NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Health Care and Pharmaceutical Services

Finalist

 

Dale Wollschleger

president

ExactCare Pharmacy

 

Dale Wollschleger’s experience in the pharmacy industry is vast. He held positions at Medic Pharmacy and at Lutheran Family Pharmacy before he requested an early buyout from the latter pharmacy in 2004.

In 2006, he started a durable medical equipment business, called Family Home Care, which he operated out of the back of the Lutheran Family Pharmacy. During his time at Lutheran, he worked with a large population of psychiatric patients taking several medications each with very different sets of instructions such as dose size and frequency.

These experiences helped Wollschleger identify a widespread need in the pharmacy market for compliance packaging to enable patients to manage their prescriptions and adhere to instructions associated with their medications. He was particularly drawn to this idea because of the business opportunity and the positive affect it could have on patients his pharmacy served.

With this idea, he founded ExactCare Pharmacy in 2009. Wollschleger’s main focus was to develop “an easy-to-use multi-medication packaging solution for administering medications” named the ExactPack.

The ExactPack started out as a manual process dividing patient’s medications into separate packages to be taken throughout different times of the day. This process became automated with a machine that produces the ExactPacks. Within the ExactPack, there is a separate packet of medications to coincide with each different time during the day in which a patient is required to take their medications.

Like most pharmacies, the packaging and shipping of the prescriptions is free; ExactCare generates profits through the sale of the prescriptions. This new business rapidly expanded and by 2010 Wollschleger moved ExactCare out of Lutheran to a new space to better accommodate his growing operations.

ExactCare’s workforce grew from three employees to 70 and serves patients throughout Ohio. In 2011, Wollschleger purchased an additional pharmacy in New Jersey in which he implemented this same business strategy.

How to reach: ExactCare Pharmacy, www.exactcarepharmacy.com

Published in Akron/Canton

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Financial Services

Finalist

 

Brendan Anderson and Jeffery Kadlic

co-founders and managing partners

Evolution Capital Partners

 

When Jeffery Kadlic and Brendan Anderson met, the experience and business knowledge of each turned into the evolution of a new way of investing within small and midsize markets. They realized that there was a niche in small and midsize markets that was begging for the attention of investors to obtain the appropriate capital and business plan that could lead to success and growth.

Kadlic and Anderson took a leap of faith in 2005 by co-founding Evolution Capital Partners, and as managing partners of the firm, they quickly became entrepreneurs assisting the small business market.

Their passion for wanting to see small businesses succeed is uncanny, and something both Kadlic and Anderson take pride in. Evolution distinguishes itself from other private equity firms by taking control of the investments and building the company’s success rather than buying a company, trimming down the investment, and then selling.

Evolution’s specialty and passion is helping small businesses navigate that difficult territory between startup and becoming a large, professional firm. Kadlic and Anderson know the challenges that arise during this phase of a company’s growth, and they are experts in providing business owners with the resources, both financing and advising, they need to grow a small business into a booming company.

In addition, Kadlic and Anderson know that small business financing is only one part of developing a business, so Evolution offers a comprehensive approach. The company won’t just hand over capital and wish a business good luck. Rather, Evolution will become partners with a business, taking on the burden of any risk involved and offering advisory services to ensure that those companies have the resources to make the right decisions.

The company’s continuing ability to reach out to the small business community and grab the attention of businesses looking for an answer to achieve success has delivered significant growth.

How to reach: Evolution Capital Partners, www.evolutioncp.com

Published in Akron/Canton

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Education and Non-profit

Finalist

 

William Scott Duennes

executive director

Cornucopia, Inc.

 

Before the term “social enterprise” was coined, Cornucopia, Inc./Nature’s Bin, under the direction of William Scott Duennes, was a leader in setting the standard for socially responsible companies in northeast Ohio.

Duennes joined Cornucopia in 1986 and in just one year, due to his display of leadership qualities, the board of directors approached him about transitioning into the role of executive director. He accepted, and the organization has been flourishing ever since.

Cornucopia is a nonprofit organization that operates five community-based vocational training sites providing opportunities and employment services to people with disabilities. The primary training location is Nature’s Bin, a retail grocery store that Cornucopia operates.

Throughout Duennes’ tenure as executive director, he has maintained a focus on the organization’s mission to help people with disabilities develop their skills, confidence and workplace potential. This is evidenced by the partnerships that Cornucopia has made with retail and non-retail organizations.

