It’s one thing to study regional economic development academically and merely teach it to one’s students. It’s another thing altogether to live it and breathe it and become a major influence in the region.
Nonetheless, Richard Florida has been taking part in Pittsburgh’s transformation since the early 1990s, when he helped author the first of many white papers on the region’s strengths and weaknesses. Out of that effort came a new emphasis on Pittsburgh as a high-technology center, a new organization called the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and a host of new initiatives designed to bring attention to the region.
In the past two years, Florida has emerged as a consummate New Economy crusader for the region’s younger people, particularly in the high-tech community. He has become an outspoken advocate of anything that might lure more young people to the region or better yet, keep the ones we have.
In particular, he is working with civic and business leaders in an effort to transform Oakland in desperate need of urban redevelopment into a New Economy hotbed, both commercially and residentially, for high-tech entrepreneurs coming out of the university setting.
“We need a design strategy for Oakland as a key part of Pittsburgh’s New Economy,” Florida told SBN Magazine last spring. “And we can’t hesitate. Time is awasting. It is more important than the stadiums. It’s more important than Fifth and Forbes not to say that they are not important; they’re critically important. But Oakland is the single most important thing that has to be addressed.”
And Florida is among those leading the way.
Michele Fabrizi president and CEO, MARC USA/Pittsburgh
While finding a woman at the head of a corporation is less unusual nowadays than it was just a few years ago, that doesn’t make MARC USA/Pittsburgh CEO Michele Fabrizi any less remarkable. As Tony Bucci, MARC’s chairman and a Pittsburgh Pacesetter in 2000, canvasses the country for acquisition prospects, Fabrizi runs the largest ad agency between New York and Chicago from its home base in Pittsburgh. As if that weren’t enough, she also chairs the Family Health Council and is involved in the Pittsburgh Opera and the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the March of Dimes.
While running MARC, Fabrizi has landed nominations for some of the most prestigious awards bestowed on prominent women in the region. She was a nominee in 2000 for the Athena Award and designated one of Carlow College’s Women of Spirit. On top of all of that, colleagues gush over her sense of humor and her smashing wardrobe. Heck, heading the biggest ad agency in town would be enough for most people.
But that’s why she’s a Pittsburgh Pacesetter.
James Cederna, president, CEO, Calgon Carbon Corp., Robinson Township
When James Cederna took over the helm of Calgon Carbon Corp. as president and CEO, he realized he had to change a lot at the faltering company, not the least of which was people’s minds. Before Cederna came on the scene, Calgon Carbon had been languishing, with sluggish sales, internal conflicts and competitive pressures eroding its stock price and the confidence of investors and employees.
But Cederna didn’t use the hack-and-slash approach to whip the company into shape. Instead, he decided the corporate culture was the first thing that had to change.
Under Cederna, Calgon Carbon initiated a focused, concentrated and authentic effort to ensure that every individual in the company was prepared to handle the torrent of stress and uncertainty that flows through an organization that dares to reform itself in a substantial way. Cederna calmed fears by shuffling, rather than replacing, senior managers. He encouraged and rewarded honesty and preached a gospel of respect. He promised that all news, good or bad, would be greeted with understanding and empathy. He hired a consultant to help teach every employee how to confront change. The company spun an effort to leverage its research to create opportunities in the consumer products markets. Cederna has led the corporation down the conventional path of restructuring, as well, never losing sight of the imperative of profitability.
“Financial results are ultimately what we’re held accountable to by all of our stakeholders,” says Cederna. “The best thing we can do for all of them is get good financial results.”
Thomas O’Brien, chairman, PNC Bank Corp., Pittsburgh
When Thomas O’Brien joined PNC Bank Corp. in 1962, he probably didn’t see himself as one of Pittsburgh’s leading power brokers. But thanks in part to his aggressive leadership in running the once-regional banking and financial services company for 15 years, that’s just what he became.
He guided PNC’s growth from a regional presence to one that now reaches Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana, New Jersey and Ohio with a wide range of financial services. When he was named CEO in 1985, the company had less than $1 billion in market capitalization and annual earnings of about $143 million. By the end of 1999, market capitalization had grown to approximately $13 billion, with annual earnings of more than $1.26 billion.
In fact, the publication Business Ethics named PNC Bank Corp. among the “100 Best Corporate Citizens,” a list which included the likes of IBM, Hewlett Packard and Intel.
But perhaps the most profound mark he has left on Pittsburgh is in his high-level, behind-the-scenes guidance in pushing the region forward as a post-steel-industry economic powerhouse. While many of his civic efforts remain behind the scenes, his most visible accomplishment is PNC Park, the new baseball stadium that graces the shores of Pittsburgh’s North Side. As Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy seriously considered packing up his team and moving out of the region, O’Brien and other corporate leaders rallied quietly in an effort to save the team and, in effect, save the city.
