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MARCH Informing and inspiring female executives

vol. 2, no. 6 july/august 2011

Sweet Success

Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, on building a luxury brand p. 36

Art-World Execs Meet three artists who went corporate p. 40

Learn to hire— and keep— the best employees p. 43

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features JULY/AUGUST 2011

36 SWEET SUCCESS Armed with an arsenal of unexpected flavor combinations and a knack for luxury branding, Katrina Markoff has rocketed to the top of the gourmet chocolate industry with Vosges Haut-Chocolat.


katrina markoff

40 Creative Goes Corporate

Founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat

These three artists may have taken on business roles, but they are still motivated by a passion for their craft. Meet Roxana Velasquez, executive director of the San Diego Museum of Art; Margarida Eidson, school director at the All-American Ballet; and Barbara Gaines, founder of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

43 HOW TO BUILD AN ALL-STAR STAFF A company is only as good as its weakest employee. Learn how to build—and keep— a dream team.

top Photo: Erika Dufour

on the cover Meet Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Here at MARCH, we admire Markoff's business sense—her firm grossed $20 million in 2010 alone—and so we pumped her for information about how she built a thriving luxury brand. Read her tips in "Sweet Success," (p. 36). You may be inspired to adopt some of her marketing or branding strategies as your own.

july/august 2011 |




in every issue 7 9 17 22 23 66

“I keep moving ahead, faster and smarter than before.”

Editor’s Note The Buzz Cityscape IN THE WORKPLACE Cool Jobs MARCH Questionnaire

Heidi Gerding, President & Ceo Of HeiTech Services, “Her Second Call Of Duty,” p. 62

departments Industry Pioneer

The Entrepreneurs




Ellen Kral helms a magazine-publishing company—and loves every minute of it.

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann awards employees with cushy perks. In turn, they happily provide clients with stellar services.

Alana Ward Robinson uses her hightech wizardry to help other firms run smoothly.

An Eye for Design

48 Early Adopter


Ricki McGuire knew about new scanning technology first—and she staked her career on helping others to digitize their processes.


As one of few women in the engineering industry, Marie Willis felt the cards were stacked against her—and yet she still managed to create a thriving construction company.

49 ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES Confronted with professional and personal roadblocks, Carol Craig refused to be defeated.

30 aN EPIC COLLECTION Wilhelmina Cole Holladay's own collection of female artists' work was so vast, it became the foundation for the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

32 heat resistant When a fire destroyed Knock Inc.'s office, president and CEO Lili Hall kept her cool—and, under her leadership, the design firm didn't miss a beat.

50 AHEAD OF THE CURVE Maria Bradley's innovative spirit has helped her to stay ahead in the employee-benefits industry.

Husband-and-wife duo Michelle and Michael Kilby provide clients with land-coordination and zoning services. | july/august 2011

As an MD, Padma Allen never expected to run a technology-services firm— yet she thrives at the helm of TechnoDyne, LLC.

Amberly Allen's fledgling company took a serious hit during the economic recession—but now, thanks to her strategic troubleshooting, it's back on a path to growth.

54 PAYROLL GURU GOES GLOBAL Michele Honomichl handles complex international payroll issues, so her clients can stay focused on boosting business.




61 Survival Instincts 52 IN THE ZONE

a new path

When Maria Horton joined the Navy, she was catapulted beyond her small hometown. After years of skill building, she landed at the head of a successful information-assurance and cyber-security firm.

If you're in need of some R&R, see Gloria Bohan. The founder of Omega World Travel helps millions to plan and execute vacations and businesstravel plans.

62 HER SECOND CALL OF DUTY For Heidi Gerding, a 24-year stint in the Navy was like business boot camp, equipping her with the skills to run a government-contracting firm.

