the Southern Gateway neighborhood for revitalization and redevelopment. The contribution, in recognition of the plastic company’s 65th anniversary, will help renovate the closed Reeb Elementary School into a neighborhood center, which will offer social programming and house the South Side Learning Center. Earlier in the fall, Crane sold one of its biggest companies, its TimberTech decking division, to Scranton, Pa.-based CPG International Inc.


10. Dr. Steve Allen

CEO, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (17)

Nationwide Children’s Hospital celebrated the opening of its new $430 million, 293-bed inpatient hospital, the center of its massive expansion project, with a black tie gala that raised $3.8 million for pediatric research, but that wasn’t the only news last year. Under the direction of Allen, the hospital was listed on U.S. News & World Report’s annual honor roll for the first time in its history, recognized as one of the nation’s best pediatric centers. The hospital ranked eighth on this prestigious list. Nationwide Children’s also made the magazine’s overall best hospitals list, marking the seventh year in a row on that list.


11. Steve Steinour

chairman, president and CEO, Huntington Bancshares Inc. (11)

Steinour, a cheerleader for Central Ohio’s recent recovery from the recession, touted the region’s successes on CNBC and Bloomberg TV — and he didn’t have to look far for proof. Huntington racked up significant gains in 2012. Huntington is seeing its strategy to attract new customers and get them into several bank products at once pay off. The bank has committed $1 million over the next three years to help the Columbus Urban League energize economic growth and create jobs in Columbus’ urban core.


12. David Blom

president and CEO, OhioHealth (13)

Blom’s $3.02 million in deferred compensation for 2012, along with base salary and benefits topped the $2.3 million earned by Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. OhioHealth noted the figure won’t be recurring, but it’s an example of Blom’s clout in the region and his ability to meet performance targets. In April, OhioHealth and the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine signed an agreement for OhioHealth to partner with Heritage College at a new Dublin extension campus.


13. Larry James

partner, Crabbe, Brown & James (12)

James, fresh off his defense of OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor for NCAA violations, helped defend linebacker Storm Klein on misdemeanor domestic violence and assault charges. Klein pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, was put on 18 months’ probation and was suspended for two games. The alleged victim recanted her story, and after Klein’s guilty plea, coach Urban Meyer reinstated him to the team. Larry and his wife, Donna, received the prestigious American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award. He also received the Distinguished Alumni Award by Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. James was also selected by the King Arts Complex as one of the 24 Living Legends in Central Ohio.


14. Alex Shumate

managing partner, Squire, Sanders and Dempsey LLC (10)

Gov. Kasich appointed Shumate in June to serve the remainder of the term of Les Wexner, who had resigned from the board of trustees at Ohio State. Shumate served previously on the board from 1989-1998 and from 2006-2012, including a term as chairman of the board from 1997-98 and as vice chairman from 2011-2012. Shumate has been consistently selected by his peers for the annual Best Lawyers in America listing and as an Ohio Super Lawyer.


15. Jay Schottenstein

chairman, Schottenstein Management, American Eagle, Retail Ventures, DSW (16)

Schottenstein, chairman of American Eagle Outfitters, took over as executive chairman of the company in 2012 to devote time to groom its new CEO, Robert Hanson. For his work with Hanson, he received an annual base salary of $500,000, performance incentives potentially worth up to $1 million and additional company stock. Schottenstein has been chairman since 1992 and had been CEO for 10 years. A Los Angeles real estate investor with ties to Columbus purchased a large piece of Schottenstein Property Group’s industrial portfolio in Central Ohio. Hackman Capital bought 12 flex office-warehouse properties and 32 warehouse and distribution centers.


16. Curtis Moody

president and CEO, Moody-Nolan Inc. (20)

Moody-Nolan clinched a big win when it secured a contract to design the expansion of CenturyLink’s headquarters in Monroe, La. The $60 million project will be designed at Moody-Nolan’s facilities in Columbus and calls for a technology center, parking garage and cafeteria. Among other recent additions to the firm’s portfolio are Columbus Commons, the Downtown Hilton and the 17-story cancer and critical-care tower that, once completed, will anchor Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center as the tallest building on campus.


17. Donna James

managing director, Lardon and Associates LLC (14)

The Center for Healthy Families, which James founded in 2007, marked its fifth year in operation. As a former teen parent herself, James became a Fortune 500 corporate executive, a director for five corporate boards and a leader in the Central Ohio community. She continues to chair the National Women’s Business Council to which President Obama appointed her.


18. John P. Beavers

partner, Bricker & Eckler (15)

Beavers specializes in counseling and representing governing boards and executives, and he wrote an article titled “A Chronology Showing the Penn State Board of Trustees Acted Appropriately,” a review of the steps taken by the school’s board following allegations of criminal sexual misconduct.


19. Curt Loveland

partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP (18)

Loveland penned an article titled, “JOBS Act: New Law Facilitates Raising Capital,” a review of how the new law makes significant changes to how businesses can raise capital. He has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of corporate law for more than 10 consecutive years and in Chambers USA in the area of corporate law/M&A.


20. Jeffrey Wadsworth

president and CEO, Battelle Memorial Institute (28)

In June, Wadsworth won the 2013 Acta Materialia Inc. Materials and Society Award, which he will receive in March. Wadsworth has authored or co-authored nearly 300 scientific papers and one book, has been granted four U.S. patents and has received numerous awards.


21. Abigail Wexner

chair,, Family Violence Coalition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (44)

As Wexner concludes her seven-year stint as chairwoman of the board of trustees at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, she can look back on a remarkable period of progress. Nationwide Children’s has appeared on U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s Best Hospitals every year since 2006 and for 2012-13 was named among the top 50 in 10 different specialties. With the June opening of a new state-of-the-art, 12-story hospital, Wexner now will turn the reins over to Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership and a Nationwide Children’s board member since 2011.


