SBN Staff

Cascade Capital Awards -- Manufacturing -- Best Story winner 

Daniel’s Amish Collection
Christopher J. Karman

Back in 2003, Christopher J. Karman and his brother Ted bought a small Amish furniture-making business called Country Curios — which not surprisingly made Amish handcrafted curio cabinets. The Karmans had just quit their jobs working for a Fortune 500 company, and soon realized the harsh truth — people simply weren’t buying curios to display their knickknacks anymore.

So the idea of trying to grow a business in a declining market did not thrill either brother, but the Karmans didn’t give up. Instead, they broadened the product selection, went after high quality retailers and took the company national. Christopher took over as president as he and Ted launched Amish Mills and Daniel’s Amish Collection furniture products.

The company now offers office furniture, kitchen cabinets and bedroom suites. Since the company was founded, the workforce has grown from 12 craftsmen to about 150, and revenue has grown 134 percent in the last five years.

Daniel’s Amish Collection now operates two factories: one in Dundee and the other in Mount Eaton.

The business also has made a large impact on the local community and economy. Daniel’s Amish Collection supplies good-paying local jobs in an honest work environment, especially for those Amish who have moved away from farming and find that woodworking is the next biggest occupation.

Karman is pleased with the sense of family and personal pride among the workers.

“I am proud to say I feel we have the best workforce in the entire U.S.,” he says. ● 

How to reach: Daniel’s Amish Collection, (330) 359-0400 or

Cascade Capital Awards
Service category, sales growth emerging, Laudan Properties LLC, Kevin Weidinger

After a “back of the napkin” strategy session five years ago at a Bob Evans restaurant, the Laudan Properties LLC business model was formed. Since then, Laudan Properties, under President Kevin Weidinger, has experienced rapid revenue and employee growth as it pursues its mission to be the Midwest’s preferred residential property preservation and inspection organization.

Laudan Properties is a trusted organization for end-to-end field services solutions, built on four core principles of people, values, integrated solutions and community. 

Laudan’s competitive advantage is its vast network of more than 150 licensed contractors who cover a service area stretching 15 states from Michigan to Florida and expanding west toward California. That team of contractors has been honored with “Site Builders of the Year” and “Customer Service Excellence” awards.

Laudan’s growth has also been made possible by the company’s ability to rapidly recruit, train and motivate its diverse contractor network that delivers service offerings such as inspections, preservation, remodeling and rehabilitation, grounds maintenance and winterizations.

In addition, the company leverages cloud computing and mobile technology to link contractors to Laudan and Laudan to clients. This creates lightning fast data exchanges, which are crucial for clients such as banks, servicers and brokers.

The proof of Laudan’s success over the years is in the company’s operating results. Since its inception in 2008, the company has seen double digit revenue and profit growth and new job creation. ●

How to reach: Laudan Properties LLC, (866) 512-6984 or

Recognizing 46 outstanding companies that fortify the strength of the regional economy

It is with great pleasure that I congratulate the 46 Cascade Capital Corp. Business Growth Award winners for 2013. These companies are required to be within Summit, Medina, Portage, Wayne, Stark, Ashland and Holmes counties in Northeastern Ohio. 

Based on both the Business Growth Award’s criteria and the challenges facing small companies in today’s business environment, this is quite an accomplishment. A company may earn a Business Growth Award by either increasing its sales level or increasing its employee base over the course of the past five years. The importance of its growth measures far beyond actual sales and employee growth figures though.

From an economic development perspective, increased regional company sales to other parts of the state, across the nation and even internationally, enrich our local/regional economy. Receipts and profits generated by growing area companies are positively manifested when these companies purchase local goods and services, invest in new operating facilities, equipment and employees. These wealth-creating mechanisms directly lead to the economic vitality of our regional economy.

The goal of Cascade Capital Corp. is to provide meaningful financing assistance to small- and medium-sized companies poised to grow through investment in new operating facilities, equipment and human resources. Over the course of the past five years, Cascade Capital Corp. has approved financing for more than 150 local/regional company projects totaling in excess of $100 million through its core SBA 504 and Ohio 166 loan programs. The collective completion of these projects was expected to result in the creation or retention of 1,000 jobs for our region.

Cascade Capital provides affordable, long-term fixed interest rate financing directly through its SBA 504 Loan Program. The SBA 504 assists growing small- to medium-sized companies to purchase new operating facilities, equipment or even other businesses. In combination with traditional bank financing, SBA 504 offers up to 90 percent financing for these major fixed asset purchases. For building purchases, Cascade Capital can offer 20-year financing terms at fixed interest rates well below market.

Cascade Capital’s Ohio 166 Loan Program continues to offer perhaps the most competitive fixed interest rate available for business borrowers — as low as 3 percent fixed for five years and about 4 percent fixed for 15 years. 

A number of 2013 Business Growth Award winners have received funding in the past from Cascade Capital through its SBA 504 and Ohio 166 loan programs.