But it wasn’t until PNC Bank Corp. agreed to pony up $30 million over a 20-year period for naming rights to a new baseball-only stadium for the Pirates that McClatchy decided to stay.
Without question, O’Brien’s leadership and the lofty fee for the naming rights will give PNC Bank Corp. broad national marketing exposure, but it also solidified an effort to keep the Pirates in Pittsburgh, which, in turn, enhanced Pittsburgh’s value as a place to live and work. “Our investment in the Pirates’ future home meets the needs of PNC Bank, the community and the Pirates, and helps secure the future of baseball in Pittsburgh,” O’Brien stated in 1998, at the time of the naming rights announcement. “Today’s announcement represents an investment in an all-star addition to Major League Baseball and in the community that serves as our headquarters. For PNC Bank, it represents a unique opportunity to forge a national brand image that will support growth of our national and regional businesses through the enormous national exposure provided by a major league sports franchise.”
O’Brien retired from his post as CEO last May, and plans to give up his board chairmanship this May. But one of his greatest legacies should serve Pittsburgh for years to come, both on and off the field.
Neil Fogarty, Fogarty & Associates, North Hills
When attorney Neil Fogarty opened his law firm in 1981, he set out to build a typical business law practice. Little did he know he would spend the next 19 years holding the hands of local entrepreneurs and educating them via the classroom and on television.
But as this publicity-shy counselor is the first to admit, he just couldn’t help himself. “Most entrepreneurs have a great deal of inspiration in where they’re going,” he says. “And oftentimes, I get to go with them. It’s a nice ride.”
These days, though, his law practice is beginning to look like a part-time job next to his educational activities, some of which he doesn’t get paid for. He has been teaching legal and strategic management classes at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business since 1986.
And he teaches a rather unorthodox set of lessons as he walks his Introduction to Business and Managing Complex Environments classes through the tedium of developing workable business ideas and developing very real, detailed business plans to go with them. Love it or hate it, students come out of his classes with much more than just textbook knowledge of what it really takes to become a successful entrepreneur in Pittsburgh.
“Teaching is probably one of the most fulfilling things I do,” he says.
Over the past couple of years, Fogarty has taken his teaching activities a giant step forward as he brings education to local television. Working with PC-TV, the public access cable television channel, Fogarty helps produce and host North Hills Newsmakers, a half-hour interview forum with political and business leaders on issues affecting the region. The show airs on C-Span in the North Hills on Thursdays at 10 p.m.
And if that’s not enough, he recently launched a series of half-hour interview-format shows called “High-Tech Pittsburgh,” which showcases the region’s high-technology companies and their creative, entrepreneurial leaders. That show airs in Pittsburgh on PC-TV 21 Saturdays at 7 p.m.
Fogarty also is the author of a book published in 1987 called “Starting a Business in Pittsburgh,” which sold in local bookstores until 1999; he’s an elected member of the Pennsylvania Small Business Leadership Council; and he’s active in the Republican Party. “It’s something I truly like doing,” Fogarty says of all of his “extracurricular” activities. “In fact, it sometimes gets in the way of money-making opportunities. But we only go through life once.”
Fred Rogers, chairman, Family Communications Inc., Oakland
When you get right down to it, Mister Rogers’ neighborhood really is Pittsburgh, and for the past 47 years or so, he has been proudly extolling its virtues to generations of viewers around the world.
Fred Rogers, creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and chairman of the nonprofit Family Communications Inc., has been teaching small kids about life his entire career. In the process, he has become perhaps Pittsburgh’s most famous native citizen and advocate. Directly and indirectly, he has carried the region’s message worldwide through his television series, the countless feature articles written about him in national publications, and even the 35 colleges and universities, including his alma mater, Rollins College in Florida, that have bestowed on him honorary degrees. Rogers announced recently that he would soon complete the last in his “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” series of nearly 900 episodes, although he also made it clear that he wasn’t about to retire from his life’s work. If ever there were a Pittsburgh Pacesetter for the ages, Rogers is it.
David Nelsen and Andy Fraley, CoManage Corp., Cranberry
It’s all fun and games -and work at CoManage Corp. It’s not unusual to see employees at CoManage walking barefoot through the halls of its offices, playing games and sipping Starbucks coffee. There are family movie nights, free refreshments and time for the games that the techies like to play.
CoManage, a Wexford-based company, develops software to manage and maintain telecommunications systems.