Enterprising Minds

56 SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED Moonlight BPO offers custom documentmanagement and print-to-mail services, and founder Brenda Grisby says the made-toorder approach wins—and keeps—clients.

giving back

64 SWEET AS (APPLE) PIE Mary Ardapple is committed to spreading goodwill through sweets.




ReliaTrust Technologies delivers professional Information Technology (IT) services to the Public Sector customers in the key areas of network support, information assurance, telecommunications management, web development, and acquisition support. Since our goal is always total customer satisfaction, ReliaTrust’s program management creates successful service delivery on these foundations:





july/august 2011 |








director of strategic

guerrero howe, llc

director of sales

Christopher Howe


Titus Dawson, titus@

managing editor

George Bozonelos, george@guerrerohowe. com

Pedro Guerrero President Christopher Howe CEO & Publisher

Kathy Kidwell, kathy

Stacy Kraft Krista Lane Williams

marketing managers features editor

Bridget Herman, bherman@

Ellie Kim, ellie@march Katie Yost

sales representatives editorial researcher

asssociate editor


Leslie Price, leslie@

Dawn Collins Anthony D'Amico Gerald Matthews Carolyn Marx


editorial researchers

Mokena Trigueros

Danielle Federle Natasha Gambrell

human resources


Thalia A-M Bruehl Matt Alderton Sally Deering, Tricia Despres Carolyn Dorant Kelly Matlock Annie Monjar Abi Nicholas Lisa Ryan Cassady Sharp Kaleena Thompson


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editorial research

sales managers

James Ainscough Michael DiGiovanni Toney Dimos Jackie Geweke Michelle Harris Kathleen Johnston Justin Joseph Heather Matson Rebekah Mayer William Winter Brendan Wittry


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executive assistants

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circulation manager Art

Lee Posey

creative director

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Editor’s Note When you grow up, what do you want to be?


his classic question is at the core of all businesses. Every company founder and entrepreneur created his or her business in pursuit of a “dream job.” Of course, the business has to be successful in order for the dream job to exist, so other factors come into play: finding a niche, marketability, financing, etc. But at the heart of it all is the dream. This issue of MARCH is dedicated to the pursuit of the dream job. It is our entrepreneur-themed issue, and it is chock full of inspiring stories of women who are passionate about their work, because they’ve created companies based on their interests. Our cover features Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, who dreamed of a cooking career that didn’t involve working at a restaurant. It’s easy to see how someone can be passionate about chocolate, but Markoff’s passions also involve developing a story for her brand and creating an innovative, multicultural, luxurious experience for her customers. And, in the process of pursuing her dream, she has become an advocate for women entrepreneurs everywhere. “Start something, anything,” Markoff says to encourage other budding startups. “Just take one step. Because once you take one, then it’s easier to take the next. And then, all of a sudden, you’ve built a base.” Learn more about Markoff and her chocolate empire in “Sweet Success” (p. 36). The art world is another realm where creative passions can be parlayed into long, successful careers. From dance to paintings to theater, artists have been finding a way to further their profession by becoming executives who manage and promote art. In “Creativity Goes Corporate” (p. 40), we look at the careers of Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Margarida Eidson, managing director of the All American Ballet School in Ventura, California; and Roxana Velasquez, executive director of the San Diego Museum of Art. In joining the corporate ranks of the art world, these women transcend from enjoying art as a hobby or personal passion to advocating art for the betterment of society. Velasquez voices this transcended level of passion for art when she says, “There is such distance between people and art … this means creativity is decreasing because people are not visiting museums or attending the arts. Societies would be better if they included the art component all the time. It should not be a luxurious thing. It helps us understand who we are.” Whatever your dream job may be, we hope you'll be inspired by these women, who exemplify the ability to be passionate about your career, whether that means starting a business or working with established businesses that fall in line with your goals. Dream on!

Kathy Kidwell Managing Editor

Photo: Michelle Nolan Photography.

july/august 2011 |


Green Building & Design


A comprehensive look at the structures and concepts of tomorrow, and the masterminds behind them

For your FREE subscription visit

products, news, and resources for today’s professional woman

SLEEK SEAT Give your conference room a makeover with the clean, modern aesthetic of Reeve office chairs. Toronto-based designer Patty Johnson created Reeve for Keilhauer, a 30-year-old family-owned company that designs, engineers, and manufactures office seating. The chair is available in two back heights, two arm styles, and two base finishes (black and polished aluminum), and is GREENGUARD certified. Reeve, price available upon request,

july/august 2011 |



A Woman’s Touch Created by female entrepreneurs, these innovative everyday items will become your new favorite finds. by kathy kidwell





JUST ADD FLOWERS Renowned Dutch designer Hella Jongerius is known for infusing traditional designs into contemporary forms, as is evidenced in these vases, available through select IKEA stores. IKEA PS Johnsberg, $39.99,


LIGHT IT UP Through their namesake design studio Iacoli & McAllister, Seattle-based Jamie Iacoli and Brian McAllister are known for adding a modern touch to common objects, as they did with the playful, boxy Frame Light, available in three sizes and four colors. Frame Light, $345-395, available through