22. Michael Fiorile

president and COO, The Dispatch Printing Co. (21)

Broadcasting & Cable named Fiorile the 2012 Broadcaster of the Year. He was also named to the 2012 governing committee for the Columbus Foundation


23. Dr. Steven G. Gabbe

CEO, OSU Medical Center (22)

OSU Medical Center conducted research that showed the injection of a tiny capsule containing heat-generating cells into the abdomens of mice led those animals to burn abdominal fat and initially lose about 20 percent of belly fat after 80 days of treatment.


24. Doug Kridler

president and CEO, The Columbus Foundation (32)

Limited Brands gifted $163.4 million to The Columbus Foundation in September. The donation is believed to be the largest financial gift to a 501(c)(3) in Ohio history. Giving to the foundation reached an all-time high in 2011, with more than $249 million donated to new and existing funds and supporting donations.


25. Ty Marsh

chairman, Columbus200 (19)

Marsh left his post in 2010 as CEO of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce to head the planning committee for Columbus’ bicentennial birthday bash. More than 40 events, exhibitions and educational programs honored the city’s founding. He’s also owner of Ty Marsh Associates, a consulting firm focused on economic development.


26. Roger Geiger

Ohio executive director, National Federation of Independent Business (35)

Recent NFIB legislative victories in Ohio include the “Right to Cure” House Bill 275, legislation that allows a business to make an offer to a consumer who has filed a consumer sales practices act (CSPA) lawsuit against a business for a product or service that did not meet the expectation of the consumer, and also Senate Bill 202, the Trespasser Liability Act, which codifies Ohio’s long-existing common law protection afforded to private property owners.


27. Boyce Safford III

director, Columbus Department of Development (36)

With support from Safford, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman approved forming the Columbus Next Generation Development Corp., a nonprofit development group aimed at developing some of the poorest areas of the city.


28. Michael Dalby

president of Columbus Chamber of Commerce (38)

The chamber is placing more emphasis on the services and expertise that it can provide to businesses, Dalby says. Under his leadership, the Columbus Chamber has transformed into a business development and advocacy organization focused on expanding and retaining existing businesses.


29. James Malz

president of Columbus market, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (46)

Chase, the region’s largest private-sector employer, plans to add 350 or more employees in Central Ohio during the next five years. To accommodate its employment growth, the firm will invest more than $18 million to refurbish leased office space at two Polaris Parkway locations. When this new wave of hiring is complete, Chase will have added more than 6,000 new jobs and a million square feet of real estate in Central Ohio since its 2004 merger of Bank One and JPMorgan Chase. Last year alone, Chase added about 2,500 jobs in Central Ohio.


30. David Milenthal

co-chairman, Milenthal-DelGrosso LLC (43)

Milenthal-DelGrosso was the local sponsor for American City Business Journals’ first annual Social Madness challenge, hosted locally by Columbus Business First and sponsorsed nationally by Capital One. The company took top honors in the eHealthcare Leadership Awards.


31. Mary Taylor

Lieutenant governor, Ohio (56)

Taylor has been working to improve job creation in Ohio through her role leading CSI Ohio, the “Common Sense Initiative,” to reform Ohio’s regulatory policies. She is also serving as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. The hope is that these two assignments provide an effective launching pad to make Ohio a friendly state for creating jobs and new business.


32. Alex Fischer

president and CEO, Columbus Partnership (64)

As a leader of the Columbus 2020 economic development initiative, Fischer has already helped the organization exceed its five-year, $30-million-fundraising goal to have $30.2 million pledged. The money will be used to fund economic development efforts and comes from partnership members and 125 new investors.

He was an integral part of a two-year plan to save the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets this year. In 2012, he succeeded Abigail Wexner as the chairman of the board of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.


33. Jordan Miller Jr.

president and CEO, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio (55)

Miller helped Fifth Third Bank present two $50,000 checks. One was to Janet Jackson, president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio, to fund The Neighborhood Leadership Academy. The other was presented to Homeport Housing Advisory Center to help support Homeport’s community life programs.


34. Rob Portman

U.S. senator, Ohio (25)

Portman introduced a bipartisan bill with Sen. Sherrod Brown aimed at protecting the historic integrity of the village of Zoar in Tuscarawas County as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studies ways to manage the village’s aging levee. Portman also actively supported the failed campaign of Mitt Romney throughout 2012.


35. Peter Geier

CEO, OSU Health System; COO,OSU Wexner Medical Center (24)

The center has consistently been ranked one of America’s best hospitals. Ohio State’s College of Medicine ranked 14th in the country on the 2013 U.S. News & World Report list of America’s Best Graduate Schools.


36. Linda Heasley

president and CEO, The Limited (27)

In April, Heasley delivered a lecture to students at the Savannah College of Art and Design as part of the college’s “SCAD Style” annual event.


37. John P. McConnell

chairman and CEO, Worthington Industries Inc.; majority owner, Columbus Blue Jackets (29)

Worthington Industries finished its fiscal year with flat profit and an increase in sales. Worthington reported profit of $115.6 million for the fiscal year that ended in May, up from $115.1 million, and sales of $2.5 billion, up from $2.4 billion. The Blue Jackets finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 29-46-7 record and their third consecutive last-place finish in the NHL’s Central Division.


38. John B. Gerlach Jr.

chairman, president and CEO, Lancaster Colony Corp. (34)

Lancaster Colony reported $1.13 billion in net sales for fiscal 2012, a 4 percent increase over fiscal 2011.


39. Kurt Tunnell

managing partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP (45)

In late 2011, Tunnell received the “Champion of Diversity Legal Award” from the National Diversity Council. As managing partner, Tunnell has played a key role in continuing the tradition of an organization that has a strong history of groundbreaking diversity.


40. Russell Gertmenian

managing partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (30)

Gertmenian, now in his fifth year as managing partner of the firm, was named to 2013 Best Lawyers in America list in corporate compliance law and corporate governance law.


