Employee engagement: The best kept secret that all top companies know

What do powerful brands and successful companies have in common? They are investing in employee engagement as one of their top strategic initiatives.

“It’s a process, not an event,” says Beth Thomas, executive vice president and managing director of Consulting Services at Sequent. “It’s part of their everyday culture.”

She says many companies are missing the boat thinking employee engagement is just another HR “pie in the sky” effort. However, it is being statistically tied to increased key performance indicators.

“HR leaders are banging the employee engagement drum and business leaders are not listening. Employee engagement should be the top goal of all companies, and it is for some of the most successful in the world.”

Smart Business spoke with Thomas about the importance of employee engagement.

Why is employee engagement important?

For years we have been saying employees are a company’s competitive advantage. Treat them right or someone else will. Some $300 billion is lost in productivity each year from disengaged employees. One retail company revealed that for every one-tenth of a point it boosted employee engagement, its stores saw a $100,000 increase in operating income annually, not to mention better customer loyalty. Staggering numbers, encouraging advice, and yet 90 percent of business leaders have no employee engagement strategy or are not actively engaged in it.

Still, many business leaders have no clue what employee engagement is, nor do they see it as something they need to be bothered with. However, experts and companies that are proving them wrong disagree.

Top companies and brands say that employee engagement is the top initiative that helps create their brand, drive success and recruit and retain top talent. If their customers see that their employees are happy, it creates a loyalty to the brand and increases sales. Culture can make or break a business.

What should be included in a company’s engagement effort?

For most executives, success is defined by profit or revenue levels, brand equity or percent of market share. To truly understand the key drivers for business success, however, it’s critical to examine and measure the impetus: employees. They are the ones who make the products and serve customers. They are the face of a company’s brand.

There is one thing all employee engagement efforts have in common: They understand what employees are thinking. That happens not just by using an employee engagement survey, but by creating a sustainable culture in which having a voice matters, where employees feel they can express what they are thinking not just once every year, but every day.

Managers should be trained on how to engage employees every day. Some companies use social media to connect more closely with employees — for instance, through online ‘campfires’.

What can companies expect from improved employee engagement?

Studies measuring the impact of employee engagement have found better results in nine performance outcomes:

  • Customer ratings.
  • Profitability.
  • Productivity.
  • Turnover.
  • Safety incidents.
  • Shrinkage.
  • Absenteeism.
  • Patient safety incidents.
  • Quality (defects).

Employee engagement is not an HR initiative. It is a business initiative. Companies that understand this are the ones that are most successful.

Marketing is also tied to culture and brand because the customer experience is fueled by the brand promise, which is closely aligned to the employee culture.

How to improve employee engagement varies by industry, location, company size, how much money and resources an organization has to invest into developing its culture, and its philosophy around employee engagement. It’s not one size fits all, but if better performance, higher productivity, industry recognized brand and increased profits are important, wouldn’t you want to dedicate time, resources and focus on it?

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent

What foreign companies should consider before setting up in the US

There are many companies outside the U.S. that would like to establish a presence in the country. But before doing so, there’s a lot to consider.

“Regulatory compliance and organizational structure are concerns for foreign companies looking to establish a presence in the U.S., especially small to midsize businesses,” says William F. Hutter, CEO of Sequent. “But there are other hurdles such as living arrangements for foreign employees, location of the business and onboarding. It’s important for a foreign company to think through these decisions and processes before establishing a presence in the U.S. in order to function well in the marketplace.”

Smart Business spoke with Hutter about what foreign companies should consider before setting up a business in the U.S.

What should foreign companies understand in terms of regulatory compliance before they can operate in the U.S.?

It’s important to ask a lot of questions when determining the organizational structure the foreign company will establish in the U.S. For instance, is the company wholly owned as a foreign subsidiary? Will it be a standalone business? And if it’s the latter, will there be officers of the corporation in the U.S? How will the company repatriate the funds back to its home country? These are all interconnected issues to consider before getting started. Too many companies rush to set up in the U.S. and then need to backtrack. It’s better to find a knowledgeable adviser that can offer a broad perspective of considerations before business is established.

Another issue is the collective insurance environment. Corporate insurance from a foreign parent company likely won’t extend to the U.S. Foreign subsidiaries will likely need to purchase insurance from a carrier recognized in the U.S.

Understanding the differences between the U.S. and European health care environment is critical but very difficult. It’s hard to explain the cost factors and deductibles and co-insurance to a European company. But the most difficult concept is that of workers’ compensation coverage. European companies tend to think that by having general liability and health care coverage they’re set, but they aren’t. The European system covers everything, so it’s a big difference.

What are the challenges overseas companies face when it comes to HR functions and how can an outsource partner mitigate them?

The HR function for foreign domiciled companies in the U.S., again, is about the foundational items. Companies certainly need to meet compliance guidelines to protect themselves from exposures, but HR functions to nonresident aliens in the U.S. involves advocacy — help negotiating the various systems, explaining health care insurance benefits and explaining the pension or retirement plan system.

The employees coming to the U.S. from a foreign company’s headquarters to work are typically accomplished. They’re not sending rookies. They’re sending senior employees who have agreed to live in the U.S. for a period of time to plant the seeds of the parent company. And it typically takes a year before a foreign company hires local employees because its primary focus is on business development activities.

Among the basic considerations for these employees is determining where they will live in the U.S. and where to locate the business. Socioeconomic data of a region can show consumer lifestyle, which is compared to the company’s target clients to determine where the best opportunities exist. There are relocation specialists that can help companies make best decisions regarding location when expanding into the U.S. They can help employees think through their personal living arrangements based on the work they’ll do and where potential customers are located.

Foreign companies interested in establishing themselves in the U.S. should start with the end in mind. They should ask a lot of questions to determine what the goal is for those setting up the business, such as the lifestyle they expect, family issues such as schools and community, and also the business needs and client locations. It’s not something to jump into blindly. Develop the strategy and a road map to the goal well ahead of any permanent move and that should relieve much of the anxiety associated with setting up a business in the U.S.

Insights HR Outsourcing is brought to you by Sequent

Consultants augment staff, transcend politics to achieve results

Recessions have a significant impact on businesses. Companies whose revenue is negatively affected must sometimes cut deep as they try to close budget gaps. As the market recovers, they find they need help running operations or with project expertise, but they may have reservations when it comes to hiring soon after such uncertainty, which is where consultants can be a tremendous benefit.

“Some companies struggle to effectively reach their performance, project or critical initiative goals after a staff reduction,” says Beth Thomas, executive vice president and managing director of Consulting Services at Sequent. “That’s where consultants come in. They offer a point-in-time solution to a problem, often transcending office politics, without adding to overhead.”

Smart Business spoke with Thomas about how consultants can help companies solve immediate problems and be better prepared to handle them in the future.

What’s wrong with how some companies view the role of a consultant?

Not all consultants provide quality work, which can give consultants in general a bad reputation. ‘Squatters,’ as they’re sometimes called, are consultants that charge too much and don’t transfer actionable insights. Often they come from companies that send in teams of inexperienced people that lack the experience to solve the problem they were brought in to address.

They give a bad name to the consultants that have been practitioners — business owners and high-level executives — and bring that experience to their consultative roles.

How can qualified consultants help companies that aren’t in a position to hire additional staff?

Experienced consultants have the expertise needed to solve problems quickly, which saves companies money. Experienced consultants have learned lessons that can save their clients weeks and months of analysis. They know what works and what doesn’t.

Being an outsider also means consultants are able to stay out of internal political feuds that can stall initiatives with personal and not empirical problems. An external change agent creates a political safe zone for ideas to be heard and considered. It can be hard for people within a company to do what’s right in an environment of layoffs and major operational or strategic shifts as they may withhold what could be considered an unpopular opinion for fear of losing their jobs.

Consultants can operate with sufficient political cover. They are objective and can say what’s wrong with a business without the consequence of getting fired.

Employees and even executives can become deaf when they’re hearing the same things over and over. Consultants offer a fresh perspective. Whether he or she confirms or criticizes an approach, that objectivity can get people to listen.

Staff augmentation is a welcome service consultants can provide. Sometimes a company just needs an extra hand in the short term. Consultants plug holes left after a company downsizes or has lost key contributors. This can be an inexpensive and safe solution compared to hiring a full-time staffer, especially if the company isn’t confident it has successfully weathered the economic storm.

While consultants can fill gaps where a company’s internal knowledge base is insufficient, they can also help build expertise in a company. For instance, a company lacking project management expertise can work with a consultant to train people, building up knowledge so it’s not necessary to hire consultants in the future.

What are the signs it’s time for a company to bring in a consultant?

Bring in a consultant before a critical initiative kicks off. That’s the time to evaluate resources and ensure the company has the talent to meet its objectives.

It’s better to know before the outset of a critical project that there is a talent gap than to lose momentum because there aren’t enough horses to pull the cart. And companies that are unsure they’re headed in the right direction can use someone from the outside to validate or challenge a plan so the company has the confidence to move ahead full force.

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent

Save money by identifying the true costs of being an employer

Here’s a novel exercise: Ask your employees to gather all the binder clips in your office that aren’t currently being used and put them in a box in the supply area. You’ll likely collect hundreds if not thousands of unused clips. It’s also very likely that, while so many unused binder clips were scattered around your office, many new boxes of clips were purchased when employees couldn’t find them in the supply area.

The excess expenses related to being an employer stay hidden in your company like binder clips because waste can’t be discovered until you go looking for it. It’s possible, however, that by scrutinizing and better classifying your costs, you could reduce expenses related to employment significantly.

Smart Business spoke with William F. Hutter, CEO of Sequent, about how looking closer at employment-related expenses could save companies considerable money.

How does improper categorization lead to greater expenses?

It’s becoming critically important as employers’ costs increase to look for new ways to save money. It’s often the case that expenses directly related to employees are inadvertently hidden in the profit and loss statements, because they are improperly categorized.

Employers tend to look at taxes, workers’ compensation and health insurance and mistakenly believe that’s all of the employee expenses they have. In truth, for every dollar spent on wages there are costs over and above those that employers either can’t or choose not to identify. For instance, let’s say an employer pays for an outside expert to help with Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements. Where does that expense get tallied? Often it’s reported as a one-time vendor expense, but it’s really an employee expense.

As compliance issues continue to pile up, it will become more important to identify these expenses.