COFFEE CLUTCH With the tagline “Reclaiming Luxury,” Alexis Cristianne’s startup, Tien Limited, creates high-end handbags out of reclaimed raw-coffee-bean sacks from fair-trade suppliers in Bolivia and Nicaragua, and are combined with lambskin, solid-brass hardware, wool lining, and leather details. Brewing Script bags, $210-395,

10 | july/august 2011


GO FOR THE GOLD Self-taught artisan and single mother Jenny Present developed LifeNotes necklaces to remind women that any goal can be reached with the proper mindset. She hopes to inspire with the messages inscribed in her necklaces, available in 14 karat gold or sterling silver with three .01 carat diamonds under each message. LifeNotes Necklaces, $248-298,


BOTTOMS UP Health and longevity is now available in liquid form. One bottle of Jusuru Life Blend, developed by Jusuru International president Asma Ishaq, contains the highly soughtafter BioCell Collagen II (known to improve joint mobility, renew cartilage, and promote healthy skin), two wine bottles’ worth of resveratrol (a natural component of red wine), hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, exotic juices, and more natural, healthy components. Jusuru Life Blend, sold through independent representatives,


PAR FOR THE COURSE Join your business partners in a round of golf and tee off in style with a keri golf bag, designed by life-long golfer Keri Murschelle. Partnered with leading equipment manufacturer Adams Golf, keri golf offers a line of lightweight bags in chic, geometric designs with functional storage options. keri golf bags, $335,


MAKE A STATEMENT Innovative, bold designs define the mixed-media jewelry of Faye Guanipa. The Boston-based artist creates statement pieces out of wooden and acrylic beading, velvet and grosgrain ribbon, metal chain, and cotton fabric. Jewelry designs by Faye, prices vary,


HERE’S THE PLAN Marrying creativity with organization is Marian Briscoe’s passion, which is showcased in her suite of paper products. Included is a weekly to-do list, a packing list, a multi-store shopping list, a “man list” (a.k.a. honey-do list), and a study list. Life on Paper Co., $7-9,



h g


july/august 2011 |



Late Summer 2011 MARCH shortlists the best bets for conferences and trade shows

eWomenNetwork International Conference & Business ExpO July 14–17, Dallas The gist: With an emphasis on personal and professional empowerment, this annual conference and expo features The International Femtor Awards Gala; breakout sessions; an “Accelerated Networking” process that’s so effective, it’s trademarked; consultations with success coaches; The Ultimate Girls Night Out event; and more. Who attends: Women business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs gather at the conference and expo, which is the largest four-day women’s business event of its kind in North America.

NAWBO Women’s Business Conference

Photo: Brightroom Event Photography

Aug. 31–Sept. 1, San Diego The gist: This annual conference is hosted by the

BizBash Expo & Awards

National Association of Women Business Owners

Aug. 18, Chicago,

(NAWBO) and is dedicated to connecting female

The gist: All about event planning, this one-day expo offers educational sessions, presenta-

entrepreneurs with the contacts and opportunities

tions on new trends in the industry, entertainment, exhibits, access to event bids, and style

to help their businesses succeed.

awards—all of which showcase the best of the best in event creativity.

Who attends: Female business owners and other

Who attends: Corporate-event and -meeting planners, event marketers, and executives in

NAWBO members and affiliates gather to network

sales, PR, fundraising, and human resources convene to stay on top of their industries.

and capitalize on business opportunities.

MD&M Midwest Assembly, Automation Technology Expo, Electronics Midwest, PLASTEC Midwest, Design & Manufacturing Midwest, Green Manufacturing Expo Midwest, & Quality Expo

La Cumbre, The Americas’ Travel Industry Summit

CliQ (formerly PMA 2011)

Sept. 7–9, Las Vegas

Sept. 20-22, Des Plaines, IL

The gist: One of the biggest trade events for pho-

The gist: An annual conference and expo serving

tographers and imaging professionals, CliQ (for-

The gist: Seven events, three days, one location—

the corporate, leisure, and luxury travel and tourism

merly PMA 2011) is the show where most major

the manufacturing industry unites at the Donald E.

industries, La Cumbre offers business and network-

vendors introduce at least two new products each,

Stephens Convention Center Sept. 20th through the

ing opportunities through 30 pre-scheduled

including new cameras, camcorders, and photo-

22nd. These expos offer strategies from industry

appointments with your choice of exhibitors/indus-

publishing products (such as photo books, cards,

experts, previews of new manufacturing equip-

try representatives.

and calendars). Additionally, a five-day confer-

ment, live demonstrations, and more.

