How Scott Becker is growing Chromaflo Technologies with flying colors

Scott Becker, president and CEO, Chromaflo Technologies Corp.

Scott Becker, president and CEO, Chromaflo Technologies Corp.

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Distribution and Manufacturing

Finalist

 

Scott Becker

president and CEO

Chromaflo Technologies Corp.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Alan Jaffa took Safeguard Properties from a start-up to an industry leader

Alan Jaffa, CEO, Safeguard Properties Management, LLC

Alan Jaffa, CEO, Safeguard Properties Management, LLC

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Professional Services

Finalist

 

Alan Jaffa

CEO

Safeguard Properties Management, LLC

 

Alan Jaffa has been CEO at Safeguard Properties Management, LLC, since 2010. Safeguard Properties is the largest privately held mortgage field services company in the country.

Jaffa learned the business by moving through the ranks of Safeguard, experiencing first-hand virtually every department in the company. He joined the company in 1995 when it was a small start-up with few employees. As a result of a great work ethic and innovation, Jaffa moved up quickly, becoming COO in 2002.

By the time he became CEO in 2010, Safeguard had grown its employee base significantly. Under his leadership, Safeguard completed the acquisition of Bank of America’s field service department. Jaffa took this bold step to protect the company’s leadership position and expand its footprint into the south and west regions of the country where large concentrations of the company’s clients are located.

Under Jaffa’s watch the company has almost doubled its revenue, and he has helped fully integrate the acquired entity with Safeguard within six months after the acquisition.

Aside from a focus on growth, Jaffa ensures that he is a visible leader at Safeguard. He spends at least one day per week at each Safeguard location, maintains an open door policy and hosts monthly “Java with Jaffa” sessions around the company to hear ideas from employees at all levels.

Jaffa also meets weekly with his executive team, monthly with the entire senior management team of directors, and hosts quarterly two-day off-site meetings with the executive and management teams to encourage collaboration, address challenges together, build on best practices and identify new initiatives to maintain a competitive advantage.

These efforts help Safeguard deliver greater efficiencies, track and improve quality, recruit and retain diverse and qualified employees and vendors, forecast trends, and anticipate client needs for new and varied services.

How to reach: Safeguard Properties Management, LLC, www.safeguardproperties.com

How Jim Sartori and Jeff Schwager invest in the quality of Sartori cheese

Jim Sartori, CEO and owner, Sartori Co.

Jim Sartori, CEO and owner, Sartori Co.

 

Jeff Schwager, president, Sartori Co.

Jeff Schwager, president, Sartori Co.

Family Business Award of Excellence

WINNER

When the recent recession came around, Jim Sartori and Jeff Schwager decided not to participate. Rather, at their company Sartori Co. they continued to emphasize customer focus, cheese quality and reinvestment, all of which have enabled Sartori to prosper.

Schwager considers the significant growth of Sartori, including its retail presence, to be one of the more significant future challenges as well. Devising and installing the infrastructure to match the company’s growth has been and will continue to be a challenge, but the pair has plans in place to invest in quality, team development, leadership training, and modernization and expansion of key facilities.

Sartori believes strongly in leading by example and in employee empowerment rather than the controlled direction of his team members. This enables him to work with his teams in pursuit of their mission to make the “best artisan cheese in the world.”

The concept of “family” permeates throughout and is the key driver of the core values maintained at the company – family, integrity, ingenuity, commitment, authenticity and humility.

Sartori encourages his team members to suggest and pursue opportunities, which has enabled the business to grow.

The retail segment is flourishing at Sartori. The cheese needs to be of a high quality, requiring an aging schedule anywhere from one to two years and a highly innovative team of master cheesemakers. In addition, there needs to be a strong marketing and branding campaign led by a top-notch sales team.

These efforts require a highly risky and significant capital outlay as the team tries to estimate retail cheese demand at least one year or more in the future.