You’ll also likely see David Nelsen and Andy Fraley, the two young entrepreneurs and former employees of Fore Systems who have been at the helm of the blockbuster start-up since its founding in 1998, offering their experience and enthusiasm for the region to help other entrepreneurs. From the earliest stages at CoManage, both have generously doled out their time and counsel at forums where other entrepreneurs seek help in growing their own ventures. Nelsen and Fraley know that the traditional corporate games just don’t work anymore. Getting the talented information technology employees that the company will need to grow means creating an atmosphere that allows the lines between work and play to blur. The company hasn’t taken lightly the kind of effort it takes to get the talent it needs to be successful. In an effort to recruit talented software engineers, for instance, it offered a $20,000 bounty to anyone who referred a candidate who was ultimately hired by the company.
The investment community appears convinced that CoManage is anything but another cash-burning high-tech start-up. It has inspired enough confidence by venture capitalists to garner more than $50 million in investment capital. It also earned an “employer of choice” award.
But what might set Nelsen and Fraley apart the most from entrepreneurs at a lot of other fast-growth high-tech start-ups is their willingness to return some of the wisdom and experience they have culled back to the business community. And that is an earmark of a true Pacesetter.
Jayne Huston, associate director, The National Education Center for Women in Business, Seton Hill College, Greensburg
When Jayne Huston joined The National Education Center for Women in Business at Seton Hill College almost seven years ago, she already had experience promoting organizations designed to help businesses grow. But it didn’t necessarily feed her passions.
Serving as an active advocate for women in business does. Within three years, she had attained the position of associate director of the center, behind 2000 Pittsburgh Pacesetter Barbara Mistick. Among her time-consuming responsibilities is overseeing the center’s annual Women in Business Conference, an educational conference for women entrepreneurs. Now there’s plenty of room for her passion to help women.
“I see my work here as a vocation and avocation,” she says. “There are lots of things that drive my passion here. I want to make sure women have equality. I have the passion for wanting women to succeed.”
Casey Smith, CEO, Zlingshot, Pittsburgh
With the ink on his diploma barely dry, Casey Smith has already played a key role in starting two companies from scratch. With a little luck, he will have the opportunity to help lots of others get their wings. Zlingshot is a business incubator that the company says gives early-stage companies both the cash and the support services they need to get into high gear. The company takes a stake in start-up ventures in return for its cash investment and services.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Smith spent a couple of years working for PNC Financial Services Group before launching Scholar Smith, a Web consulting and design company, with a couple of school chums. Less than a year after Scholar Smith was off the ground, Smith launched Zlingshot with some of the same partners and a chunk of cash generated by the first venture.
Zlingshot has moved quickly to make itself visible in the entrepreneurial community. But it has moved just as quickly to give back to the community in a way that promotes economic growth and new business. The company, to date, has conducted two “zCamps,” programs that introduce budding entrepreneurs, many of them university students interested in starting a business rather than committing to the corporate life, to the practical realities of creating a business.
Zlingshot has attracted the attention of more seasoned business operators. Advertising veteran Gordon Nelson left Dymun Nelson, the agency he and partner John Dymun launched in the early ’90s, to join Zlingshot and offer his marketing savvy. Later, Computer Enterprises Inc., a Green Tree project management company, took a 50 percent stake in Zlingshot, throwing in cash and resources to give the incubator a boost and offer IT services to its clients.
Sally Haas, executive director, Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, Moon Township
Just drive along the Parkway West from Pittsburgh and you’ll see the explosive business growth along that corridor. It’s that same corridor that provides both the greatest challenge and greatest opportunity for the growing Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce. But Sally Haas is up to the task.
Since 1998, she has served as a vocal catalyst in the corridor as executive director of what has quickly become one of the strongest chambers in the region. But, like many people in her position, she can never do quite enough to help the region, even with a plate full of responsibilities.
She was just reappointed to a second term as a member of the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission Public Particpation Panel, at the invitation of Jim Roddey, chief executive of Allegheny County. Its mission: To formalize the public input process into regional transportation and economic development issues and to make sure all demographic areas and important constituencies are represented when major transportation decisions are made by the SPC. Roddey says her contributions to the panel are “invaluable to the transportation planning process.”
Helge Wehmeier, CEO, Bayer Corp., Robinson Township
When Helge Wehmeier was dismayed because his teen-age daughter wasn’t attending symphony concerts, he saw her reluctance as evidence of a larger issue that went beyond his immediate family.