41. Melissa Ingwersen

Central Ohio District President, Key Bank (23)

Ingwersen has been a member of the Columbus Partnership since 2004. The Columbus Partnership is a nonprofit, membership-based CEO organization with the primary goal to improve the economic vitality of the Columbus region. She has served on community boards and organizations, including the YWCA of Columbus, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Franklin University, the OSU Health Plan board and the Capitol South Urban Redevelopment Corp. board.


42. Jane Grote Abell

chair, Donatos Pizzeria LLC (52)

The Grote family made a $1 million contribution to seed the rehabilitation initiative of the Southern Gateway neighborhood’s Reeb Elementary School, which will offer social programming and house the South Side Learning Center.


43. Maureen O’Connor

chief justice, Ohio Supreme Court (33)

In a 4-3 vote, the Ohio Supreme Court voted to throw out the murder conviction of Toneisha Gunnell of Columbus, on the basis that she was unconstitutionally subjected to double jeopardy due to an improperly declared mistrial.


44. Tom Lennox

founder and CEO, Pelotonia (new)

The grassroots organization was founded in 2008 with the objective of funding cancer research. It sponsors a three-day bicycle riding “experience” that in its first four years has raised more than $42 million. All the proceeds go to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.


45. Elaine Roberts

president and CEO, Port Columbus International Airport, Columbus Regional Airport Authority (48)

Port Columbus partnered with Arconas to create power units that have been retrofitted into airport seating. Additionally, more than 40 recently installed workstations provide convenient electrical and electronic connections for passengers. Port Columbus became one of the first airports in the U.S. to install PowerMats, which are wireless charging docks for electronic devices.


46. Andrew J. Ginther

council president, Columbus (new)

Ginther is working closely with Mayor Michael Coleman to bolster Columbus’ image with tourists and conventions. He’s been able to bring different groups to the table to talk about solutions that can help the city.


47. Jack Ruscilli

chairman, Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. (40)

Ruscilli associates participated in the 2012 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure in downtown Columbus raising $1,000 for cancer research. Three bowling teams from the company raised more than $5,000 for the 2012 Bowl for Kids’ Sake event, which is the largest and most important annual fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio.


48. Gene Smith

associate vice president and director of athletics, The Ohio State University (41)

Smith will serve as a member of the NCAA Division I Administration Cabinet through July 1, 2014. The group oversees and recommends membership to NCAA committees. Smith is active in the Columbus community and is a member of the board of the YMCA of Central Ohio and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Columbus and the governing board of trustees of the Lincoln Theater Association. He also is active with the Bell Center for African-American males on Ohio State’s campus, where he sponsors a mentoring program called Team Smith. On the athletic front, the hiring of Urban Meyer paved the way to a perfect 12-0 season for the football team, a great season even without a bowl berth.


49. Nancy Kramer

founder, chairman and chief culture officer, Resource Interactive (49)

The trade publication Advertising Age named Kramer one of the 100 most influential women in advertising.


50. Michael Gonsiorowski

Central Ohio regional president, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (37)

PNC announced in December that the bank would contribute another $1 million to help boost the arts in Central Ohio. Grant proposals for $20,000 or more were accepted from qualified arts organizations with the next round of grants set to be announced in June.


51. Michelle Kerr

co-founder, chairman and president, Oxford Consulting Group Inc. (57)

Oxford was named to the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing companies in 2012. And the Columbus Chapter of the National Association for Women Business Owners recognized Kerr as a finalist for the prestigious 2012 Visionary Awards.


52. Bill Ingram

CEO, White Castle Systems Inc. (58)

Ingram and his wife, Marci, recently announced a $10 million pledge to Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to establish the Marci and Bill Ingram Comprehensive Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Ingram-White Castle Foundation has also contributed $1.25 million in each of the last four years to other charitable causes in the region. On the business front, the hamburger chain announced plans to build a new frozen-food facility creating 100 permanent jobs in Vandalia.


53. Tom Katzenmeyer

senior vice president of university communications, The Ohio State University (new)

In addition to his work keeping the public informed about what’s happening at OSU, Katzenmeyer serves as chair of the city’s funding review advisory committee. He’s been another key player in the effort to drive growth throughout Columbus and is also a vice chair for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.


54. Dwight Smith

founder and CEO, Sophisticated Systems Ltd. (51)

A 2012 Junior Achievement Laureate, his company recently bought Square One Technology Solutions. Square One provides managed services, virtualization and information security services for organizations in the private and public sectors throughout Central Ohio.


55. Emil Brolick

president and CEO, Wendy’s Co. (65)

The company has dramatically transformed its world headquarters and restaurant support center. After construction on a $17 million project is completed in early 2013, the Dublin campus will house more than 600 employees. The company also renovated the largest office building on campus and is constructing a new 75,000-square-foot office building and conference center, named for Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. Wendy’s is also in the midst of a comprehensive transformation to contemporize the brand and dramatically improve the customer experience. Consumers are responding, as evidenced by five consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales.


56. Denny Griffith

president, Columbus College of Art & Design (66)

The college now has an enrollment of more than 1,300 students from 40 states and 35 foreign countries and a 12-1 student to faculty ratio.

Griffith has also maintained a vigorous commitment to his work as an artist. His work has been included in more than 90 group and solo exhibitions domestically and abroad. He’s part of the collections at such public institutions as The Butler Institute of American Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the China Academy of Art.


57. Brian Ellis

president and COO, Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd. (67)

In September, Nationwide announced it would construct a new office building near Nationwide Arena, which will house 1,000 employees whom the company plans to relocate downtown.


58. Sandra Harbrecht

president and CEO, Paul Werth Associates (68)

Harbrecht continues to add to her extensive community involvement resume, which includes a position on the dean’s advisory council for the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State.


59. Matthew Kallner

attorney, Law Offices of Matthew G. Kallner (26)

Kallner still serves on the board for the Center for Healthy Families. He also serves on the board of directors for the Jeannie B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany.


60. Eric Fingerhut

corporate vice president, education and STEM learning, Battelle Memorial Institute (new)

The former state senator from Greater Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve education policy in Columbus. He served four years as head of the Ohio Board of Regents and is now working to inspire and train the next generation of science and technology leaders.