Congratulations again to all of Cascade Capital Corp.’s 2013 Business Growth Award winners on a job well done! Thank you for your continuing role in supporting and revitalizing our local and regional economy through your sustained growth and investment. ●

Robert Filipiak is executive director of Cascade Capital Corp., an economic development finance company that has provided dependable financing options to growing small- to medium-sized companies in Greater Akron and Northeastern Ohio since 1983. Reach him at (330) 379-3160 or

Here is a list of Smart Business Akron/Canton's coverage:

FirstMerit Legacy Award

How Thomas Ferkovic drives progress at SS&G Healthcare Services

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award (tie)

How Michael Jarrett keeps Jarrett Logistics on the right path

Manufacturing Best Story Award

How the Karman brothers turned an Amish curio company into the thriving Daniel’s Amish Collection

Manufacturing Sales Growth Award (tie)

How Dallas Steiner led venture products to a global presence with a stump grinder
Manufacturing Sales Growth Award (tie)
How Ben Biery keeps the Swiss, cheddar and provolone coming, all in Biery Cheese packages

Manufacturing Employee Growth Award

How the Swiatkowski family grows Ohio Hickory Harvest via expansion

Technology Best Story Award

How Jay Mellon and Jim Laber keep AtNetPlus aligned with clients’ expectations

Technology Sales Growth Award

How Michael Teutsch and Etactics improve cash flow for customers

Technology Employee Growth Award

How Suranjan Shome’s Epiphany brings IT managed services to the K-12 market

Service Best Story Award

How Jeremy Rayl keeps his eye on the future at J. Rayl Transport company

Service Category, Established, Sales Growth Award

How Robert Littman, Mark Goldfarb and SS&G continue to become a more competitive player in accounting

Service Category, Emerging, Sales Growth Award

How Kevin Weidinger’s grooming Laudan Properties to be the Midwest’s premier mortgage field services operation

Service Category, Established, Employee Growth Award

How Sam Falletta’s thirst for challenges drives Incept Corp.’s growth

Service Category, Emerging, Employee Growth Award

How Kim Wilson and Slate Rock Safety prove business is not just a piece of clothing

Cascade Capital Corporation Honor Roll 2013

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 20:42

Cascade Capital Corporation Honor Roll 2013

Cascade Capital Corporation Honor Roll 2013


ACS Industries Inc.

Joe Zeno

For more than 35 years, ACS Industries Inc. has been providing world-class manufacturing of construction equipment attachments and replacement parts. The company has committed to not only create but retain high-paying manufacturing jobs and has done so to the tune of 100 manufacturing positions in the local economy over the past five years, increasing the employee headcount by 44 percent.

Biery Cheese Co. Inc.

Ben Biery

A family-owned and -operated company, Biery Cheese Co. Inc. has been providing top quality cheese products for more than 80 years. The company constantly innovates to create custom cheese blends and flavors and has won numerous awards. Biery Cheese also operates Apollo Sky, a quality freight delivery company. The company’s commitment to product innovation, research and development has rewarded Biery Cheese with increased sales and workforce.

Amish Mills/
Daniel’s Amish Collection

Christopher J. Karman

Wooden household furniture manufacturer Amish Mills/Daniel’s Amish Collection has focused on expanding its product line over the past few years and has succeeded in doing so. The company is not only proud of its products, but its customer base too. Amish Mills/Daniel’s Amish Collection furniture can be found in high-quality stores. The company’s success has led to revenue and employee growth of more than 130 percent each over the past five years.

Design Molded Plastics Inc.

Diane Hanson and Jay Honsaker

Design Molded Plastics Inc. is a full-service thermoplastic injection molding company that employs more than 120 associates and serves customers in the medical equipment, protective equipment, automotive, home appliance, electronics and consumer goods industries. Design Molded Plastics’ growth has come from tightening quality variances and commitment to product innovation. This dedication to quality and customer satisfaction resulted in increased sales.

Fuserashi International Technology Inc.

Marty Shimada

Fuserashi International Technology Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of Fuserashi Ltd. The company produces highly specialized, cold-formed steel products for the auto and agricultural industry and started U.S. work in 1996. The company has grown by expanding its product offerings into areas such as mobile devices. Fuserashi broke ground on a facility expansion in 2012, adding 60,000 square feet and 17 full-time employees.

Ohio Hickory Harvest Brand Products Inc.

Darlene Swiatkowski and
Joseph Swiatkowski

Ohio Hickory Harvest Brand Products Inc. is a family-owned second- and third-generation company that sells dried fruit, nuts and candies to local stores. The Swiatkowski family leads by example to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere with emphasis on quality and customer service. In 2012, Ohio Hickory formed a new LLC, became majority owners in American Confections and has increased employee headcount by 175 percent.

OrDerv Foods Inc.