Duennes decided to expand beyond the retail world with respect to rehabilitation training to meet the needs and interests of the individuals the program serves. Cornucopia placed 40 individuals with disabilities that were part of its training program into competitive employment in 2012.

To emphasize the organization’s focus on rehabilitation efforts and related success, Duennes recently arranged for the income statement to list rehabilitation revenue ahead of Nature’s Bin retail operation revenue.

While maintaining a steadfast focus on the training program affiliated with Cornucopia, the retail business associated with Nature’s Bin continues to thrive, breaking industry norms by being more than just an organic food market, and widening its target market base by appealing to the needs of people in the community.

Specifically, through product diversification and its ability to identify, develop and serve niche sub-markets, the organization under Duennes’ leadership is an industry leader in sales per square foot, averaging 32 percent more than its competitors.

How to reach: Cornucopia Inc., www.cornucopia-inc.org

Published in Akron/Canton

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Distribution and Manufacturing

Finalist

 

Scott Becker

president and CEO

Chromaflo Technologies Corp.

 

Scott Becker’s story begins 33 years ago when he was hired as a color matcher for a London-based company in Pennsylvania. After a highly successful journey through the colorants business, Becker now leads a nationally recognized supplier — Chromaflo Technologies Corp.

As president and CEO of Chromaflo, an independent global colorant provider to the coatings and thermoset plastics markets, Becker has turned opportunity to success using the recession, targeting customer needs, and carefully strategizing partnerships and acquisitions. At his core, Becker wants what is best for the company, its people and its customers.

The way in which he has handled the company’s challenges only reiterates his passion for success. While at a company called Plasticolors, Becker had a vision to transform what was a single-focus, small business into a global leader. Becker spent several months convincing shareholders to take a leap of faith with the acquisition of Colortrend, which would launch the company into a broad range of markets. The acquisition of Colortrend transformed Plasticolors into what the business is today as Chromaflo.

One main component of Becker’s success is his philosophy of “give the customers what they want.” That attitude resonates throughout the company, from the customer service to the business’s alliances and partnerships. He uses a “less rules” strategy in his customer service department and is in constant contact with his customers to understand their needs and demands.

That philosophy helped Becker and Chromaflo to grow the business during the recession while others were cutting back. In 2008-09, Chromaflo was building opportunity and gaining customers, and didn’t have to partake in any layoffs. Becker’s leadership helped transform Chromaflo and increase market share, leaving other companies to catch up.

Thanks in part to Evonik Industries’ Colortrend acquisition, which Becker orchestrated, Chromaflo has grown substantially in the last three years. The company’s employee count has more than tripled.

How to reach: Chromaflo Technologies Corp., www.chromaflo.com

Published in Akron/Canton

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Retail and Consumer Products

Winner

 

Jimmy Zeilinger

founder and president

Brand Castle, LLC

 

The idea of Brand Castle, LLC, came to Jimmy Zeilinger while he was in a local bookstore and came across a cookbook aimed for parents who wanted to create cooking projects with their children.

Being a devoted parent, he immediately thought of the hassle it would be to obtain all the ingredients needed to complete a cooking project in that book and how a kit that included the ingredients would make the task so much easier. After consulting about the kit idea with his wife Andrea, he quickly discovered that he had a great idea on his hands.

Since selling its first Crafty Cooking Kit in February 2005, Brand Castle has become the leader in interactive baking kits for children and adults. However, that success didn’t come without its hurdles.

Brand Castle almost closed its doors after its first six months as a result of listening to market researchers who wrongly advised Zeilinger, who is founder and president, on the type of demand for his products. Relying on this information, he spent all his personal savings and borrowed from family to launch Brand Castle by “slotting” the products via the grocery channel.

Six months later, this strategy proved to be unsuccessful when the products were not selling as anticipated and national retailers began to close out the product. Instead of closing the business, Zeilinger decided to change the market strategy to embrace seasonality and elected a low margin, high volume approach when selecting retailers.

Brand Castle is now an international company with employees in the U.S. and China. What started with six products ranging from paint-your-own-brownie to a rainbow cookies kit has grown into a portfolio of more than 300 items sold under three different brand names and numerous licenses, including Crayola, Disney and Sanrio. Each Brand Castle product aims to help families create memories.

How to reach: Brand Castle, LLC, www.brandcastle.com

Published in Akron/Canton

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Retail and Consumer Products

Finalist

 

Jim Braeunig

president and CEO

Ball, Bounce and Sport, Inc.