Wehmeier, vice chairman of the board of the Pittsburgh Symphony Society, didn’t simply buy his daughter a subscription and provide her transportation to Heinz Hall. He decided to fund a program that encourages the participation of high school students in the symphony.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/ Bayer Audience of the Future program supports local music education programs in the public schools and educates the next generation of classical music fans in the administration of the art of classical music production. Students take part in planning, promoting, marketing, programming and producing a professional concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
The program was renewed this year for a five-year run with a $75,000 grant from Bayer Corp. Wehmeier, who began his career as a management trainee with Bayer AG in his native Germany in 1965, in 1991 became president and CEO of Bayer USA Inc., which became Bayer Corp. after the merger of Bayer USA with Mobay Corp., Agfa Corp. and Miles Corp.
In addition to serving on the symphony board, Wehmeier is a member of the board of trustees of Carnegie Mellon University and of the executive committee of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. He also serves on the boards of Agfa Corp. and PNC Financial Services Group Inc.
Gloria Forouzan, executive director, Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP)
One minute, members of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project are partying en masse in Pittsburgh’s Market Square. The next, they’re organizing a political candidate debate to address local growth issues. Then, they’re taking busloads of young professionals to Harrisburg to rally for economic change before coming together for an organized tournament of flag football.
PUMP, 500 members strong, has become a group to be reckoned with. Its sole purpose is to provide a collective, powerful voice for “young-thinking” adults who might otherwise feel left out of the region’s growth and future.
Leading that charge, with help from an active board of directors, is Gloria Forouzan, the organization’s executive director since its founding three years ago.
“We’re giving young people a voice we’re re-engaging them,” Forouzan says. “We’re trying to make a positive change on many levels.”
Forouzan came to the region in 1979 and launched her activism early. Living in Mt. Lebanon, she and a group of working mothers organized an extended day care program in the schools, which has grown considerably since then. She also helped spearhead an effort to tie together art galleries in Pittsburgh under the Downtown Art Gallery Association, designed to bring more attention to the galleries. Now she’s organizing young adults.
So why does she stick around? “I fell in love with Pittsburgh,” she says. “It’s like an onion there’s always another layer to peel away.”
James Liken Respironics Inc., Murrysville
In the late 1980s and well into the 1990s, Respironics was at the vanguard of Pittsburgh’s young star performer companies. In the fast-growing medical products field and as a leader in devices to treat obstructive sleep apnea, the company had demonstrated strong financial performance and was gaining a solid reputation in its industry. But in the late ’90s, its fortunes began to sag. Proposed changes in Medicare reimbursements for its products threatened its revenue, and a merger with HealthDyne Technologies Inc. put a drag on the company’s finances and its stock price.
To counter the trend, it put into place a restructuring plan that included shuttering some facilities and reducing its work force. In August 1999, Respironics’ board replaced its CEO with James Liken, a recent addition to the board.
Liken founded Liken Home Medical, a major provider of home medical equipment and respiratory supplies and medications, and sold it in 1998 to Lincare Inc., a Florida company.
Since Liken became Respironics’ CEO, it has made a major shift in its sales strategy, leaning more toward providing service and initiating an aggressive effort to help its customers and physicians identify ailments that its products can be used to treat. The Murrysville company is also focusing on people who suffer from congestive heart failure, about half of whom have ailments that can be treated using some of Respironics’ existing products.
Thus far, the market appears to like the changes. Respironics’ stock was trading around $7.50 in December 1999, but by last month had rebounded to more than $26 a share.
Robert Lavelle, Lavelle Real Estate Inc., Hill District
Rags to riches stories are in no short supply among successful businesspeople. The literature is full of stories of those who are born into poverty and hardship, yet overcome the difficulties to become prosperous entrepreneurs. Stories like Robert Lavelle’s, however, aren’t as easy to find. Lavelle, a real estate executive and banker, opened a real estate agency and later took over a bank in the Hill District in the 1950s. Long after he could have moved to a more affluent area, he chooses to keep both his residence and his businesses in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
Lavelle’s most valuable talent, after his sense of determination, may be his ability to see opportunity in the obstacles. When he found it difficult in the 1950s to find lenders to issue mortgages for his clients, he became secretary of the struggling Dwelling House Savings & Loan Association.
Today, it maintains reserves high enough to allow it to sustain much higher than average delinquency rates. The institution, which remains a lender of last resort for many borrowers, has made more than 1,100 mortgage and 300 home improvement loans, most of them in the Hill District.
Hilda Pang Fu, director, Pittsburgh Regional Champions, Downtown Pittsburgh
Some folks might suggest that trying to bind hundreds of Pittsburghers together for one regional cause is like herding cats. If that’s the case, Hilda Pang Fu is one talented cat herder.
