Founder and president
Chesmar Homes Ltd.
Don Klein had spent 27 years working for national homebuilders, and he had an opportunity to move to yet another one when he made a seemingly bold move. He turned down a sizable bonus and chose to invest his own money to create a company he could call his own.
Chesmar Homes Ltd. is the product of Klein’s passion for making people happy. This applies to customers, business partners, investors and his employees, who he calls “Chesmarians.”
Klein is committed to hard work and dedicated service, but in doing so, he wants to see smiles all around. He wants employees to feel like they are part of a family and bring the passion that comes forth when you work alongside people you truly care about.
As the company grows and evolves, he wants strong personalities to shine through and feel comfortable applying their talents to help Chesmar achieve success.
All this became key when the company faced its greatest obstacle. Chesmar needed to find good locations on which to build. Klein tapped his relationships to find good communities to go to and his employees backed up his reputation by creating a strong product for customers.
As a result, Chesmar ranks at the top of its industry in customer satisfaction.
But it’s not all about business for Klein and Chesmar Homes.
Klein’s primary philanthropic focus revolves around the Greater Houston Builders Association’s Benefit Home Project. He has chaired the committee for the last six years, being extremely successful in recruiting and partnering two or three homebuilders with community developers each year to build a benefit home.
The builders solicit donations from contractors and vendors to construct a project home for about 25 percent of the retail sales price.
The home is then sold with the profits going to Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the Alzheimer’s Association and Home Aid Houston.
How to reach: Chesmar Homes Ltd., www.chesmar.com
Construction & Industrial Services
Jeffrey Gerald Davis
The Brock Group
In his 36 years with The Brock Group, Jeff Davis has worked his way from project manager to CEO — and has taken the company from being a family owned business to a multi-national, multi-craft service provider.
Not only that, but the company has seen 500 percent growth since 2006 after acquisition by a private equity firm and through significant acquisitions and organic growth. This growth was achieved based on Davis’s vision and his ability to express that vision to Brock’s investor such that it was willing to make significant investments in the company.
Another key to the rapid growth was that Davis and his management team could have access to and build long-standing relationships with the executive management of Brock’s customers. It allowed Brock to present itself as a provider of value that senior customer leaderships require — that Brock is not a vendor among vendors relegated to the purchasing/AP department but is a valued partner in achieving lower operating costs.
Davis leads the company through behavioral-based management and behavioral-based safety which has resulted in Brock achieving excellent safety rankings and expanding the employee and customer base to what it is today. Davis believes that by having satisfied employees, it leads to satisfied customers and translates into a successful business.
As an entrepreneurial leader, Davis instills in his employees his core belief that a customer-centric focus is crucial to success. His leadership style revolves around a central theme from advice given to him years ago by Jerry Brock: “Give the customer $1.10 worth of effort/services for $1.” Davis has maintained this attitude as a core value in the way he interacts with employees, customers and third parties alike.
Davis also has led efforts with others in the industry to develop and fund schools to train welders/painters to draw them into the profession and to generate enthusiasm into making a career in the industry.
How to reach: The Brock Group, www.brockgroup.com
Construction & Industrial Services
Co-founder and principal
Quality Cos. USA LLC
Co-founder and principal
Quality Cos. USA LLC
Troy Collins and Nathan Granger previously worked for competing oil and gas production manufacturers for years until they met in the early 2000s and discovered a common passion—raising thoroughbreds. A business endeavor developed out of that mutual interest, and in 2001, the pair left their promising and successful careers to found a premier oil and gas service provider.
As co-founders and principals of Quality Cos. USA LLC, Collins and Granger epitomize the company’s philosophy of quality people, quality service. Quality Cos. USA, which is a conglomerate of Quality Construction & Production LLC, Quality Production Management LLC, and Traco Production Services Inc., is a one-stop shop for many of the company’s independent Gulf Coast clients.