Keith Kropp

Since the 2005 purchase of OrDerv Foods Inc., a manufacturer of sauerkraut balls, Keith Kropp has helped expand the company’s food offerings to include wonton poppers, fried pickles, Rueben bites, fried banana peppers, calamari, lobster bites, sauces and a new line of Olivations. In 2005 the company had three employees and with Kropp’s hard work, it has seen sales growth of 175 percent since 2008.

Venture Products Inc.

Dallas Steiner

Venture Products Inc. is the manufacturer of Ventrac compact tractors and commercial grade attachments. Since the first release of Ventrac in 1998, Venture Products has quickly become a leader in the sub-compact tractor market, seeing sales growth of 93 percent between 2008 and 2012. The company’s products are sold in diverse markets such as state and city municipalities, golf course maintenance, parks, sport facilities and airports.


AtNetPlus Inc.

Jay Mellon and Jim Laber

AtNetPlus Inc., a full-service IT company, has been an early adopter of many technologies that are now commonplace in the industry. Most recently, it has focused on cybersecurity and developed a comprehensive solution called Attack Safe to make cybersecurity accessible and affordable for clients. The company has experienced growth in the number of clients served and has grown its own headcount by 33 percent.

Corporate Technologies Group Inc.

Jeff Sumner and Brett Harney

Corporate Technology Group Inc. is a leading voice and data technology company that has made numerous changes over the past year. In response to client needs, the company expanded its solutions offerings with a primary focus on network monitoring. With the addition to its product portfolio, Corporate Technology has also started offering network assessments. All in all, the company saw sales increase by 30 percent since 2008.

Epiphany Management Group

Suranjan Shome

Epiphany Management Group was founded in 2007, as a one-person company with no existing customers. Over the last six years, that outlook has drastically changed with significant investments made in senior management personnel, processes and systems automation. The success is largely due to a strategic planning process. In a four-year period sales have increased 454 percent.

Etactics Inc.

Michael Teutsch

Etactics Inc. is a cost-effective EDI and print services company that enhances the accuracy and delivery of many time-sensitive documents, especially invoices. The company serves more than 2,000 clients and is preparing for the next level of growth. Etactics continues to add new products and services and in doing so increased its headcount by 61 percent in the last four years.

Keystone Technology Consultants

Greg Cordray

Keystone Technology Consultants is a full-service IT company that puts heavy emphasis on its customers and the relationships it builds. By fostering these relationships, Keystone has been able to create lasting impact by helping with network needs today and toward the future. This attention to detail has helped Keystone realize a 100 percent sales increase and a 92 percent employee increase in the past three years.


Americas International Inc.

Wayne Stair

Americas International Inc., a wholesale distributor of rubber and rubber chemicals, has continued to expand beyond Northeast Ohio into Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. In November 2012, the company partnered with Solutia Inc., a subsidiary of Eastman Chemical, to distribute Therminol drum quantities to the Northeast. With a network of warehouse operations that ensure accurate and on-time deliveries, sales have grown 164 percent since 2008.

Area 51 Consulting

Marling Engle

Area 51 Consulting is an IT consulting firm for local small and midsized businesses. On Jan. 1, the company merged with TCI Data Solutions, a move that resulted in substantial expansion of Area 51’s team and resources as well as product and service innovation. Sales have tripled since 2008 and staffing levels are on the rise as well.

Broadleaf Partners LLC

Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover

Broadleaf Partners LLC is a growth-focused investment management firm serving the needs of foundations and endowments, retirement plans and high net worth individuals. The investment management firm uses frequent and honest communication to build client confidence and trust. Sales have increased at a compound annual growth rate of 49.5 percent since 2008.

Carrara Companies Inc.

Justin Sucato

Carrara Companies Inc. provides comprehensive restoration, construction, cleaning and environmental services. Founded in 1996, the business has averaged 30 percent growth each year. Since 2007, Carrara has doubled its annual revenue and added 37 associates.  The company has three locations — Richfield, Cuyahoga Falls and Columbus — where it supports the state of Ohio in emergency response.

Catastrophe Management Solutions Inc.

Curtis F. Pilot

Catastrophe Management Solutions Inc. provides call center support to national insurance carriers during catastrophic weather events. CMS focuses on maintaining a roster of trained and prepared employees who can step up and be ready when they are called into action. Staffing has increased rapidly, from 11 employees in 2009 to 700 in 2012.

Certified Nerds

Marling Engle

Certified Nerds is a computer repair and sales shop focused on providing fast and friendly service at competitive prices. Employees are willing to take the time to answer questions and provide clear explanations even when the inquiry is not part of an order. The focus on exemplary service has propelled sales to grow by 74 percent since 2008.

Cohen & Co.

J. Michael Kolk

Cohen & Co. provides entrepreneurs and privately held businesses with a full range of accounting, tax and business advisory services. The goal is to help local business owners remain profitable, which is a key component to a growing economy. Management and employees work together to align goals and keep the firm moving forward and growing.

