Consumer Products


Basim Shami


Farouk Systems Inc.

So what did Basim Shami do to prepare himself to one day take the reins at the business his father, Farouk, launched 27 years ago in the family garage? Well, he started his own business, of course.

The younger Shami took leftover and excess chemicals from his father’s company and altered solution formulas to create a salon-inspired line of pet grooming products.

It was a strong hint that Basim Shami had the entrepreneurial genes in his blood, and it’s now allowing him to take Farouk Systems Inc. in some new and interesting directions. His goal is to create “a small L’Oreal,” though Shami claims he would do a better job of integrating acquisitions. He understands that new and different is a hit in the beauty business and works hard to support a research and development team that can help Farouk Systems on top of its game.

Shami has built a network of more than 1,500 educators that serves as a natural testing place for his company’s products, as well as a great source for new ideas and product enhancements.

But as committed as Shami is to his job and to the company that his father built, he understands that he can’t do everything by himself. His job is to create a vision that everyone can get behind and then remove obstacles so that employees can make it happen.

Shami is not the same man as his father. He takes a more deliberate approach to decisions and closely studies the markets and consumer trends to validate potential new opportunities. He brings people along for the ride so that everyone who shares in the effort can also share in the great sense of accomplishment when a strategy helps Farouk Systems achieve a goal.

This awareness of others led Shami to launch a partnership with a local community college to start a cosmetology program, where units earned via the partnership can count toward college credit.

How to reach: Farouk Systems Inc.,




Published in Houston

Consumer Products


Don Klein

Founder and president

Chesmar Homes Ltd.

Don Klein had spent 27 years working for national homebuilders, and he had an opportunity to move to yet another one when he made a seemingly bold move. He turned down a sizable bonus and chose to invest his own money to create a company he could call his own.

Chesmar Homes Ltd. is the product of Klein’s passion for making people happy. This applies to customers, business partners, investors and his employees, who he calls “Chesmarians.”

Klein is committed to hard work and dedicated service, but in doing so, he wants to see smiles all around. He wants employees to feel like they are part of a family and bring the passion that comes forth when you work alongside people you truly care about.

As the company grows and evolves, he wants strong personalities to shine through and feel comfortable applying their talents to help Chesmar achieve success.

All this became key when the company faced its greatest obstacle. Chesmar needed to find good locations on which to build. Klein tapped his relationships to find good communities to go to and his employees backed up his reputation by creating a strong product for customers.

As a result, Chesmar ranks at the top of its industry in customer satisfaction.

But it’s not all about business for Klein and Chesmar Homes.

Klein’s primary philanthropic focus revolves around the Greater Houston Builders Association’s Benefit Home Project. He has chaired the committee for the last six years, being extremely successful in recruiting and partnering two or three homebuilders with community developers each year to build a benefit home.

The builders solicit donations from contractors and vendors to construct a project home for about 25 percent of the retail sales price.

The home is then sold with the profits going to Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the Alzheimer’s Association and Home Aid Houston.

How to reach: Chesmar Homes Ltd.,


Published in Houston

Construction &  Industrial Services


Jeffrey Gerald Davis


The Brock Group

In his 36 years with The Brock Group, Jeff Davis has worked his way from project manager to CEO — and has taken the company from being a family owned business to a multi-national, multi-craft service provider.

Not only that, but the company has seen 500 percent growth since 2006 after acquisition by a private equity firm and through significant acquisitions and organic growth. This growth was achieved based on Davis’s vision and his ability to express that vision to Brock’s investor such that it was willing to make significant investments in the company.

Another key to the rapid growth was that Davis and his management team could have access to and build long-standing relationships with the executive management of Brock’s customers.  It allowed Brock to present itself as a provider of value that senior customer leaderships require — that Brock is not a vendor among vendors relegated to the purchasing/AP department but is a valued partner in achieving lower operating costs.

Davis leads the company through behavioral-based management and behavioral-based safety which has resulted in Brock achieving excellent safety rankings and expanding the employee and customer base to what it is today. Davis believes that by having satisfied employees, it leads to satisfied customers and translates into a successful business.

As an entrepreneurial leader, Davis instills in his employees his core belief that a customer-centric focus is crucial to success. His leadership style revolves around a central theme from advice given to him years ago by Jerry Brock: “Give the customer $1.10 worth of effort/services for $1.” Davis has maintained this attitude as a core value in the way he interacts with employees, customers and third parties alike.

Davis also has led efforts with others in the industry to develop and fund schools to train welders/painters to draw them into the profession and to generate enthusiasm into making a career in the industry.

How to reach: The Brock Group,

Published in Houston

Construction & Industrial Services


Troy Collins

Co-founder and principal

Quality Cos. USA LLC         

Nathan Granger

Co-founder and principal

Quality Cos. USA LLC

Troy Collins and Nathan Granger previously worked for competing oil and gas production manufacturers for years until they met in the early 2000s and discovered a common passion—raising thoroughbreds. A business endeavor developed out of that mutual interest, and in 2001, the pair left their promising and successful careers to found a premier oil and gas service provider.