What do employers miss when it comes to the cost of employment?

There are many expenses directly related to employees that are often improperly classified. Those can include:

  • The cost of new hire reporting to the state to determine if there are wage garnishments that should be served against new employees.
  • Training, whether mandated or required.
  • Employment records management.
  • Recruiting efforts.
  • Unemployment or workers’ compensation hearings.
  • Records storage.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act compliance work.
  • Creating plan documents.
  • Required ACA notifications that must be printed and mailed to employees.

Depending upon the source cited, the cost of being an employer and meeting all the compliance guidelines could be $5,000 per employee. Knowing the source of those expenses is the first step to bringing those costs down.

How can employers better account for all employee-related expenses?

Companies seem willing to spend a lot of time negotiating the lease for their copiers, scrutinizing it down to what they pay per page printed to try and save as much as possible. But considering that employee expenses, including wages, are likely 60 to 70 percent of a company’s gross profits, it would appear that it’s a better use of resources to identify the sources of those expenses and work to control them.

To get a better sense of what is being spent on employees, identify the areas of spending so the costs can be managed. Many times those spending areas are spread across multiple areas or even among several vendor relationships, so employers need a strategy to manage that in a comprehensive fashion.

Very large companies have vendor management departments, which may or may not be an internal department — it could be contracted out to an independent company. These exist so these companies can begin to control all the various expenses that go out of the building by multiple decision-makers spent with third parties. While your company may not have the resources for such a dedicated department, committing time to equating specific costs to employee expenditures gives credence to the task. Identifying expenses can help a company better manage them.

Insights HR Outsourcing is brought to you by Sequent

Changes to Ohio law allows employers to control health insurance expenses

Traditional health insurance carriers are naturally profit-oriented. Their revenues must, like all businesses, cover their expenses. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has changed the financial model for health insurance carriers by pegging medical loss ratios for large group plans at 15 percent. That has required insurance carriers to rethink their business model because they’ve still got to make money and pay expenses, so they’ve done just about the only thing they can to compensate: raise premiums.

To help companies cope with the increase in health insurance premium costs, the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) has updated its 20-year-old regulations for everyone’s advantage.

“When Ohio decided not to establish a state health insurance exchange, it created an opportunity to build a better mousetrap,” says William F. Hutter, CEO of Sequent.

“There had been legislation on Ohio’s books that allowed an organization to form a multiple employer welfare arrangement, which can essentially bind employers together to form a way to provide health coverage. There is now an entity, which companies can join, that allows member companies to participate in a nonprofit health plan that creates a direct relationship between membership, premiums and expenses.”

Smart Business spoke with Hutter about how Ohio’s new regulations create opportunities for employers to mitigate their health insurance expenses.

What do you expect will happen to premiums in the coming years?

This year brings significant changes for small employers because all health insurance plans will need to meet ACA guidelines. Health insurance providers will need to produce pretty big numbers to maintain revenue under the ACA medical loss ratios, or they will need to skinny down operating expenses. They’ll likely choose to increase insurance premiums.

What options do businesses have to mitigate premium increases?

ODI realized it needed to update its regulations because the existing laws were out of touch with the new financial model of health insurance. It sponsored legislation along with other key participants that laid the groundwork for new rules that allow businesses to participate in a multiple employer welfare arrangement.

Ohio businesses can now enjoy greater transparency into their health insurance expenses that most health insurance carriers won’t provide.

The multiple employer welfare arrangement has the potential to reward employers that monitor the health of their employees, provide wellness programs and incentivize employees to adopt healthier habits by reducing health insurance costs.

This model also creates transparency, allowing employers to see their health coverage expenses, understand why they’re going up or down and take actions to positively affect the rates. These insurance pools offer economies of scale without pooling the risk. Each member company is in its own risk bucket.

How can companies take part in a multiple employer welfare arrangement?

A company would need to work with an entity that manages a multiple employer welfare arrangement. The company’s employees would complete a personal health care survey, which will provide a rating based on the health of the group.

The result is that the company pays for its own risk but the transparency allows a company to do something to lower its costs. Members of the health fund arrangement are incentivized to help employees be healthier —by offering health screenings and wellness programs, for example — and healthier employees are generally more productive and have fewer absences.

This program makes the most sense for companies with 100 or fewer employees. Any company with more than 50 employees will experience the full impact of the ACA, which includes the administrative, regulatory and reporting requirements. Companies that join a multiple employer welfare arrangement can have much of that burden lifted.

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent

Change management best practices help companies realize ROI

Change can be difficult. When change is set in motion on a large scale, such as across an entire enterprise or department, managing that change is critical to the success of the initiative.

“Executing a successful transformation requires the support of leadership, a plan, and the time and resources necessary to see it through,” says Beth Thomas, executive vice president and managing director of Consulting Services at Sequent. “Otherwise, it’s impossible to realize the return on investment the transformation was designed to achieve.”

Smart Business spoke with Thomas about executing a successful business transformation.

What challenges do businesses face when trying to execute a transformation?

There are several pitfalls companies encounter when attempting to implement large-scale change. The more common among them are:

  • Executive sponsorship. There must be support for the transformation from the top. Executives rally support among other executives, managers and directors to maintain accountability for the change.
  • Vision. Companies that stumble through change often do so because they don’t have a clear vision or strategy to achieve their goal. It’s crucial to have a road map that outlines the processes and partners needed to implement change.
  • Resource allocation. Many companies fail to allocate the resources needed for the change. That can mean money, but it also means personnel. There should be representatives from all departments and specialties to provide input on how change can be implemented among the different departments.
  • Proper tools. You need the right technology or change will be difficult. For instance, if you’re trying to apply a system designed for manufacturing to the retail environment, change will be difficult if not impossible.

What are the steps companies can take for a successful change initiative?

Every transformation has it’s own personality. While there are basic, tried-and-true steps on the path to a successful transformation, you’ll need to customize the approach to fit your business. These are the best practices that work in many transformations:

  • Assessment. Review your resources and create a strategy upfront to understand what the change will look like for each area it’s impacting and have a plan for its implementation.
  • Alignment. Ensure your leaders are on the same page publicly and behind closed doors. They must take ownership of the transformation to inspire others to follow.
  • Engagement. You need a group of influencers to carry a consistent, positive message out to the entire company. This creates a community of support, which is essential for change to take hold.
  • Education. Helping each person understand what the change will mean for them and how they fit in to the new world matters. People feel more comfortable when they understand their role and responsibilities during and after the transformation.
  • Communication. If the truth of the change process isn’t communicated to your associates, they’ll make up stories. Misinformation causes anxiety, leads to disengagement and increases the risk of employees leaving. That retention issue is even more of a threat with top talent.
  • Support. Once a transformation is underway make sure people feel supported. Create a support network through which employees can get help or have their questions answered.
  • Sustainability. You want to ensure the transformation sticks and people don’t revert back to the old way once the initial thrust of change has ebbed. Create a program through which associates can be made aware of updates and improvements, and that ensures new hires are indoctrinated into the new way of doing things. This provides a means through which the elements of the transformation can be revisited to make sure the improvements are sustained.

Adapting these best practices to your company’s change process will result in a high level of success and practically guarantee ROI. Otherwise, it’s almost certain your transformation will fail.

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent

Central Ohio’s Smart 50 share renewed commitment toward future success

col_cs_Smart50Logo2015The Smart 50 Awards, now in its second year in town, brings together like-minded leaders that share the common drive toward sustainability and growth for our region.

The value of this program is not only found in the recognition for the innovations in our business community, but also in the knowledge exchange and new connections made across a variety of sectors.

Here at Oswald, since our founding in 1893, we’ve had the same core mission of helping individuals and businesses identify, reduce and manage their risks.

This year is a milestone year for Oswald, celebrating 30 years as an employee-owned business, and 10 years in our Columbus office.

We remain dedicated to delivering new and innovative service solutions for our clients, investing in our industry’s top talent and supporting causes within our communities.

Our mantra at Oswald is “Focus Forward,” and that is exactly what we do when it comes to advancing our abilities to serve the needs of our clients and our employee-owners. It’s about setting high aspirations for the future without losing sight of what got us here today.

I think it’s a message we can all relate to as part of the Smart 50 program. It’s a chance to both reflect on past accomplishments and renew our commitment toward future success.

On behalf of Oswald and all of this year’s supporters, we extend our most sincere congratulations to the Smart 50 class of 2015.

col_RobertKlonkRobert J. Klonk
Chief Executive Officer
Oswald Cos.
[email protected]

 

Quick Links to Smart 50 honorees:

Tara Abraham, Accel Inc. | David Abraham, Labor Guys Staffing (LGS) | Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, The Wexner Foundation | Eleanor Alvarez, LeaderStat | Rod Baesman, Baesman Group Inc. | Kimberly A. Blackwell, PMM Agency | Elizabeth Blount McCormick, UNIGLOBE Travel Designers | Miranda Boyle, THREAD | Donna L. Braxton, Law Enforcement Foundation | Jeff Burt, EclipseCorp | David Chesebrough, COSI | Brian Dew, Mid-City Electric | Tom Feeney, Safelite Group Inc. | Sandy Fekete, Marketing Works | Michael P. Glimcher, WP Glimcher | Dianne Grote Adams, Safex Inc. | David S. Guion, Dublin Arts Council | W. Gregory Guy, Air Force One Inc. | Sally Hughes, Caster Connection | William Hutter, Sequent | Edgar W. “Bill” Ingram III, White Castle System Inc. | Rich Johnson, ViaQuest Inc. | Bob Juniper, Three C Body Shops Inc. | Brett Kaufman, Kaufman Development | Amy Klaben, Columbus Housing Partnership Inc., dba Homeport | Merry Korn, Pearl Interactive Network Inc. | Catherine Lang-Cline, Portfolio Creative | John Mackessy, HMB | Michael McCarrell, Pharmacy Systems Inc. | Pat McCurdy, Kimball Midwest | Curtis J. Moody, Moody Nolan | Neil Mortine, Fahlgren Mortine | Tom Pendrey, Donatos Pizza | Debra Penzone, The Charles Penzone Salons | Nick Pinizzotto, Sportsmen’s Alliance | Margie Pizzuti, Goodwill Columbus | Sue Reninger, RMD Advertising | Nicole Ringle, IGS Energy | Dr. Mark Rinkov, Rinkov Eyecare Centers | C.K. Satyapriya, CTL Engineering Inc. | Randy Schoedinger, Michael Schoedinger, Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service | Brian Schottenstein, Schottenstein Real Estate Group | Hiten Shah, Marketing and Engineering Solutions Inc. | Steve Steinour, Huntington National Bank | Ron Stokes, Three Leaf Productions Inc. | Michael S. Swartz, Lake Shore Cryotronics Inc. | Kara Trott, Quantum Health | Mike Vargo, VARGO | Billy Vickers, Modular Assembly Innovations | Beatrice Wolper, Emens & Wolper Law Firm


2015 Central Ohio Smart 50

Honorees listed in Alphabetical order by last name

col_TaraAbrahamTara Abraham
Chairman and co-CEO
Accel Inc.