Who attends: A wide variety of companies attend

ence for PMA member associations is held in con-

Who attends: At such a diverse event, it's easy to

this event, including those in the hotel/lodging

junction with the expo.

find engineers, product representatives, and manu-

and transportation industries, representatives of

Who attends: Photographers, picture framers, pho-

facturers looking for new technology and processes

technology companies, medical-tourism facilitators,

tography educators, marketing professionals and

to improve productivity.

and more.

others in the photo industry will meet and network.

12 | july/august 2011

Sept. 8-10, Las Vegas


WPO Expo


Minneapolis, MN Feb. 2, 2011

a More than 70 female business owners gathered for the secondannual Women Presidents' Organization (WPO) Expo, hosted by the organization's Minneapolis chapters. The expo aims to educate women on how to build connections across businesses. s Melanie Nelson, WPO member and owner of Learning ZoneXpress, leads a discussion.

BlogRoll a


Get the Word Out

Even the most rookie business owner knows marketing is key to a firm’s success. These blogs aim to help you master the art of self-promotion. by annie monjar Wonderbranding a

Bloomies in the City McLean, VA May 28, 2010

a Jenny Shtipelman, vice president of EagleBank, promotes the raffle at Bloomies in the City, an event hosted by Success in the City, an unconventional business-networking group based in and around DC. s The fun event for businesswomen was centered around the release of Sex in the City 2. Participants gathered at Bloomingdale's for drinks, food, special shopping opportunities—and networking, too.

Ad guru and self-avowed “soccer mom” Michele Miller brings hard data—both business facts and psychological stats—to this blog, which focuses on marketing towards women. Miller even has a section called “The Lab,” which highlights the latest data and studies on marketing specifically to female consumers. In the spirit of blogging, however, she keeps Wonderbranding lighthearted, often including critiques of TV ads and interviews with success stories.

V3 Integrated Marketing This marketing and branding company, founded by Shelly Kramer and Michelle Lamar, gives back to the business community with a blog that divulges (at least some of ) their professional secrets. They offer traditional brandawareness advice and school readers on how to give a great presentation and personalize brand identity, as well as provide old-fashioned customer service. The site also focuses largely on social-media outlets—Kramer was listed on’s “30 Women to Follow on Twitter.”

Beth’s Blog


Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit and CEO of Zoetica, a firm that handles online marketing for nonprofits and socially conscious businesses, was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the most influential women in technology in 2009 for her thorough, focused understanding of how nonprofits can leverage social media. Her site, one of the most popular marketing blogs on the web, covers topics from sharing research and stories via social media to general tips for managing accounts. She also answers reader questions with indepth, expert advice.

july/august 2011 |



Gregorio Palomino

CEO & Creative Director, CRE8AD8, LLC

Long before he started an event-planning and event-marketing business, Gregorio Palomino knew how to throw a party. Friends would call on him for help with backyard bashes; he’d rent kegs of beer, hire a DJ, and find food for partygoers to munch on. Today, as CEO and creative director of San Antonio-based CRE8AD8, LLC, he plans weddings and corporate gatherings. He also oversees the daily operations of his growing company, which has 13 brick-and-mortar locations across eight states. Palomino spoke with MARCH about how he parlayed his knack for partying into a career in the women-centric event industry. by bridget herman

MARCH: You’ve always enjoyed

company attributed that jump to

MARCH: Did you think you were

scape architects, florists. I also plan

throwing parties for friends, but how

the fashion show.

leaving event planning behind?

and promote various corporate

P: No, I was an event manager for

events—recruiting dinners, com-

did you incorporate that skill into your professional life?