When it comes to specialty cheeses, the risk is amplified by the lack of an outlet market that classic cheeses such as parmesan and asiago enjoy. Needless to say, the investment has proven to be the lucrative opportunity that Sartori and Schwager envisioned.

How to reach: Sartori Co., www.sartoricheese.com

How Todd Berger fought skepticism to innovate Transportation Solutions Enterprises

Todd Berger, president and CEO, Transportation Solutions Enterprises

Todd Berger, president and CEO, Transportation Solutions Enterprises

Industrial and Distribution

FINALIST

Todd Berger first got a taste for the transportation and logistics industry as an intern for American Backhaulers — and it didn’t go well. He vowed to never work in that industry again.

After all, it was a time when pioneer companies like Google and Apple were the leaders of innovation, and in Berger’s words, the transportation and logistics industry “just wasn’t ‘sexy’ and lacked innovation, and I wanted to change that.”

Fortunately, Berger thought it over and came up with a different goal. He re-entered the industry in 2001, working as a dispatcher at Transportation Solutions Group. Berger recognized the need to anti-commoditize the business and proposed opening a trucking company to ensure TSG’s competitive position in the industry.

While management was skeptical of his venture with Berger being only 26, he created and began to operate Freight Exchange, a full truckload carrier that subsequently turned a profit in its first year of operations.

From that point on, a curious situation occurred. The more initial pushback he received from management, the better the final outcome. In 2009, Berger proposed his idea of 3PLogic, a contract logistics management provider that included customized software.  He again received criticism from management because 3PLogic required a significant capital investment for software to be developed and key personnel to be hired.

Berger was unfazed. He presented the idea to a current client — and the customer decided to fund a significant portion of the venture. 3PLogic now provides logistics services, technology solutions and consulting services, and is considered the strongest arm of the group.

Berger’s style is a trial-by-fire leadership philosophy that he applied early in his career and still follows today, believing that a leader can learn something new the same day that it is put into practice.

He also is always cognizant of demonstrating a strong sense of humility not only within his demeanor but throughout the operation of the business.

How to reach: Transportation Solutions Enterprise, www.tse-llc.com

How Dominic Gallello turned around MSC Software to help the Mars Rover land on the red planet

Dominic Gallello, president and CEO, MSC Software Corp.

Dominic Gallello, president and CEO, MSC Software Corp.

Technology

FINALIST

In 2009, Dominic Gallello was tasked to turn around a company known for expensive and difficult-to-use software. The mismanaged and ailing MSC Software, founded in 1963 to assist with simulations for the space program, had not updated its products in far too long, customer churn rates were high, and there was no spark at the company.

Gallello set out to build and communicate to employees a comprehensive strategy framework that reduced general and administrative expenses from 19 to 11 percent in the first year. He cut $40 million from operating expenses in his first two years. Gallello expanded R&D by 40 percent, brought on more than 40 doctorate-degreed employees through hiring and acquisition, and initiated the development of a next generation computer aided engineering (CAE) system to be brought to market this year.

In less than five years as CEO and president, the company has embraced his vision, and his team is highly motivated to develop the solutions for existing and new customers. At MSC, he leveraged the synergy between the improved morale and the new technology to help customers change the world — which is precisely what the company is doing: The company was instrumental in simulations of the entry descent and landing for the Mars Rover Curiosity mission.

Gallello introduced a culture of “You never stop learning at MSC.” He encouraged managers and individual contributors to pursue professional development and funded their efforts.

He started a high-potential employee program (“Managing your Career”) to build future leaders and a management development program (“Managing by Influence”). Gallello believes that personal success should be celebrated, but must also come with responsibility.

He and his family have personally funded construction of five orphanages in Romania in the past five years and they call more than 100 children their own. Gallello also is funding the development of a farm in Romania for teenagers who cannot find jobs after high school.

How to reach: MSC Software Corp., www.mscsoftware.com

How Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry have built a bright future with the green cleaning supplies of Method Products

Eric Ryan, co-founder, Method Products, Inc.

Eric Ryan, co-founder, Method Products, Inc.

NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Retail and Consumer Products

Finalist

 

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry

co-founders

Method Products, Inc.

 

Co-founders Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry are not only leaders of their company, Method Products, Inc., but also leaders in a historically stagnant industry. They have led from a core set of values, even when facing the recession and much larger competitors.

Adam Lowry, co-founder, Method Products, Inc.

Adam Lowry, co-founder, Method Products, Inc.

Ryan and Lowry began with a goal of creating cleaning products that consumers wanted to buy and weren’t toxic to the cleaner or the environment.

In 2002, they started with hand soap, differentiating themselves with highly effective, safe, green products with an aesthetically pleasing design and smell.

Method went from zero to $100 million in revenues in six years, but it hasn’t always been easy. One of the biggest mistakes was going into to many categories too fast, while retailers did not want to pay for a premium product during a recession. Now, a new product is only introduced after it is fully developed.

Method’s triple-concentrated laundry detergent has forced their cleaning giant competitors to offer similar products. This has resulted in far less packaging across the industry.

Today, Ryan and Lowry are taking Method to a new level with a larger global footprint. In August 2012, Ecover, a large, Belgian-based green cleaning products business with one of the world’s best-known green cleaning product lines, acquired Method.

Ryan and Lowry admit that one of the biggest challenges is to maintain their cultural values during a period of unprecedented growth and change.

They have a hands-on role when it comes to running the company, and expect others to as well. There is a saying at Method: “The bigger we get, the smaller we act.” The company no longer has a receptionist and instead each employee rotates as receptionist every six weeks. They also still have the Monday all-hands meetings, only now remote locations videoconference in.

For the future, the co-founders maintain an ownership stake and are looking to build a 100 percent sustainable plant in the U.S.

How to reach: Method Products, Inc., www.methodhome.com

How Zachary Boca and Dan Ushman went from chat room buddies to partners and founded SingleHop

Daniel Ushman, co-founder, SingleHop

Daniel Ushman, co-founder, SingleHop

 

Zachary Boca, co-founder, SingleHop

Zachary Boca, co-founder, SingleHop

Private Equity/Venture Capital Backed

FINALIST

Zachary Boca and Dan Ushman were chat room buddies on AOL at age 13 — little did they know then that they would later collaborate on a cloud computing startup company, SingleHop.

They shared interests at that young age and continued to stay in touch as they worked toward developing their own businesses. Later as partners, they put their heart and soul into the success of SingleHop.

SingleHop is a leading global provider of hosted IT infrastructure and cloud computing. Over the last decade, clients all over the world have been choosing SingleHop for its speedy blend of automation and service.

As a result, both men have seen triple and double digit percentage revenue growth for SingleHop since inception. But maintaining these record-breaking benchmarks is no easy task. They are also cognizant of growing too quickly for their own good and have focused on sustainable growth going forward by expanding their customer base but staying true to their original concept of highly automated cloud computing services.

Hiring the right people for the right teams allows Boca and Ushman to let go of the reins a little when it comes to managing the company. They believe that they have allowed their employees to have a vested interest in the shared success of the company. They both have made an effort of employing highly qualified individuals that keep the hosting process at the forefront of changing technological advancements.

With teams that are a good mix and balance of seasoned professionals who bring insight from other experiences and new talent that has innovative vision and hunger for success, the recipe is bringing positive results.

Boca and Ushman construct a yearly plan for SingleHop, which is built from the bottom up and requires each department to contribute its own ideas for continued growth. This culture allows everyone to contribute to the entrepreneurial efforts and encourages ownership and transparency across all levels of the organization.