Fu, under the auspices of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, has been working hard over the past two years amassing an army of volunteers to champion the cause of Pittsburgh as a great place to live, work and do business. As director of Pittsburgh Regional Champions, Fu and her enthusiasts throughout the 10-county region so far have recruited more than 500 volunteers, from businesspeople and civic leaders to artists, poets, police officers and even professional athletes and their families, Fu says.
Her goal over the next few years: 2,000 volunteers. “We’re trying to make people feel that they should come together as a team,” says Fu, who came to the region from Hong Kong in the early 1970s to attend college, then continued to live in Pittsburgh. “There’s no reason why we all shouldn’t tell people about the assets all around the region.”
Lloyd Mahaffey, co-CEO, Redleaf Group
Redleaf Group would appear to be a dream company for Western Pennsylvania to land. Part business incubator, part venture capital fund and part holding company, it has its home base in the fabled Silicon Valley. Redleaf came here to fund early stage companies and offer the intellectual and management wherewithal it retains to turn the seminal business ideas being cooked up in the local universities and high-tech companies into smashing commercial successes. Yet Lloyd Mahaffey still finds himself in the odd position of defending his company’s decision to locate its Atlantic headquarters in Pittsburgh. It seems we still don’t completely believe that we deserve it. But even if we don’t believe in ourselves, Mahaffey and Redleaf do. While Pittsburghers may harbor some feelings of inferiority when it comes to attracting businesses, Mahaffey and Redleaf seem perfectly comfortable with their decision to locate here.
Rick Stafford, CEO, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Pittsburgh
No one would accuse Rick Stafford of shrinking from a tough job. Stafford took over as interim chief of the faltering Pittsburgh Regional Alliance after the organization’s first chief executive, Tim Parks, resigned in July 2000. The PRA had strained to fulfill its mission of bringing together the dozens of economic development agencies under one coordinated effort during its first five years. The PRA commissioned Korn/Ferry to conduct a search for a CEO that turned up 70 candidates. By October, the board decided Stafford, who earlier said he wasn’t in line for a permanent post at the organization, was the person for the job.
Not that he needed another job he is the long-time head of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pennsylvania Economy League. Still, the PRA board agreed to let him continue running those economic development organizations while discharging his responsibilities at the PRA.
Stafford took over at the PRA at a time when the organization was the target of stiff criticism. By the time he took over, however, only the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and Penn Southwest Association had come under its purview, and the PRA had begun to rethink its role in the region’s economic development scheme.
With Stafford at the helm of two other development agencies, the PRA may have its best chance of coordinating efforts that will have a significant impact on the regional economy.
Tom Sokolowski, director, Andy Warhol Museum, North Side
If there’s one thing Tom Sokolowski apparently can’t do, it’s sit back and remain a passive observer of the region. And how could he?
As director of the Andy Warhol Museum for the past four years, he has found himself living a life that accomplishes the same goals as Warhol’s art: to stir, provoke and get people to break away from the norms as they progress in life.
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette demonstrated in its sprawling profile of the man in its Nov. 19 edition, Sokolowski has lots to say about Pittsburgh, its people, its culture and its slowness to change and he isn’t afraid to put himself in the line of fire. In this somewhat conservative town, he’s taking a bit of a chance, but that’s what makes him a Pacesetter. His platform for change: art and culture, of course. But he’s is gaining more than just 15 minutes of fame, at least locally. People are beginning to pay attention.
Howard "Hoddy" Hanna III, president and CEO, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services
Undoubtedly the most recognizable real estate figure in Western Pennsylvania for years, Hoddy Hanna has been a worthy successor to his father, Howard Hanna Jr., who launched a one-office real estate agency in 1957 with the help of a $75 insurance dividend check.
The agency’s gone far beyond simply helping sellers find buyers for their homes. With a mortgage and title company, relocation services and even a home-improvements arm, the company shadows nearly every step of home ownership, from purchase to sale.
In the process, both Hanna and his company have become active pillars in the community.
Milton Washington president and CEO, Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Corp., Pittsburgh
It’s easy to see why Pittsburgh Magazine in December 1999 named businessman Milton Washington one of its Pittsburghers of the Century. Washington launched his success with the growth of his company, Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Corp., which rehabilitates and builds housing. But his greatest achievements seem to occur behind the scenes in his role as a civic leader. He has served as a member of the board of directors at PNC Bank Corp. since 1994 and is a trustee on the board of Carnegie Mellon University. At the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, he serves as vice chairman of its Building One Economy Committee, which studies the economic disparity between African-Americans and whites. All the while, he has managed to develop at least 160 properties throughout Pittsburgh.