Cleveland’s brightest minds want to make NEO the home of blockchain

Cleveland has been riding a wave of positive momentum that has continued into 2018. New construction projects are underway throughout downtown and there’s a steady flow of M&A activity in the business sector. Heck, even the Browns have turned things around and won a few games.

However, there’s no glossing over the fact that since 1970, the city has lost more than 365,000 residents, dropping its population to an estimated 385,525 in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The loss of people is only getting worse, as Cuyahoga County experienced the third-highest population loss in the country last year.

Jon Pinney recently cited this statistic when he called for an economic development summit to craft a unified regional strategy to get Cleveland growing again. It was around this same time that another ambitious transformation effort got underway. Bernie Moreno brought together a collection of Northeast Ohio’s top leadership minds, including Pinney, who believe that blockchain holds the key to Cleveland’s future.

Their goal is to make Cleveland ground zero for this young, still emerging technology with potential that is yet to be fully understood. The initiative is called Blockland.

What is Blockland?
The goal of the Blockland initiative is to create a technology and innovation ecosystem that would be for blockchain what places like Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston and Austin, Texas, were for internet and digital technology — hubs that enjoy significant investment, thousands of new jobs and an influx of new residents.

Blockchain is mostly widely known as the means by which cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin can function. It’s a digital, decentralized and public ledger for recording transactions. It’s also very secure, giving it countless potential applications beyond just bitcoin, says Steven J. Santamaria, CEO at Folio Photonics and co-chair of Blockland’s Thought Leadership node.

“We believe that blockchain will be the seminal transformative technology of the 2020s,” Santamaria says. “You don’t have to understand how it works. You just have to understand how it’s going to have an impact on you and you have to figure out how to take advantage of it.”

The concept for Blockland originated about six months ago with Moreno, president of Bernie Moreno Cos. and Collection Auto Group. His theory is that the high cost of living in existing technology epicenters will drive existing talent, as well as those new to the workforce to look elsewhere to feed their passion.

“You’re going to have the largest migration of technology talent ever in the history of the U.S. going somewhere,” Moreno says. “The question is where are all these thousands of smart, educated, incredibly transformative people going to go? We need a disproportionate number of those people to come to Cleveland.

“IT is no longer a sector. It cuts across every sector in a significant way and it’s getting more and more significant. If Cleveland is not relevant in technology, we’re going to die as a region and as a city. What that means is we won’t have innovation that comes here. There won’t be opportunities here. We’re trying to solve for that problem. Blockchain is the center pole of a great big technology tent. It’s a catalyst.”

What is a node?
Blockland is made up 10 nodes, which is a term used to describe a device on the blockchain network. In this case, the nodes are groups of people focused on the 10 essential components to achieving Blockland’s goal of making Cleveland the hub for blockchain technology.

They include Thought Leadership, Business Applications, Talent Development, Entrepreneurial Environment, Political Environment, Legal System, Philanthropy, Place, Next Gen and Research and Innovation.

“These are the things that if we do all 10 at the exact same time in parallel, we can make this happen,” Moreno says. “If you do only one or two, it won’t work. You have to have all 10.”


How does Blockland “save” Cleveland’s future?
In a world where it seems as if someone or some organization is being hacked every single day, Moreno is confident that the potential of securing the massive amount of electronic data transmitted globally each and every day through blockchain has significant, broad-based appeal.

Doing so would create an opportunity for tremendous demand, which is where the benefit to Cleveland comes in, say proponents of blockchain. The effort to create a system that among other things secures financial transactions, supply chain management, medical records, voter certification, patents, copyrights, budgets and documents as simple as driver’s licenses and passports will require infrastructure and talent, says Brenda Kirk, co-chair of the Talent Development node and executive vice president and chief product and strategy officer at Hyland.

“We’re talking about building new talent and reskilling talent and bringing new talent to our community to take these new jobs,” Kirk says. “For us at Hyland, we have been literally replacing work with technology for a very long time. What it has produced for us and our customers, and I see this very same equation happening here, is an ability to leverage those minds for greater work.”

The need to reskill talent will be significant, Kirk says.

“It requires an incredible amount of effort around education and certification,” Kirk says. “There is a tremendous need for us to pay attention to the incredible talent that we already have in our region and make blockchain interesting technology for them to look at by providing interesting work. It’s what’s been happening in the technology landscape since it began. This is not a new idea. It’s just that Cleveland is entering at the front of the game, which is a really cool opportunity.”

What type of infrastructure will be needed?
KJK is launching a startup LawTech company called Connective Counsel, which incorporates blockchain technology into a smart contract platform, says Pinney, managing partner at KJK.

“As a result of our work in building Connective Counsel, our firm became more aware of the disruptive and transformative impact of blockchain — in the legal industry and elsewhere,” Pinney says.

“Our focus is building a world-class innovation campus to house blockchain startups. Our campus, dubbed CityBlock, will also house startups in countless other emerging areas. We expect to announce the location at the Blockland Solutions Conference in December.”

The Place node has more than 50 members and is co-chaired by Pinney and Teresa Metcalf Beasley, a partner at Calfee, Halter & Griswold.

Another component the Place node is exploring is an intergenerational K-12 school focused on technology. This would meet the goal of creating the next generation of homegrown technology experts who can maintain the market position Cleveland hopes to attain.

“This would be a Cleveland Metropolitan School District-sponsored school where we would teach technology,” Beasley says. “There is one at Cleveland State University, which has a waiting list where they have to turn students away. One of Place’s objectives will be connecting with a new school for K-12.”

What factors will determine whether Blockland succeeds?
Opportunity zones will likely play a key part in Blockland’s ultimate success or failure. They were created as part of a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investment in low-income urban and rural communities across the country.

“Most of the east side of Cleveland, including downtown, is in an opportunity zone as well as part of the west side of Cleveland,” says Ray Leach, founding CEO at JumpStart Inc. and co-chair of the Entrepreneurial Environment node.

“There’s no way we’re going to get hundreds of millions of dollars focused on any technology in Cleveland in the next 12 months without something like opportunity zones. There are a lot of folks connected to the Blockland initiative and other folks who aren’t formally connected to it who are looking at opportunity funds. We’re very focused on trying to catalyze and bring all those things together.”

Leach announced in September that JumpStart has partnered with the Greater Cleveland Partnership and The Unify Project to hire Kenneth Clarke, who has experience with branding, marketing and fundraising, to serve as Blockland’s project manager.

“We want to make sure Cleveland is ready for the blockchain revolution in advance of the revolution happening,” Clarke says.

Leaders of the initiative are convinced that without each node operating at full potential, Blockland will fail. The Business Applications node is focused on opportunities like digital authentication and identity.

The Political Environment node is working with Ohio leaders at the state level to create legislation that would enable blockchain to flourish in Ohio. The Legal System node also has its place, along with the Next Gen, Research and Innovation and Philanthropy nodes.

“It’s important that the city not miss another technology wave like we have in the past,” says Don Graves, senior vice president and senior director, corporate community initiatives and relations at KeyBank. “This is especially for poor, underserved, overlooked and often forgotten parts of our community.

“The digital divide is continuing to widen and what that means is that in this community, there is a major divergence in our society as the world becomes more and more tech heavy and tech savvy. We have an increased number of folks in our community who are being left behind. So our work in the Philanthropy node is to help address this issue, focusing on how we use this effort to drive digital and economic inclusion.”

What if Blockland fails?
If all the time, energy and effort does not result in Cleveland becoming a hub for blockchain technology, Moreno says there will still be gains that can help the region going forward.

“Amy Brady, who runs talent development with Brenda Kirk, says the effort has already made a difference for two reasons,” Moreno says. “One is that she met Brenda Kirk. Just the fact that those two women know each other, great things will happen as a result of that. If nothing else occurs out of that effort, it was worth it for them.