As co-founders and principals of Quality Cos. USA LLC, Collins and Granger epitomize the company’s philosophy of quality people, quality service. Quality Cos. USA, which is a conglomerate of Quality Construction & Production LLC, Quality Production Management LLC, and Traco Production Services Inc., is a one-stop shop for many of the company’s independent Gulf Coast clients.

This diversified company provides both onshore and offshore construction, fabrication and maintenance services. Over the years it has grown from 70 employees in 2002 to more than 800 today, working on production platforms along the Gulf Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Collins’ and Granger’s strengths as entrepreneurial leaders are in recognition of their weaknesses and ability to fill those voids with the best managers in the industry. In this industry, the pool of highly skilled employees stays very consistent which puts pressure on companies to retain key employees.

In response, Collins and Granger desire to provide the best working environment in the industry. The two co-founders also have a big focus on service. Quality’s family atmosphere, open door policy and lack of big corporate politics have fostered unbridled commitment to excellent customer service and a multitude of repeat customers.

The company’s more than 800 employees take pride in the company, indicated by a substantially low turnover rate compared to competitors. In 12 years Quality has never had to lay off an employee. Since Quality’s commitment to its customers is dependent on its commitment to attracting and retaining the best employees, Collins and Granger team have devoted many resources to their people.

How to reach: Quality Cos. USA LLC,

Published in Houston

Construction & Industrial Services


James Frischhertz


Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc.

It was a moment of professional accomplishment tinged with a deep sense of personal loss. James Frischhertz had been thrust into the role of president at Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc. after the untimely death of his brother, Bernard Jr.

His first thought was to throw himself into his work and be on the job 12 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, he only took two days off the entire year, one for Christmas and one for Mardi Gras.

He needed to keep the company afloat, protect jobs and maintain everything that was already in motion while he simultaneously tried to develop a new business plan that more closely fit his vision for the company.

Over the next two decades, he presided over tremendous growth with the development of two new business entities: Frischhertz Technologies and Frischhertz Services. He also purchased an audio company called SoundWorks.

In 2005, he dealt with tragedy again when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. Company operations were paralyzed, but Frischhertz was up to the challenge once again.

Within days, he had set up an office in Baton Rouge and tapped relationships he had built over the years to get his hands on some generators.

Under his strong and empowering leadership, employees began to put their lives back together and as soon as they could relocate back to New Orleans, the company got back on its feet too.

People aren’t just a tool that Frischhertz uses to build his business or a group that he touches every once in a while for show. His leadership is truly inclusive, whether it’s recovering from a disaster, holding his family together during tough times or helping his employees to do the best they can on the job.

He understands how the smaller touches can make a big difference with people and focuses on those to maintain a healthy corporate culture.

How to reach: Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc.,


Published in Houston

Construction & Industrial Services


Stephen V. Pate

CEO and chairman

Strike LLC

Over the past 10 years, Stephen Pate has worked hard to create a company culture around eight pillars that make up the foundation of Strike LLC: safety, excellence, quality, accountability, performance, integrity, passion and long?term relationships.

With his focus that success is not achieved by a single individual but rather by the organization as a whole, Strike has accomplished a 65 percent year-over-year compounded annual growth rate, a testament to Pate’s ability to take risks during times of uncertainty.

For instance, in 2009 while many companies were sitting on cash due to market place instability, he invested in significant resources to create a state?of?the?art cost?tracking portal for the pipeline and facilities construction company.

This portal has proven to be a competitive advantage for Strike as it provides transparency to the client’s job cost.

Additionally, when companies were strategically eliminating employee benefits due to economic uncertainty, Pate created a fitness program to inspire and motivate employees.

Since its inception in 2003, Strike has created various business units with more than 15 locations throughout North America, which have helped drive Strike to become one of the leading single?source energy services providers.

Pate understands that his is a “people” business, and he passionately cares about not only his customers who pay the bills, but also each of his employees whose safety and happiness is of utmost importance.

Even in times of economic downturns, when other companies cut employee benefits, Pate stayed adamant to “do right by all” and although the easy answer to save money and improve the bottom line would be to take the cost-cutting route, Pate did not. Strike even increased wellness programs to encourage employees when a need was noted. Pate has always believed in Strike’s vision and through its growing years, his personal investment and that of the Pate family funded the company.

How to reach: Strike LLC,






Published in Houston

Family Business Award of Excellence


Kenneth L. Robison


Crest Industries

Kenneth L. Robison has had a strong work ethic going back to the time when he was a young boy foregoing baseball and childhood games with his friends to learn about business. Through his family’s business, he learned how to weld and operate machinery and how to put together structural steel and electrical assemblies.

After getting his MBA from the University of Texas, he returned to Crest Industries and gained first-hand experience in many of the jobs that make up the organization. This experience served him well when he became CEO since it gave him a wealth of knowledge and insight into how people do their jobs throughout the company. Robison brings that same curious enthusiasm to his work these days, and it becomes contagious to those around him, strengthening the culture and improving the level of service to customers.