MARCH: Did that lead to more cor-

FedEx—there, I got to work on

pany picnics, that sort of thing—for

Palomino: Back in 1999, when I was

porate-event planning gigs?

national events and partnered

clients like Nationwide Insurance

still in high school, I worked part-

P: Victoria’s Secret asked me to plan

with big organizations, like

and Continental Airlines.

time at Victoria’s Secret. I overheard

similar events at two other nearby

NASCAR and the NFL. After that,

the general manager asking his assis-

locations in North Texas. This time,

I moved to UPS, where I held a

tant for ideas on how to get more

they gave me a budget—it was

similar position. I got so much

women plan their weddings?

people in the door, and I suggested a

small, but it helped—and both shows

experience that I realized I could

P: Absolutely. I think my Victoria's

fashion show. They didn’t have a

led to a jump in sales for those loca-

run my own company. In 2007,

Secret tie helps—it proves that I

budget, but I offered to put some-

tions. Before long, I became an assis-

I decided to launch my own

know how to work with women. A

thing together—to see if the mall had

tant manager with the company, and

event-planning business.

lot of my brides call me Franck, like

staging and chairs, and if other

I was invited to join the team that

stores would sponsor the event by

produces the televised Victoria's

MARCH: Tell me about CRE8AD8.

sharing lighting and other supplies.

Secret fashion shows. I'll admit that

What’s your business model, and

MARCH: Do you enjoy helping

the wedding planner in Father of the Bride.

MARCH: What’s next for

who are your clients?

coffee was probably more glorified

P: We handle tons of weddings.


How did the event turn out?

than I was—but I had a part in seeing

When I’m working with a bride, I

P: I’m planning to start franchising

P: It was a success! I found women

how everything came together for a

pitch her ideas like an advertising

the company within the next year.

to model robes and nightgowns,

major event. It was a priceless expe-

firm would do to a potential client.

I’d love to see other entrepreneurs

and we hosted a fashion show

rience. I worked on two production

We come up with a concept, and

who have passion and experience

right in the mall. After that, sales

shows before I left to take a job at

then I bring on the people who can

step up and take our proven suc-

jumped considerably, and the

Federal Express.

make it happen—designers, land-

cesses and run with it.

14 | july/august 2011

Photo By: Erika Barrientes

it was a small role—the guy who got

MARCH: That's a bold move.


Running a Franchise Roz Mallet knows franchising from most every angle. She learned the ropes while working as vice president of franchise systems at Applebee’s, then as president and CEO of Caribou Coffee. In 2009, she founded PhaseNext, a franchisee of “fast casual” food brands, such as Corner Bakery, Smashburger, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Here, Mallet shares her tips for running a successful franchise. by bridget herman

1 Do your research.

You can’t just wake up one morning and roll out a McDonald’s or a Jazzercise studio—opening a franchise involves plenty of research. “If you’re in Dallas, and you want to open a Corner Bakery Café, look at Corner Bakery [and its competitors] la Madeleine and Panera Bread—see how many units are in that market and adjacent market,” Mallet says. Consider what the research says about the customer demographics for your brand. It’s good to conduct additional research through the parent company. “Ask them all the questions and do the research through them,” she suggests.

2 Choose a brand that suits your territory.

I was in a Mexican food brand that [expanded into] the upper Midwest years ago,” Mallet says. “People [in that region] thought Mexican food was Taco Bell, that’s all they were accustomed to.” The brand didn’t survive partially because the consumer didn’t understand it. Make sure your region is a good place to introduce the franchise you’re interested in and that the market isn’t already saturated with competitors.

3 Build a team you can trust.

Before you open your doors, Mallet advises, assemble a staff you can trust. “When you open your first restaurant, things start to multiply very quickly,” she says. “You need people you can trust who share your values.”

4 Optimize revenue.

Whether you’re going to create a portfolio of brands, à la PhaseNext, or open a single venture, look for outfits that are multifaceted and can provide you with many moneymaking opportunities. PhaseNext is developing in non-traditional venues, such as airports and military bases, so Mallet picked brands that offer multiple revenue-generating opportunities each day. “They have breakfast, they have alcohol, because that allows you to optimize revenue, and [they can be either] a full-scale prototype or a kiosk,” she says.

5 Focus on quality and approachability.

Every airport has a McDonalds and a Friday’s,” Mallet says. “When you go to McDonalds, it's fast and predictable. If you have more time, you can go to Friday’s. It’s going to take 20 to 30 minutes, but the burger comes with a service experience.” With PhaseNext, Mallet wanted to offer something in the middle, so she turned to Smashburger. “It’s in the better burger category—with its never-frozen Angus patty—and you can get it in five to six minutes,” she says. Today, PhaseNext operates a Smashburger (and a Buffalo Wild Wings) in Fort Bliss, Texas, and is looking to roll out more locations this year.