Tara Abraham has built a business that will do whatever it takes to solve a problem. Accel Inc. began in 1995 as a knitting company assembling products for Bath & Body Works, and since that time has expanded into many other services.

As chairman and co-CEO, Abraham has built a team of 16 engineers that can solve any packaging design or flawed component issue.

For instance, a local retailer was having gift cards assembled in Sri Lanka. The assembly included the card and a plastic sleeve overlay with a cardboard cover. The card sat inside with a glue dot, but the card was being damaged — workers couldn’t get the sleeve off and back on, and could only produce 5,000 units a day.

Accel’s engineers created plastic jigs on the production lines that opened the cards without taking off the sleeves and automated the gluing process to increase output to 50,000 units a day.
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col_DavidAbrahamDavid Abraham
President
Labor Guys Staffing (LGS)

David Abraham, president of Labor Guys Staffing (LGS), has leveraged the location of Accel Inc., a company for which he is co-CEO, to create a unique temporary staffing model.

The 11-company, 1.4-million-square-foot Personal Care, Health and Beauty Park in New Albany represents a complete supply chain, within which Accel is an assembler. Abraham devised a model in which LGS trains temporary workers on all of the services provided by the companies in the park. The business’ complementary business cycles means the temporary worker is able to gain multiple skill sets and ultimately find a place of full-time employment. The company has brought over 2,000 temporary jobs to the area in the last three years.

Abraham has rented buses to help transport individuals in from low-income areas and has partnered with the Licking County United Way, Jobs Ohio and many other agencies to assist in getting people back to work.
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col_RabbiBElkaAbrahamsRabbi B. Elka Abrahamson
President
The Wexner Foundation

As the president of The Wexner Foundation, Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson oversees the foundation’s full range of activities, in partnership with foundation chairpeople Abigail and Leslie Wexner. She also imagines how the foundation might further strengthen and educate Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America and public service leaders in Israel.

The Wexner Foundation, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, has always been focused on investing in and developing talented leaders through a number of initiatives.

As a steward of the foundation that continues to build a robust network, Abrahamson has helped expand the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and create a cohort within the program for emerging talent already working in Jewish organizations, as well as implementing the Wexner Senior Leadership Program, which provides executive education for Israel’s public service leaders through a month-long program.

Newsweek also named Abrahamson one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America.
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col_EleanorAlvarezEleanor Alvarez
CEO
LeaderStat

As the CEO of LeaderStat, Eleanor Alvarez helps provide consulting and management support to more than 1,000 long-term care clients nationwide.

Her firm provides a full range of clinical, operational and financial consulting for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and continuing care retirement communities. She has conducted comprehensive assessments, market studies, financial improvement strategies, new product design and specialized programming for long-term care communities across the U.S.

Alvarez is constantly adjusting LeaderStat’s service offerings to meet the ever-changing needs within the health care landscape. She stays current on trends and makes sure that her team can supply expertise to the industry by encouraging specialized training. Always open to staff suggestions on new service offerings, Alvarez understands the importance of staff retention.

Community service is also built into LeaderStat’s strategic plan. Alvarez believes it is motivating and fulfilling for staff to engage in projects that help foster relationships within their community.
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col_RodBaesmanRod Baesman
CEO
Baesman Group Inc.

Rod Baesman joined Baesman Group Inc. in 1987 and has helped the Baesman name become synonymous with print in Central Ohio.

Retailers such as Lane Bryant, Polo, Ralph Lauren and Charming Charlie turn to Baesman for their printing needs, while Cardinal Health looks to the company for direct mail.

Under Baesman’s leadership as CEO, the company combines decades of experience with next-generation custom printing technology to consistently deliver complex direct-mail marketing pieces, create state-of-the-art in-store signage, and provide warehousing and fulfillment that includes secure storage, on-time shipments, turnkey implementations and detailed online reporting.

Baesman created an Insights and Marketing division that has rapidly become a player in the retail and fashion arena. It offers strategic customer marketing services based on data analytics. High-profile, national clients like Kate Spade, Stanley Steemer and Shoe Carnival have all turned to Insights and Marketing to create highly responsive marketing strategies that increase the bottom line.
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col_KimberlyBlackwellKimberly A. Blackwell
CEO
PMM Agency

“If you want to be a bear in business, be a grizzly.” That’s the philosophy that has led CEO Kimberly A. Blackwell’s career and ability to develop and implement brand-related strategies.

For Blackwell, it’s about insights and instincts: be relentless and take a beast-like approach in all that you do, rooted in a standard of excellence.

This has helped Blackwell grow PMM Agency from a one-bedroom startup to an industry-recognized agency that counts among its clients, Nationwide, Huntington National Bank, Honda, Macy’s, the state of Ohio and the city of Columbus.

PMM’s approach can be summarized as:

  1. Take a diagnosis to best understand client organizational goals — short and long term.
  2. Assess the industry landscape, trends and unchartered paths through both a marketplace and competitive lens.
  3. Design interactive and creative brand strategies to engage and entice a uniqueness and value proposition, while breaking through the noise that often competes for consumer attention.

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col_ElizabethBlountElizabeth Blount McCormick
President and co-owner
UNIGLOBE Travel Designers

Elizabeth Blount McCormick moved back to Columbus to join her mother in business in 2006.

As the president and co-owner of UNIGLOBE Travel Designers, McCormick has nearly doubled the company’s revenue, enhanced customer service and increased the office’s technology. In fact, the franchise has become a beta tester for new software for UNIGLOBE International.

Perhaps most importantly, McCormick recognizes that she can’t do everything.

She strives to identify the strengths of her team and match those talents to the needs of her clients. She also outsources work to other companies, recognizing that her expertise is in travel, not human resources, legal or marketing.

This year, by focusing on building the company, McCormick brought in 36 new accounts by July — that’s more than were signed in all of 2014.

As a result, UNIGLOBE Travel Designers has gone from just three travel agents to 27, all while investing in programs to develop and attract talent.

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col_MirandaBoyleMiranda Boyle
Owner
THREAD

Miranda Boyle, owner of THREAD, has shown a willingness to trust others, while recognizing her own strengths.

Too many business owners are uncompromising and try to keep strict control. They end up doing too much, stretching themselves too thin and losing growth opportunities in the process. That’s not Boyle.

For example, she engaged experts to help her with her brand, while providing direct insight into the vision of her business.

Her stores and e-commerce site are now able to deliver “best in class” experiences for her designer products and exceed her clientele’s already high expectations of what a high-end clothing boutique should be.

Boyle also has engaged in collaborations with big names in the fashion world to serve as a designer incubator. THREAD carries lines that may only be in their first season, an innovative approach that gives her customers access to unique products that can’t be found in other Midwest stores.

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col_DonnaBraxtonDonna L. Braxton
CEO
Law Enforcement Foundation

Donna L. Braxton began working for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Law Enforcement Foundation, which works to extend the reach and support of law enforcement’s role in local communities, in 1991. She was appointed executive director of the OACP and CEO of the LEF in February 2008.

Braxton has assisted with many special grant projects, including the D.A.R.E. graduates program, human-diversity training and community-oriented policing. She has also served as project director for critical incident and domestic violence training.

Under her leadership, LEF has strengthened its outreach efforts and partnerships with state organizations that are working together to make communities safer. She’s created an internal environment at LEF that inspires employees to take ownership of their work, empowering them to accomplish the organization’s goals.

In 2011, Braxton was awarded the OACP President’s Award, and in 2012 she was named an honorary Ohio D.A.R.E. officer.

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col_JeffBurtJeff Burt
CEO
EclipseCorp

CEO Jeff Burt’s passion for creating the image that clients want their company to have not only drove him to found EclipseCorp in 1994, it continues to drive his vision to make the company a nationally recognized creative partnership.

Starting with two employees, the organization now has more than 30 and revenue has increased 40,175 percent over the past 20 years.

Burt believes in the philosophy of surrounding himself with good people, inside and outside of the business. He recognizes his own limitations and the need to surround himself with people whose skills complement his. He looks for people willing to step up to the plate, take risks and to accomplish what others thought was impossible.

In addition, Burt has led EclipseCorp to differentiate itself from the competition by investing in technology — even when economic times drove others to cut back —  high quality work, a creative staff and a turnkey operation all under one roof.

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col_DavidChesebroughDavid Chesebrough, Ed.D.
President and CEO
COSI

David Chesebrough, Ed.D., began his leadership at COSI in April 2006. Since then, the president and CEO has worked with his leadership team, trustees, community supporters and partners to reimagine the organization for the 21st century.

He has established strategic partnerships with The Ohio State University, Battelle Memorial Institute, Rev1 Ventures and others to expand opportunities for all to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The hope is to encourage and inspire more youth to pursue careers in the STEM fields.

Through partnerships with scientists, engineers and researchers, COSI has increased its positive impact on the region and is now visited by more than 1 million people each year.
Chesebrough completed his doctoral research at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and has authored books, articles, columns and publications in the science center, museum, computer, education and environmental fields.

He is on the board of Nationwide Children’s Research Institute, a component of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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col_BrianDewBrian Dew
President
Mid-City Electric

Mid-City Electric President Brian Dew has created an environment where every employee feels invested. He treats them with respect, delivers what is promised and teaches everyone to act in the customer’s best interest.

Education is critical to this, and Dew invests in programs that allow his team to grow. He enrolls staff in the BX Rising Leader’s Program and encourages them to attend industry classes and training.

Dew recognizes that an engaged workforce provides opportunities to think differently about products and services. Accordingly, he was able to develop Mid-City’s prefabrication shop and program to improve the company and add value for customers.