County Fire Protection Inc.

John Lubinski

County Fire Protection Inc. is a full-service fire protection company. It’s become a multi-million dollar company that specializes in the service and installation of fire suppression systems, sprinkler systems, backflow preventers, fire extinguishers and exit emergency lighting among other things. Growth has taken County Fire Protection across Ohio with offices in Akron, Columbus and Toledo.

Great Lakes Fasteners Inc.

Kevin R. Weidinger

Great Lakes Fasteners Inc. is a fastener distributor with offices and two distribution centers in Twinsburg. Since 1958, GLF has been servicing Midwestern manufacturers by providing innovative problem solving skills with a comprehensive portfolio of high-quality fastener products. An aggressive acquisition strategy has propelled sales to 32 percent growth since 2008.

Group Management Services

Mike Kahoe

Group Management Services is a professional employer organization that provides payroll and benefit services as well as risk management and human resources. GMS has doubled its sales force in the last five years and has enhanced its on-boarding process for all new hires. Sales have grown by more than 56 percent since 2007.

HMT Dermatology
Associates Inc.

Helen M. Torok, MD

HMT Dermatology Associates Inc. offers world-class general and cosmetic dermatology, dermatologic surgery, skin cancer treatment and holistic medicine, as well as high-quality skin care products and makeup. HMT has consistently added new treatments and services while growing its capabilities and as a result, sales have increased 35 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Incept Corp.

Sam Falletta

Incept Corp. is a conversational communication BPO firm that specializes in call center and social media support services for the biomedical, software and automotive industries. The company has executed more than 15 million customer transactions for some of the best known brands in the world. During the past five years, Incept has nearly doubled the size of its workforce and realized a pretax profit increase of more than 375 percent.

InfoCision Management Corp.

Craig Taylor and Steve Boyazis

InfoCision Management Corp. has been a leader in the call center industry for 30 years specializing in inbound and outbound call center solutions, direct mail and fulfillment and interactive web and data solutions. The goal is to provide direct marketing services that deliver results for the customer. In the past five years, the company has created 700 jobs.

J. Rayl Transport Inc.

Jeremy Rayl

J. Rayl Transport Inc. is a third-generation, full-service transportation company that was created in response to the needs of local tire companies. The company has more than 230 trucks and 750 dry van trailers servicing the United States and Canada, placed strategically depending on the needs of customers. Sales have grown consistently, increasing 13 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Jarrett Logistics
Systems Inc.

W. Michael Jarrett

Jarrett Logistics Systems Inc. provides supply chain management services to high-growth companies. Services include transportation management, freight bill payment, premium freight management, claims processing and custom reporting. Each customer gets service that is catered to its own needs. The company added seven employees in 2012 and watched its sales rise by 18 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Kisling Legal Group

Alberto “Rob” Nestico

Kisling, Nestico & Redick LLC, a personal injury law firm serving Ohio, is based in Akron and has offices in Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown. Since 2008, the firm has added 65 new jobs as its business has grown. The Kisling Legal Group offers the knowledge, experience and commitment necessary to get proven results.

Laudan Properties LLC

Kevin R. Weidinger

Laudan Properties LLC works closely with banks, servicers, real estate brokers and investors to manage and maintain their portfolio of residential assets. Its competitive advantage is its network of licensed contractors with a service area stretching from Michigan to Florida and now expanding west toward California. Success is reflected in the firm’s sales, which grew 195 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Lighting Services Inc.

Kim Allerman and Kurt Allerman

Lighting Services Inc. is a design/build company specializing in retrofit lighting. Through advances in lighting technology as well as the company’s experience in the field, customers have saved millions of dollars in energy costs. Since 2008, the company has added 10 new positions to assist with the additional work brought about by cost-conscious customers interested in advances such as LED technology.

Metis Construction
Services LLC

Julie Brandle

Named after Metis, the Greek Titan goddess of wisdom, planning and good counsel, Metis Construction Services LLC supplies construction services to diverse industries, and is involved in such projects as the redevelopment of downtown Kent. Since its creation in 2009, the company has grown from two employees to 20 and its revenue has increased nearly tenfold.


Marling Engle

Metisentry is a Web design development and promotions company that serves small- to midsized businesses. Last year, it grew in diversity by acquiring a local consulting firm named Rainmaker to expand its marketing offerings. Founded in 2006, Metisentry began as a one-person operation. The company has seen 185 percent growth in revenue since 2008 and has employed as many as 10.

National Interstate Insurance Co.

Dave Michelson

National Interstate, a specialty property and casualty insurance holding company, offers transportation insurance, alternative risk transfer and insurance for specialty vehicle owners. Built on the premise that customer service and personal attention matter, National Interstate has been on the Forbes 100 Most Trustworthy Companies list for the past four years.

Ohio Tool Systems Inc.