 

In 1982, Jim Braeunig started with Ball, Bounce and Sport, Inc., a subsidiary of Hedstrom, as a factory manager. Through the two decades following, Braeunig moved up in the manufacturer of rubber balls to director of operations, vice president of operations and eventually general manager.

Although BBS historically was a profitable subsidiary of Hedstrom, the majority of the company’s other subsidiaries were not. As a result, Hedstrom went through a rollercoaster of private equity buyouts and bankruptcies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When Hedstrom encountered its second bankruptcy in 2004, Braeunig and a couple of other local investors decided to purchase the company to focus on BBS.

Upon the purchase of BBS in 2004, Braeunig and his team immediately went to work. They hired back several employees previously let go as a result of the bankruptcy, formed a joint venture with a Chinese manufacturer, obtained the support of retailers such as Target, Walgreens and Dick’s Sporting Goods, and after two years of consistent efforts, began to collect on the receivables of BBS purchased from bankruptcy court.

Today, BBS is still connected to the Hedstrom name, doing business as Hedstrom. Braeunig made revolutionary changes to the company, taking advantage of global resources and developing strategic business relationships.

In 2010, BBS acquired Diamond Plastics, and in 2012, Bosu, New Wave Container and Regent Sports were acquired. As a result of these acquisitions, BBS expanded its product offering to plastic dumpsters and names such as Meiter and McGregor for its sporting good products.

Even though BBS is booming, Braeunig is not ignoring potential future challenges. With increasing labor costs and high inflation rate in China, the company has started to seek an alternative to outsource manufacturing of certain products back to the U.S. or Mexico.

BBS owns 98 percent of U.S. and Canadian rubber ball markets and a growing percentage of the rotational molding market.

How to reach: Ball Bounce and Sport, Inc., www.hedstrom.com

Published in Cleveland

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Professional Services

Winner

 

Joel E. Adelman

founder and CEO

The Advance Group of Companies

 

In 1998, Joel E. Adelman established The Advance Group of Companies, which is dedicated to providing entrepreneurial staffing companies with the opportunity to flourish and grow. Advance not only provides capital funding to its clients, it also provides various back office services that include information technology, payroll and tax, and recruiting/search software.

Based on his experience and knowledge, Adelman, who is founder and CEO, intended to establish a business selling consumer products. However, his exposure to payroll services at a national staffing convention led him to uncover an underserved market. This fueled Adelman’s passion, and he became determined to create a new solution for the staffing industry.

Adelman combined several different services into one business, developing a company with few direct competitors. Advance offers entrepreneurs all-inclusive services and support.

The company recently introduced a new service, Workforce Solutions, which matches the demand and supply of labor. Adelman once again identified a need in the market and discovered a manner in which to capitalize on it, bringing together small and midsize staffing firms and introducing them to Fortune 500 consumers in need of their services.

As the largest independent provider of funding and leading provider of solutions for the temporary staffing industry, Advance has grown steadily. As to be expected, the company’s revenue declined during the recession. However, Adelman’s foresight and management decisions allowed the company to enhance its earning potential by expanding its service offerings.

When the economy began to improve and the demand for staffing escalated, Advance grew at 25 percent. Advance has maintained that 25 percent growth rate for the past three years and forecasts that it will continue to grow at this rate.

Adelman’s one-of-a-kind business offers fellow entrepreneurs an opportunity to realize their aspirations via technological and monetary support. As a result of his innovative and unique offerings, the supply of labor better matches the demand.

How to reach: The Advance Group of Companies, www.advancepayroll.us

Published in Akron/Canton

STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Technology & Business Services

Winner

 

Daniel Reed

CEO

UnitedLex Corp.

 

For Daniel Reed and UnitedLex Corp., the root of excellence is passion. Cultivating passion and creating highly motivated, accountable and committed professionals is the secret of UnitedLex Corp., and the reason the company has driven transformation within the global legal profession.

Daniel Reed is CEO of UnitedLex and an innovator who is changing a legal industry that has historically been slow adapters of technology.

Recognizing a new opportunity to change the legal profession by leveraging technology and process improvements, Reed co-founded UnitedLex, a consulting, technology and outsourcing provider of legal services in 2006. The company’s lightning bolt moment came after several collaborative discussions with the leadership team of Hewlett Packard, which became UnitedLex’s first client, and recognition of gaps in the global legal system.