“On the research and innovation node, Harlan Sands from CSU, Barbara Snyder from Case Western Reserve University and Alex Johnson from Tri-C have now developed a close personal professional relationship as a result of this partnership. Just the idea of having CSU and Case and Tri-C working together will pay dividends.” ●

Blockland Solutions will take place Dec. 1-4 at Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. Visit for more information. 

Ronald Berkman leaving CSU in great shape


Ronald Berkman arrived at Cleveland State University in 2009. It was a crucial time as the institution needed a spark to ignite the next phase of its life.

As a traditional urban university, CSU possessed a rich history. But it idly sat in the heart of a city mired in the depths of the Great Recession. The impact of the devastating financial meltdown hit CSU as much as any institution of higher learning — potentially even more so as Cleveland was one of the hardest hit cities in the nation.

Because of this, CSU faced its share of problems, including tight budgets, aging buildings and a dearth of student housing. The university’s graduation and retention rates needed improvement, and many regional employers didn’t put CSU graduates at the top of their list to fill talent pipelines.

Today, things have changed.

As Berkman prepares to step down next year as president, he will leave CSU in better shape than he found it.

The university is financially sound. It has forged strong partnerships across Northeast Ohio. CSU’s programs have earned national recognition. And, more important, the institution has become a critical feeder of well-prepared graduates for regional employers.

“I’m proud of the way the university has been able to embroider itself into the fabric of the community and the partnerships we’ve germinated — with for-profit and not-for-profit (organizations),” Berkman says. “And especially, (I’m proud of) the impact those partnerships have had on the development of our students.”

These include the Center for Innovation in Medical Professions (home of the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health), the CSU Arts Campus at Playhouse Square, and the Washkewicz College of Engineering (named for retired Parker Hannifin chairman and CEO Don Washkewicz).

A mindset of sustenance
But those are just the headlines. Berkman also strengthened relationships with University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, Medical Mutual and Case Western Reserve University.

He’s established collaborations with other private companies and corporations across the region that help students with internships, mentoring, and broader educational and workforce opportunities.

“In so many ways, CSU is a different university than it was in 2009,” he says.

Berkman is particularly excited about a partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, which created an “education park” comprised of two CMSD schools on the CSU campus.

“We have a very strong partnership with them,” he says. “Both Campus International High School, an international baccalaureate education program, and MC2STEM High School are now on our campus. About 75 percent of the students at MC2STEM are minority students, and they’re receiving a rigorous STEM education.”

Berkman’s approach to all of these has been proactive, and often pragmatic. “You have to look at it not as a short-term proposition, but as something that will require attention and nurturing,” he says. “It’s easy to initiate partnerships; it’s much more difficult to sustain them. So, you go into it with a mindset of sustenance.

“Second, you need to recognize both parties will get a positive yield from the partnership, but the yield doesn’t necessarily have to be equal for it to be a good partnership. And third, all the partnerships have really put the students out front. They’re structured in a way to clear a greater runway for our students.”

Berkman credits a strong CSU Board of Trustees as a key to many of these initiatives’ effectiveness.

“I’ve really been blessed in the years I’ve been here,” he says. “I didn’t have to do much to encourage them to be engaged in the mission of the university. That’s something very special about this whole community [and the board]. They feel a sense of investment in the purpose of the university.”

Plot a way forward
This same commitment goes for Berkman’s soon-to-be successor, whomever is named.

“You want people who are committed to the mission of the university,” Berkman says. “We serve many first-generation students (34 percent of the student body) and have the largest percentage of students in the lower income quartile of any university in Ohio (nearly 11 percent of its total enrollment). Our mission is to find ways to make up for some of the gaps, and find a way forward to these students to be successful. In (identifying the next) leadership, you need to be able to select people who share those values.”

This means ensuring an affordable education. With annual tuition and fees for in-state students at less than $10,000 per year, under Berkman’s watchful eye the cost of an undergraduate degree has decreased by more than $3,350 annually through a combination of more scholarships, grants and incentives to graduate in four years.

It hasn’t been easy — leading CSU’s first capital campaign to its $100 million goal (two years ahead of schedule), and doubling the university’s endowment — but Berkman is confident that whomever succeeds him will continue the progress.

That includes improving graduation rates, which have increased 60 percent during Berkman’s tenure, and recruitment, which last year saw the largest freshman class in CSU’s history, with 1,900 first-year students and increases across-the-board in GPA and ACT scores.

“It’s been an evolution and transformation,” Berkman says. “Ten years ago, the university was not on the radar screen for many families for possibilities for their children. I think that’s changed dramatically. The question for many families who are contemplating where their kids might go and where they’ll get the best return on their investment, has become not “Why Cleveland State?” but “Why not Cleveland State?”

These successes, and many others, have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, the Brookings Institution ranked CSU 18th in the nation among public universities that provide social mobility for their students and conduct vital research that benefits society.

CSU was the only Ohio university ranked in the “Best of the Best” category, which included only 20 percent of the 342 universities studied. That research also earned CSU praise from The Chronicle of Higher Education, which ranked it No. 1 in the nation for increase in research expenditures. And, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified CSU as a Doctoral University with Higher Research Activity.

This comes on the heels of a $500 million campus-wide physical transformation, which included new buildings, a tennis pavilion and more student housing, bringing the number of students living on campus to more than 1,000.

“There’s been a reinvention of the campus,” Berkman says. “The improvements and the building that has gone on over the past 15 years have changed the look and feel. It’s become almost unrecognizable. People have really noticed. The old CSU was a dismal looking institution. It is now a very handsome, very architecturally distinguished urban community with great learning spaces. It’s woven right into the fabric (of the neighborhood).”

Berkman also credits the team he’s assembled, adding they provide a strong foundation for the future. “We’ve built a very good, deep, diverse and committed management team,” he says. “That’s one of the anchors.”

That, too, has attracted attention. Over the past three years, CSU has been recognized by the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Commission on Economic Inclusion for its diversity in upper management.

“That’s important in a city like Cleveland and for a student body that’s incredibly diverse,” Berkman says.

Help people find their voice
Berkman says his tenure at CSU has been a satisfying capstone for his leadership journey, filled with lessons learned. Chief among them has been the lesson of having the right people on the leadership team.

“It’s all about the people,” he says. “It really is. Some of the most important decisions you make as a leader are who you put on your leadership team, how you develop them and how you create a team. Teams are not created by assemblages of people around a table; they’re created by the creation of bonds by those people.”

He says it’s critical to lead by example, and to recognize that people pay just as much attention to what you say as what you do.

“It’s important for you, as a leader, to stay faithful to strong values and principles,” he says. “Good leaders find and select people who have voices. It’s not helpful to a CEO to have people who do two things: always agree with the point of view of the CEO and believe that their task is to identify for the CEO all the problems they found in the organization. You want numerous and different voices around the table, and people focused on solutions… not just the identification of problems.”

As Berkman looks ahead, he acknowledges he’s leaving CSU in a good position.

“Although it’s extremely difficult in an austere budget environment, we’ve been able to have a balanced budget for the past nine years —including this year,” he says. “We’ve used virtually none of our reserves. My successor will come in on good financial footing and with good, solid stewardship.

“We have very, very good bond ratings with Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s. We’ve gotten a stable outlook, which has not been the case for many other higher education institutions. It’s been one of the great honors of my career to lead CSU during an amazing period of progress.”

How to reach: Cleveland State University,


Northeast Ohio’s 2016 Smart 50 Awards celebrate area’s top executives

For the third year, Corporate College and Cuyahoga Community College announces its Smart 50 Awards, presented by Smart Business, and I want to personally congratulate the recipients.

We are privileged to partner with Smart Business and present the awards to celebrate Northeast Ohio’s top executives and in recognition of their talent to effectively build and lead innovative and “smart” organizations. All of this year’s honorees have made a difference in their organizations and in the region. Their positive impact on employment and business sustainability, and ability to generate new ideas and innovation in everyday expectations, has reinvented the Northeast Ohio landscape into one of the most up-and-coming business regions in the country.