Jack Grace

An industrial tool and material handling distributor, Ohio Tool Systems Inc. has expanded from a five-person staff in 1974 to a 50 employee, multi-million dollar operation with nine sales locations and four factory authorized repair and warranty service centers. Some of its clients include Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota. Annual revenue since 2008 has grown by 46 percent.

Outtech Inc.

Jay Scholes

Outtech Inc.’s mission is to provide clients with professional sales and marketing specialists with a passion to help build the success of the outdoor and hunting equipment manufacturers the company represents. Outtech stresses comprehensive training of the dealers and box stores in the use of the products — and as a result, has seen a 60 percent growth in annual revenue since 2008.

PackShip USA

W. Michael Jarrett

As its name implies, PackShip USA provides packaging and shipping services for large, high value merchandise and logistics management for mid-market companies. Based in Orrville, PackShip USA has other locations in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina. PackShip USA encourages its staff to do great things for customers every day. Its revenue has grown by 50 percent since 2008.

PartsSource Inc.

A. Ray Dalton

PartsSource Inc. provides medical replacement parts and software solutions for biomedical and diagnostic imaging equipment. Founded in 2001 by A. Ray Dalton, the company today receives requests for more than 1,000 parts per day. PartsSource has garnered Cascade Capital Growth Awards six of the past seven years and has added nearly 200 employees in each of the last five years.

QualCare LLC, dba Home Instead Senior Care

Therese Glorioso

Home Instead Senior Care, a health service organization that provides personalized quality private duty home care to seniors in Northeast Ohio, has grown its sales over the past five years by 205 percent. To meet the wishes of clients who wanted more mature companions, the organization recruits senior citizens to fill those roles, and they have become the backbone of the company.

Sequoia Financial Group LLC

Thomas A. Haught

Sequoia Financial Group LLC offers a full range of wealth management services. The company has continued to grow since its founding 20 years ago, expanding and better serving its clients in Northeast Ohio and beyond. In particular, the company has grown through acquisitions and in offering innovative technology. Annual revenue since 2008 has increased by 60 percent.

Slate Rock Safety LLC

Kim Wilson

Slate Rock Safety LLC is a retailer and wholesaler of work and safety apparel, all sold through ecommerce. Its premise of employee enthusiasm, a high-spirited culture and empowerment has led to substantial growth over the last five years. The company recently relocated to allow for additional office and warehouse space to address its growth, which includes a whopping 1,514 percent in revenue since 2008.

SS&G Inc.

Robert Littman  and Mark Goldfarb

Accounting and business advisory firm SS&G recently added an office in Chicago to its existing Ohio, Kentucky and North Carolina locations. During the recent unstable economy, SS&G has focused on providing clients with the guidance needed to continue the success of their businesses. This has helped the firm to grow by 36 percent in the last five years.

SS&G Healthcare
Services LLC

Thomas Ferkovic

Specializing in medical billing and accounts receivable, independent physician and dental practice management, clinical research and financial and operational consulting, SS&G Healthcare Services LLC focuses on those issues so clients can concentrate on what matters — their patients. Since 2008, the company has had an increase in annual revenue of 62 percent, and the staff has increased by 15 percent.

Steel City Lighting Co. Inc., dba Five Star Lighting

Kim Allerman and Kurt Allerman

Five Star Lighting is a specialized wholesale distributor of lamps, ballasts, light fixtures, lenses/louvers and lighting-related products using state-of-the-art technologies. As a supplier of energy-efficient lighting products, the company takes pride in bring savings to the local economy in energy costs, improvement in productivity and safety resulting from improved facility lighting and the ability of companies to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution.

Trillium Creek Boutique LLC

Heather Funk

Trillium Creek Boutique LLC offers cosmetic consultations and retail sales of a variety of skin care products, makeup and gifts. With four locations in Medina and Wooster, the boutique also offers complimentary makeovers and skin care consultations. Dr. Helen Torok, medical director of Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery Center, trains all the consultants. Annual revenues are up 31 percent since 2008.

WhiteSpace Creative

Keeven White

WhiteSpace Creative, an integrated marketing agency, last year acquired an advertising and marketing agency, resulting in growth of a third in clientele and staff. This added to the company’s recent focus to develop more robust public relations and social media service offerings. In the past nine years, WhiteSpace Creative added 25 positions, and annual revenue has grown 30 percent since 2008. ●

FirstMerit Legacy Award
Thomas J. Ferkovic, managing director, SS&G Healthcare Services LLC

The world of health care is changing dramatically, and Thomas J. Ferkovic is proud that SS&G Healthcare Services LLC is helping its customers effectively manage through the transformation.

“Due to changes in health care, particularly with reimbursements, physician practices and hospitals are more and more looking for professional management,” says Ferkovic, the company’s managing director. “As we grow, our team is better positioned to share our expertise and help our clients succeed.”