The company offered foremen lunch-and-learns on the initiative, and Dew developed work teams, which collaborate regularly to create new techniques in prefab for client project needs. An example of this is a two-day prefab workshop Mid-City hosted, where electrical contractors from the Electrical Industry Mastermind Group came from as far as California.

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col_TomFeeneyTom Feeney
President and CEO
Safelite Group Inc.

Since joining Safelite Group Inc., Tom Feeney has been instrumental in establishing Safelite AutoGlass® as a nationally known brand.

When he became president and CEO of the company in 2008, he immediately introduced a new vision for Safelite supported by two core principles: “People First, Customer Delight,” which has since evolved to “People Powered, Customer Driven.”

The company hadn’t experienced sales growth in the previous five years, but Feeney’s vision bought the business back to its core beliefs and started a cultural transformation.

Under Feeney’s leadership, Safelite’s customer satisfaction scores have increased by 13 percentage points. Top-of-mind brand awareness improved and market share increased. In addition, sales have tripled, partly due to more employee engagement.

The company plans to continue growth through a new “Nationally Powered, Locally Driven” approach.

In addition to leading Safelite Group, Feeney is a director for the Safelite Group Board of Directors and a member of Belron’s Global Leadership Team.

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col_SandyFeketeSandy Fekete
President and co-owner
Marketing Works

Sandy Fekete, president and co-owner of Marketing Works, developed the Companies Are People, Too assessment tool to profile an organization’s personality, and further her belief that a company’s personality and culture are its most powerful success drivers.

CAP2 has been valuable for Marketing Works’ clients, as well as serving as the cornerstone for the company’s success with its own team.

Fekete supports professional development, leadership growth and external volunteer activities by fostering a “One Team, One Goal” mantra. As part of this, Fekete and the firm’s partners invested in a coach who is responsible for integrating culture with professional development. The coach meets regularly with employees to develop measureable goals, maintain interpersonal communication channels, facilitate on-boarding and tackle other issues such as stress management and conflict resolution.

This one eye on the client, the other on the team philosophy has helped Fekete lead Marketing Works to more than 20 percent revenue growth.

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col_MichaelPGlimcherMichael P. Glimcher
Vice chairman and CEO
WP Glimcher

WP Glimcher is the product of a merger between Washington Prime Group and Glimcher Realty Trust in late 2014, when Michael P. Glimcher became vice chairman and CEO.

The new company is double the size of GRT, has 100 additional assets and 40 million additional square feet to lease. WP Glimcher also has lower debt leverage and the ability to generate $100 million in free cash flow.

As CEO, Glimcher, along with executive leadership, has already achieved measurable results in many facets of WP Glimcher’s strategy, including scaling up the existing operating platform to grow from 25 to 121 assets and delivering continued growth from the combined portfolio through redevelopment and leasing.

Glimcher already drove industry-leading results with GRT, transforming the company and increasing sales per square foot. He’s now positioning himself to do this on a larger stage, including adding more than 75 jobs to WP Glimcher’s corporate office in Columbus.

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col_DianneGroteAdamsDianne Grote Adams
President
Safex Inc.

The business of occupational health and safety is often bogged down by lengthy government standards and organizations struggling to fit safety into their budgets.

President Dianne Grote Adams and Safex Inc. have changed the picture of health and safety consulting in Central Ohio by making it a business about people. The company fosters strong, personal relationships with clients who keep in touch even after they’ve moved companies or industries.

At Safex, the customer experience is driven by attention to detail, customer-oriented processes and a no-tolerance policy for anything but quality.

Under Adams’ leadership for more than 20 years, Safex has updated services and products, found new methods for delivering training and regulatory information, and taken safety beyond the realm of just Occupational Safety and Health Administration  compliance.

Additionally, Adams and her consultants are constantly touring jobsites and facilities in order to understand every aspect of client businesses and recognize the most effective solutions for their needs.

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col_DavidSGuionDavid S. Guion, Ph.D.
Executive director
Dublin Arts Council

The Dublin Arts Council, under the leadership of Executive Director David S. Guion, Ph.D., is gaining national and international recognition for its innovative programming and noteworthy growth. The Ohio Arts Council leadership, in fact, has called the DAC “the poster child for innovation.”

Since he began leading the DAC in 2005, Guion has obtained financial support from a significant number of organizations as well as prestigious grant awards. Guion also has instituted a culture of creativity for the arts council. Staff members contribute ideas to program development and for professional development.

Recognizing art’s power to heal, influence opinion and raise awareness, Guion has made social-focused programming a priority. Recent projects include a five-year photography exhibit to raise awareness of people living with Down syndrome, a tunnel mural based on removing the stigma of mental illness and addiction, and an exhibition of rare Vietnam War photos by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams.

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col_GregGuyW. Gregory Guy
CEO
Air Force One Inc.

W. Gregory Guy, CEO of Air Force One Inc., is continuously looking for opportunities to lead his team forward to success.

By having weekly meetings with his leadership team, analyzing associate feedback and staying in touch with the different Air Force One divisions throughout Ohio, Guy has been able to celebrate the accomplishments and learn from the struggles of his organization to get to the heart of what Air Force One needs to remain successful.

It is Guy’s vision and innovation that is the driving force at Air Force One. He stays in touch with the changing needs of the HVAC industry and regularly looks for ways to improve service.

One of his driving objectives for the business is to “elevate the image and integrity of our industry.”

It is Guy’s excitement and hunger that inspires Air Force One’s associates to act with unmatched professionalism and quality every day.

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col_SallyHughesSally Hughes
Founder and CEO
Caster Connection

Sally Hughes has built a company in Caster Connection that focuses on anticipating and meeting client demand by developing innovative products that improve the lives of those clients. As founder and CEO, Hughes also has created a culture for thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing to clients.

Some examples of strategies that have led to growth include a focus on the emotional aspect of buying casters and an industry-leading e-commerce site that makes caster buying as easy as possible.

Since developing the industry-changing CC Apex line in 2005, Caster Connection has brought several other products to market in an effort to diversify and offer clients solutions no one else can.

These products largely focus on relieving ergonomic issues. Other product improvements include noise reduction, maintenance prevention and floor protection. Revenue at Caster has grown each year since 2010, as has the employee count, due to increased client demand.

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col_WilliamHutterWilliam Hutter
Founder and CEO
Sequent

CEO William Hutter and his partners founded Sequent in 1995 with two employees. Today, the company employs 80 people.

In the early years, Hutter was the CEO, COO, CFO, sales team, payroll courier and more. The outsourcing industry was in its infancy, which afforded him the opportunity to develop and define best practices, often years ahead of industry trends.

Sequent’s growth allowed Hutter to hire talented employees to develop and manage various business segments. Many of these employees are still with Sequent more than 16 years later.

But one of the biggest impacts of Hutter’s leadership has been in the health benefits arena, when he set out to become an expert on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

For the past three years, he has been a frequent speaker on health care reform. Sequent makes no profit providing health benefit plans; his efforts are truly about educating clients and keeping benefits affordable.

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col_BillIngramEdgar W. “Bill” Ingram III
Chairman of the board and CEO
White Castle System Inc.

Chairman of the board and CEO Edgar W. “Bill” Ingram III has dedicated his career to stewardship and growth for White Castle System Inc. by celebrating the 10,000-team members who make success possible. He has an earnest desire to “do the right thing” — whether others are looking or not.

It’s no wonder that out of the top 450 field restaurant operations leaders, 444 started behind the counter in an hourly role. Also, more than 25 percent of employees have been with White Castle for more than 10 years.

Recently, Ingram has overseen a brand revitalization; watched the division he created to establish a grocery store presence for White Castle restaurant products grow to represent nearly 25 percent of total sales, and a larger percent of profit; and overseen a thoughtful transition to the next generation of family leadership.

Ingram will retire from CEO duties at the end of 2015, knowing he leaves the business better than he found it.

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col_RichJohnsonRich Johnson
CEO
ViaQuest Inc.

As CEO, Rich Johnson has steered ViaQuest Inc. through a series of growth spurts — the company now has locations in three states and employs more than 1,500. Much of that growth has been because of efforts to stay at the forefront of the latest technologies and innovations in the health care industry, such as with a pharmacogenetics program.

But perhaps Johnson’s greatest contribution is the culture he has established among employees.

ViaQuest is all about people, and Johnson has worked diligently to cultivate a culture that is centered on CHOICE: customer service, humor, ownership, integrity, creativity and excellence. Johnson insists on investing money and time into building and fostering ViaQuest’s culture, because in good times and bad, culture is what binds and unites all employees together.

ViaQuest has nearly 300 employees who have stayed with the company for five years or more, an impressive number in an industry where turnover tends to run high.

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col_BobJuniperBob Juniper
President and CEO
Three C Body Shops Inc.

President and CEO Bob Juniper took over the family business, Three C Body Shops Inc., in 1984. He has expanded the shop from three employees to 50 with innovative approaches and marketing savvy, coupled with a strong dedication to customer service and quality work.

For instance, in 1991, Juniper began an aggressive, anti-insurance plan advertising campaign to educate the public about insurance companies’ responsibility to restore vehicles to pre-accident condition.

Due to its tremendous success, Juniper started his own marketing company. Today, more than 100 body shop owners and related businesses throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia have used Juniper’s campaign.

He’s also developed the idea of Collision Claims Centers and satellite drop off locations; is breaking industry norms by going completely paperless, including with payroll; and has implemented the Pink Button, a mobile app to easily connect people to Three-C service at the scene of a collision.

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col_BrettKaufmanBrett Kaufman
CEO
Kaufman Development

As CEO of Kaufman Development, Brett Kaufman emphasizes high quality, unique, luxury housing at an affordable price point.

Since the company’s founding in 2011, it has completed The Gramercy, a 322-unit development in New Albany; 600 Goodale, a 174-unit community; and 801 Polaris, a 270-unit project. Through a partnership with a leading construction management firm, Kaufman spearheaded the development of 250 High, a 156-unit mixed-use building that welcomed its first commercial tenant in July.

Hiring for character over experience, Kaufman values personal and professional growth for all of his employees. He fosters the cultivation of each individual’s passions in life to harness that energy in the workplace.

Twice each year for 10 to 12 weeks at a time, employees leave the office for three hours each week for innovation time. The team then gathers to present their ideas and innovations. Some ideas have been implemented into Kaufman’s corporate operating system.