These large, midsized and emerging companies’ leaders motivate and inspire people, and are passionate and focused in what they do. The executives we are celebrating today are able to tackle unique business challenges and continue to lead their organizations toward success. Corporate College is honored to acknowledge this year’s nominees.

Corporate College is a division of Cuyahoga Community College, a nationally recognized leader in higher education and member of the League for Innovation in the Community College. Corporate College is known for its best-in-class client solutions including training, consulting, conference and hospitality services to the business community and its strategic partners.

Since its inception in 2003, Corporate College has worked with organizations in all sectors and professionals at every level. We run our organization as a business would run theirs and understand the challenges leaders and organizations face. Clients turn to us for training solutions to meet their strategic business goals and consulting services that improve individual, team and organizational performance. Corporate College provides professional training and development tailored for today’s dynamic business environment.



neo_BobPetersonRobert J. Peterson, J.D., CPA
President and CEO
Corporate College, a Division of Cuyahoga Community College
[email protected]


Quick links:

HONOREES Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products, Tim Myers | American Brass and Manufacturing, Robert F. McConville | Anderson-DuBose Co., Warren Anderson | ASW Global, André Thornton | Blue Spark Technologies, John Gannon, | Bravo Wellness, Jim Pshock | City of Cleveland, Mayor Frank G. Jackson | CLE Clothing, Mike Kubinski | Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Evalyn Gates, Ph.D. | Cleveland State University, Ronald Berkman, Ph.D. | Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi  | Dakota Software, Reginald Shiverick | Daniels Amish Collection, Christopher Karman |EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, Brandon Chrostowski | Evergreen Industrial Batteries, Bob Rowland | Fifth Third Bank, Jerry Kelsheimer

Fiorilli Construction, Carmen Fiorilli | Flavorseal, Chris Carroll | Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Kristin Warzocha | Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Destination Cleveland, David Gilbert |Hyland, creator of OnBase Bill Priemer | Incept, Sam Falletta | Jakprints, Nick DeTomaso | Jarrett Logistics and PackShip USA, Michael Jarrett | Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, Jon Pinney | Laudan Properties, Kevin Weidinger | Magnus International Group, Eric Lofquist and Scott Forster, | McDonald Hopkins, Carl Grassi | Medical Mutual of Ohio, Kathy Golovan | MetroHealth System, Craig Richmond |National Interstate Insurance Co. Tony Mercurio | Northern Ohio Recovery Association, Anita Bradley | Nottingham Spirk, John Nottingham and John Spirk

Our Lady of the Wayside, Terry Davis | Pierre’s Ice Cream Co., Shelley Roth | Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Museum, Greg Harris | Roll-Kraft, Sanjay Singh | Saint Ignatius High School, Richard Klingshirn, | Shiloh Industries, Ramzi Hermiz | Slate Rock Safety, Kimberly Wilson | So Curly, So Kinky, So Straight, Monica Green |Thompson Hine Robyn Minter Smyers | Towards Employment, Jill Rizika | The Greenhouse Tavern, Trentina, Noodle Cat, Jonathan Sawyer | University Circle Inc., Chris Ronayne | Vitamix, Loree Connors | Vocon, Debbie Donley |Western Reserve Partners David Dunstan | WhiteSpace Creative, Keeven White| YWCA Greater Cleveland, Margaret Mitchell

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Here are the 2016 Northeast Ohio Smart 50

neo_WarrenAndersonWarren Anderson
President and CEO
The Anderson-DuBose Co.

In November, Warren Anderson will celebrate his 25th year as founder and owner of The Anderson-DuBose Co. — a business that has undergone many changes. Back in 1991, Anderson, who serves as president and CEO, purchased a distribution operation from Martin Brower that serviced McDonald’s restaurants out of Solon and still maintains more than a dozen McDonald’s distribution centers in the U.S.

He had approached McDonald’s two years earlier and told the restaurant chain that he would work for free in return for the opportunity to operate a McDonald’s distribution center. If he proved himself worthy, he would get the opportunity to purchase and operate one at the end of his work. McDonald’s agreed to give Anderson the chance and he proved to be a master at running every aspect of the business. Two years later, through hard work and securing his own financing, he was able to create and open his own distribution operation.
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neo_RonBerkmanRonald M. Berkman
Cleveland State University

The board of trustees unanimously selected Ronald M. Berkman to serve as president at Cleveland State University on April 26, 2009. Berkman came to CSU from Florida International University in Miami where he served most recently as provost, executive vice president and COO. In his seventh year at CSU, Berkman has established the university as a prominent and innovative force in urban higher education. He has championed the creation of a student-centric environment to promote student success.

A record-setting freshman classes and a $500 million campus makeover, which has sparked private downtown development and community building collaborations, creating internship opportunities for students, have marked Berkman’s tenure at CSU.

Berkman, who earned his doctorate from Princeton University, has broad experience in the public policy arena. This includes his leadership of empowerment zone projects in New York City and Miami, directing the Public-Private Partnership Initiative for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and directing the National Urban Summit and Governor Bush’s Health Care Summit.

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neo_AnitaBradleyAnita Bradley
Executive director and CEO
Northern Ohio Recovery Association (NORA)

Anita Bradley was recognized by the White House in April as a “Champion of Change” for leadership in preventing prescription drug abuse and heroin use, increasing access to treatment and supporting the millions of Americans in recovery. She is the CEO of the Northern Ohio Recovery Association (NORA), which she founded in 2004.

Bradley has been in recovery from a substance abuse disorder for more than 25 years and understands how important it is to blend personal and professional knowledge to promote the possibility of recovery. She built a peer-to-peer training program offered at Cuyahoga Community College and opened the Next Step Recovery House, a residential recovery housing facility for women and children on Cleveland’s near west side.

She also recently launched the Ohio Addiction Recovery Promotion Network to respond to the opioid crisis and ensure that the voice for recovery from substance use disorders is included in Ohio planning and policy efforts.

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neo_ChrisCarrollChris Carroll

As president of Flavorseal, Chris Carroll has made it his mission to institute and reinforce three different values that define smart organizations, according to a 2009 study by the Naval Postgraduate School. These values are a clear, strategic vision communicated throughout the organization, a culture of respect for individual ideas and a careful selection of the right people to support these values.

In a company with a manufacturing plant and a front office, it can be difficult to ensure that every employee understands the direction of the business. Using simplified slogans that are repeated on T-shirts, banners and throughout employee newsletters, Carroll communicates and reinforces the company direction to all Flavorseal employees.

Quarterly state of the business meetings keep everyone informed not only of how the company is doing and the direction, but of outside influences which may affect the company’s future. Over the last few years, Carroll has carefully cultivate a management team that not only understands the vision for the future, but is as committed to it as he is.

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neo_BrandonChrostowskiBrandon E. Chrostowski
Founder, president and CEO
EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute

EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute strongly believes in second chances. By offering formerly incarcerated adults a foundation in the hospitality industry and providing a support network necessary for a successful re-entry, EDWINS is achieving considerable success.

Founded in 2007 by Brandon E. Chrostowski, president and CEO, EDWINS has had 114 graduates with 101 still employed in the restaurant industry. None has returned to prison.

In addition to teaching future business leaders a skill and to believe in themselves, EDWINS educates the public through the restaurant and strategic community engagement that successful re-entry is possible. With more than $2.5 million in philanthropic support since Nov. 1, 2013, the community sees the face of re-entry changing across the world.

Working close to 100 hours per week, Chrostowski requires his team to do whatever it takes to change the face of re-entry into society; he fights each day for those that society has thrown away.

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neo_LoreeConnorsLoree W. Connors
CFO and Treasurer

As a key member of the Vitamix executive team, Loree W. Connors, CFO and treasurer, plays a critical role in setting company strategy. Over her 11-year tenure she has initiated and successfully implemented a wide range of projects that have led to significant, measurable improvements.