61. Robert Weiler Sr.

chairman, The Robert Weiler Co. (53)

Weiler is serving a three-year term on the board of trustees for the Central Ohio Transit Authority until 2014. He remains on the board of Ohio Capital Corp. for Housing as its secretary


62. Nick Akins

president and CEO, American Electric Power (new)

Akins became the sixth CEO in the company’s history in November 2011, replacing the retired Michael Morris. He serves on a number of industry-related boards, as well as boards for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Wexner Center for the Arts.


63. Cindy Hilsheimer

founder and managing principal, BeecherHill (new)

The executive search firm changed its name this year from SC Search Consultants to BeecherHill. Hilsheimer is very involved in Pelotonia and also serves as a member of the board for the Columbus Metropolitan Library.


64. Matt Habash

president and CEO, Mid-Ohio Foodbank (new)

The former Columbus city councilman presides over a network of more than 550 member agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Mid-Ohio Foodbank handles more than 40 million pounds of food each year and provides more than 100,000 meals every day to the hungry in Central Ohio.


65. Cameron Mitchell

founder and president, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants LLC (73)

In October, Cameron Mitchell Catering partnered with the Memorial Tournament to serve as the exclusive on-course hospitality caterer for the prestigious tournament hosted by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.


66. Joel Pizzuti

president, The Pizzuti Cos. (77)

A 1.4 million-square-foot business park recently opened in New Albany, and The Pizzuti Cos. built three of the park’s seven buildings. The company also announced a $59 million Pizzuti project in the Short North that includes an 11-story, 135-room boutique hotel.


67. Sheri Tackett

founder and president, Delta Energy LLC (81)

Delta Energy ranked first in the Top 100 Woman-Owned Businesses in America, Top 100 Diversity Owned Businesses in Ohio and Top 100 Privately-held Businesses in Ohio by She was also recently named to the 2012 class of the Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine.


68. Beatrice Wolper

co-founder and partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm LPA (54)

Wolper serves as the Ohio president for the International Women’s Forum and serves as a director of TB Investment Properties and Insight Bank. She is on the legal advisory board of the Columbus Foundation and a member of Central Ohio Planned Giving.


69. Michelle Heritage

executive director, Community Shelter Board (new)

She has been featured as one of the 12 Women You Should Know in Columbus and provides visible leadership in the effort to end homelessness. She serves on local, state and national boards for human services, diversity, homelessness and community research and is a key strategist in the effort to improve life in Central Ohio.


70. David Harrison

president, Columbus State Community College (70)

After several years of solid growth, the Columbus Dispatch reported that enrollment at Columbus State Community College had dropped by 16 percent last fall. Officials are blaming the enrollment decrease on the switch to semesters. More students are taking fewer credit hours, a factor that, combined with the drop in enrollment, could result in as much as a $15 million budget shortfall.


71. Janet Jackson

president and CEO, United Way of Central Ohio (75)

The United Way of Central Ohio plans to reduce funding for education programs, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Education programs make up the biggest share of its grantees, but funding would be reduced by 10 percent next year as the agency aims to stabilize allocations and make more money available for broader community work.


72. Guy Worley

president and CEO, Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capital South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. (79)

Worley has been named to a new 24-member Town and Gown Advisory Committee for the Arts. He’s also playing a key role in reshaping downtown Columbus through a number of projects that are in the works going into 2013.


73. Kenny McDonald

senior vice president, Columbus Partnership; chief economic officer, Columbus2020 (85)

McDonald spoke last summer about some of the progress that has been made creating jobs in Central Ohio. Columbus 2020 has a goal of adding 150,000 net new jobs by 2020, along with increasing personal per capita income by 30 percent and adding $8 billion of capital investment.


74. Barbara Kunz

president, Health and Life Sciences Global Business, Battelle Memorial Institute (84)

In September, Battelle unveiled a new lab that allows researchers to observe and evaluate how real-life patients and clinicians both use and interact with medical devices. The User Research Lab (uLab) is located at Battelle’s Columbus headquarters, next to its medical device development building. The uLab allows researchers to conduct usability studies, an activity that has become increasingly critical to medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers as they launch new products.


75. Neil Mortine

president and CEO, Fahlgren Mortine (74)

For the second year in a row, Bulldog Reporter, a national news source for the public relations and communications industry, named Fahlgren Mortine its gold agency of the year. The agency won in the midsize category, a step up from the small agency category in which it competed last year.


76. Robert M. Eversole

principal, Stonehenge Partners Inc. (62)

Eversole continues to serve as a board member of Advanced Drainage Systems, as well as Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He was also a 2012 judge for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.


77. Joe Alutto

executive vice president and provost, The Ohio State University (69)

Alutto will step down from his post as OSU’s exec VP and provost and become a special adviser to OSU President E. Gordon Gee on June 30. As Gee’s special adviser, Alutto will work on distance education and university advancement initiatives. He will also return to the faculty.


78. Michael Glimcher

chairman and CEO, Glimcher Realty Trust (72)

Glimcher Realty made a couple of acquisitions during 2012. The company bought a lumberyard in Malibu, Calif., and a retail center in Leawood, Kan. It was also named one of the best places to work in Ohio by the Ohio Society for Human Resource Management.


79. Bruce Hagen

regional executive and president, Dublin Methodist Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital (89)

Dublin Methodist was named one of the nation’s best hospitals by Thomson Reuters. The honor was announced in May as Dublin was recognized in the small community hospitals category.


80. Doug Morgan

attorney; bicycling advocate (83)

Morgan continues to practice law on a full-time basis, but he has taken on a new venture working for the Mt. Vernon Barn Co., making furniture from reclaimed wood found in barns and log houses. He continues to serve on the boards of Consider Biking, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Columbus Club. He was a founding board member of TechColumbus.