This diversified company provides both onshore and offshore construction, fabrication and maintenance services. Over the years it has grown from 70 employees in 2002 to more than 800 today, working on production platforms along the Gulf Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Collins’ and Granger’s strengths as entrepreneurial leaders are in recognition of their weaknesses and ability to fill those voids with the best managers in the industry. In this industry, the pool of highly skilled employees stays very consistent which puts pressure on companies to retain key employees.
In response, Collins and Granger desire to provide the best working environment in the industry. The two co-founders also have a big focus on service. Quality’s family atmosphere, open door policy and lack of big corporate politics have fostered unbridled commitment to excellent customer service and a multitude of repeat customers.
The company’s more than 800 employees take pride in the company, indicated by a substantially low turnover rate compared to competitors. In 12 years Quality has never had to lay off an employee. Since Quality’s commitment to its customers is dependent on its commitment to attracting and retaining the best employees, Collins and Granger team have devoted many resources to their people.
How to reach: Quality Cos. USA LLC, www.qualitycompanies.com
Construction & Industrial Services
Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc.
It was a moment of professional accomplishment tinged with a deep sense of personal loss. James Frischhertz had been thrust into the role of president at Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc. after the untimely death of his brother, Bernard Jr.
His first thought was to throw himself into his work and be on the job 12 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, he only took two days off the entire year, one for Christmas and one for Mardi Gras.
He needed to keep the company afloat, protect jobs and maintain everything that was already in motion while he simultaneously tried to develop a new business plan that more closely fit his vision for the company.
Over the next two decades, he presided over tremendous growth with the development of two new business entities: Frischhertz Technologies and Frischhertz Services. He also purchased an audio company called SoundWorks.
In 2005, he dealt with tragedy again when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. Company operations were paralyzed, but Frischhertz was up to the challenge once again.
Within days, he had set up an office in Baton Rouge and tapped relationships he had built over the years to get his hands on some generators.
Under his strong and empowering leadership, employees began to put their lives back together and as soon as they could relocate back to New Orleans, the company got back on its feet too.
People aren’t just a tool that Frischhertz uses to build his business or a group that he touches every once in a while for show. His leadership is truly inclusive, whether it’s recovering from a disaster, holding his family together during tough times or helping his employees to do the best they can on the job.
He understands how the smaller touches can make a big difference with people and focuses on those to maintain a healthy corporate culture.
How to reach: Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc., www.frischhertz.com
Construction & Industrial Services
Stephen V. Pate
CEO and chairman
Over the past 10 years, Stephen Pate has worked hard to create a company culture around eight pillars that make up the foundation of Strike LLC: safety, excellence, quality, accountability, performance, integrity, passion and long?term relationships.
With his focus that success is not achieved by a single individual but rather by the organization as a whole, Strike has accomplished a 65 percent year-over-year compounded annual growth rate, a testament to Pate’s ability to take risks during times of uncertainty.
For instance, in 2009 while many companies were sitting on cash due to market place instability, he invested in significant resources to create a state?of?the?art cost?tracking portal for the pipeline and facilities construction company.
This portal has proven to be a competitive advantage for Strike as it provides transparency to the client’s job cost.
Additionally, when companies were strategically eliminating employee benefits due to economic uncertainty, Pate created a fitness program to inspire and motivate employees.
Since its inception in 2003, Strike has created various business units with more than 15 locations throughout North America, which have helped drive Strike to become one of the leading single?source energy services providers.
Pate understands that his is a “people” business, and he passionately cares about not only his customers who pay the bills, but also each of his employees whose safety and happiness is of utmost importance.
Even in times of economic downturns, when other companies cut employee benefits, Pate stayed adamant to “do right by all” and although the easy answer to save money and improve the bottom line would be to take the cost-cutting route, Pate did not. Strike even increased wellness programs to encourage employees when a need was noted. Pate has always believed in Strike’s vision and through its growing years, his personal investment and that of the Pate family funded the company.
How to reach: Strike LLC, www.strikeusa.com
Family Business Award of Excellence
Kenneth L. Robison
Kenneth L. Robison has had a strong work ethic going back to the time when he was a young boy foregoing baseball and childhood games with his friends to learn about business. Through his family’s business, he learned how to weld and operate machinery and how to put together structural steel and electrical assemblies.
