Everyone at FloraCraft Corp. strives to put the customer first and goes above and beyond to meet customer needs. That drive for excellent customer satisfaction at the floral and crafts company is a direct result of the leadership that Chairman Lee Schoenherr demonstrates.
Schoenherr always puts customer first and treats them as if they were his boss, as opposed to just a number. His constant effort to treat people right has also given the 200-employee company its family feel. Schoenherr recognizes employee achievements and rewards those who carry out the company’s mission that allow for success.
Schoenherr has built a business model that demonstrates a capacity for innovation and creativity by motivating those around him. He is always looking for ways to recognize and reward his employees, which drives innovation and ideas. Schoenherr is an independent thinker and many of the company’s approaches have been a result of the efforts of the employees, combined with his overall direction.
Schoenherr is never fully satisfied and is always looking for ways to continue to improve the business. From creating better products to finding ways to cut costs, he is driven to deliver a quality product that also saves customers money. He played an integral role in combining the floral side of the business with the craft side by recognizing that Styrofoam could be beneficial to both sides of the company.
FloraCraft expanded to become the largest fabricator of Styrofoam for the floral and craft industry through acquisitions and reinvestment in the company, which required overcoming obstacles such as cost reductions, economies of scale, vertical integration, marketing outside of the industry and major competition. His guidance, leadership and ability to encourage others to be creative and innovative has continued to solidify FloraCraft Corp. in the floral and crafting business for more than 60 years.
HOW TO REACH: FloraCraft Corp., (231) 845-5127 or www.floracraft.com
As a kid, Alan Kaufman wasn’t focused on playing games. Instead, he was busy chasing new business ventures.
Since he was 10, Kaufman has had the drive of an entrepreneur. When other kids opened lemonade stands in front of their homes, Kaufman set up shop at the busiest intersection he could find to beat out the competition.
Today, the chairman, president and CEO of HW Kaufman Financial Group uses that same drive to lead the insurance company to the top of the industry. The perseverance and penchant for risk he showed as a young boy still exist in adulthood. The Kaufman Financial Group was founded by Kaufman’s father in 1969 as a holding company serving general agents and brokers of specialty insurance products and has matured into an unsurpassed network of corporations today.
Kaufman has built the network through mergers and acquisitions, which have fueled the fire of his personal and professional growth throughout his career. His vision of global client service came about in 1996 when he acquired the formerly public company led by his late father.
Kaufman has seen his organization grow to nearly 1,000 employees, and with that kind of growth come challenges. He has faced those challenges by adding management talent and creating a coordinated vision of growth for the many companies within the organization.
Kaufman has built a diversified business model, with the companies within the organization performing differently during certain points in the economic insurance cycle. That, in turn, has provided growth opportunities at all times in the marketplace. Kaufman plans to continue to expand the organization into a global player through the acquisition of companies and talent, increasing market share through innovative new product development and using the latest technology and organic revenue growth, expanding its reputation as a dominant leader in the insurance industry around the world.
HOW TO REACH: HW Kaufman Financial Group, (248) 932-9000 or kaufmanfinancialgroup.com
Dr. Toby Hamilton had spent years working in overburdened, overcrowded emergency departments, where wait times were long and patients’ frustrations were high. He realized he could either spend his career apologizing to patients and their families for the wait, or he could follow his dream.
He knew there had to be a better way to treat patients, so he founded Emerus Emergency Hospitals in 2004 with the idea that the emergency medicine system should be built around the patient and not around the hospital, and that care could be delivered efficiently.
To mitigate the financial risk, he brought on five partners, all of whom were emergency medicine specialist physicians who subscribed to his philosophy of top-notch care delivered quickly.
He saw the competition that he faced, and it annoyed him. Others took advantage of a license the state issued for free-standing emergency rooms and delivered care well below where he wanted it to be. He knew the standards for his hospitals would need to be far higher than those in the guidelines for free-standing ERs because his concept was more robust and needed to allow for inpatient beds to treat the types of cases he envisioned his business taking on.
And to further prove the difference to patients, in 2010, he launched a “15 minutes or it’s free” campaign that promised patients that they would be seen by a physician within 15 minutes of filling out their paperwork, or their care would be free.
His commitment to higher standards paid off. The hospitals have experienced tremendous growth over the past seven years and his competitors are attempting to replicate his initiatives in their own models. But while many try to imitate, none has succeeded because of how high those standards are.