81. George Barrett

chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health Inc. (82)

Barrett’s company ranks No. 21 on the Fortune 500, and Barrett himself is involved with numerous boards across Central Ohio, including Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ohio Business Roundtable and the Columbus Partnership. Barrett was also named a co-chair on the mayor’s education commission to help “reimagine” the Columbus City Schools.


82. David Bianconi

founder, Bel Lago Restaurant, (88)

Bianconi has been busy with his restaurant in Westerville, which promises patrons a “casual-luxury dining” experience. The restaurant has received very positive reviews for its Italian-American cuisine and the picturesque views of the Hoover Reservoir.


83. Claus von Zychlin

president and CEO, Mount Carmel Health System (new)

Mount Carmel is the 11th-largest employer in Central Ohio with nearly 8,000 employees, more than 1,500 physicians and 1,000 volunteers. The hospital system broke ground on a $58 million project for expansion of health services in Grove City, starting with a freestanding emergency care center.


84. Craig Marshall

risk advisory partner/Columbus office managing partner, Ernst & Young LLP, Columbus office (59)

Marshall continues as a member of the boards of directors for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and the United Way of Central Ohio. He is also a member of the business council for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.


85. David Meuse

principal, Stonehenge Partners Inc. (61)

Meuse sits on the governing committee of The Columbus Foundation and several other boards including Central Benefits Mutual Insurance Co., ORIX USA Corp. and The Columbus Partnership.


86. Michael Petrecca

managing partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Columbus office (60)

Petrecca is the board chair for the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts and continues to serve on the boards of the Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau/TechColumbus.


87. Tom Krouse

president and CEO, Donatos Pizza (92)

In May, Donatos was listed as the leader of the fast-casual sector for pizza restaurants with an estimated $166 million in 2011 sales. The pizza chain also hired a new vice president of marketing, filling a position that had been open for a couple of years.


88. Jon Milenthal

CEO, Milenthal-DelGrosso LLC (95)

The firm launched its new website and was honored with a national health care marketing award.


89. Yvette McGee Brown

former Justice, Ohio Supreme Court (new)

Brown became the first African-American female justice on the Ohio Supreme Court when she took office Jan. 1, 2011. While she lost in the November election, she is expected to remain active in the Columbus community through the many boards she serves on, and she will continue to serve as a role model for her pioneering spirit.


90. Larry Hilsheimer

president and COO, Nationwide Retirement Plans (39)

Top leaders have switched roles as part of the company’s plan to develop executive talent. Hilsheimer will retain oversight of Nationwide Bank while Anne Arvia will lead Nationwide Direct, Affinity and Growth Solutions, which includes Nationwide’s property- and casualty-insurance sales operations.


91. J. Richard Emens

partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm LPA; chairman and executive director, Conway Center for Family Business (63)

Emens continues to work with his team at Conway Center for Family Business to build programs that help family-run businesses succeed.


92. Robert Schottenstein

chairman, president and CEO, M/I Homes Inc. (76)

A big jump in sales helped M/I Homes report its first quarterly profit since 2009 and only its second since the beginning of 2007.


93. Robert C. White

co-founder and chairman, The Daimler Group Inc. (86)

White continues to be a devoted supporter of Flying Horse Farms, a no-fee camp for children with serious illnesses that The Daimler Group helped build in Mount Gilead.


94. John McEwan

managing partner, Deloitte LLP’s Central Ohio practice (91)

Deloitte is a major supporter of the Ohio State Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition, which provides a forum for faculty, students and entrepreneurs to win approximately $130,000 in cash and pro bono services to use as start-up funds to transform an idea into a thriving business.


95. John (Jack) Partridge

president, Columbia Gas of Ohio (94)

Partridge continues to be actively involved in the effort to conserve energy in new construction that takes place in the Central Ohio region.


96. Debra Penzone

president, Charles Penzone Family of Salons (96)

Penzone was active in the community in 2012 speaking to women about the importance of discovering their “true beauty from the inside out” and what they need to do to gain the tools to succeed in their professional careers.


97. Philip R. Smith II

office managing partner, KPMG (97)

Smith serves as the partner champion for KPMG Columbus’s Green Initiative. Under his leadership, the firm has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 25 percent in the past four years.


98. Sue Zazon

president and CEO, FirstMerit Bank, Columbus region (98)

Zazon was announced as a speaker at the 2013 Leadership Summit hosted by The Ohio State University Institute of Industrial Engineers. The event is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2013.


99. Frank Kass

chairman, Continental Real Estate Cos. (80)

The Hand Center project at Polaris took the top honors in the Best Office/Medical Project category in the annual awards presented by the Central Ohio chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.


100. Robert Trafford

managing partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP (87)

Trafford had another solid year as his firm welcomed two new partners in 2012 and a number of attorneys were honored for their continued stellar performance in the courtroom.


Published in Columbus

Four years ago, PBD Worldwide was on a roll, tearing through its eighth consecutive year of hand-over-fist growth. Then, in the second half of 2008, a hard one-two combination knocked down the Atlanta-based storage and distribution company.

The first blow that staggered PBD was the recession. The broad downturn rocked all the market sectors in which the company does business, forcing customers of all stripes to pull on their reins and cut their budgets.

Second, and more ominously, PBD’s core business — distributing books and other printed educational material — began to shrink noticeably. Customers that had been dipping their toe into digital media started jumping in with both feet. The shift cut into PBD’s core revenue dramatically.

“In 2008, we had our best year ever,” says Scott Dockter, president and CEO. “We’d had eight straight years of double-digit growth. A phenomenal amount of new clients had come on board. Our Chicago distribution center had opened the year before, and it was growing fast. We had a lot of good things going on.”

PBD’s leaders were aware that the print-based book business’s best days were behind it and that digital media was the wave of the future. But they weren’t as prepared as they wish they’d been for the speed and impact with which that wave would hit.

“The thing that had been lurking before the economy took its turn was that our company was very dependent on books — in particular educational material — to achieve that growth,” Dockter says. “There were a couple of groups who were starting to talk about moving to a digital opportunity, and they were looking to change their program.”