After getting his MBA from the University of Texas, he returned to Crest Industries and gained first-hand experience in many of the jobs that make up the organization. This experience served him well when he became CEO since it gave him a wealth of knowledge and insight into how people do their jobs throughout the company. Robison brings that same curious enthusiasm to his work these days, and it becomes contagious to those around him, strengthening the culture and improving the level of service to customers.
The relationships that Robison builds become critical when the company needs to take bold steps to keep growing. Robison doesn’t take unnecessary risks and the ones he does take, he and his team do as much research as they can to ensure success and prevent the downside from occurring.
His goal, whether it’s looking at tomorrow or his 2020 vision plan, is to be on top of things and armed with the data he needs to make the best decisions for his company. He thrives on being the leader and helping his company take the next step, but he also takes a lot of satisfaction from seeing the people on his team experience their own victories. He doesn’t see leadership development as a cost.
Instead, he sees it as an investment in the company’s most valuable asset, its people. The support of others stretches beyond the walls of his company. It includes a committed focus to working with charitable causes as well as helping the future leaders of Crest Industries to get what they need to fulfill their potential.
How to reach: Crest Industries, www.crestoperations.com
President and CEO
ZT Wealth/Altus Healthcare Management Services
The genesis of Taseer Badar’s healthcare venture — Altus Healthcare Management Services/ZT Wealth — was the observation that despite a large rise in spending, physicians suffer from a steady decline in professional fees.
This is due to declines in health care benefits from insurance companies and government sources in a climate of increased patient load and increasing liability insurance.
Badar’s goal was to ensure the benefit of the health care dollar to health care professionals who are prime movers of such spending. Badar, Altus’s president and CEO, wanted to invest in physicians’ success and bring cutting-edge technology to the health care arena.
Despite early skepticism from both health care executives and medical practitioners,
Altus HMS/ZT Wealth has grown in both experience and assets.
With only seven years in the industry, Altus HMS has grown to include three surgical centers, six outpatient hospice companies, durable medical equipment, practice management, infusion, a physician-grade vitamin line and a wellness practice.
The company is continuing its growth strategy in 2013 with the addition of three stand-alone, fully functional emergency room locations along with the planned purchase of three additional hospices.
Badar has infused Altus with his entrepreneurial spirit by investing in the business and encouraging his executive staff to do so as well. Personal investments in the company have afforded Badar and his executive team heightened accountability for their business decisions and pronounced dedication to the success of the venture — a management strategy that is reaping impressive rewards.
Badar works hard to “see the invisible” and understand where his company needs to go before the rest of the market does. He firmly believes that the best place for personal investment is in his own firm.
“I don’t like gambling in the market,” Badar says. “I want to invest in what I know, and I know my firm.”
How to reach: Altus Healthcare Management Services, www.altushms.com
Each year in June, Ernst & Young celebrates entrepreneurial leaders in 25 regions across the country as part of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. This marks the 27th year in which Ernst & Young has recognized those leaders.
For 2013, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area program is called “Leading the Way.” There is no other place in the country where entrepreneurial innovation and leadership no matter the entrepreneur’s background is accepted and supported. We have continually seen significant innovative strides throughout a variety of industries in the Gulf Coast area, most notably in the energy, technology and the medical industries. It is the culture of the Gulf Coast that the individual or group of individuals working together can accomplish great things when they take the initiative in their own hands.
That culture was the foundation of the Gulf Coast in the early years and that culture remains today. This is why we believe the Gulf Coast led the country during the recent down years and today in population and job growth. The companies represented at this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area awards grew the number of people employed by 20 percent and grew revenues by 16 percent over the last year. There can be no doubt these entrepreneurial leaders, through their leadership, will continue to strengthen our country’s economy. That is why we believe the Gulf Coast is once again “Leading the Way”!