How to reach: SingleHop, www.singlehop.com

How the An family turned despair into opportunity with House of An

Helene An, executive chef

Helene An, executive chef, House of An

 

Elizabeth An, managing partner, House of An

Elizabeth An, managing partner, House of An

Hannah An, managing partner, House of An

Hannah An, managing partner, House of An

 

Catherine An, managing partner, House of An

Catherine An, managing partner, House of An

 

Monique An, managing partner, House of An

Monique An, managing partner, House of An

 

Jacqueline An, managing partner, House of An

Jacqueline An, managing partner, House of An

Family Business Award of Excellence

WINNER

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, www.houseofan.com

How Joe Burgess had the vision to transform Aegion Corp. with a new name and markets

Joe Burgess, president and CEO, Aegion Corporation

Joe Burgess, president and CEO, Aegion Corporation

STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Industrial Products

Winner

 

Joe Burgess

president and CEO

Aegion Corporation

 

Insituform Technologies was facing stagnant revenues, low earnings and a proxy battle with a major shareholder in 2008 when Joe Burgess took on the challenging role of president and CEO.

Now, not only has Burgess’s entrepreneurial spirit and fresh perspective reinvigorated the company, creating a trajectory of significant growth and diversification, but he also transformed the firm with a series of acquisitions and a new name — Aegion Corp.

So, how did Burgess completely change the culture and direction of company and its existing base business as a municipal government contractor to more than double revenues since 2007? He did so by not being afraid to think unconventionally. Burgess moved a company with a rich 40-year history into more profitable energy markets to become a global pipeline protection and rehabilitation business.

To start the company’s overall diversification strategy, Burgess held his first Evergreen Strategy Process, which gathered the entire management team to discuss new ideas, products, markets and service offerings. The strategy sessions continue today on a quarterly basis.

Burgess’s mantra was that “no good idea will go unfunded.” He motivated employees to stretch themselves when thinking of new ideas and product offerings.

He also created a pay-for-performance culture and compensation programs for executives and employees. Burgess recognizes compensation is typically the single greatest motivator of retaining high-performing individuals, and thus “one size fits all” is not sufficient.

Burgess’s innovation, which has become part of the company culture, has led to new technology being used in copper mines in South America and a workforce that has more than 300 engineers dedicated to creating complete engineering solutions to customers’ complex structural integrity problems.

In addition, Burgess is a strong believer in corporate responsibility. He started the practice of setting aside company funds to be used for charitable activities, as well as capturing employee man-hours that are contributed to charity.

How to reach: Aegion Corp., www.aegion.com

How Martin Kanan has diversified King Nut Companies’ customer base

Martin Kanan, president and CEO, King Nut Companies

Martin Kanan, president and CEO, King Nut Companies

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Family Business Award

Finalist

 

Martin Kanan

president and CEO

King Nut Companies

 

Martin Kanan joined King Nut Companies in 1991 as the company’s sales manager. Kanan was named president and CEO of King Nut in 2003, and since joining the company its growth has been driven by his desire to make the family business a success and the risks he has taken in leading the company.

King Nut is known for serving the airline industry with snack foods. As the company’s sales manager, Kanan started to call on US Airways in 1993 after he heard that it needed someone to supply peanuts. He pursued all of the other airlines with little success while trying to meet the demands of US Airways.

One of the biggest challenges in his career was meeting the quality standards of US Airways. Eventually, King Nut lost the contract. However, due to Kanan’s efforts through his relentless pursuit of the other airlines, he signed on Northwest just as they were losing the US Airways business.

As Kanan continued to pursue additional business at airline shows, Anheuser Bush closed Eagle Brands and King Nut was able to secure the business of the other airlines. This business came with many challenges, which Kanan handled head-on through managing his team and his investment in new equipment.

Kanan has been no stranger to other challenges at King Nut since becoming CEO. He has dealt with a transition from peanuts to other snack foods within the airline industry, the Sept. 11 tragedy and its impact on the company’s business, the acquisition and integration of Peterson Nut Co., and a national recall due to King Nut product that was co-packed by another peanut butter manufacturer.

Today, King Nut is not only a growing supplier of snack foods to the airline industry, but also sells product to the likes of Wendy’s, Giant Eagle, Speedway, and co-packs product for Pepperidge Farm, ConAgra and Aldi.

How to reach: King Nut Companies, www.kingnut.com