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col_AmyKlabenAmy Klaben
President and CEO
Columbus Housing Partnership Inc., dba Homeport

One of Central Ohio’s homebuilders was asked in five words to describe Amy Klaben, the head Columbus Housing Partnership Inc., dba Homeport, which provides service-enriched rental housing to more than 10,000 people. He chose aggressive, compassionate, dynamic, intelligent and visionary. All those terms add up to a realistic picture of her professionalism and community leadership.

Homeport consists of three departments: rental living, home ownership and learning and engagement. Klaben, who has been president and CEO for 15 years, is responsible for driving all aspects of the nonprofit organization. During the height of the recent foreclosure crisis, Homeport scaled up its efforts to educate and assist people at risk of losing their homes from 250 households a year to 1,500.

An attorney, Klaben works with policymakers to educate and elevate the issue of affordable housing. Her passion for families and for the more than 2,500 children of the Homeport communities motivates her to do work for posterity.

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col_MerryKornMerry Korn
CEO
Pearl Interactive Network Inc.

In 2004, CEO Merry Korn was inspired to start Pearl Interactive Network Inc. as a way to combine her passion for business with a social mission.

Initially, she began hiring people with disabilities because she needed loyal employees who would stay with the company. Over time, Korn learned this niche workforce offered opportunities for growth, including in the federal contractor space — and added disabled veterans, veterans and military spouses to her team. Her company could solve long-ingrained government staffing programs, especially in contract center services where five-month average retention rates were the norm.

Korn was convinced she could do better because her workforce offered leadership and maturity, resilience and perseverance, with individuals who were goal and team-oriented, and exhibited respect for rules and procedures.

Over the past three years, this differentiator helped Pearl Interactive grow from $1 million in annual revenue to more than $12.5 million, with more than 400 employees in 23 states.

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col_CatherineLangClineCatherine Lang-Cline
President and co-founder
Portfolio Creative

Creativity and innovation drive Portfolio Creative, which President Catherine Lang-Cline co-founded in 2005 to connect clients with creative professionals — designers, writers, Web designers, art/creative directors and marketing managers — for full-time or temporary needs.

Lang-Cline opened a second office in 2014 in Pittsburgh, and has set her sights on the next opportunity.

The company has become the nation’s fastest-growing creative staffing and recruiting firm, earning Inc. 500/5,000 designation for the past six years.

One example of Portfolio Creative’s impact involves working with Abbott to build an internal creative department, completely staffed by Lang-Cline’s team, which provides flexibility and speed. Another example is its 10-year relationship with LBrands, serving as both a subcontractor and director vendor.

Lang-Cline’s approach is straightforward: Be flexible, be creative, listen and then be innovative in your approach to serving clients. She chalks up her company’s success by its ability to talk to clients about what they really need most — and then providing it.

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col_JohnMackessyJohn Mackessy
Chief Financial Officer
HMB

As the chief financial officer of the business technology services firm HMB, John Mackessy oversees financial strategy and operations — and his ability to ensure adoption of new processes to facilitate growth is just one of the things that make him a true leader.

When Mackessy helped found HMB in 1994, he was more of a “do-er” and spent most of his time on client work. As the company grew, the executive team saw that it needed to restructure the business and Mackessy was made CFO.

Mackessy plays the accounting role in a company of computer programmers and IT professionals. He asks the hard questions others don’t think about on a daily basis.

During times of rapid growth, he kept financial stability and the overall success of the company as his top priority. He streamlined accounting practices and time reporting and payroll processes, allowing HMB’s executive team more accuracy in making projections and setting goals.

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col_MichaelMcCarrellMichael McCarrell
President
Pharmacy Systems Inc.

Michael McCarrell joined family-owned Pharmacy Systems Inc. in 2008 as an implementation coordinator, quickly working his way up to president.
Pharmacy Systems provides hospital pharmacy management and consulting services, including outpatient and ambulatory care, and hospice and pain management programs.

McCarrell led the creation and development of new services lines, including:

  • PSI Supply Chain Solutions, which manages hospital-based logistics for more than 20 materials management departments.
  • PSI Rehabilitation Services, which manages therapy departments in health care settings.
  • PSI’s Signyl program, which provides clients with real-time data.

Teamwork is critical, and McCarrell has built a team who can lead and carry on daily operations by thinking about ways to better serve clients.

Today, McCarrell manages more than 375 people, oversees a decentralized business with 120 locations in nine states and has led the company to annual revenue in excess of $50 million.

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col_PatMcCurdyPat McCurdy
President
Kimball Midwest

With President Pat McCurdy at the helm, Kimball Midwest maintains its focus on superior performance and exceptional value in the products and service it offers for the maintenance, repair and operations marketplace.

From its earliest beginnings, the company has strived to develop a “partnership in performance” with each employee and customer in order to identify and satisfy their needs through the development of superior products and programs to reduce overall cost. When adding new products, Kimball Midwest adheres to the highest performance and quality standards. Continuous improvement is so ingrained in the company’s culture that a team of specialists is dedicated to researching process enhancements and items that solve customer problems and add value for each customer.

The company services sales representatives and end-use customers from its corporate office and distribution center in Columbus and from its distribution centers strategically located in Dallas, Reno, Nevada and Savannah, Georgia.

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col_CurtMoodyCurtis J. Moody, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP
President and CEO
Moody Nolan

To understand Moody Nolan’s impact on Greater Columbus, you only need to look around. Some of the architecture firm’s projects include the Columbus Commons, Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel, The Ohio State University’s Recreation & Physical Activity Center and the expansion of the Wexner Medical Center.

For more than 30 years, President and CEO Curtis J. Moody, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, has been at the forefront of significant architectural projects in his hometown and across the nation.

Today, Moody operates eight regional offices and employs more than 170 professionals, who practice responsive architecture. This means they listen intently, analyze effectively, and then design an innovative, functional and aesthetically pleasing space, without losing sight of the purpose and budget.

A few of Moody Nolan’s most recent projects include the Music City Center in Nashville; the Malcom X College in Chicago; the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina; the Net Jets headquarters in Columbus; and Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

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col_NeilMortineNeil Mortine
President and CEO
Fahlgren Mortine

Neil Mortine, president and CEO of Fahlgren Mortine, realized he had to turn his ship around when the marketing and communications agency lost some larger accounts during the recession.

He was able to accomplish that reversal — and bring 63 percent growth in six years — by integrating disciplines and removing silos, solidifying client relationships, and investing in technology, new markets and business development.

Frequently quoted as saying, “The best culture leads to the best people, and the best people lead to the best clients,” Mortine placed an unwavering focus on culture to turn the company around. The work environment is one of collaboration and collegial atmosphere. Associates at all levels have freedom to take risks, accomplish big things and even make an occasional mistake.

Along with encouraging company values of collaboration, engagement and trust, Mortine supports the personal passions of employees to give to their individual interests.

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col_TomPendreyTom Pendrey
Chief Operating Officer
Donatos Pizza

Tom Pendrey was appointed chief operating officer at Donatos Pizza when he joined the company in 2014. His job was to oversee the company’s 154-store restaurant business as well as Jane’s Dough Foods, the bakery division of Donatos.

Almost immediately, Pendrey identified an area for growth within the business. Because customers place accuracy and speed of service at the top of their list when selecting a restaurant, he led the charge to implement operational improvements throughout the Donatos system to shorten the length of time from when a customer places an order to when they receive delivery.

These changes increased order accuracy past 95 percent, and customers have responded by choosing Donatos more frequently.

Pendrey also recognized early on that his associates are loyal and passionate people who are able to accomplish an incredible amount of good each and every day in their restaurants serving customers.

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col_DebraPenzoneDebra Penzone
President
The Charles Penzone Salons

For 28 years, Debra Penzone has contributed to The Charles Penzone Salons organization as a stylist, artistic director, training director and senior vice president. She now serves as president over the six salons and The Brittany Group Professional Beauty Products and Education.

Penzone empowers directors in each department to manage their area of content and cross-functional teams to achieve objectives within the salon. In addition, she employs training teams to remain on the cutting edge of the industry, embraces new technology and is involved with a network of other salons/spas across the nation for benchmarking and best practice-sharing.

Penzone not only is the face of The Charles Penzone Salons, she also is a motivational speaker, a leader in the philanthropic community, a role model for young girls and a proponent for positive change.

Because of her devoted volunteerism and philanthropic spirit, Penzone has received various awards for her active involvement with her community.

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col_NickPinizzottoNick Pinizzotto
President and CEO
Sportsmen’s Alliance

Nick Pinizzotto turned a childhood love for outdoor sports and conservation into a career. After successfully leading the Delta Waterfowl Foundation in North Dakota, Pinizzotto became the president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and advancing America’s heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping.

And in two years, he has spearheaded numerous innovative projects.

Pinizzotto gained national recognition by opening the alliance’s western office in Sacramento, which allows the organization to ensure California sportsmen are fairly represented during discussions concerning the state’s wildlife management and conservation practices.

He has guided the staff in a rebranding effort for the website and social media — website page views have grown 84 percent and Facebook likes have increased by 72 percent. And a new strategic plan focuses on marketing and reaching the entire target audience nationally.

Pinizzotto’s efforts have re-engaged staff, board members and sportsmen to create an aura of excitement.

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col_MargiePizzutiMargie Pizzuti
President and CEO
Goodwill Columbus

When Margie Pizzuti took over in 2005 as president and CEO of Goodwill Columbus, the organization was in the midst of a multiyear $9.6 million capital campaign to reconstruct and remodel the agency’s headquarters in Grandview. Her leadership and long-standing relationships with many community-funding stakeholders resulted in a successful effort that exceeded the goal by $400,000.

She has expanded Goodwill’s retail operations with the opening of five flagship operations by 2017 and e-commerce ventures that allow the organization to compete with online retailers such as eBay, Alibris and Amazon.

Through her business acumen and dedication to serving the community, Pizzuti has helped nearly double the agency’s annual revenue since 2005. Services also have been expanded to better support persons with disabilities and other barriers.

In addition, Goodwill operates Contract Business Services, which since 2005 has doubled its billings to more than $5 million, providing unarmed security and custodial/cleaning services.

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col_SueReningerSue Reninger
Managing partner
RMD Advertising

Managing partner Sue Reninger has been responsible for the strategy and direction of RMD Advertising’s flagship Columbus office since 1992.