The Martha Rules By Martha Stewart Rodale Books, $13 We sense your urge to smirk, but think about it: Martha Stewart did prison time, and she is still the domestic goddess of the modern era. Clearly, she knows a thing or two about solidifying a brand. This book, written from behind bars, is her guide to entrepreneurship. It follows her career’s arc from freelance fashion modeling, to Wall Street, to real estate, to, of course, professional homemaking. She’ll give you insight into what went right, and how a few simple pleasures turned into a corporate empire. —AM

Birthing the Elephant: The Woman’s Go-For-It! Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business By Karin Arbarbanel and Bruce Freeman Ten Speed Press, $28 Finding capital, getting licensed, and branding yourself are challenges that every entrepreneur must overcome. Still, many feel that the most difficult aspects of running a business are personal (dealing with the new way of life, accepting the uncertainty, etc.). Arbarbanel and Freeman tackle the psychological obstacles of starting a business, from learning to let go of your business “plan,” to accepting that being your own boss isn’t necessarily sunshine and roses. —AM

july/august 2011 |



Best Franchises to Buy

Launching a small business is risky, but franchises are a bit cushier: they provide franchisees with an established brand and operational support that could otherwise take years to build. Here are five of the most promising to buy now. by annie monjar

The franchise

The cost

Who should buy

Why it’s hot now

Franchisees pay between $54,000 and $72,000.

Anyone with a background in the health or hospital industry, and who knows how to manage a widespread staff, could thrive in this role.

The Boomer Generation has reached retirement, which means the seniorcitizen population in America is on an upswing. In light of this, short- and long-term healthcare is set to grow rapidly over the next few years.

Coffee News, a franchise with 677 US locations, is a weekly newsletter that features local news, trivia, and entertainment.

Franchisees pay between $8,925 and $9,925, plus $80 per week as an ongoing royalty fee.

A background in marketing, sales, or advertising is crucial for building revenue. A basic knowledge of communications and strong writing skills is also a must.

This is one of the most affordable franchises available, and maintaining the publication is also inexpensive. Plus, local advertisers are drawn to the lowcost placements and wide distribution in local restaurants.

Jazzercise, Inc., an aerobic dance-class franchise, trains and certifies instructors and franchisees at its 6,627 US locations.

Expect to pay between $2,980 and $75,500, plus an ongoing royalty fee of 20 percent.

Anyone who knows a thing or two about health, nutrition, and fitness will thrive in this interactive, high-intensity position. Plus, franchisees create the classes and thus enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule.

This business has been franchising since 1982, and continues to expand; Entrepreneur magazine ranked it among the 25 fastest-growing franchises in 2011. “We're a sustainable company that has been at the pulse-point of the fitness industry for more than four decades,” says CEO Judi Sheppard Missett.

You’ll shell out between $34,650 and $60,600, plus an ongoing royalty fee of 7 percent.

Surprisingly, franchisees need no computer expertise. A general knowledge of business management is a necessity, though. From there, the firm will connect you with technicians in your area.

Small and independent business owners are outsourcing technology support more than ever. There’s demand for support in residences, businesses, and even online, so there are plenty of potential clients.

The price ranges from $38,153 to $60,743, with a $50,000 networth requirement.

Experience with event planning or coordinating, as well as strong communication and organizational skills, will be crucial for running this franchise. Bonus: if you need to work from home, you can do so.

It began in 2007 as one of the first event-management franchises, meaning there’s plenty of room for growth. And unlike many franchises that only provide a week or two of training, Plan Ahead Events provides its franchisers with ongoing resources and support throughout their ownership.

The Senior’s Choice, Inc., a medical staffing company with 177 locations, places caretakers in the homes of seniors who need nonmedical assistance.

Fast-teks, a Florida-based company with 264 US locations, provides IT services to individuals and small businesses.

Plan Ahead Events, an event-management company that coordinates trade shows, conventions, and incentive travel programs, has 54 US locations.