SS&G Healthcare has been one of the leading growth companies in Northeast Ohio for a number of years. The enduring success has allowed the company to expand its operations throughout the East Coast to better serve and meet the increasing demands of those physician groups and hospitals around the country.

The company provides a customized mix of practice management and operational and financial consulting services to meet the complex, changing needs of clients in the health care industry. These services include revenue and expense management as well as strategic, operational and financial planning. It is all built on a strong foundation through its affiliation with SS&G Inc., a full-service certified public accounting, tax and business advisory firm.

SS&G Healthcare has more than 100 employees who provide compliance plan development, strategic planning, physician compensation consulting, contract negotiations and accounts receivable management.

Employees make a strong effort to stay updated on new industry developments as well as advancements in procedures and methods.

The organization is led by Ferkovic, who entered into a joint venture with SS&G to form SS&G Healthcare in 1999. At that time, the focus was on outsourced practice management services for small to midsized physician groups. But Ferkovic recognized the potential for additional opportunities.

Ferkovic earned his bachelor of science degree in pharmacy from the University of Toledo and a master’s degree in information science from Case Western Reserve University. He is also a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. 

He is a big believer in the power of analytics and the importance of knowing where you are and where you want to go.

“Every physician wants to grow his or her practice, but you can’t do that until you know exactly where you are and until you’re measuring key indicators for the health of the current practice,” Ferkovic said in a recent article published in Physician’s Money Digest. “A lot of physicians see how healthy they are by looking in their checkbook, but you have to do more than that.”

The efforts to help their clients grow and succeed have not gone unnoticed.

“The members of the SS&G Healthcare team felt like partners and family,” says Kenyokee Crowell, administrator of regional practices for the Cleveland Clinic Health System. “Long after the management contract has ended, the relationships with the many people who assisted us are strong.”

The result of all this success is a consistent place on the honor roll for the Cascade Capital Business Growth Awards. SS&G Healthcare is now a seven-time winner. The company has grown from 97 employees in 2008, when the global recession took hold, to 112 employees in 2012. Since 2008, sales have grown by 62 percent.

Ferkovic and his team understand that they will need to continue studying ways to get better and be more effective in the service they provide to customers if that growth is to continue. ●


How to reach: SS&G Healthcare Services LLC,
(330) 670-5316 or

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Michael Jarrett, president, Jarrett Logistics Systems Inc.ichael Jarrett brought with him an extensive background in transportation management when he founded Jarrett Logistics Systems Inc. in 1999. Fourteen years later, it’s that experience and the strong work ethic he has instilled in the organization at every level that continue to propel the company’s growth.

JLS specializes in transportation management services for manufacturing companies, wholesalers and distributors who ship or receive products from all over the world. That service is provided in a customized manner developed through detailed conversations between the company and its customers.

JLS embraces the uniqueness of the customer’s needs for a particular job to develop a customized solution that will get that job done. Such attention to detail has become even more critical at a time when the global economy is still uncertain and companies are very cautious about their expenses.

Companies in all lines of work are being forced to take a closer look at their costs, including those that affect their supply chain. Transportation costs may be a deciding factor in determining how competitive a business is within the marketplace.

As the company’s president, Jarrett understands how important cost is to his customers. But he knows that it’s not just about money. It’s the bottom line, of course, but customers also want to know they are getting value for that money. It’s why JLS works hard to develop solutions that are customized and address specific needs.

Through its centralized routing center, JLS allows customers to gain more control over their supply chain, become more cost effective and increase efficiencies. Customers are assigned a dedicated logistics coordinator as well as a customer account team who understand the customer’s business requirements.

All suppliers must contact the routing center for routing instructions. This allows the company the ability to route all shipments on the appropriate carrier based on shipment characteristics such as location, weight, size and cost. This ensures that the customer will not incur any unnecessary freight charges.

Customers may contact the routing center for assistance on outbound orders, access its online order-entry system or receive a routing guide and continue to work directly with the carriers. JLS also manages freight-bill audit and payment services, carrier performance and reporting.

The company’s proprietary software allows customers to access information online such as order entry, quotes, tracking and reporting in order to manage their day-to-day shipments.

The attention to detail has positioned JLS as a reliable partner in the transportation management industry. Business ethics, employee character and operational efficiency are key tenets in Jarrett’s entrepreneurial leadership philosophy at JLS.

The approach has worked well wherever Jarrett has been, including his eight-year tenure with Caliber Logistics where he managed multiple routing center operations, directed the implementation of new accounts and was responsible for negotiating carrier contracts.

In everything Jarrett does, he thinks about the customer’s needs, and it’s a key reason why JLS has experienced consistent growth.

The company is now an eight-time honoree at the Cascade Capital Growth Business Awards. Sales grew 18 percent from 2011 to 2012 and are up 49 percent over 2010. Jarrett plans to maintain a high-growth mode by continuing to invest heavily in two key areas: integrity-based, skilled people and leading-edge supply chain technology. ●


How to reach: Jarrett Logistics Systems Inc.,
(330) 682-0099 or

Cascade Capital Awards 2013 --Sales Growth (tie)

Ben Biery
Biery Cheese Co. Inc.