Reninger and her team specialize in brand strategy, advertising, social media and public relations for clients in the growing and emerging food category. A strong focus on the success of its clients, rather than on the success of the business, sets it apart from its competition.

Reninger’s talent as a leader has given rise to RMD’s employee-focused culture, where constant learning is encouraged. In a weekly book club, team members read a well-respected business-centric book and discuss their insights. RMD also supports the monthly attendance of seminars and educational lectures.

A few years ago, RMD decided money otherwise used for client gifts could do even more for the community. In the first year of contributing to Wagons Ho Ho Ho, 25 wagons filled with food were distributed to needy families during the holidays.

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col_NicoleRingleNicole Ringle
Chief Marketing and Talent Officer
IGS Energy

Since joining IGS Energy in 2011, Chief Marketing and Talent Officer Nicole Ringle has emphasized the internal management and development of company employees. She’s assembled IGS’s Training and Development team and companywide initiatives that include the employee development programs EnergizeU and Empower Your Career, which encourage investment in and retention of IGS employees.

EnergizeU is a collection of online and on-site courses that facilitate development in leadership and mastering the business. The Empower Your Career program is a nine-month professional development experience that facilitates team collaboration to uncover new directions and potential offerings for IGS to implement. This process culminates in a ceremony wherein students present their research and solution to the executive team in front of the company.

Ringle makes it her mission to pull the leader out of everyone. She has developed an outstanding internal culture, helping employees grow as professionals and advance in their fields while driving sales across all channels.

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col_MarkRinkovDr. Mark Rinkov
Founder and CEO
Rinkov Eyecare Centers

For 37 years, Dr. Mark Rinkov has grown Rinkov Eyecare Centers into Central Ohio’s largest privately owned optometric practice.

When other practices declined, Rinkov, founder and CEO, used keen industry insights and strategic business planning to reframe the company infrastructure.

With the assistance of his son, Jeff Rinkov, Rinkov established a corporate location for insurance verification, billing and executive management; created a centralized inventory; hired an in-house accountant; and set up a centralized call center.

Rinkov also acquired two independent optometry practices, while never losing sight of Rinkov Eyecare Centers’ core mission — to provide quality care to its patient base.

He makes continuing education a priority. Doctors and staff must attend meetings for professional development and patient findings reviews, in order to expand the practice’s service offerings and discuss how to improve care.

Rinkov himself attends trade shows and belongs to industry peer review groups to implement best practices and stay abreast of industry trends.

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col_CKSatyapriyaC.K. Satyapriya
President and CEO
CTL Engineering Inc.

C.K. Satyapriya understands that today’s CEO must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics of value enhancement, be aware of opportunities and then know how to exploit them.

In 1992, Satyapriya began adapting the balanced scorecard approach, which is a bottom-up rather than a top-down method to strategic planning. Through Satyapriya’s leadership as president and CEO, CTL Engineering Inc.’s culture is based on shared principles (values, policies and attitudes) and shared practices (norms, systems and processes) that influence how people feel, think and behave.

CTL’s focus has long been engineering, but in 2008, Satyapriya decided to hire an architect to more fully address his clients’ needs on design-build projects.

He quickly realized that he could utilize that skill set not only to directly help clients on projects, but also to improve CTL’s buildings and workspaces, thereby allowing CTL to better fulfill its internal and external needs.

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col_RandySchoedingercol_MichaelSchoedingerRandy Schoedinger
CEO
Michael Schoedinger
President
Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service

Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service is known as the most innovative funeral home in Ohio.

CEO Randy Schoedinger and President Michael Schoedinger were instrumental in creating the MourningStar funeral arrangement process for funeral directors and families to work together to develop meaningful ceremonies to express a person’s individuality and find healthy ways to honor their life.

They’ve also employed two certified funeral celebrants, which is someone who has been trained to meet the needs of families during their time of loss.

Other innovations include the first dedicated pet crematory, webcasting of funerals online, the only funeral home to be green burial certified and the first funeral home to employ a full-time, on-staff grief counselor.

This family business, which was started in 1855, is committed to developing positive family dynamics and excellent communication.

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col_BrianSchottensteinBrian Schottenstein
COO and senior VP
Schottenstein Real Estate Group

Under COO and Senior VP Brian Schottenstein’s leadership, the Schottenstein Real Estate Group has built eight new developments, totaling more than $300 million in construction costs.

One of the areas he has excelled in is innovation, such as developing apartment buildings where every unit has an attached garage.

He also has introduced new amenity packages that appeal to today’s buyers. These include free wireless Internet, community gardens, butterfly gardens, resident car washes, juice bar café areas, fire pit lounges, resort style pools and movie theatre rooms.

By offering these kinds of amenities and flexible leasing options, the Schottenstein Real Estate Group has been able to maintain occupancies of no less than 98 percent throughout all of its communities.

Schottenstein also has been instrumental in expanding the company into Cincinnati, Kentucky and Florida. More than $90 million in new construction will start within the next six to nine months.

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col_HitenShahHiten Shah
President
Marketing and Engineering Solutions Inc.

Hiten Shah, president of Marketing and Engineering Solutions Inc., built the company on a culture of trust and honesty, where employees have the freedom to express themselves and fairness and transparency are practiced in all relationships.

The company hires many talented individuals to ensure best-in-class metrics for its work, and retains its employees by giving them a strong sense of autonomy while making them feel as if they’re part of a family.

MES promises its clients to reduce component costs over domestic sourcing, reduce inventory levels and develop custom engineered products. Its business metrics focus on customers’ requirements for on-time delivery and low-quality rejects while being efficient in inventory management.

All associates have very clear goals, which are published companywide as monthly metrics. The company uses the best legal, accounting, human resource and strategy consultants to develop tactics and choose the most efficient supply chains for customers.

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col_SteveSteinourSteve Steinour
CEO
Huntington National Bank

While many American banks were happy to simply survive the recent economic downturn that challenged the financial services industry, Huntington National Bank, under CEO Steve Steinour, re-engineered itself and emerged stronger than ever.

That was a courageous move in 2009 as competitors were scaling back and playing everything conservatively. Through calculated investments in employees, customers and infrastructure, Steinour helped lead Huntington to realize a 58 percent consumer household growth and a 36 percent increase in business relationship growth.

Also under Steinour’s leadership, Huntington became the only financial institution that notifies customers of overdrafts by text or email and gives them a full day to replenish their accounts without charging a penalty.

In addition, he has increased the bank’s small business lending, exceeding a four-year $4 billion lending commitment and making Huntington the nation’s largest lender in the number of U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) Loans in fiscal year 2014.

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col_RonStokesRon Stokes
President
Three Leaf Productions Inc.

President Ron Stokes purchased Three Leaf Productions Inc. in 2003 and has transformed it into one of the fastest growing minority business enterprises in Ohio.

Stokes is a visionary leader and critical decision-maker. Relying on his experience and judgment, he plans and directs all aspects of the organization’s policies, objectives and initiatives to accomplish Three Leaf’s goals.

As the driving force behind the company’s growth and direction, Stokes continually shares his insight and vision for the future with his team, which has more than 150 years of combined print, marketing and sales experience.

Providing exceptional service is the top priority. Three Leaf Productions does not merely measure itself in terms of revenue, it measures success by the satisfaction and loyalty of its clients and the growth and advancement of its employees.

Stokes also just marked his 17th season as the on-air expert analyst for The Ohio State University’s men’s basketball radio network.

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col_MichaelSwartzMichael S. Swartz
President and CEO
Lake Shore Cryotronics Inc.

Michael S. Swartz, president and CEO of Lake Shore Cryotronics Inc., fosters a high-performance environment that encourages cooperation and empowerment.

Employees are relied upon to seek streamlined approaches and make decisions quickly, even in the absence of perfect data. Swartz regularly reinforces his preference for thoughtful decisions made quickly over safe decisions that require greater analysis, believing the company can always course-correct later.

Employees are encouraged to think broadly about the impact of their role and actions on the overall business, their colleagues and on the superordinate goal of customer satisfaction.

He presses the organization to move expediently to develop new products, respond to customer inquiries and resolve issues. Internally focused bureaucracy and distractions are minimized, in part through his investment in organizationwide training on lean process methodologies to further improve effectiveness.

Swartz inspires collaboration through periodic reassessments of office layouts and holds regular companywide events to build trust and respect.

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col_KaraTrottKara Trott
Founder and CEO
Quantum Health

Kara Trott, founder and CEO of Quantum Health, knows firsthand how confusing, bureaucratic and unfriendly the health care system can seem.

With a background in market research for major consumer brands, she founded Quantum Health in 1999 to reduce health care costs, and remove confusion and waste for self-insured companies and their plan participants.

Built from two years of research that included tracking the health care journeys of 3,200 people with 290 physicians, Quantum Health is constantly evolving and tweaking its offerings.

The company has seen tremendous growth under Trott’s leadership, going from five employees to more than 500 who serve over 400,000 plan participants. Quantum Health has expanded its client membership at an average annual rate of 46 percent over the past four years, averaging 37 percent annual revenue growth.

Trott also has created a culture of kindness, collaboration and trust that is unusual in a rapidly growing organization.

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col_MikeVargoMike Vargo
President and CEO
VARGO

Over time VARGO has changed in order to meet its customers’ changing needs, but it was the acquisition of ADS Specialists in 2006 that demonstrated President and CEO Mike Vargo’s willingness to adapt and embrace innovation in order for his company to grow.

The acquisition marked a paradigm shift for VARGO because it revolutionized how the company provides material-handling solutions for its customers. Mechanical equipment alone is no longer the answer — it needs to be paired with smart software and unique methodologies to achieve lean and efficient distribution.

The acquisition of ADS Specialists launched VARGO into a different hemisphere, as far as sales and growth. In the past five years, revenue has more than tripled, and employee numbers are up by 30 percent.

Vargo credits his team of engineers and distribution experts for transforming how the company looks at problems and provides solutions for companies running fulfillment centers.

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col_BillyVickersBilly Vickers
President and CEO
Modular Assembly Innovations

When Billy Vickers joined TAG Holdings it provided manufacturing and modular assembly solutions to the automotive industry.

Vickers saw opportunity and launched sister companies to expand value for clients. Within five years, the combined organizations employed 250 people and produced $650 million in annual revenue. In 2001, Vickers purchased majority ownership and founded Modular Assembly Innovations, as president and CEO.