16 | july/august 2011

cityscape washington, dc

A Capital City Washington, DC is a political hotspot and a good place to do business


n our nation’s capital, people live and work alongside some of the nation’s most noteworthy landmarks (imagine trotting by the Lincoln Memorial on a morning jog or having a picnic lunch on the lawn near the Washington Monument). Landmarks aside, DC offers plenty of business opportunities. Over the last decade, the city has experienced an 11.31 percent spike in job growth, according to Money magazine. DC gets top marks for leisure and culture, too: find more than 7,000 restaurants, 223 libraries, and 30 museums within 15 miles of the city.

july/august 2011 |


cityscape washington, dc


Hayya Lee Certified Professional Coach HayyaLiving, LLC How did you land your current position? I found my calling— personal coaching—after being laid off from my last corporate position. I founded my own company, specializing in life and small-business coaching, a few short months after that. Coaching is who I am, so my work comes so naturally to me and is so much fun, it doesn’t feel like work.

DRUMROLL, PLEASE During the warmer months, Hayya Lee can often be found drumming along with the Meridian Hill Park drum circle. She says the activity helps her to de-stress and make new friends. Photo: Elvert Barnes

What’s the best part about living and working in DC? I relocated to the DC area from New York City, which is a great city. DC is just as great, but on a smaller scale. I love that I can see people I know randomly around town, and that the concept of six degrees of separation (or less) is in play here. That didn’t happen very often in New York, so it’s new and exciting at the same time. What are your favorite recreational activities? I’m a foodie, so you’ll find me eating my way around town. Some of my favorite restaurants are Etete and Masala Art. I also love to dance—there are live bands at Bukom Café in Adams Morgan, and at the Eighteenth Street Lounge, especially on Wednesday nights. In the summer, you’ll find me also socializing and drumming at Meridian Hill Park’s drum circle. It’s a great place to meet new people and let loose.

18 | july/august 2011

Q&A Stephanie Foerster Director StepFilms and Media, LLC What’s the best part about your job? I like the chance to be creative and help tell great stories while meeting truly interesting people. How do you stay connected with other professionals in the area? I am a member of The Affinity Lab, an incubator space for entrepreneurs and small businesses. I also belong to women’s networking groups, including Women in Film and Video, The Fabulous Women Business Owners of DC, and I recently started a group called “Chix in Biz” that meets for breakfast monthly. Describe an ideal Sunday afternoon. I love hiking in Rock Creek Park, especially in the spring and fall. I also like to check out the latest video installation at the Hirshhorn, and to eat gelato from Dolcezza—blood orange and avocado honey are two of my favorite flavors!

Q&A Rachel Pfeffer Jewelry Designer Self-employed

What do you like most about your job? My favorite part is being my own boss. I enjoy almost all aspects of running a business—from marketing and sales to photographing and creating. What are some of your favorite local hot spots? When we have friends or family visiting, we always take them to CommonWealth Gastropub for brunch. I also love going to The Raven Grill in Mount Pleasant for a laid back (and cheap) drink. And lately, I've been antiquing and vintage-clothing shopping near U Street and 14th Street, which provides good fun and inspiration. My new favorite store is Ginger Root; talk about inspiring! How do you stay connected with other local professionals? I stay connected with other design folks in DC using Twitter, and by reading local blogs. Describe your perfect Sunday in the city. I’d wake up early, grab the New York Times, and head to Tryst with my fiancé. We’d get a comfy seat on a couch, and dig into the arts and style sections while sipping a cappuccino.

cuppa joe Rachel Pfeffer says her ideal Sunday would involve a cappuccino and the New York Times. take a HIKE When Stephanie Foerster has a free afternoon, she enjoys hiking in Rock Creek Park—especially during the fall, when the leaves change color.

july/august 2011 |


cityscape washington, dc

Q&A Lisa Lewis Independent Representative Silpada Designs What do you like most about your job? Silpada Designs is the original and fast-growing sterling-silver-jewelry home-party company. I love the amazing gratification I get from offering beautiful sterling-silver jewelry. With Silpada, there is something for every woman, whether it’s to add more fun in your life, quit a fulltime job, pay for a couple of bills, or feel beautiful in jewelry. What are your favorite recreational activities? While most would not consider meandering the varied Smithsonian Museums as a true form of recreation, this is my form of R&R. Regardless of the number of return visits, I always find something different to take in and enjoy.

out and ABOUT The U Street Corridor (above) offers many restaurants and nightclubs, and it's a popular place for bar-hopping. You might find Sarah Massey at Marvin, a nearby watering hole.