Connors’ cultural initiatives included revising the company’s vision and mission statements and defining the company’s guiding principles through an appreciative inquiry approach. She tackled a series of business-critical processes that included internal control reviews, enterprise risk management, approvals for capital acquisitions and project management. And, under her financial stewardship, Vitamix has achieved a strong balance sheet with consistent healthy profitability results. In fact, total shareholder value has increased by five times over the past decade.

Beyond financial impact, Connors has a profound positive influence on the company through her leadership. She helped guide the company through a period of rapid growth and position it for global expansion. As a result, Vitamix machines are now sold in more than 140 countries.

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neo_TerryDavisTerry Davis
President and CEO
Our Lady of the Wayside

It was September 1991 and Medicaid’s certification team handed Our Lady of the Wayside 90 pages of deficiencies to be fixed in 90 days or the agency’s doors would close. At the time, 100 children and adults with developmental disabilities lived at Wayside. Their families paid out of pocket for the 24/7 services and it had become impossible to keep up with skyrocketing health care costs. The agency was more than broke: Fundraising was maxed out, families had nothing left and the board had taken on the additional debt necessary to put staff and equipment in place.
Transitioning to a Medicaid model was the only way to save the day. A call was made to Terry Davis, who was told it was all or nothing. Davis chose all and things began to turn around. Starting day one, the president and CEO worked to address every deficiency. The following Christmas Eve, the agency secured a perfect survey ultimately resulting in a check from Medicaid for $3 million.

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neo_NickDeTomasoNick DeTomaso

While some companies may avoid product line diversification, Nick DeTomaso is using it to his advantage. The CEO of Jakprints, DeTomaso believed it was rare that anyone needed to print just one thing at a time, for example, a charity event probably needs fliers, direct mail pieces, banners and T-shirts.

This diversity helps insulate the business from isolated market trends — if T-shirt sales are down, there are four other product areas to carry the weight.

Another key to success is the company’s ability to produce apparel, home goods and artwork individually, on demand and shipped directly to the customer, eliminating the need for clients to manage bulk ordering, warehousing and distribution centers.

One of the first companies in North America to purchase a million-dollar digital Heidelberg Anicolor offset press, Jakprints can produce high-quality material quickly and with little waste.

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neo_DebbieDonleyDebbie Donley
Founder and Principal

From the day she founded Vocon in 1987, Debbie Donley has taken an incredibly smart, strategic approach to building her business. Under her leadership as founder and principal, the firm took a pioneering approach to its business strategy, differentiating Vocon from other firms.

Donley is not an architect or designer — her role is to focus on the business management and development pieces of the firm, enabling its architects and designers to focus on design execution.

Part of the firm’s success is Donley’s savvy in creating a place where people actually want to work. For Donley, being a working mom was challenging. It required a careful balance between business and her personal life. Learning from her own situation, Donley prioritized flexible schedules and a family-first attitude at the firm before it was popular. The result: She successfully helped her employees find their own work/life balance.

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neo_DavidDunstanDavid Dunstan
Managing director, president
Western Reserve Partners LLC

Western Reserve Partners LLC, a boutique middle-market investment banking firm, prides itself on delivering thoughtful advice, keen market insight and superior execution for its clients. As managing director, president, David Dunstan continues to embody and instill this philosophy.

He has been instrumental in implementing new ideas to improve efficiency through open dialogue with employees as well as recognizing new and innovative technological solutions to address and assist with challenges the firm and industry may face. Dunstan has put forth tech solutions to assist with marketing challenges by piloting the firm’s calling initiative, partnered with strong encouragement for utilization of the firm’s CRM database. Both tools have assisted in establishing structure in regards to the firm’s lead generation and nurturing efforts. He has also set high expectations for accountability among colleagues and assisted with implementation of various tracking mechanisms to assure team members are achieving their individual goals, which in turn, contribute to the firm’s continued success.

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neo_SamFallettaSam Falletta
Owner and CEO

Sam Falletta has been at the center of developing and executing customer engagement strategies for companies like Ford, Honda, Microsoft and the American Red Cross. He has been responsible for more than 20 million conversations between his clients at Incept and their customers. Some of those conversations have helped companies save millions of dollars through the retention and acquisition of customers. Others have literally saved lives through blood donation recruitment.

As owner and CEO, Falletta is not afraid to take risks and proved that by leaving the traditional contact center approach behind as he developed the Incept model. Falletta encourages his employees to be the best versions of themselves by giving the company a youthful appeal with progressive policies, no dress code and community involvement.

Falletta credits a lot of his own personal and professional growth to being a member of Vistage, the world’s largest CEO network. It’s proof that Falletta intends to never stop learning.

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neo_CarmenFiorilliCarmen Fiorilli
Fiorilli Construction

Fiorilli Construction is in the midst of a five-year company growth plan and impressive results are already being seen. The company, led by Carmen Fiorilli, president, saw 200 percent growth last year and expects 30 percent growth each remaining year of the plan.

A 10-year target has also been identified and progress toward that goal is tracked every quarter. This goal, combined with a unique employee development track and commitment to operate with the values of transparency, integrity and professionalism, is driving success and continued growth. Employees are encouraged to add depth to their own expertise.

Fiorilli Construction is also beta testing proprietary software that improves the access to information for subcontractors, architects, consultants and other professionals. Coupled with Fiorilli’s commitment to an entrepreneurial operating system and the vision and values of the company, the company’s differentiation statement says there is no room for anything but a notch above performance for clients, partners and vendors.
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JohnGannon-300RJohn Gannon
Blue Spark Technologies Inc.

John Gannon, CEO of Blue Spark Technologies Inc., was thinking one day that a wireless wearable patch might be able to monitor a sick child’s temperature much like perishable goods are monitored in the supply chain. That way, parents wouldn’t have to wake the child to take his or her temperature.

Blue Spark Technologies then developed a wearable wireless thermometer called TempTraq by converging the technological advancement of smartphones, the increasing focus on home health care and the adoption of wearable electronic solutions.

Gannon leads the company to be agile — able to adapt to changing conditions — as well to see the macro trends and develop effective offerings to meet market demands. The company leverages its innovative and collaborative business and technology know-how to develop product offerings that meet and exceed these needs.

Blue Spark continues to develop clinical applications of TempTraq, working with hospitals on various implementations of the technology through trials and studies.

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neo_EvalynGatesEvalyn Gates, Ph.D.
Executive director and CEO
Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Museums aren’t just buildings full of exhibits collecting dust — and Evalyn Gates, Ph.D., executive director and CEO, is seeing to it that the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, delivers an interactive approach to real science.

Founded in 1920, the museum has undertaken a five-year, three phase, $150 million metamorphosis, which includes a transformational outreach program to improve science education for Ohio’s schoolchildren. Phase I will conclude this month and will include a new Perkins Wildlife Center and a new front entrance featuring artwork by Cleveland’s iconic artist, Viktor Schreckengost.

The goal of the Centennial Project is to reimagine the museum experience — to make science and the collections visible and accessible.

Gates works closely with educators across the region to develop innovative programs that engage students and to spark their curiosity, make learning fun and encourage youth — especially young girls — to pursue science in their academic careers and hopefully inspire the next generation of scientists.

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neo_DavidGilbertDavid E. Gilbert
President and CEO
Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland,

David E. Gilbert is president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland. The Sports Commission’s goal is to make Greater Cleveland the nation’s foremost destination for amateur sporting events and activities. The organization is responsible for attracting, promoting and managing major amateur athletic events and to create sporting opportunities for youth and amateur athletes.

Gilbert is also president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, the region’s convention and visitors bureau. Destination Cleveland is a private, nonprofit civic organization that generates demand for business and leisure tourism to the region to improve economic vitality. The organization’s efforts contribute to the region’s $15 billion tourism industry and support the 170,000 jobs created by 29 million visitors to the 17-county region.