The relationships that Robison builds become critical when the company needs to take bold steps to keep growing. Robison doesn’t take unnecessary risks and the ones he does take, he and his team do as much research as they can to ensure success and prevent the downside from occurring.

His goal, whether it’s looking at tomorrow or his 2020 vision plan, is to be on top of things and armed with the data he needs to make the best decisions for his company. He thrives on being the leader and helping his company take the next step, but he also takes a lot of satisfaction from seeing the people on his team experience their own victories. He doesn’t see leadership development as a cost.

Instead, he sees it as an investment in the company’s most valuable asset, its people. The support of others stretches beyond the walls of his company. It includes a committed focus to working with charitable causes as well as helping the future leaders of Crest Industries to get what they need to fulfill their potential.

How to reach: Crest Industries,

Published in Houston
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Honoring the best of the best


For 27 years, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who have followed their dreams to pursue innovation and entrepreneurial excellence, changing the lives of countless others by building their businesses and giving back to their communities.

The passion they’ve poured into their businesses and the triumphs they’ve achieved stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries, leaders and innovators. Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year program to recognize these dynamic leaders and to build an influential and innovative community of entrepreneurs.

We have gathered here in Greater Los Angeles and in 25 other cities across the U.S. to applaud these entrepreneurs for taking the road less traveled, and welcome the regional award recipients into our entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.

Congratulations on your achievements! Ernst & Young looks forward to helping you find new and innovative ways to continue to grow your business and accomplish your goals.

Brian Ring is a partner and program director for Entrepreneur Of The Year, Greater Los Angeles.

April Spencer is a partner and program director for Entrepreneur Of The Year, Greater Los Angeles.


Business Services


Janice Bryant Howroyd, The Act 1 Group, Inc.


Jamey Edwards, Emergent Medical Associates

Jessica Firestone, Tempest Telecom Solutions, LLC

Consumer Services


Clarence Daniels Jr., Concession Management Services, Inc.


Mel Elias, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Rick Stollmeyer, Mindbody, Inc.



Jeff Stibel, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.


Tim Cadogan, OpenX

Jeff Green, The Trade Desk

Financial Services


Robert V. Sinnott, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors


Mike Rosenberg, James B. Freedman and Ed Bagdasarian, Intrepid Investment Bankers, LLC

Loren Bendele,



Moctesuma Esparza, Maya Cinemas North America, Inc.


Martha de la Torre and Joe Badame, El Clasificado

Walter Driver, Scopely, Inc.



Sam Naficy, DTT


Dinesh Ravishanker, CallFire

Demian Sellfors, Media Temple

Family Business Award of Excellence


Helene An, Elizabeth An, Hannah An, Catherine An, Monique An and Jacqueline An, House of An



Jim Armstrong, Clearstone Venture Partners

Chuck Davis, Technology Crossover Ventures *

Mark Hardy, Aurora Capital Group

Jeri Harman, Avante Mezzanine Partners

Carlton Jenkins, The Yucaipa Companies

Brad Jones, Redpoint Ventures *

Eric Kutsenda, Seidler Equity Partners

Barry C. Levin, Snak King Corporation *

J. Christopher Lewis, Riordan, Lewis & Haden Equity Partners

Dr. Linda Livingstone, Graziadio School of Business & Management, Pepperdine University

Mark Stagen, Emerald Health Services **

Kamran Pourzanjani, **

Julie Schoenfeld, Perfect Market, Inc.

* Prior award recipient

** Prior award recipient and national finalist

Published in Los Angeles





Family Business Award of Excellence


When Helene An arrived in San Francisco in 1975 she had little more than memories to cling to. The fall of Saigon in her native Vietnam had forced An and her daughters to flee the country and come to the U.S.

Despite the hardships, they brought with them a strong spirit of determination to get back on their feet and find success. They would get their chance at an Italian deli that Helene’s mother-in-law Diana had purchased four years earlier while vacationing in San Francisco.

Most of the patrons to the deli had never experienced Vietnamese food, so Helene kept the Italian menu and slowly began to introduce patrons to Vietnamese cuisine. She would offer her favorite dishes for free, urging her patrons to “try this delicious food from my home country.”

Seeing how her customers loved pasta, she created her own version of Vietnamese spaghetti with garlic. It became one of her trademarks which she named An’s Famous Garlic Noodles.

Eventually, the deli became Thanh Long and is known as being the first Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco. Today, the An family owns and operates five restaurants and a catering division. Each location offers a unique dining experience that complements the restaurant’s cuisine.

In 2007, the An family was inducted into the Vietnamese-American Wing of the Smithsonian Institute for being one of the first to bring Vietnamese cuisine to mainstream America.

While Helene serves as executive chef at House of An, her five daughters are managing partners. Catherine, Elizabeth, Hannah, Monique and Jacqueline each oversee part of the company’s operations. Catherine focuses specifically on the catering operations and is also the brainchild behind the An’s newest eco-chic concept, Tiato Kitchen Bar Garden + Venue.

As the great-grandchildren of Diana An now begin to learn the business, the future seems very bright for the House of An, and the fourth generation that will one day lead the way.

How to reach: House of An,

Published in Los Angeles