PBD had originally stood for Professional Book Distributors. The company changed the name in the late ’90s because it was starting to diversify its product.

“But we hadn’t really diversified all that much,” Dockter says. “Then, in late 2008, we started to see our core business effectively disappear due to some changes some of our clients were making in their business models.”

Those changes involved a couple of shifts that were happening simultaneously: Schools were buying fewer books, and some of PBD’s major clients were being acquired by companies with new and different ways of looking at the business.

PBD had a division, the Georgia Schoolbook Depository, which shipped books to schools mainly in the state of Georgia for grades K through 12.

“We also had a nice contract going with Harcourt — we were doing all their distribution throughout the Southeast,” Dockter says. “Then a couple of things happened. No. 1, Harcourt was purchased by Houghton Mifflin, and No. 2, schools quit buying books. Their budgets effectively changed overnight. A lot of this was economy-driven.”

Suddenly, PBD was facing some core changes that, while it had been aware they were coming, it was not fully prepared.

“Frankly, when you’re going through a long period of double-digit growth, you think you’ve got it all figured out, and you don’t worry so much about what may be coming,” he says.

The long string of robust growth turned to double-digit contraction in the blink of an eye. Between 2008 and 2009, PBD’s revenue dropped 10 percent. It was time for the company to get serious about diversifying its business base.

Broaden the base

By 2008, PBD had built itself into a $50 million-a-year business with five distribution centers around the country. At its peak, the company employed more than 500 people. PBD attained this growth mainly by distributing books and other printed material using a traditional distribution model: pick, pack and ship.

But with the sharp business downturn that PBD experienced between 2008 and 2009, Dockter and his leadership team realized that the company needed to branch into new areas to broaden its base — to put its eggs into more baskets so it wouldn’t be as vulnerable to market downturns in the future.

After looking at what they do well, Dockter and his team talked about applying those revelations to other related businesses.

“We said, ‘We’re good at inventorying items. We’re good at taking orders. We’re good at building e-commerce. We’re good at integrating all of that. So what else can we distribute?’” he says. “It sounds simple, but when you’ve been doing books for 30-plus years, you’re pretty much siloed in. Prospects are out there thinking, ‘Well, they’re really good at book distribution, but I can’t see my product in there.’”

One of the first areas that PBD expanded into was distributing protective cases for handheld electronic devices.

“We got a new client that was really growing their business,” Dockter says. “They had a product that was related to iPhones and BlackBerrys. That was a great diversification for us. It gave us a chance to show outside groups that we could distribute practically anything — anything that could go in a box — that became our mantra.”

PBD’s new philosophy also encompassed a move into an area that — in light of the overall trend of print dying off and digital media booming — seems counterintuitive: printing and mailing acknowledgments of donations for nonprofit organizations.

“We have a lot of not-for-profit clients, and when they receive donations, the IRS requires that they send out a printed acknowledgment,” Dockter says. “There were a lot of printing companies going out of business, so we saw this as an opportunity. It was a chance for us to basically extend our markets within our current client base.”

It was a wise move. PBD’s printing and mailing service, bolstered by the 2012 acquisition of a similar company that was looking to get out of the business, has grown exponentially since PBD began offering the service in 2008.

“It was a natural fit for us,” Dockter says. “We just had to get the right equipment and the right people in place that knew what they were doing. And lo and behold, [last] year, we had a company that went out of business that we absorbed. So now the revenue we’re getting from that part of our business is 300 times what it was in ’08-’09 when we started it.”

PBD has diversified into other areas as well. Among the operations that are bringing in substantial new revenue are electronic distribution, consumer products, gift catalog items and logo promotional items, such as clothing and pins to be distributed at conferences.

“We’re excited about all of these new lines, because they all have a tremendous amount of capacity to grow,” Dockter says. “Plus it gives us more sales points, both within the current organizations that we work with and with prospects.”

Expand offerings

As the economy has fitfully rebounded from the recession, all of this diversification and spreading into new markets has begun to pay off for PBD, according to Dockter.

“The economy has gotten a little bit better, and as a result, some of our sales are coming back naturally,” he says. “Our clients are putting more money into their marketing and into new product.

“These newer services we’ve expanded into have really helped us to right our revenue ship. We now have a better array of services to offer and a wider range of products. That’s allowing us to win new business at a better clip. And it’s helping offset the decline in what was our traditional core business — pick, pack and ship fulfillment.”

Dockter says he’s learned a lot from guiding PBD through this ordeal, and he and the company will be better prepared the next time they face a similar set of circumstances.

“One of the key things I learned, from a leadership standpoint, is that you can’t let yourself get too comfortable when things are going well,” he says. “You have to always be challenging yourself and your team with some what-ifs.

“When we were flying high, we weren’t challenging ourselves as hard, because we felt great about what we were doing. But there were some signs that we missed. So even when things are going well, you have to make sure you’re challenging yourself on things that might not go well going forward. Sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to think in that mode when you’re hitting on all cylinders.”

Dockter also says he believes that when PBD runs into a similar challenge in the future, he and his team will recognize the signs of impending change and react more quickly to counteract them.

“Of course, as a leader, you want to show confidence — you want to exude confidence — but you’ve got to be careful not to lose sight of the changes that can happen,” he says. “We knew certain things could happen, but we didn’t want to admit it while everything was going well.

“And, of course, the most important thing is when you do get to that place — when those changes are starting to happen — how do you react? You’ve got a couple different ways you can do that. I think we were slow. You’ve got to be fast. That doesn’t necessarily mean working harder. It means putting your strategy in place as quickly as possible, and then executing it, decisively.” ?

How to reach: PBD Worldwide, (770) 442-8633 or

The Dockter File

Scott Dockter

President and CEO

PBD Worldwide

Born: Chicago

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, University of Virginia


Looking back over your years in school, can you pinpoint a business leadership lesson you learned that you use today?