Prior to his current role, Gilbert served as director of community affairs and special projects for the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, where he was responsible for advancing Cleveland’s travel and tourism service standards and related developments.

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neo_KathyGolovanKathy Golovan
EVP and Chief health officer
Medical Mutual of Ohio

Cost and quality for various health care treatments and procedures vary widely — and Kathy Golovan realized that Medical Mutual of Ohio had an opportunity to take a step forward to help its members get the best value for their health care dollars.

Golovan, EVP and chief health officer for Medical Mutual, led the development and launch of an online health care shopping tool, My Care Compare. This enabled members to shop for the best price, provider and location for health care services and provided the ability to review satisfaction scores for physicians and quality ratings for health care facilities.

With so many people being asked to cover more of the cost for their health care, Golovan believed My Care Compare would be valuable in giving families and individuals more control to avoid higher health care expenses.

Since its debut last year, My Care Compare has been used by thousands of Medical Mutual customers and has provided them valuable assistance.

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neo_CarlGrassiCarl J. Grassi
McDonald Hopkins

Carl J. Grassi serves as corporate counsel and business adviser to a number of middle-market and growth companies. He has extensive experience assisting clients in areas of complex mergers and acquisitions, choice of entity planning, business succession planning and the financing and structuring of ESOPs, among other services. Grassi, firm president at McDonald Hopkins, also provides service with executive compensation and tax planning, the creation of family limited partnerships, the formation and use of limited liability companies and IRS controversies. He authors a small business tax tips column for a Cleveland business publication and has written other articles for national publications.

Grassi frequently speaks on business related topics for business owners, accountants and lawyers. He earned his juris doctorate degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and his bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University. He is a CPA and a member of the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the International Lawyers Network and a Life Fellow in the American Bar Foundation.

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neo_MonicaGreenMonica D. Green
So Curly So Kinky So Straight the Salon

Monica D. Green views her success as a well-established and successful salon owner as an opportunity to develop future entrepreneurs. The owner of So Curly So Kinky So Straight the Salon hosts weekly training sessions, created a partner development program, and regularly takes her stylists to national development conference and events where they serve as workshop presenters and speakers.

At the core of Green’s team development model is her ability to home in on each of her team member’s skill sets and then empower them to “own” an element of the business.

She hosts numerous events — including the Happy to be Nappy event, an all-day free picnic in the park that draws hundreds of people. She partners with other local stylists, artists and beauty professionals to host one of the largest Natural Hair Expos in Ohio. And, throughout the year Green sponsors healthy hair forums, focus groups and training for women and men of all ethnicities and hair types to learn how to take care of their hair and health.

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GregHarris-300Greg Harris
President and CEO
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Rock ’n’ roll has always pushed boundaries and questioned the status quo so as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary, it is undergoing an innovative transformation under the leadership of Greg Harris, president and CEO. Under his direction, the Rock Hall has gained profound insight into its varied audiences – not just who they are, but what inspires and excites them as well as their expectations and attitudes.

That intelligence is at the foundation of an ambitious growth strategy and vision for a renewed and energized Rock Hall and staff. The strategic direction focuses on five key tenets: enhanced learning through exhibits, programs and outreach; a commitment to a reinvigorated, common identity; a culture of innovation; strengthened financial position; and a high-performing workforce.

Harris preaches of music’s unifying quality and takes a global outlook on the future. With a clear strategic vision and an empowered staff, the mission to engage, teach and inspire through rock ‘n’ roll continues.

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neo_RamziHermizRamzi Y. Hermiz
President and CEO
Shiloh Industries Inc.

Ramzi Y. Hermiz joined Shiloh Industries Inc. as president and CEO in 2012 with a plan to take the 60-year-old company to a new level. An auto industry veteran of 25 years, he envisioned Shiloh as a key player on the forefront of the trends transforming the global automotive landscape.

Under his leadership, Shiloh has transformed from a quiet, regional stamping company to a global innovative solutions provider with a strategic focus on designing, engineering and manufacturing lightweight technologies. Hermiz also believes in empowering his team to make decisions and understand risk with a goal to create a supportive, action-oriented culture.

Hermiz has rebranded Shiloh, last year booking contracts valued at more than $1.2 billion; expanded the company’s customer base to include BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes and Volvo; and expanded from nine North American plants to 25 operations, sales and technical centers throughout Asia, Europe and North America, which more than doubled its employee and revenue base.

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neo_FrankJacksonFrank G. Jackson
City of Cleveland

Mayor Frank G. Jackson was elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2013. The mayor has overseen Cleveland’s dramatic transformation over the past decade through a series of economic development projects that include the completion of the Healthline on Euclid Avenue, creation of an entertainment district on East Fourth Street, a casino at Public Square, development of a new convention center and reinvigoration of the East Bank of the Flats. His goal is to make downtown Cleveland a center of influence where people live, work and play.

Jackson says the formula for success includes the city working with the private sector, which he’s done to launch a series of new economic development projects aimed at continuing Cleveland’s reinvention, such as redevelopment of Public Square, the Opportunity Corridor and the lakefront project — which the mayor expects to create viable economic projects along the shores of Lake Erie.

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neo_MikeJarrettMichael Jarrett
Jarrett Logistics Systems and PackShip USA

Michael Jarrett has led Jarrett Logistics Systems and PackShip USA to growth though the relationships that logistics coordinators build with each client and the new solutions that are developed out of those relationships.

No distinction is made between the large corporation and the small company. Each customer receives the focus of a dedicated logistics coordinator and a customer account team to provide them with the highest level of customer service. Jarrett, the company’s president, believes in cultivating long-standing relationships between customers and coordinators. The result is new solutions that allow the company to meet immediate needs and challenges with ease.

Another example of Jarrett’s commitment to customers is the frequent visits to customer locations by the executive team, sales team, logistics team and logistics coordinators.

Jarrett has a passion to achieve, the optimism to succeed and the flexibility to make things happen. It all adds up to two exemplary organizations that continue to grow and evolve with the needs of their customers.

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neo_ChrisKarmanChristopher J. Karman
Daniel’s Amish Collection

Daniel’s Amish Collection is a manufacturer of wooden bedroom and dining furniture, selling products to furniture retailers such as Levin Furniture locally, and other dealers nationwide. Over the past 20 years, more than 75 percent of the U.S. furniture manufacturing business has gone overseas to countries like China and Vietnam. In order to be successful in this economic climate, Christopher J. Karman, the company’s president, not only had to be smart, he had to find ways to be more efficient, more creative and more customer focused than the competition.

Karman and his partner, Daniel Yoder, made a commitment to turn what had been a distribution company into a manufacturing company. The plan was to employ people in Northeast Ohio, set up a cross-country system of manufacturer’s reps and grow sales with high-quality retailers nationwide. Since that time, the company has grown its sales and now employs more than 150.

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neo_JerryKelsheimerJerry J. Kelsheimer
Regional president and CEO
Fifth Third Bank, Northeastern Ohio

Jerry J. Kelsheimer serves as regional president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, Northeastern Ohio. In this role, he is responsible for the oversight of all Fifth Third business activity in the region, including leadership and direction of commercial banking, retail branch banking, consumer lending and wealth management/investment advisory services. He joined Fifth Third Bank in August 2010 as managing director of strategic planning. Previously, he was president of Huntington Bank’s Greater Cleveland region.

At Fifth Third Bank, Kelsheimer’s approach focuses on intentionally identifying market needs and overlaying institutional value proposition. He engages others in the formation of effective strategies, sets clear objectives and promotes a culture of support and servant leadership. He is deliberate in the application of operating rhythms and consistent in communication to the organization on a personal level. He leads his banking teams, guiding them in how Fifth Third goes to market with new and innovative ideas to benefit the customer.