How to reach: Emerus Emergency Hospitals, (281) 292-2450 or www.emerus.com
The word Contango isn’t found in any dictionary, yet it is used every day by natural gas and oil traders and NYMEX floor brokers.
Contango describes a market condition of expected rising prices. Expected declining prices are referred to as backwardated. Because Kenneth Peak, founder, chairman and CEO, takes prides in his company’s forward thinking, he thought Contango Oil & Gas Co. sounded better than Backwardated Oil & Gas Co.
Peak founded Contango, an independent natural gas and oil company, at the age of 54 using his life savings. He has built the business by outsourcing as much as possible and running the company with only a handful of employees. The continuing decline in computing power costs are revolutionizing business, lowering barriers to entry, leveling the competitive playing field between big and small companies and allowing talented people to freelance as never before.
Consolidation continues to dominate the natural gas and oil exploration industry, with companies rationalizing their assets, and downsizing their staffs. “Do more with less” is the industry’s credo, creating opportunity for Contango by increasing the pool of talented people, as well as making available prospects and producing assets that no longer fit the strategy of larger companies.
Peak believes what sets Contango apart from other companies is not what it does, but how it does it. The company has organized itself and set goals that are simple and clear: to build a profitable, independent natural gas and oil company.
Peak judges Contango like a competition, and the company is shooting for 10s for originality in its daily work. When Contango does a routine job that everybody in the business does, its goal is to do it better than anyone else. Peak strives for exceptional execution of any ordinary task, and if the business can score mostly 10s, it will foster a fun, exciting, and profitable company.
HOW TO REACH: Contango Oil & Gas Co., (713) 960-1901 or www.contango.com
Chief R. Davis, owner, president and CEO of Chief Solutions Inc. and Chief Contractors Inc., has been in the sanitary engineering industry for more than 28 years.
In 1985, he started Chief Contractors Inc. to begin installation of sewer systems and related work. Davis founded Chief Solutions Inc in 1999 with a brand name that better fit the engineering and wastewater industry, and Chief Contractors remains an active company and hard assets holding company.
For more than 20 years, Davis has grown Chief Solutions into a successful and competitive business that keeps up with the latest technology and trends in the sanitary engineering industry and pre-engineering evaluation and inspection services, providing crucial engineering data for more than 108 million feet of storm and sanitary sewer lines. He holds several patents on inspection equipment and renewable energy patents in the United States and abroad and is always open to new ideas pertaining to the market and his business to help move the company to the next level.
His company has offices in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Indiana, with plans to expand into several more states in the near future. Davis has continued to provide his clients with the very best service and strives to complete all projects on time and with exceptional service.
Davis is a hard-working business leader who continues to look for growth opportunities and ways to put his company ahead of competition. In 2007 he was inducted into the National Hall of Fame of the National Association of Minority Contractors and in 2010 he was awarded the Minority Mentor of the Year Award by Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum.
HOW TO REACH: Chief Solutions Inc., (713) 202-8573 or www.chiefsolutionsinc.com
When C. Allen Bradley Jr. joined Amerisafe Inc. in 1994, he brought with him a strong legal background, an attention to detail and an understanding of the intricacies of insurance regulation and claims.
In other words, he was prepared for the challenge of managing the company’s contrarian business model, which involves taking on accounts that its competitors avoid. So when Amerisafe hit a period of crisis a few years later, it was Bradley who rose quickly through the management ranks to lead the company’s survival.
In 2001, Amerisafe became embroiled in a major lawsuit with reinsurers and its principal rating agency. The suit make-or-break for the company, and as CEO, Bradley oversaw Amerisafe’s re-entrenchment strategy, which included difficult and complex changes such as a reduction in the work force, withdrawal from unprofitable markets and a rewrite of the company’s book of business.
In addition, Bradley recognized that taking Amerisafe public was critical to keeping the company on track for long-term growth. So while leading his team through the process of re-entrenchment, he also had to keep the company at an A- Best rating to support a successful initial public offering. By executing the offering successfully, Amerisafe became a public company in 2005.
Bradley’s leadership in launching the company in a new direction positioned Amerisafe for increased capital and resources, improved technology and a reputable distribution network. Since restoring Amerisafe to profitability, he’s continued to look for opportunities to expand, emphasizing the application of technology to support its strategy of risk differentiation.
As a result, Amerisafe has achieved significant growth, becoming the leading monoline workers’ compensation carrier in the U.S. In 2009 and 2010, Amerisafe was ranked as one of the top 50 performing property and casualty insurance companies in the country by Ward’s Financial.