I played tennis at the University of Virginia. A big part of doing that was creating leadership within my team, especially in the small-team environment. And the work balance was important from a time-management standpoint.

What was first job, and what important business lessons did you learn from it?

I had two jobs that were tied together — delivering newspapers and cutting lawns. The premise was to be able to earn my own money that I could spend the way I wanted to, and to do it without anybody telling me what to do. I learned a lot about responsibility from doing this. And I learned that figuring out how to create an avenue to make money can be a lot of fun.

Do you have a main business philosophy that you use to guide you?

Communicate as often as possible in a face-to-face mode with both your clients and your employees. Our company has a no-email policy on Fridays. We’ve had it for six years. The idea is to communicate at the highest level and to build relationships in order to get things done. When you communicate in that mode, you tend to create partnerships and true teamwork. That’s something we feel strongly about.

What trait do you think is most important for an executive to have in order to be a successful leader?

You need to be trustworthy. Your customers need to trust you, and your employees need to trust you. It comes down to this: Do you look them straight in the eye? And do they look back at you straight in the eye? When you’re able to create that bond, that means you’re truly a trusted partner and leader.

Published in Atlanta

2013 CIN Pillar

Pillar Award for Community Service Finalist

Melanie Rose-Billhardt

vice president of customer care

Victoria’s Secret Direct

(614) 415-7000  |


Among its many community activities, Victoria’s Secret Direct joined with the Children’s Hunger Alliance to present the first Kids Day Backpack Bash for more than 500 children at Montgomery County Fairgrounds Historic Roundhouse in July 2012. The Kids Day event promoted the USDA Child and Adult Food Program, which provides hot meals and snacks for children ages 5 to 18 at approved after-school program sites during the school year.

In addition, Victoria’s Secret Direct has supported the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s Taste to Remember event since 2006 and contributed almost $34,000 to the event. Other corporate contributions include $95,000 in support of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools and Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiatives and the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s annual Menu of Hope event.

Each year, Victoria’s Secret Direct hosts Community Cares Week in Dayton. Community Cares Week supports multiple nonprofit organizations in the community with community service hours.

Melanie Rose-Billhardt, vice president of customer care for Victoria’s Secret Direct, has served as chair of the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s Southwest Ohio Regional Board, serving Cincinnati, Dayton and surrounding communities for five years. She also serves on the agency’s governing board.

Rose-Billhardt has worked to raise awareness of the Children’s Hunger Alliance by securing various marketing materials for board members to distribute when introducing the agency to corporate and community members.

She has contributed her time, talent and personal resources to advance the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s mission and vision, and she was instrumental in securing additional corporate funds to support the Kids Day 2012 Backpack Bash.

Published in Cincinnati

2013 CIN Pillar

Pillar Award for Community Service Finalist

Louis Beck


Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank

(513) 247-0300 |,


The philosophy at Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank is straightforward: They get involved in community activities because it’s the right thing to do.

Led by CEO Louis Beck, the company’s service projects are employee-driven. Each month, the company holds an employee action committee meeting open to all employees. Anyone in the company can come and present a project or an organization close to his or her heart that he or she wants the banks to support.

Beck leads the company’s community giving. He is the driving force and sets a strong example through action. He never misses a community action committee meeting and constantly supports, encourages and motivates everyone around him.

The impact that Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank has on the community is far-reaching. Each year on Thanksgiving, the employees and families of Union and Guardian get together in the morning and carry out a major holiday initiative. They meet at the Kroger grocery store on Ferguson Road, load their cars and then deliver Thanksgiving dinners to needy families all over Cincinnati. Last year, they gave dinners to more than 900 families.

In addition, if not for Union and Guardian’s giving spirit, students at Ethel M. Taylor Academy, Lincoln Heights School and South Avondale School would not have the wealth of school supplies and backpacks the company provides; and the residents at Tender Mercies, a shelter for mentally ill homeless people, would not have Christmas presents and dinners provided by the company’s workers.

Published in Cincinnati


Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award

Ellen M. Katz

president and CEO

The Children’s Home of Cincinnati | (513) 272-2800


Ellen Katz has been president and CEO of The Children’s Home since 2005, although she has worked with the agency since 1990. During this time, the agency has responded and adapted to the changing needs of children and families in our community and has received local and national recognition for quality service.

Today, Katz is focused on developing the vision and strategy to ensure long-term growth and success for The Children’s Home. She has grown the agency from 189 employees in 2005 to 270 today. That staff runs 25 programs and related activities serving 6,000 clients annually, up from 1,200 clients in 2005.

Under Katz’s leadership The Children’s Home of Cincinnati has seen its assets and endowment grow from $70 million to more than $81 million and its budget increase from $13 million to $19 million. Her work has impacted the community, helping thousands of children overcome significant behavioral and educational challenges.

Katz’s leadership has propelled The Children’s Home into a flexible, innovative organization that consistently responds to the ever-changing needs of vulnerable children and their families. She utilizes unique management techniques and processes, effectively harnessing for-profit business to help the 148-year-old agency adapt to changing economic circumstances.

These kinds of collaborations have resulted in higher quality and an increased impact of services, greater presence in the community and in increase in funding opportunities, as well as decreased duplication of community services and a better capacity to serve children with the greatest needs.

Published in Cincinnati

Pillar Award Finalist

Dan Pierce

founder and CEO

Systems Evolution Inc.

(513) 459-1992 |


Systems Evolution Inc. is a close-knit company, which is why its employees were hit hard when a tragic accident changed the life of one their own. After a 2005 bicycle accident took the life of 10-year old Josh Helfrich, the son of SEI consultant Ann Helfrich, the consulting firm channeled the support and compassion of its team to found Josh Cares.

As founder and CEO of SEI, Dan Pierce has played a lead role in creating the charity and making it a focus of SEI. Several months after Josh’s accident, Dan and his wife reached out to Ann and her family with the idea to create a philanthropic initiative in Josh’s memory. The result was Josh Cares, a program within Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The motivation behind Josh Cares is that no child should suffer through a serious illness and lengthy hospitalization without ongoing presence and support of a family member. Josh Cares provides these children with surrogate companions — Josh Cares Child Life Specialists  — who can offer the love and support and help them connect them with classmates, friends and family who cannot be there.