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neo_RichardKlingshirnRichard G. Klingshirn
Vice president and CFO
Saint Ignatius High School

Richard G. Klingshirn brought 30 years of executive experience to Saint Ignatius High School when he returned to his alma mater as vice president and CFO in April 2013. Upon his arrival, Klingshirn first focused on improving the talent, experience and operations of the school’s finance office. This has allowed him to increase the effectiveness of the entire finance function through increased controls, efficient work flows enabled through technology and a strong focus on quality and customer service.

In implementing changes throughout the finance function, Klingshirn introduced a set of guiding principles that at their core emphasize the importance of the college preparatory education in the Catholic/Jesuit tradition for the 1,500 young men who attend the school. He also recognized the tremendous sacrifices that parents make to send their sons to Saint Ignatius and acknowledged the gifts from so many generous benefactors of the school.

These principles highlight the importance of the stewardship mindset that Klingshirn believes is at the heart of the school’s finance function.

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neo_MikeKubinskiMike Kubinski
Founder, owner and designer
CLE Clothing Co.

Mike Kubinski, founder, owner and designer, along with Jeff Rees started CLE Clothing Co. in 2008 as a hobby and a creative outlet. Now, the thriving business can’t keep its logo hoodies on the shelf.

CLE Clothing’s flagship store is on the corner of East Fourth Street and Euclid Avenue. The company’s motto, “Spreading Cleveland Pride One T-shirt At A Time!” aligns with its other unique Cleveland gifts, such as paper goods, stickers, buttons and glassware.

CLE Clothing’s strategy since the beginning has been to be local in every way possible. T-shirts are printed by local screen-printing companies, paper goods are printed in Cleveland, stickers and buttons are created by a company in Medina and the glassware is produced by Libbey® in Toledo.

Since the company’s founding as an online business, it’s grown to three locations, including University Circle and the Waterloo Arts District.

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neo_EricLofquistEric Lofquist
Owner, president and CEO





neo_ScottForsterScott Forster
Owner, vice president and COO
Magnus International Group

Eric Lofquist, owner, president and CEO and Scott Forster, owner, vice president and COO, run the award-winning Magnus International Group by developing and manufacturing one-of-a-kind products ranging from natural animal feed ingredients, natural industrial and consumer waxes, customized fatty acids for paints and coatings, biodiesel fuel feedstocks to other specialty chemicals.

But what the company produces is not the whole story. Magnus and its companies are undertaking groundbreaking partnerships with some of the world’s best food industry, animal nutrition and consumer products organizations.

Magnus thrives on constant innovation. Known for its niche processing ability, the company is also equipped to take on smaller-scale, customized projects that other manufacturers can’t. With a can-do mindset, Magnus leaders prospect for opportunities to provide solutions that address individual customer requirements.

Additionally, Lofquist, CEO and president and Forster, COO and vice president, have established unique client profit-sharing models that are mutually beneficial. Magnus’ agile production facilities allow quick responses to unanticipated opportunities and short uptime on new processes and products.

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neo_RobertMcConvilleRobert F. McConville
The American Brass Manufacturing Co.

Founded in 1894, The American Brass Manufacturing Co. is one of the oldest family-owned companies in Cleveland. Operated by the fourth and fifth generations of the Arth-McConville family, the company has persevered through World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and several economic downturns.

American Brass supplies faucets and parts with a reputation for quality and reliability to builders and plumbing supply houses. The conscientious and enterprising business practices started by the founding generation have been passed down and remain the core principles evident in the company today.

American Brass, lead by President Robert F. McConville, is the parent company of Empire Brass Co., a leading supplier of faucets to the manufactured housing and recreational vehicle industries, which was acquired in the 1930s.

Building on the experience acquired throughout the years, American Brass strives to bring a stream of new products to the market to meet and exceed the specialized needs of customers.

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neo_TonyMercurioTony J. Mercurio
President and CEO
National Interstate Insurance

Tony J. Mercurio often describes National Interstate Insurance as a speedboat when it comes to launching new products and programs in targeted niches. In many cases, a new product can be brought to market in as little as 90 days, which is much faster than most insurance companies. There are two leadership groups that are an integral part of this process.

The first is the operating committee, which meets weekly and includes the top 10 officers responsible for all of the company’s functional departments. The second group is the senior product committee including all of Mercurio’s direct reports that manage products.

While new products, services and solutions are typically surfaced through one of these groups, all employees are strongly encouraged to present their ideas as well. As president and CEO, the secret to Mercurio’s success in these functions is his ability to articulate a vision and inspire the team to develop healthy win-win partnerships that benefit the company and its customers.

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neo_RobynMinterSmyersRobyn Minter Smyers
Partner-in-charge, Cleveland
Thompson Hine LLP

Robyn Minter Smyers is a passionate champion for diversity and inclusion, as well as a dynamic and involved community leader. As partner-in-charge of Thompson Hine LLP’s Cleveland office, she strives to make meaningful changes that lead to tangible results and is determined to lead the office toward becoming known as the most innovative and responsive law firm in the market.

An integral part of this is the implementation of the firm’s SmartPaTH program, which combines legal project management, value-based pricing, flexible staffing and process efficiency to better serve clients. The SmartPaTH program has distinguished Thompson Hine for its willingness to embrace innovative strategies that maximize value to clients.

Beyond this, she is an advocate for the firm’s clients and partners, proactively helping companies develop their own diversity programs. She also serves on several community boards, including The George Gund Foundation, The Sherwick Fund, The City Club of Cleveland, The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland.

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neo_MargaretMitchellMargaret Mitchell
President and CEO
YWCA Greater Cleveland

Margaret Mitchell is a relational leader who anticipates trends and has a proven track record of creating competitive breakthrough strategies. She communicates complex issues with vision and purpose through her core values. As president and CEO at YWCA Greater Cleveland, Mitchell is a consistent top performer who pursues growth with energy and drive.

She joined YWCA Greater Cleveland in May 2011 by unanimous vote of the board of directors. She was recruited to the YWCA as a change agent to energize the strategic vision and elevate organizational relevance and reputation. Under her leadership, the organization has transformed its traditional preschool into an unduplicated trauma-informed therapeutic model serving homeless families with children ages 3 to 5.

She leads a community-level collective impact collaborative to prevent and end youth homelessness in Greater Cleveland and put the organization on track to financial health, reversing decades of deficit funding.

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neo_TimMyersTim Myers
Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products

It’s not by luck that Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products has become the world’s leading manufacturer of aluminum truck wheels.

Tim Myers, president, has leveraged the technological skill set and hardworking culture of Northeast Ohio to propel AWTP into that position. The company’s 14 facilities in nine countries including sites in Cleveland and Barberton employ more than 1,700 employees.

Under Myers’ leadership, AWTP has experienced significant growth, led by innovation in products and processes. In 2009, the company created a revolutionary machining technology that led to a lightweight wheel called LvL ONE®. AWTP then launched an even lighter wheel called Ultra ONE™, which uses a proprietary Alcoa alloy called MagnaForce™.

In 2015, 93 percent of all AWTP revenue was generated from products like LvL ONE®, Dura-Bright® and Ultra ONE™ with MagnaForce™.

The company is also built for sustainability and longevity with career succession planning based on an engaged workforce, world class product and technology and a strong customer base.

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neo_JohnNottinghamJohn Nottingham





neo_JohnSpirkJohn Spirk
Nottingham Spirk

In 1972, John Nottingham and John Spirk, both newly graduated with industrial design degrees, decided to pass on high-profile company jobs to launch their own business. What started in a mustard yellow carriage house now generates billions of dollars in revenue for client companies.

Nottingham Spirk develops products for companies and owns more than 900 patents including the Crest SpinBrush, Swiffer SweeperVac, Phillips Eclipse MRI scanner, Scott’s Snap Lawn Spreader and the Sherwin Williams Dutch Boy Twist & Pour paint can.

They apply a vertical innovation approach at their 60,000-square-foot facility, the former First Church of Christ, Scientist in Cleveland’s University Circle. The site includes an engineering lab, where prototypes of new products are built and tested. The firm has an in-house marketing team, so it can take its designs all the way from initial doodles to the store shelf. Co-presidents Nottingham and Spirk keep the organization flat and organic to drive consistent communication throughout.