How to reach: Amerisafe Inc., (337) 463-9052 or www.amerisafe.com
Kirk Headley is always preparing for disaster. As president of American Pollution Control Corp. (Ampol), being ready when opportunity strikes has been the key to success for his environmental business venture.
When Headley was hired to launch Ampol as a part of American Oilfield Divers (AOD) in 1993, he was charged with hiring the initial employees and purchasing equipment. Though Ampol was awarded its first contract soon after, the company was left adrift when AOD’s new president and CEO chose to sell it off.
Although it was a risk, Headley decided to take control of Ampol himself and oversee its day-to-day management. He believed that by returning all profits to invest in the company’s environmental capabilities, such as acquiring two 110-foot utility vessels, the company could differentiate itself from its competitors and excel. With the vessels, Ampol became the only privately held company with assets to compete offshore. During this time, its response to environmental disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita set Ampol on course to generate increased revenue.
By preparing employees proactively for disaster scenarios, Headley ensures Ampol can respond quickly and effectively to unique crises. When other companies declined to respond to the anthrax attack in Washington, D.C., in 2001, Headley’s company was able to handle the dangerous job. In three years, the company completed the cleanup with zero accidents and injuries.
Because of its knowledgeable and skilled teams, Ampol was also ready when the BP oil spill occurred in 2010 and brought in revenue of more that $120 million for its services.
Headley continues to invest Ampol’s time and resources in developing new technology for its clients, including oil spill clean-up technologies and adding new green services and products.
How to reach: American Pollution Control Corp., (337) 365-7847 or www.ampol.net
Before he started his career in technology, Rick Pleczko taught himself computer programming at night.
In the years he spent working at technology companies in various jobs, he learned the skills that would be invaluable in launching his own systems management software company, BBS Technologies. Since founding the company in 2004, Pleczko has served as its chairman, president and CEO.
Pleczko first recognized the opportunity to launch BBS in 2003, when he saw the challenges that many IT organizations faced in acquiring and deploying systems management software, which was expensive and complex technology. These organizations were spending millions of dollars to install, configure and deploy software, but Pleczko believed he could create a new generation of software to make it easier and faster to solve the same customer issues.
With this vision, Pleczko left his well-paying job at a software company and founded BBS with a staff of five, one product and a few initial customers. He also personally funded the seed money to get the business off the ground. That meant that BBS not only face the challenge of building products that could be deployed and operating in minutes but could also manage thousands of servers, he also had to find a way to raise capital. Yet with the drive of a talented team, BBS has overcome these obstacles and developed leading technologies in its industry. Today, the company employs hundreds of people and has grown from offering one product to dozens for its 9,000 customers.
As a hands-on CEO, Pleczko, also used his versatile IT background to leverage BBS’s risk-taking approach by taking advantage of the economic downturn to invest in new product development. Pleczko’s strategy paid off in positioning the company for the upturn, and in 2010, BBS posted record revenue.
How to reach: BBS Technologies, (713) 862-5250 or www.bbstech.com
(Reuters) - Diversified U.S. manufacturer Honeywell International Inc. is to buy EMS Technologies Inc for about $506 million to boost its presence in the mobile and satellite communication market.
Honeywell offered $33 a share for EMS, a wireless communications products maker, representing a premium of 33 percent to EMS' last closing price.
In May, Reuters had reported that EMS has drawn initial interest from companies that include Comtech Telecommunications Corp and Honeywell.
Honeywell said the deal would reduce 2011 earnings by 3-4 cents a share, but would add to profit in the next fiscal year.
(Reuters) ? Perkins & Marie Callender's Inc, owner of the Perkins and Marie Callender's restaurant chains, filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court on Monday, citing a slump in sales due to weak economic environment in its primary markets.
Perkins & Marie Callender's, which is owned by New York-based investment firm Castle Harlan Inc, said in its filing it witnessed a sharp decline in restaurant sales in the Midwest, Florida and Pennsylvania, where it primarily runs its restaurants.
High unemployment and foreclosure rates in Florida and California led to a decrease in discretionary income for many historically loyal customers, resulting in a decline in customer traffic, the Memphis, Tennessee-based company said.
The company listed total assets at $290 million and liabilities at $440.8 million in its Chapter 11 petition. Eleven of its affiliates were included in the bankruptcy filing.
Perkins, which was formerly known as The Restaurant Company, operates or franchises around 600 restaurants in the United States, Canada and Mexico, court papers show.
The company was formed after the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery chain was merged with Marie Callender's Restaurant and Bakery in 2006.