Ernst & Young has been recognizing these risk-taking visionaries for 27 years and, over that time, has recognized more than 10,000 entrepreneurial men and women. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Award has grown to be recognized as the leading business award. While Ernst & Young is proud of this accomplishment, the credit goes to the thousands of entrepreneurial leaders who have been recognized over the years. The fact that the program has endured and grown for more than 27 years is a true testament to the entrepreneurial leaders themselves.
The program celebrates entrepreneurial leaders in 25 U.S. regions each year. The regional award recipients then participate in the National Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in November in Palm Springs, Calif. At that ceremony, 10 award recipients are selected and one is selected as the National Entrepreneur Of The Year overall award recipient. The National Entrepreneur Of The Year overall award recipient will then participate in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year in Monte Carlo, along with award recipients from 50 other countries. This truly is the world’s business award.
The National Entrepreneur Of The Year Program is the culminating event for a four-day Strategic Growth Forum that had about 2,000 participants last year. This is the only event of its kind that is focused on the CEOs of companies. The panelists and speakers are unparalleled and in the past have included special guests such as George W. Bush, former President of the United States; Frederick Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx Corp.; and Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin. This year will feature Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO, General Electric Co.; Bernard Tyson, incoming chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente; and Jeffrey Sprecher, founder, chairman and CEO, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
We are honored to present the 27th Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards-Gulf Coast and to recognize the entrepreneurial leaders of the past, present and future in the Gulf Coast that are “Leading the Way” to keep this the greatest country in the world to do business.
Todd Zuspan is a partner with Ernst & Young LLP ?and is the director of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf Coast Area program.
Family Business Award of Excellence
Construction & Industrial Services
Distribution & Manufacturing
Hercules Offshore, Inc.
Exploration & Production
Gregory D. Brenneman
Doug J. Erwin
Joe R. Fowler
Scott W. Smith
Cindy B. Taylor
Richard E. Zuschlag
As temperatures rise, swimming pools aren’t the only things that will get more use. During the summer months, company leave policies are often put to the test as workers enjoy their hard-earned vacations.
Paid time off policies, or PTO banks, have become the preferred alternative to traditional vacation plans. A majority of companies now utilize PTO banks, making it more popular than traditional policies that distinguish between vacation, sick and personal leave. Under a PTO model, all leave days are integrated into one pool, so employees can take days off at their discretion when they need them.
Companies of all sizes are adopting PTO policies. For one reason, businesses experience fewer unscheduled absences. Experts cite other advantages to PTO banks as well:
• Ease of administration. The PTO model is often easier to administer because it folds together vacation, sick time and personal leave. Vacation leave doesn't have to be coded differently than a sick day.
• Control over absences. When companies distinguish one type of leave from another, employees are likely to use every sick day granted to them whether they need it or not. With PTO banks, employees tend to save time off to use for vacation.
• Recruitment and retention. Employers are finding that PTO programs can make their companies more competitive when recruiting employees.
• Flexibility. The value of PTO banks is especially vital in industries that operate 24/7, such as the health care industry, because it offers optimum flexibility.
• Diversity. Today, employees celebrate a variety of cultural or religious holidays. PTO banks reflect a company's respect for employees' diversity by allowing them to schedule time off around their individual holiday calendar.
• Privacy. While most employees don't want to lie to their employers, they also may not want to announce that they are chaperoning a field trip or in need of a mental health day. A PTO bank allows employees to take time when they need it without having to explain it.
• Equity. There's a common perception that employees with children are allowed more time off than single people without children. PTO banks level the playing field, because everyone has access to time off based on service, so it's objective.
Despite these advantages, many employers and employees fear the unknown. Employees fear the possibility of an unexpected illness wiping out their accrued days, leaving them with no remaining vacation for a visit home at Christmas.
Employers fear potentially higher costs associated with a PTO policy. While other leave policies allow a payout for unused vacation time in the event of termination, under a PTO an employer cannot distinguish between vacation and sick leave, so all unused time must be paid out upon termination.
So how do you decide whether a traditional vacation policy or a PTO model is right for your company? Like most things, there isn’t one method that works for all companies. Ask yourself whether your company is seeing a problem with excess absenteeism or abuse of time off. If your traditional leave policy is working, there may be no compelling reason to change course.