The mission that emerged was to transform the global legal industry by providing a single point of knowledge and capability in those support areas most critical to law firms and law departments in becoming efficient business operations. The biggest obstacle for Reed was that no one had ever executed such a strategy before.

Rather than adopt a law firm or BPO model for the delivery of legal support services in the areas of litigation, intellectual property, contracts and immigration, UnitedLex created a model that has a management consultancy front end, a technology development and integration enablement group and a centralized resource outsourcing engine for delivery execution. Within five months of starting, UnitedLex was providing legal services to IBM, Microsoft and Marriott Hotels in addition to HP.

By maintaining focus on current business lines, UnitedLex expects to continue to see significant growth in the future. The company is in a position to grow without cash constraints, and given the receptivity and strong demand of an international client base, UnitedLex will continue to invest in areas of core differentiation.

How to reach: UnitedLex Corp., www.unitedlex.com

Published in St. Louis

STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Finalist

 

Robert Griggs

President

Trinity Products, Inc.

 

Since founding Trinity Products, Inc. with two partners in 1979, Robert Griggs has been taking huge personal risks. At its inception, Trinity had only a rented office space with four telephones, one employee and a borrowed debt of $15,000.

The company began primarily as a steel pipe supplier and then branched into fabrication. Adding fabrication services increased value to customers and allowed Trinity to diversify its customer base. This expansion brought about the addition of new product lines, high-rise sign structures and billboard and sign pole fabrication.

Because of Griggs’ tenacity and intense drive to succeed, the company has continued to be successful over 34 years. In this time Griggs has heavily invested in new equipment and technologies in order to facilitate the growth of the company’s different business units. In 2002, Trinity completed the construction of a 10,000-square-foot coating facility which allowed Trinity to diversify into painting and coating steel pipes.

Griggs’ vision was not finished. He focused on becoming vertically integrated by building his own steel mill with capabilities of producing spiral weld pipe. Production of the plant started in 2004 and was not completed until 2007, when the mill began to roll pipe. This created new challenges as the company not only learned how to roll pipe, but had to assume management of more employees. The risk of expanding services on the brink of the global economic downturn proved to be fortuitous, as the diversification allowed Trinity to remain nimble.

Additionally, the company broadened its expertise by investing in industry certifications like the American Institute of Steel Constructors facility approval, and obtained quality approval from states regulatory agencies in California, New York, New Jersey and the Army Corps of Engineers. Today, the company is the second largest producer of large structure pipe in the United States and currently has a larger market share than it had before 2008.

How to reach: Trinity Products, Inc., www.trinityloprofile.com

Published in St. Louis

STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Finalist

 

Rob Freeman

CEO

TradeWind Energy, Inc.

 

Matt Gilhousen

chief development officer

TradeWind Energy, Inc.

 

Geoff Coventry

COO

TradeWind Energy, Inc.

 

What do a technology entrepreneur, a musician turned engineer and a corporate attorney have in common? They lead TradeWind Energy, Inc., one of the largest developers of wind energy projects in the U.S. However, the company hasn’t always been in that position.

In the early years, TradeWind positioned itself to be a wind power development company headquartered in the Midwest. The development process began by identifying key locations and then negotiating leases on the locations in order to build site inventory. Although Rob Freeman, Matt Gilhousen and Geoff Coventry had the drive necessary to succeed, TradeWind had an uphill battle from the beginning.

One early setback stemmed from the actions of a founding member who, having left the company, criticized the traditional sources of energy such as coal and nuclear. Unfortunately, TradeWinds’ customer base at the time comprised these same utility companies, and the local utility companies saw hostility in the gesture.

It was evident that a change was necessary in order for the company to survive. As TradeWind reached an inevitable breaking point, Gilousen, chief development officer, and Coventry, COO, met with Freeman and determined that the business had a future with Freeman at the helm as CEO.

TradeWind made a strategic decision to focus its efforts on getting control of some of the highest wind resource sites in the country. The strategy has been to focus on developing the lowest possible delivered cost of electricity from wind rather than focusing on markets that have had policy directives for wind power. This strategy has proved to be a key to TradeWind’s success.

TradeWind also secured transmission rights for physical delivery of wind power from Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska to the southeast U.S. The company expects growth will come from innovative combinations of technologies in natural gas, wind and solar.

How to reach: TradeWind Energy, Inc., www.tradewindenergy.com

Published in St. Louis