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neo_JonPinneyJon J. Pinney
Managing Partner
Kohrman Jackson & Krantz LLP

Jon J. Pinney is the managing partner at Kohrman Jackson & Krantz LLP. His firm has done extensive work to bring the Republican National Convention to Cleveland this year. He also serves as counselor to high net-worth families, including some of Cleveland’s leading philanthropic families. His practice includes estate and wealth planning and related tax matters for high net-worth individuals and families. He structures complex and sophisticated trust vehicles to provide asset protection and succession planning.

Pinney, a member of the firm’s executive committee, has a wide range of experience in the structuring, financing, development and construction of commercial and retail acquisitions and sales and leases of office buildings, apartments and residential projects. In addition to being admitted to practice before all of Ohio’s courts, Pinney is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for both the Northern and Southern districts in Ohio, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Super Lawyers Magazine has consistently named him a Rising Star.

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neo_BillPriemerBill Priemer
Hyland, creator of OnBase

As CEO at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Bill Priemer is responsible for ensuring that Hyland remains a great company for all of its stakeholders — customers, partners, employees, shareholders and the community. In service of this mission, Priemer is focused on driving Hyland to become the global leader in information and process management solutions.

Under Priemer’s leadership, Hyland attempts to go beyond thinking about potential solutions that its software can provide. Instead, the goal is to accomplish innovation by executing on great ideas. The company typically reinvests more than 15 percent of its revenue annually into the research and development of OnBase, which is Hyland’s enterprise content management solution. The goal is to help customers realize the long-term value of their ECM technology investment.

Priemer says Hyland is constantly innovating to keep OnBase on the minds and in the hands of those who use it every day.

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neo_JimPshockJim Pshock
Founder and CEO
Bravo Wellness

Treating wellness as a business solution and not just a morale booster has given Bravo Wellness a powerful platform to help organizations in highly competitive industries.

Through the leadership of Jim Pshock, founder and CEO, Bravo has been able to help employers create a sustainable wellness program that takes incentives and reinvests them to pay for valuable interventions like high-risk coaching. This only creates a wellness plan focused on driving down health risks but it creates a sustainable funding source for benefits, a major value for companies operating on small margins.

Being on the forefront of national policies allows Pshock to educate his staff and clients on the most up-to-date compliance regulations for wellness incentive programs.

Management is governed by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Character, integrity and respect are evidenced daily by employees, both to each other and to constituents.

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neo_JoePulizziJoe Pulizzi
Content Marketing Institute

As the “godfather” of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi speaks around the world advancing the practice of content marketing. Over the last nine years, he has transformed Content Marketing Institute into the leading content marketing education and training organization in the world.

Pulizzi created and built Content Marketing World, which today celebrates its sixth year and is the largest industry event of its kind on the planet. Every year, CMWorld brings thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to Cleveland. In 2016, CMWorld expects to host more than 4,000 people from 50 countries. In the past, it has featured keynote speakers such as Kevin Spacey, William Shatner, John Cleese and Nick Offerman. CMWorld is the largest recurring corporate event in Cleveland, bringing roughly $4 million in revenue to the city.

Additionally, Pulizzi has shepherded CMI’s growth. Over the past two years he has nearly doubled both his revenue and staff.

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neo_CraigRichmondCraig Richmond
Senior Vice President and CFO
The MetroHealth System

When Craig Richmond came to The MetroHealth System in 2010, the organization was just recovering financially, and there were still community concerns about MetroHealth’s future. Today, finances have improved yearly and morale is high, much to the credit of the programs he implemented to ensure financial security.

A fearless change agent, Richmond, senior vice president and CFO, is adept at identifying problems and drilling down to get the facts and then innovating for continuous improvement. Though it may be considered untraditional for a CFO, he has spent time in the operating room observing cases such as a hip replacement and open-heart surgery. This allows him to fully understand various job needs so he can be an informed advocate in support of the appropriate resources for effective job performance.

Richmond continually keeps abreast of developments as health systems move toward value-based reimbursement, believing it is especially important for the CFO to be conversant with the clinical side.

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neo_JillRizikaJill Rizika
Executive Director
Towards Employment

Since becoming executive director at Towards Employment, Jill Rizika has helped more than 20,000 people overcome barriers to employment and embark on life-changing career paths. She guides a delivery system of 1,500 supportive services (transportation, tools, uniforms); 1,300 legal services (consumer and criminal); and 1,500 retention/advancement services (career coaching, training) by emphasizing outcomes, measurements and evaluations in order to ensure impact. Each year, Towards Employment connects more than 500 low-income individuals — 50 percent of which have criminal backgrounds — with good jobs.

In 2010, Rizika led the adoption of a career pathway model to support individuals into an entry-level job, then onto a pathway job, ultimately leading to sustainable employment. Toward Employment’s board, community partners and staff are fully invested in this “theory of change” model largely because of Rizika’s collaborative and knowledgeable leadership. This vision has ensured that Towards Employment has continued to increase the number of individuals served while decreasing per placement cost.

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neo_ChrisRonayneChris Ronayne
University Circle Inc.

Chris Ronayne is the personification of a big-picture thinker, a tireless advocate of Cleveland and University Circle Inc. Since he was named president in 2005, the organization — and area — has undergone dramatic, dynamic and exciting transformation.

Ronayne converted UCI into a community service corporation, which UCI defines as a national model to deliver services without tax dollars — using philanthropic dollars for maximum impact in the community. Examples include park management on Wade Oval, outdoor community events, and clean/safe services via UCI’s ambassador program.

Beyond this, Ronayne had a vision to turn lifeless parking lots into mixed-use development and return residents and small businesses to the neighborhood. Today, former empty lots along Hazel Road and Euclid Avenue now boast luxury housing, bars, restaurants, clothing stores, a grocery store a yoga studio and even a bowling alley. This building trend will continue into the future with forthcoming projects Centric and One University Circle.

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neo_ShelleyRothShelley Roth
Pierre’s Ice Cream Co.

Shelley Roth is president of Pierre’s Ice Cream Co., an 84-year-old regional ice cream manufacturer and distributor. She returned to Cleveland from New York City in 1979 to assist her father with the family business. Her first assignment was in marketing; setting the direction for the company to expand its distribution beyond Cleveland, and expand its product assortment. In 1984, Roth assumed the position of vice president with responsibility for sales, marketing, finance and new product development.
In 1991, she became president.
Roth has been active in numerous community organizations and supports the revitalization of Cleveland’s neighborhoods in many ways. She is a graduate of Leadership Cleveland and serves on the boards of the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation and the International Ice Cream Association. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and lives in Shaker Heights with her husband of more than 33 years.

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neo_BobRowlandBob Rowland
Evergreen Industrial Batteries

In a little more than five years, Evergreen Industrial Batteries grew from two people working at home to a company of 19 people in a 28,000-square-foot building with revenue in the millions of dollars.

Led by Bob Rowland, president, Evergreen has become one of America’s leading suppliers of reconditioned forklift batteries. With more than 35 years of experience in the leasing industry, Rowland brings depth, a network of contacts and a vision to Evergreen to serve the material handling industry in unprecedented ways.

He accomplishes this through a three-point strategy. First, the company reconditions forklift batteries to provide 80 percent of their original capacity at 50 percent of the original cost.

Secondly, Evergreen distributes a portion of the gains back to the suppliers, paying as much as three times more than the next bidder. Lastly, because of Evergreen’s ability to recondition the batteries, it creates an inventory and leases the batteries to end users.

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neo_JohathanSawyerJonathon Sawyer
Chef and Owner
Trentina, Noodlecat, The Greenhouse Tavern

Chef Jonathon Sawyer and his wife Amelia opened The Greenhouse Tavern in 2009, when Cleveland was in the midst of the recession. The Sawyers made it their mission to help revitalize Cleveland’s economy and create a restaurant scene rivaling any bigger city.