MAI excels at innovation. For example, it leveraged a proven business model from MAI’s first facility in East Liberty, and developed similar facilities in Alabama and Indiana.

MAI also showed customers how to migrate assembly and subassembly from internal manufacturing to outsourced models — without delays or disruptions. This allowed MAI to expand the parts produced to 11 car models and to serve eight Honda plants in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, with plans to expand into Brazil.

Under Vickers’ leadership, MAI has received Honda Performance awards and grown to $1.2 billion in annual revenue.

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col_BeatriceWolperBeatrice Wolper
President
Emens & Wolper Law Firm

It’s a natural conclusion that Beatrice Wolper and her husband Dick Emens would make family business needs one of Emens & Wolper Law Firm’s concentrations, particularly in the areas of estate and succession planning. Five years after starting the firm, they added another practice area in oil and gas and now have a total of five attorneys.

Wolper, president, has led the firm to profitable growth while offering advice to people with set budgets. The firm offers a flat-fee structure for estate planning, which helps clients to not worry about additional fees.

In 1998, Wolper and Emens co-founded the Conway Center for Family Business to provide educational and networking opportunities to family business owners. Wolper also sits on numerous boards and committees.

This caring extends to the firm’s attorneys, who give their cellphone numbers to clients.

Although a small firm, Wolper is able to hire the best and brightest by offering innovative incentive programs.

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Sponsor Notes

Oswald Cos.

The employee-owners of Oswald Cos. are dedicated to meeting and exceeding your expectations, as one of the nation’s largest independent, employee-owned insurance brokerage firms. Founded in 1893, Oswald has six regional offices throughout Ohio and Michigan, and serves clients internationally through its Assurex Global partnership.

The Oswald Columbus office, celebrating 10 years this year, specializes in the full-spectrum of employee benefits and property and casualty insurance brokerage and risk management services.

As a proud insurance broker of the Ohio Society of CPAs, it strive to provide updates on all that is changing in the health benefits arena regarding health care reform.

Oswald Columbus calls on its strength, longevity and depth of expertise to serve a valued group of commercial and personal clients.

With nearly 15 employee-owners, specializing in a wide range of expert areas, Oswald Columbus is highly in tune with serving the unique needs of companies and individuals in the region. Team members also are deeply rooted in serving the community, offering their time, talents and resources to many initiatives throughout the year.

The Columbus office remains on a path of growth and success, highlighted by its newly renovated office space at 349 W. Nationwide Blvd.

The office continues to invest in talent to serve its current client base and prepare for the opportunities ahead.

 

CompManagement Partner Cos.

The CompManagement Partner Cos. consist of CompManagement, a full service third-party administrator for workers’ compensation as well as CompManagement Health Systems, a dedicated provider of workers’ compensation managed care services for Ohio employers. Since 1984, we have been proud to assist employers of all sizes, from large corporations to small family-owned businesses, and in virtually every industry classification.

We believe that our formidable strength throughout the years has come from the ability to form meaningful partnerships with our clients, develop a true consultative approach and consistently bring our clients innovative claims and risk management strategies. It is what we believe differentiates us from our competition as well as what embodies a “smart” organization.

Partnerships — A true partnership is ever-evolving. To have successful relationships and partnerships, we believe we must understand and appreciate the needs and goals of each partner as well as embrace their culture, vision and corporate values in order to ensure a partnership that not only grows but thrives.

Service-minded — Over the course of the last 30 years, our highly seasoned team of colleagues have made it their mission to become experts in all matters concerning workers’ compensation in order to assist and educate our clients. By instilling a consultative environment, we are able to stay in sync with our clients’ business needs. A true partner listens to concerns, speaks the same language and values input.

Innovation — Whether it is innovative new products or services or the ability to respond to changes in the economy or the market, an organization that stays flexible in the long run, in order to respond to the diverse needs of their clients and partners, is what will enable them to continue to thrive and be a successful and “smart” organization.

 

Hyatt Regency Columbus

Hyatt’s higher purpose is about care and the difference we are trying to make in the world. In order to fulfill that purpose, we recognize that leaders must lead differently than we may have in the past. A Hyatt leader, therefore, is a leader characterized by his or her ability to care, serve, learn, adapt and achieve results.

Caring leaders build trust and engagement by cultivating genuine relationships. The capacity to care for one another is one of the strongest of all human traits. At the center of caring is empathy. Leaders exhibit empathy when they connect personally and deeply with those around them.

Serving leaders create success for and through others. Such leaders are motivated by service to the higher purpose, the business and its stakeholders — not by the pursuit of power or personal gain. The success of these leaders is gauged by the success of others.

Learning leaders are inspired by learning, and they take pride in further developing themselves. They are not afraid of — and they learn from — mistakes and failures. They make the intentional decision to continue to learn and grow throughout their lives, challenging themselves to be and do more, and gaining broader experiences.

Adaptive leaders demonstrate agility in the face of continuous change. They anticipate and thrive in changing environments where diversity of thought fosters innovation and creativity. They have the ability to create a climate where individuals can take risk, experiment and learn from failure — often with great speed.

Achieving leaders prioritize and do what is best for the business. They are bold, strategic and future-oriented. They see the big picture, understand how the different components of a system interconnect and behave over time, and help make sense out of complexity by simplifying.

 

U.S. Bank

Community Supporter

We recognize that our company is only as strong as the communities in which we do business. We’re committed to supporting them through volunteerism and financial contribution.

We provide employees with up to 16 hours per year of paid time off to spend volunteering in their community. In Central Ohio, U.S. Bank employees volunteered 3,500 hours in the community last year with organizations such as Junior Achievement of Central Ohio and Habitat for Humanity, among many others.

In addition, the bank provided more than $20 million in financial support to Central Ohio communities in 2014 through community development loans, tax-credit investments, grants and corporate contributions. This funding supported the United Way of Central Ohio, affordable housing, economic development and more.

Ethical

Earlier this year, we were recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent center of research promoting best practices in corporate ethics and governance, as a 2015 World’s Most Ethical Company. The World’s Most Ethical Companies designation recognizes those organizations that have had a material impact on the way business is conducted by fostering a culture of ethics and transparency at every level of the company. U.S. Bank was the largest U.S.-based bank honored by the Ethisphere Institute this year. In addition, we were also recognized this year as the most admired super-regional bank in Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies 2015.

Customer advocate

We are proud to be bankers and to have the privilege to be trusted partners for our customers and communities. Our employees stand at the intersection of people and potential by helping individuals build financially secure futures; small business owners turn dreams into neon OPEN signs; commercial enterprises convert visions into progress; merchants engage in safe and secure commerce; pre- and post-retirees achieve their retirement goals and objectives; and communities turn possibilities into promises.

 

Rea & Associates

Everyone at Rea — all the way up to its leadership team — follows a set of core values, “The Rea Way.” When “The Rea Way” was originally written, it was intended to be a statement of what the firm stands for. Today, it’s so much more. It’s a beloved statement that’s visible on every office wall, and in the actions of every employee. Not only does it show leadership and all other team members how they are expected to behave and perform, it also shows clients what they can expect when they experience business “The Rea Way.”

You are a Rea ambassador. Always. Maintain integrity in all you do. Be honest. Be a good steward. Take ownership. Respect profitability. Respect your clients, your colleagues and yourself. Be generous with praise and constructive with criticism. Take your work personally. Quality counts. Choose to be positive, every day. Show others that you care. Work together. Rejoice in others’ achievements. Embrace change. Be open to the possibilities. Opportunities abound. Believe in yourself. Dare to dream. Value your clients. Challenge them to reach their potential. Be a person of influence. Share your ideas. Raise up leaders. Listen intently. Let your listening fuel action. Fail forward. Be persistent in finding creative solutions. Invest in your family, your community and your future. Never stop learning. Have fun. Enjoy the journey …

A “smart” leader is one who follows a moral compass and is dedicated to integrity, customer service and influence. A “smart” leader intimately understands employees’ needs and knows what is important to customers. A “smart” leader sets a positive example for the world around them.

 

GREENCREST

Visionary — GREENCREST was inspired in 1990. Our inspiration was founded on the recognized need of privately held businesses to have a chief marketing officer’s voice at their boardroom table to better compete — without the cost of a full-time employee.

The vision that formed GREENCREST is the vision that continues to drive our differentiation.

Our focus is on helping businesses compete at a higher level and win market share. We elevate their profile within the markets they serve so they are known, heard and recognized.

We create success stories. We stay abreast of trends and invest in new methods to stay well ahead of the curve. We are vigilant in being responsive to market shifts.

Smart Solutions — GREENCREST has a keen understanding of how marketing can impact the growth of a business. Our philosophy to uncover an organization’s brand and create a strategic plan that propels a company to reach its growth goals.

The GREENCREST culture inspires our team to be the best at what we do. We strive for certifications, continuous education and business best practices. We teach our clients how to be smart marketers and help them implement smart strategy to drive their businesses to a market leadership position.

Trusted Partner — The GREENCREST business model is one that establishes a high level of trust and accountability. It is very proactive. We are given full access to our clients’ teams and operate more like a staff member than an outsourced service provider.

As a part of our commitment to our clients, we self-perform all our work. This provides our clients with a dedicated, consistent, accessible and accountable team to oversee all marketing functions on their behalf.

At GREENCREST we come to work everyday to make a difference in the businesses we serve, the communities in which we work and live, and the lives of those we touch along the way. We work to make a difference.

 

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Situated in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is consistently recognized and honored in the travel industry as a world-class resort, featuring luxurious accommodations, four-season amenities and first-class meeting spaces.

Nemacolin’s successes are attributed to the resort’s Service Vision: “Own Every Moment.” To achieve this, Nemacolin associates are trained to embody the following three traits: Be Excellent, Be Engaged and Be Empowered.

Be Excellent: Excellence is a quality or state of being outstanding. For Nemacolin associates, superiority can come in many forms depending on the department and the associate’s interaction with guests. Nemacolin best represents excellence through training associates to be knowledgeable, committed, consistent and efficient within their department and throughout the resort.

Be Engaged: Engagement is the key to Nemacolin’s commitment to deliver exceptional customer service in a world-class setting. Being engaged is not a trait you can teach; instead it is a characteristic of a company and its associates that comes from being passionate, connected and being able to personalize and anticipate the needs of their customers.