For companies that want to provide their employees more flexibility, a PTO bank may work better. Not surprisingly, however, proper management is key to ensuring that PTO works effectively. Many companies enforce “use it or lose it” policies and setting carryover limits or accrual caps. Some companies even establish buy-back or donation provisions to allow employees to sell or donate unused days to coworkers who may have a greater need.
No matter which type of leave policy you have in place or plan to adopt, remember this — paid leave is an essential employee benefit, and it can serve as a powerful recruitment and retention tool.
John Allen, is president and COO of G&A Partners, a Texas-based HR and administrative services company that manages human resources, benefits, payroll, accounting and risk management for growing businesses. For information about the company, visit www.gnapartners.com.
The Division of Corporation Finance, a part of the Securities and Exchange Commission, issued guidance on disclosure obligations related to cybersecurity risks and incidents a few years ago. Public companies aren’t yet required to disclose this information to shareholders, but they could be at some point, says Brittany Teare, IT advisory manager at Weaver.
“Right now, this is guidance that is in the best interest for your shareholders, but that will likely change. It could become a requirement sooner rather than later,” she says.
Smart Business spoke with Teare about the guidance and how businesses can measure and guard against cyberrisks.
What are the SEC reporting requirements for cybersecurity under this guidance?
The guidance expands upon the existing requirements that public companies follow, but there’s no mandatory piece yet that results in a direct impact if a company doesn’t disclose information.
Basically, the guidance states that if cybersecurity risks and cyber incidents have a material effect on your shareholders — if it could affect how financial information is reported — you have to report them.
How do you know when cybersecurity risks materially impact your company?
The guidance addresses some possible risks and whether they should be voluntarily reported to shareholders. If you don’t have cybersecurity controls around your key financial systems, for example, then the way you record or report your data can be easily manipulated or altered. Even if a cyber breach has not yet occurred, it is very likely.
Cybersecurity is a gray area. Employers typically know that network and perimeter security, access and change controls should be in place, but executives may not consider disclosing vulnerabilities. CEOs and CFOs typically look at balance sheets and see line items for hardware and other things they can touch, but it can be challenging to consider the ways a breach can happen.
How would you advise CEOs to quantify data and see vulnerabilities?
First, designate a person or group of people to be responsible for cybersecurity. They should not only understand SEC requirements and where they are potentially heading, but also must identify specific risks.
There is a central entry point in any network, so key people need to know where the sensitive data is because if an attacker gets there, it could add up to a huge loss. If the company does not store much sensitive information, an attack could impact its reputation, which is more difficult to value.
Another challenge is improving communication from the CIO or IT manager. Often, IT will say, ‘We need X dollars for new equipment, applications and hardware that are going to help make our organization more secure.’ When management hears this number, which can be millions in larger organizations, they want to know the ROI. However, IT personnel typically struggle to quantify that.
A CIO needs to be able to tell other executives, ‘If this firewall, application or system is not installed, a breach would cost us X dollars, or the company could lose X dollars per day,’ for example. Not everything can be quantified, but this gives CIOs a starting point.
What will protect your data and reputation?
Some key, high-level steps to consider are:
• Take inventory of the data systems and gain an understanding of where critical data is located. Then, work to ensure that there is an appropriate amount of security in those areas.
• Use complex, strong passwords to protect the network, systems and data, and regularly change them. Have the system lock out users after a certain number of failed attempts and log all such activity.
• Heavily monitor networks and systems. Check who is logging in and from where, who is successfully entering and who is failing. Then, set a baseline to understand any abnormalities.
• Use the principle of least privilege, especially for critical accounts and functions. This ensures that no single employee has all access; rather, access is tailored to the job function.
There is more companies can do. But by implementing key, basic controls, if a breach occurs, the business can more easily identify what happened and how.
Brittany Teare is IT advisory manager at Weaver. Reach her at (972) 448-9299 or email@example.com.
Website: More information about the SEC guidance.
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