While the basic process of making cheese hasn’t changed much over the years, innovations such as those launched by Biery Cheese Co. Inc. continue to be discovered.

Biery Cheese has been innovating from the beginning. Founded in 1929, at the start of the Great Depression, Norman F. Biery Farm was having a hard time selling milk to bottlers. The solution? The Biery family, along with a group of local Ohio dairy farmers, created a co-op in order to market their milk in the form of Swiss cheese.

Today, Biery Cheese continues to innovate by creating custom cheese blends and flavors and winning national and worldwide cheese awards.

In 2010, to create additional production space to meet current and future sales opportunities, the company committed to a large expansion of its Louisville, Ohio, plant. In conjunction with the expanded facility, Biery Cheese is committed to implementing new technology to improve and expand the business.

A new ERP system has been introduced to convert the existing product and operation management, allowing Biery Cheese to reap the benefits of real-time inventory control and tracking, as well as increased efficiency.

The company’s facilities are equipped with the latest packaging technology that allows Biery Cheese to continue innovative expansion into new products and markets. Most recently, the company launched new prepackaged cheese trays and custom arrangements for the retail market. The facilities are USDA, FDA, kosher, organic and military approved to ensure customers are receiving the highest quality products.

Ben Biery serves as CEO of the family-owned company, which is now in its fourth generation. ●

How to reach: Biery Cheese Co. Inc., (330) 875-3381 or

Cascade Capital Awards 2013 --Technology category -- Best Story

Jay Mellon
Jim Laber
AtNetPlus Inc.

As technology evolves, AtNetPlus Inc. evolves along with it.

The managed IT services provider was an early adopter of several technologies that have changed the industry. For instance, AtNetPlus offered online backup solutions years before competitors, was one of the first to become certified by VMware, and embraced the managed services business model long before it was common practice in the industry.

AtNetPlus takes pride in its cutting-edge technology solutions designed to fit the needs and budgets of small and midsized organizations. From moving companies to the cloud to providing managed IT services and network design and installation, the company’s certified IT specialists deliver headache-free monitoring, maintenance and support.

Jay Mellon, CEO, and Jim Laber, president, have driven the company’s success by creating customer-centered service and recognizing which emerging technologies are viable solutions for small business.

Cybersecurity is a critical issue currently facing all businesses. AtNetPlus has developed a comprehensive solution called Attack Safe, designed to make cybersecurity accessible and affordable for its clients. Designed to evaluate clients’ current security policies and procedures, Attack Safe identifies gaps and implements a prioritized plan to lower risk.

With continued dedication to customer-centric solutions and services, AtNetPlus has experienced sustained growth over the past several years. The number of clients served has increased along with the company’s own headcount and market presence. To accommodate this growth, the company is implementing plans to physically expand its current offices.

How to reach: AtNetPlus Inc., (330) 945-5685 or

Every business, regardless of size, desires to maximize value to its shareholders. And maximizing value usually means minimizing tax liability. For many businesses, the decision between filing as a C corporation versus S corporation can have a significant effect on overall tax liability, and by extension shareholder value.

“As a business owner, you should be asking yourself, ‘Is our filing status maximizing shareholder value?’ If you’re not sure, it is probably time to talk to a professional,” says Wonsun Willey, tax partner at Sensiba San Filippo LLP.

Smart Business spoke with Willey about the benefits of C-corps and S-corps.

What makes an S-corp different from a C-corp?

C-corps and S-corps both provide the same legal benefits. The difference lies in how the corporations are taxed. Income from a C-corp is actually taxed twice. The C-corp itself is taxed on its net income at its corporate tax rate. Then, after paying tax at the corporate level, shareholders also pay dividend tax on distributions. Income from an S-corp, on the other hand, is only taxed at the shareholder level at individual income tax rates.

Common sense would indicate that it’s better to be taxed once rather than twice. In many cases, that’s exactly right. But it’s not always that simple. Variances in tax rates, the availability of incentives, ownership requirements and investment opportunities can cloud the picture. There isn’t one ‘right answer’ that applies to every organization, but there is almost certainly a right answer for your organization.

What businesses are eligible for S-corp status?

S-corp filing status is intended as a filing option only for small corporations. An S-corp can have no more than 100 shareholders, can only include U.S. citizens and resident aliens, and must have a calendar fiscal year. An S-corp also does not have the ability to have different classes of stock. So organizations that have foreign ownership, a large investor group or that may seek private equity investments are not good candidates for S-corp status.

What is involved in making or terminating an S-corp election?

Making the S-corp election is relatively simple. An existing corporation must file a Form 2553 with the IRS. If the election is made within 75 days of formation of the corporation, there are no additional tax ramifications.