Today, SEI employees lend their time, talents and financial support to Josh Cares. SEI individual employees have donated nearly $62,000 of their own money to Josh Cares to date. As a company, SEI has also led corporate donations to the charity since its inception, contributing nearly $50,000 in sponsorship support and employee giving matches. And through the volunteer efforts of SEI employees, Josh Cares has been able to raise an annual budget of $335,000 to support many children and their families in their time of crisis.

Published in Cincinnati

2013 CIN Pillar

Pillar Award for Community Service Finalist

Larry A. Sheakley



(800) 877-2053 |


Larry A. Sheakley, owner and CEO of the business services company Sheakley, leads by example. Dedicating a phenomenal amount of time and energy to community service initiatives and nonprofit work, Sheakley’s altruistic actions motivate his employees to involve themselves in volunteer efforts.

Currently, Sheakley serves on the board for the Cincinnati Music Hall Revitalization Committee and is actively involved with both the Oversight Committee of the Partnership for a Greater Cincinnati and the Lighthouse Youth Organization.

He has been the chairman of the Cincinnati Art Museum, co-chair of the Cincinnati Opera Capital Campaign, vice chair of the Taft Museum of Art, a board member of the Cincinnati Fine Arts Fund and a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Building Committee. He has held the positions of president of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America local chapter and co-chair of Team in Training and Leadership Campaign board member for United Way.

Additionally, Sheakley has worked in the past to benefit Ohio employers as the president of the National Association of Unemployment Tax Organizations and as a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Employment Services in Ohio.

Sheakley, which provides business services such as payroll, human resources and workers’ compensation, was founded in 1963 as Raymond Sheakley & Associates. Purchased in 1980 by Larry A. Sheakley as a business with less than $1 million in sales and concentration in only one area, Sheakley has grown into a successful company of more than 2,000 employees with headquarters in Cincinnati and a total of nine regional offices in Ohio, Iowa and Tennessee.

Published in Cincinnati

Pillar Award Finalist

Bernie Stevens

president and CEO

PowerNet Global

(800) 860-9495 |


PowerNet Global understands the best way to contribute to its local communities is to offer its employees the opportunity to volunteer their time.

To encourage community involvement, the communications provider gives charitable paid time off, which allows employees to appropriate up to eight hours of their paid time per calendar year to any charity of their choice.

Some organizations that PowerNet employees support include The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the City Gospel mission, The Healing Center and Transformation Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky.

In addition, the company takes care of its own. PowerNet organized donations and support for an employee whose teenage daughter was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Employees raised money to purchase an iPad so she could remain connected to family and friends and be entertained while at the hospital.

The company also took a picture of employees holding big letters that spelled, “Get well soon, Julia!” and sent it to the family.

PowerNet also has the PowerNet Global Social Committee, which prepares a variety of events throughout the year to provide employees with opportunities for fun and fellowship. It hosts fundraisers to help support local charities and offers opportunities for employees to partake in company fellowship.

For example, it has hosted yard sales with proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer, a “Biggest Loser” event with half of the proceeds going to benefit the Fairfield Food Pantry and a school supply drive for local students.

Published in Cincinnati
Thursday, 03 January 2013 16:51

How Paycor takes care of each other

Pillar Award Finalist

Bob Coughlin


Paycor Inc.

(800) 381-0053 |


One of Paycor Inc.’s most important guiding principles is “taking care of each other.”

The payroll processing company created its own community service program, Community Partners, to coincide with the principle. The grassroots program encourages employees to take care of the Greater Cincinnati community.

The effort began in March 2010 as a way for Paycor associates to share their community service passions with their co-workers, raise awareness for charitable events and causes that are important to them and gain support for their participation in community activities. It is not funded by corporate financial contributions; associates give their own time and resources.

Since the program started, Paycor associates have led a total of 152 events, filling 3,289 volunteer opportunities. In 2012 alone, Paycor associates led 41 events, filling 909 volunteer opportunities.

Paycor supports Community Partners with an intranet page that publicizes the events, allowing associates to connect with event leaders and enabling them to share their successes by posting event recaps and photos.

Paycor also motivates participation by giving all associates a Community Partners certificate they use to collect stickers for each event they attend. Once an associate reaches 10 events, he or she is rewarded with a T-shirt or other item.

Paycor has worked with a number of charitable organizations, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Junior Achievement, March of Dimes and American Cancer Society, to name a few, and plans to continue growing and expanding in years to come.

Published in Cincinnati

Pillar Award Finalist

Tom Keckeis

president and CEO

Messer Construction Co.

(513) 242-1541|


Messer Construction Co. CEO Tom Keckeis believes in leading by example.

Keckeis has always recognized that giving back to the community is important and that it is essential to take part in the community where one lives and works.

Throughout his career, Keckeis has been involved in a number of nonprofit organizations. He is a current board member and past chair of the Greater Cincinnati YMCA and serves on the board for Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park, where he leads the Corporate Giving Committee.

While Keckeis enjoys all aspects of community service, he says his real strength is in construction, and this is where he can make the most impact.

For nine years, Keckeis was involved with People Working Cooperatively, an organization that helps the elderly stay in their homes by assisting them with necessary repairs. He used his knowledge and experience in renovations to make a substantial impact and even recruited his children to help.

Through his example, Keckeis has led Messer to be a good neighbor, and the company’s employees have supported their communities with time, energy and financial resources.

In the past 21 years, Messer, on behalf of its employee-owners, has invested more than $12 million to make its communities better places to live, work and raise families.

In 2011, Messer and its more than 800 employees invested more than $1.5 million in community organizations across the nine regions in which it builds. Included in that investment are three $25,000 grants awarded by the Messer Foundation to employee-recommended community organizations.

Published in Cincinnati