In 2010, Sawyer was honored as a recipient of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef award. In 2015, he was named James Beard Award’s Best Chef: Great Lakes.

He has become a national celebrity, making national television appearances on “Iron Chef America,” “Dinner Impossible,” “Unique Eats” and “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

Today, the proud Clevelander has helped put Cleveland on the national “foodie” map and opened additional restaurants that expand his growing food empire: Northern Italian restaurant Trentina, ramen mash-up Noodlecat, Tavern Vinegar Co. and stadium spots Sawyer’s Street Frites, Sausage & Peppers and SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe.

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neo_RegShiverickReginald Shiverick
Dakota Software

Reginald Shiverick has had a long-standing interest in environmental issues. Under his vision and 25-year leadership as president, Dakota Software has become an industry leader for environmental management software.

This passion is what drives Shiverick to work closely with the development department on any new technology concepts that may arise. He is the co-inventor and patent holder of parametric filtering, a technology that uses interactive dashboard reports to offer users “on-the-fly” analysis of data points while providing unique insights and performance comparisons.

Dakota Software has seen steady revenue growth rate since its founding in 1988, with impressive patterns since 2010. The company experienced 15 percent revenue growth in 2012, 18 percent in 2013 and 26 percent in 2014.

In 2014, global shifts to mobile devices prompted the company to launch more robust mobile offerings, which allow users to interact with information through a mobile-optimized portal. This product provides greater convenience and efficient communication across complicated organizations.

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SanjaySingh-300-2Sanjay Singh
President and CEO

Customers see Roll-Kraft, a designer and manufacturer of rolled tooling for welded tube and pipe producers, as a problem-solving shop. The “problems” may include designing tooling for a custom application or providing training to a mill operator on how to run tooling in the most efficient manner.

To earn the reputation as a problem-solver, the company, led by Sanjay Singh, president and CEO, lives and breathes its top three core competencies: on-time delivery, first-time successful performance of the tooling and live support when customers call the company. The company also has a team of technical service associates who solve tooling issues on the customer’s plant floor.

Roll-Kraft also has developed its own custom ERP system that maximizes focus and efficiencies that for the most part benefit the customer. A state-of-the art CRM system and an integrated engineering design application are utilized as well as software called Automation Anywhere to automate repetitive steps across many applications.

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neo_AndreThorntonAndré Thornton
President and CEO
ASW Global LLC

André Thornton acquired ASW Global LLC in January 2007 after the company merged with Cleveland-based GPI Procurement Services. As president and CEO, Thornton sets the direction of the company and directs operational aspects so that they follow the strategic plans and policies of the organization. Thornton has 20 years of experience in entrepreneurial ventures. As one of the principals in Apple Partners, he led a highly successful restaurant management group that was sold to Applebee’s International.

He also founded a successful consulting and sports management company and continues to speak nationally on executive leadership, organizational change and diversity; having engagements in excess of 1,000 groups and businesses. Thornton played professional baseball for 21 years and was an honored recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award in 1979, which goes to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and team contribution. He was inducted into the Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.

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neo_KristinWarzochaKristin Warzocha
President and CEO
Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Kristin Warzocha is president and CEO for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Northeast Ohio’s largest hunger relief organization. The Food Bank relies on community support to fulfill its mission of ensuring that everyone in the community has the food they need every day. She champions the organization’s mission and directs the Food Bank’s efforts to provide nutritious food and support to more than 700 member agencies and programs that serve Northeast Ohioans in six counties.

Warzocha has been with the Food Bank since 2000 in a variety of roles, all related to engaging the community in the organization’s work. She managed a capital campaign that raised more than $10 million to construct a new state-of-the-art community food distribution center and was a member of the management team that helped facilitate the mergers of the Food Bank with Food Rescue of Northeast Ohio in 2001 and with the Greater Cleveland Committee on Hunger in 2003.

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neo_KevinWeidingerKevin R. Weidinger
President and CEO
Laudan Properties LLC

A case of finding a need and filling it led to the formation of Laudan Properties LLC, a multiple winner of fast growth awards.

Kevin R. Weidinger, president and CEO, had just returned from helping his half-brother’s business, which repaired bank-owned foreclosed properties in Detroit. Weidinger realized that the banks were struggling to find honest, reliable and timely contractors to perform work on residential homes they now owned. Under the previous system, a bank would have to locate a contractor that could do the work and obtain proof that the work was done correctly so the home could proceed through the foreclosure cycle.

Laudan Properties recruits, trains and inspires professional contractors that could specifically perform high-quality inspection and home preservation services in a short timeframe. Banks, servicers and investors were enthusiastic about Laudan’s services, including the ability to scale into geographies where they had specific needs.

Laudan also invests heavily in IT infrastructure and uses fortified security protocols to protect client data.

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neo_KeevenWhiteKeeven White
President and CEO
WhiteSpace Creative

Under President and CEO Keeven White’s leadership, WhiteSpace Creative has built a flexible, consistently growing company that is responsive to the unique creative requirements of each client.

The firm operates under a team structure rather than relying on individual departments. As a result, his staff is grouped into client-centric teams that perform like mini agencies. Each team consists of a unique blend of strategists, designers, programmers and writers that concentrate on a defined client group. The structure greatly benefits the WhiteSpace client base because clients consistently work directly with a dedicated-yet-agile team that has intimate knowledge of each client’s business.

White’s creative internal structure has allowed the firm to better serve as a creative partner to a variety of clients in diverse industries, including the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, Kent State Athletics, Hartville Pet Insurance Group, and Sequoia Wellness.

Additionally, he looks at growth through acquisitions, and over the past few years has merged several complementary firms into Whitespace.

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neo_KimWilsonKimberly Wilson
President and CEO
Slate Rock Safety LLC

Under the leadership of President and CEO Kimberly Wilson, Slate Rock Safety LLC has evolved from its founding in 2007 as a small distributor that relied on manufacturers to drop-ship products to a solutions-based distributor driven by innovative technology.

Slate Rock Safety today is comprised of five distinct business units and is considered a competitive force in the flame resistant apparel industry.

Wilson’s abilities to develop strong relationships with her team, customers and manufacturers and her strategic thinking have resulted in double-digit percentage annual sales growth for eight straight years accompanied by triple-digit growth in net revenue in both 2013 and 2014 and double-digit growth in net revenue in 2015.

Slate Rock Safety has been recognized by Inc. as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies for four consecutive years, has been a Weatherhead 100 company for three consecutive years and was a regional finalist for EY Entrepreneur of The YearTM 2015 Award.

Entrepreneur Mal Mixon joins CSU president at Fireside Chat Wednesday

Mal-on-Mountain--smallCLEVELAND, Tue April 9, 2013 — Mal Mixon, chairman of the Invacare Corporation, will join Cleveland State University President Ronald Berkman for a Fireside Chat as part of the President’s Lecture Series to discuss his newly released book, “An American Journey.” The event will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at Drinko Recital Hall in the Music and Communication Building, 2001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

In “An American Journey,” Mixon discusses his life’s experiences and how they built his character and business know-how. An added bonus in the book are his 18 Life Lessons, which have been called “a virtual playbook on how to win in life and business.” The book was published by the Book Development Group of Smart Business in Westlake, Ohio.

Mixon has led Invacare since 1979 when he and a group of Cleveland-based investors bought the firm from then-parent Johnson & Johnson. A graduate of Leadership Cleveland, he is chairman emeritus of the board of directors and board of trustees of the Cleveland Clinic and chairman of the board of trustees of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is highly regarded in the Cleveland business community and has been recognized nationally for his entrepreneurial skills and leadership. He received his BA and MBA from Harvard and served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps prior to entering the business world.

A reception will follow immediately. Mixon will sign copies of the book which will be on sale. The event is open to the public.