Converting a long-established C-corp to an S-corp can be more complicated. The accounting rules for S-corps are different, often making the conversion a cumbersome task. An S-corp can also face additional tax on net unrealized ‘built-in gains’ from the C-corp. Gains recognized during the 10 years following conversion are subject to the highest corporate tax rate of 35 percent. Selling a business within 10 years of converting to S-corp status can trigger a substantial tax liability.

Changing from an S-corp back to a C-corp has fewer challenges, but should be carefully considered before action is taken. Once you give up your S-corp election, you can’t go back to being an S-corp for five years.

How should a business decide which status is best?

For many small businesses, especially start-ups, S-corps are clearly preferable. They provide significant tax savings and any losses incurred can be passed through to the personal level rather than being trapped within the corporation. Businesses seeking outside funding, looking for rapid expansion or needing multiple stock classes are limited to C-corp status.

Small C-corps that meet the requirements for S-corp status frequently benefit from making an S-corp election, even years after formation. Ultimately, the decision should be made based on the individual circumstances of the organization following consultation with a qualified adviser.

Wonsun Willey is a tax partner at Sensiba San Filippo LLP. Reach her at (408) 776-8900 or

For more tips and best practices, visit Sensiba San Filippo LLP's blog.

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The United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case of The United States v. Windsor essentially ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and allows for same-sex couples who are validly married under state law to be treated as married for federal purposes. While this case is viewed as a huge civil rights win, it could potentially be a huge financial win for same-sex couples, but the ruling has raised as many questions as it has answered particularly in states such as Ohio that do not currently recognize same-sex marriage. Here is what the recent ruling on DOMA means from a financial standpoint.  

Tax advantages of being married for federal purposes

From a purely tax perspective and especially for couples with a primary breadwinner, the tax advantages of being married for federal purposes generally trump filing separate returns. In the wake of Windsor, legally married same sex couples may actually now be required to file joint Federal returns just as their different sexed counterparts do or face the negative impact of married filing separately status. For those same sex couples legally married for state purposes, the following Federal tax benefits should now be available:

  • Joint filing of income tax returns
  • Spousal inherited IRAs & required minimum distributions
  • Tax-free employer benefits
  • Income, estate & gift tax relief for spousal transfers
  • Deductible alimony
  • Favorable divorce tax treatment
  • Adoption tax credit

Additionally, a host of other Federal benefits including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, family medical leave, and military benefits may now be available for legally married same-sex couples. 

Seem too good to be true?

Possibly, at least for now for same-sex couples residing in Ohio. The couple in the Windsor case resided in New York which currently is among the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriage. It seems clear that legally married couples residing in states that recognize same sex marriage will be treated as married for federal purposes. However, further guidance is still needed for residents of states such as Ohio which currently has a constitutional amendment banning recognition of same sex marriage. It remains unclear whether the state in which the marriage took place or the state of domicile controls for federal purposes. 

Guidance may be forthcoming. In a recent case from the Southern District of Ohio, Obergefell v. Kasich, the plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of the Ohio laws forbidding recognition of legal same sex marriages from other states. The judge overseeing the case issued a temporary restraining order barring the local Ohio registrar of death certificates from accepting a death certificate which did not recognize a legal same sex marriage solemnized outside of Ohio. The judge’s order points out that “throughout Ohio’s history, Ohio law has been clear: a marriage solemnized outside of Ohio is valid in Ohio if it is valid where solemnized.” [1]  Ultimately, it remains to be seen how state law will be decided in Obergefell and similar cases, but the discussion has already begun on whether a same-sex marriage from another state will be valid under Ohio law. 

What steps should you take following Windsor?

The resolution of the various state issues and your individual circumstances will be major factors in helping you decide your financial options. Are you currently married? Considering marriage? How much do you and your partner earn? Is your spouse already included in your estate plan? Have you made lifetime transfers to your partner? Legally married same sex couples may want to consider filing amended individual income, gift, and/or estate tax returns for years still open under statute or filing protective claims for refunds depending upon their answers to the above questions. Other planning items to consider include reviewing your health plan options given that many plans will now cover same-sex spouses, reviewing your estate plan and beneficiary designations, and filing for federal benefits such as social security. Non-married same-sex couples who have long desired to marry may find new financial incentive to move forward.

The Internal Revenue Service responded to Windsor by issuing a statement that additional guidance will be forthcoming. In the meantime, the professionals at Zinner & Co. LLP can help you analyze the tax and financial impact of these recent changes and advise on an appropriate course of action, so you are well positioned to take advantage of these new benefits as the situation evolves.

Andrew L. Whitehair, CPA, is a Tax Manager at Zinner & Co. LLP. Reach him at (216) 831-0733 or 


[1]Obergefell v. Kasich United State District Court Southern District of Ohio Western Division. Case No. 1:13-cv-501. Judge Timothy S. Black. July 22, 2013.