Be Empowered: Empowerment is a trait that Nemacolin is proud to cultivate. When you consciously empower your associates to make their own decisions, you allow your associates to take ownership of your brand. Nemacolin’s founder, Joseph A. Hardy III, is often quoted for saying, “Nothing is impossible,” and the resort personifies this notion through seeing, owning and solving problems.

 

Digizoom Media

Smart leadership is about making the most of your work hours by learning to delegate, prioritize and simplify.

People in leadership positions tend to think their success and value at work is measured by how late they stay at the office, or how much time they spend outside of work answering emails and reviewing reports. As a result, leaders often feel stressed and burned out from even the smallest tasks.

There’s a law of diminishing returns, where the more time we spend on something, the more the quality of work decreases. Setting a time limit for an activity can help you focus and get it done.

Leading a group of people requires a mutual sense of trust and understanding between the leader and team members. As a first step toward that goal, leaders should learn to connect. Building a real personal connection with your teammates is vital to developing the shared trust necessary to build a strong culture of accountability and exceptional performance. With that culture in place, the team can achieve a successful business, a happy team and a fulfilled leader.

One of the best ways to practice smart leadership is to delegate tasks to your team so you can focus your energy on the responsibilities that are specifically yours.

Not only is it crucial to ensure that you have competent people on your team, it’s also important to allocate work in ways that empower others to do their best and play to their strengths. The most crucial role of leadership is facilitating the performance of the team as a whole.

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Looking ahead to see what’s on the horizon with the ACA

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to roll out, there are requirements that will take effect in 2016 and 2018 that companies must contend with. There are measurement periods that will define who among a company’s employees are eligible for benefits and a coming Cadillac tax that will be an expense to contend with, among other changes.

Smart Business spoke with William F. Hutter, CEO of Sequent, to understand how the new regulations will affect companies.

What upcoming ACA requirements should companies understand?

Companies, if they haven’t already, should be working on establishing their measurement period, which is used to determine how many employees are eligible for health care benefits based on the hours worked. Failing to establish a measurement period means defaulting to a 30-day period. That is extraordinarily complex, because it means every 30 days an employer must look back to see who within the variable workforce has become eligible for benefits.

Contending with the tracking and look-back dates through the measurement period can be challenging. Once a company establishes that certain full-time equivalent employees, through the measurement period, have met eligibility requirements, there is an administrative time frame to get employees covered — an enrollment period. Those employees will maintain eligibility for health care benefits regardless of the number of hours they work. The employer must keep coverage in place at least until the next look back.

If a company defaults to a 30-day look-back period, employees in this scenario who lose benefits, because they fall below the minimum hours needed to receive benefits, become COBRA eligible. If the employer doesn’t extend benefits to those employees, it can be fined monthly.

There is a chance to define the look-back period before January 2016. Consider a 12-month period that coincides with open enrolment and plan years.

Another change is that large employers must extend coverage to 95 percent of their benefit-eligible employees. Prior to the ACA, companies could choose to make a class of employees ineligible for benefits — all of one department or location, or all hourly people, for instance.

Companies can’t class-out employees anymore unless the class is less than 5 percent of the company’s employee base. It can be any 5 percent, but it can’t include someone who is eligible for benefits. And it has to be a cluster of employees who are similarly situated.

What is the Cadillac tax?

The Cadillac tax, effective in 2018, is a 40 percent nondeductible excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans imposed on the total cost of coverage that exceeds certain thresholds. The purpose is to reduce the tax-preferred treatment of employer-provided health care benefits. It will also help finance the expansion of coverage under the ACA.

The tax is on coverage that exceeds $10,200 for individuals and $27,000 for a family. Those figures represent the total annual premiums paid by the company and the employee. It will impact flex spending accounts, which are typically funded by employees but are considered a company plan. Any amount of money employees defer into the account is tallied into the total cost. If a company funds a Health Savings Account (HSA), the company contributions into the HSA are also counted, as are the costs of wellness programs.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this new ACA tax will amount to more than $80 billion over the next 10 years. This is an annual, employer-paid, non-deductible tax.

Companies must begin to develop a strategy to mitigate the effect of this additional tax on health care benefits. The first thing to do is to meet with a good adviser and determine the total cost of the company health care plan so it’s clear where the company stands against the threshold amounts. Then do some forward-looking projections on the impact of that expense.

The best thing you can do is anticipate. Understand what the rules are. Become very informed and get really good guidance from specialists. Interview three or four advisers, then make your decision to work with someone. If you don’t do the proper reporting, there can be significant fines for administrative errors.

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent

Just-in-time staffing offers impactful solutions without commitment

In 2008, the recession prompted many companies to downsize their workforces. Though the economy has improved, companies are still gun shy when it comes to hiring full-time employees because it can be difficult to justify the expense when the need for help will likely be short-lived.

At the same time, many companies are investing in new systems and processes to improve efficiency and productivity. They need talented and experienced people to help them implement these systems, but only for a short time. That’s why contract employees are getting more attention.

“Project-specific workers have the experience to meet the needs of a company’s short-term objectives,” says Beth Thomas, executive vice president and managing director of Consulting Services at Sequent. “This just-in-time talent is often the solution when there’s uncertainty that a project can sustain a full-time hire.”

Smart Business spoke with Thomas about how project-based workers are filling a vital need in today’s workforce.

What industries have the greater need for project-based employees?    

New market realities have many companies changing their business models, systems, processes and customer targets. With that change comes the need for experts who have helped companies achieve similar goals.

These changes are impacting companies from all industries and of all sizes. Retailers, for instance, are in the midst of a transition to an omnichannel model, which has them trying to achieve a channel-agnostic customer experience that’s consistent regardless of whether a consumer interacts with them online or in a physical store. This huge change requires significant resources to implement.

There are many transformations being undertaken by companies today. Some are looking to improve their internal processes around HR functions such as on-boarding programs, employee engagement and creating better processes around the employee experience. But the biggest is new systems implementation that looks to improve the customer experience through technology. These changes require project managers, tech support, quality assurance and testing, change managers, training and development personnel, and communications and HR thought leaders, many of which are not part of a company’s full-time staff.

Why might project staffing be a better answer for companies than hiring staffers?

Trying to execute enterprise-wide changes internally can be difficult as it diverts attention from the core competencies of employees and the company to a short-term project. Also, there are a lot of challenges finding good employees. Many companies might not have the resources to conduct a productive search in a market that’s hungry for top talent. Employees are expensive, so some companies prefer project-specific options because that allows them see if a person is a great culture fit or not.

Culture fit is increasingly important. Between 40 and 70 percent of employees report that they are unhappy at work, which can negatively impact productivity. People who are hired on a temporary or contract basis enjoy working on a variety of projects. When they’re at work, they’re fully engaged and can be very productive employees who don’t get caught up in office politics and culture challenges.

What challenges do companies typically face with project staffing?

Companies need great talent, but it’s becoming an employee market again. There is, however, a large contingent of unhappy employees who are disengaged or actively disengaged who are holding companies back from making meaningful improvements. Project-based staffing offers twice the engagement to help companies be more successful and get the return on their project’s investment they’re hoping for.

There are staffing and HR consulting companies that can help businesses find just-in-time talent for their projects without the commitment that comes with full-time employees. Going this route mitigates the burden of finding a qualified candidate and offers access to people who are ready to work, allowing a business to maximize that resource. It’s an arrangement that offers the benefits of a highly experienced employee without the risk that comes with a full-time hire.

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent

It costs money to fill a position. Make sure you’re doing it right.

A new hire is a living resource. Employers groom employees to take on more responsibilities in their companies, often investing in their education so that the investment will deliver a return.

“When you’re looking at hiring a person, there are a lot of costs involved,” says John Lamotta, director of sourcing, consulting services at Sequent. “There’s a cost for a recruiter to find a qualified candidate, costs for the hiring managers to conduct the interviews, costs for on-boarding, and the cost of training and bringing the candidate up to speed. Everything about bringing someone into a company costs money.”

Smart Business spoke with Lamotta about managing new hire investments for the greatest return.

Is there a commonly accepted trajectory to get a return on a hiring investment?

Much of it goes back to the culture of the hiring company. Some companies expect people to hit the ground running. Other companies are more about the on-boarding process and getting candidates acclimated.

While it depends on the manager, the general expectation is that in 90 days an employer will start seeing some independence and ability from the new hire to do the job. If that isn’t being realized, that could be the result of a manager who isn’t watching the employee’s progress closely, so it’s important for hiring managers to set goals and benchmarks for new employees.

Depending on the role, it could be a full year before the new hire is generating money for the company. The worst case, however, is hiring the wrong candidate. That can cost a company between three to 10 times the salary of the position being filled.

What can an employer do to maximize the return on a hiring investment?

From a recruiting perspective, the average time for a full-time position to be filled is between five and eight weeks. Improving on that starts with the job description. Employers must clearly define the position and what the person will actually do at the company. Without that clarity, the recruiter may take more time to find the right fit, so it’s about having a conversation with the people conducting the search to ensure you’re sending the right message.

Another factor in filling open positions effectively is speed. Hiring managers should understand that in today’s job market multiple employers are engaging candidates with certain niche skill sets. The unemployment rate for some professions is near zero. It’s important that when a candidate is presented to the hiring manager that he or she contacts that person immediately. Failing to do so may mean the candidate is no longer available, and the process has to start again, which costs money.

If you’ve been interviewing multiple qualified candidates each week and are not finding what you need, go back and adjust the job description. Look at what you want in terms of qualifications and what you’re wiling to pay, and ask yourself if it’s reasonable.

What are the common mistakes employers make that result in losing money on a hiring investment?

Many employers falsely assume that the on-boarding process is all about paperwork. It’s actually a process to acclimate the new hire into the workplace culture and familiarize them with the company’s systems, processes and their responsibilities so they can work to expectations and produce a return on investment.

Set benchmarks at 30, 60 and 90 days, as well as at the end of the first year, to gauge whether your investment is meeting the necessary criteria. If he or she is falling short, it could be something simple that’s impeding their understanding or ability to do the job.

Another key is to make new employees feel welcomed. Some people can go a month without feeling as if they’re part of the organization. Without engagement, people may be more worried about job security than doing their job.

Understand that there is a cost associated with every person that you hire. Those costs include the time existing employees spend to help acclimate and support the new hire. Don’t waste time. Be clear about what you want from a candidate and your new hire for the best results.

Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by Sequent