$1,323 $33,858 Average weekly wage

Largest employers in the DC area:

3 fastestgrowing careers in the DC area:

1. Lockheed Martin Corp.

1. Commercial pilot

Annual Revenue: $42.7 billion

2. Network systems and data communications analyst

Industry: Aerospace/Defense

3. Computer-software engineer

Annual Revenue: $29.3 billion

What’s the best part about living and working in DC? The city is so diverse and rich with culture. It offers parks, recreation, sports, theater, and a potpourri of restaurant venues to satisfy the most discriminating palate.

in the MUSEUM With 19 museums and galleries and one zoo, the Smithsonian Institute is the world's largest museum and research complex. When she has time off, Lisa Lewis enjoys browsing displays at all of them, including the institute's Museum of Natural History (right).


Number of Establishments | july/august 2011

2. General Dynamics Corp. Industry: Aerospace/Defense

Q&A Sarah Massey Owner Massey Media LLC How'd you land your current position? I launched Massey Media five years ago. We are a public-relations company, and we help our clients make headlines, learn how to communicate effectively, and connect with their audiences. How do you stay connected with other professionals in the area? I run a monthly meetup for businesswomen called the Fabulous Women Biz Owners DC. Our organization is focused on support and networking. What’s an ideal night out in DC? I love the U Street Corridor: bar-hopping to places like Marvin, wine tasting at Vinoteca, and music at Twins Jazz, Bohemian Caverns, and the Black Cat.

Q&A Katherine Latham Teacher, Professional Classical Singer, Owner Katherine Latham: Private Voice Studio ANGELIC VOICES Katherine Latham often sings during Sunday church service at the Washington National Cathedral (top left). Afterwards, she'll head to RedRocks Pizza in Columbia Heights for some wood-fired 'za (top right). IN MEMORIAM The city is home to some of our nation's most noteworthy monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial (below), the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

How’d you land your current position? After graduating with a degree in vocal performance, I made what seemed like the obvious transition into teaching general music in an elementary school. After two years in a school setting, I set out on my own to teach private lessons in piano and voice. After leaving the teaching job in June 2010, I had about 10 private students by August 2010, and now can barely accommodate all of the inquiries I receive! What's the best part about living and working in DC? DC is full of intellectuals, which is a wonderful thing. The city boasts a number of wonderful universities, which I believe greatly contribute to an attitude of life-long learning. DC is also full of free concerts of all styles of music and many special events including "pay-what-youcan" nights at local theaters. Describe your perfect Sunday afternoon in the city. My Sunday morning usually involves church service. DC-area churches boast some top-notch music programs; I sing regularly with the Washington National Cathedral. After the service, I'd head out to RedRocks Pizza in Columbia Heights, for exceptional wood-fired pizza.

july/august 2011 | marchmagazineonline.

in the workplace

THE IDEA FACTORY Project manager Heather Mariano shows MARCH how Go Media's office space was designed to foster creative thinking At the headquarters of Go Media, a Cleveland-based print- and web-design firm, creative inspiration is like currency—so it’s no surprise that the firm’s office building aims to help employees brew their best ideas. “The goal was to keep the office open and airy,” says sales and project manager Heather Mariano. “My boss didn’t want anyone in cubicles—we need a good atmosphere for communication, for talking through creative concepts.” Local architectural illustrator Pete Maric used these instructions as his barometer when he designed the space. Instead of cubicles, Maric created work pods that are set off by half-wall partitions. He also outfitted the conference rooms with glass walls (they add to the office’s breezy feel), and used a bold palate of primary colors—such as red conference-room chairs and canary-yellow walls—to make the whole place feel vibrant. A splashy graffiti mural adds a dose of fun, as does an aquarium wall, located in one of the

22 | july/august 2011

building’s conference rooms. Mariano herself appreciates the cheerful space, and says the environment keeps her going while she’s looking over proofs, writing proposals, or critiquing one of Go Media’s designers. “There’s lots of natural light,” she adds. “That’s one of my favorite things.” Visitors appreciate the office space, too. Mariano says clients (including local manufacturing company Lincoln Electric) schedule meetings at the Go Media headquarters because it’s such a fun place to be. “They can get out of their offices, hang out in our conference room, and go over ideas,” she says. Exposed ceiling beams and pipes add a bit of an industrial vibe, which was no accident. “It kind of harkens back to the idea that Cleveland is an industrial city with steelworkers,” Mariano explains. The decor, then, is a nod to the city’s history. The smart space is just one of the firm’s many inspired ideas—check out more at —Bridget Herman

READY, SET, CREATE! Cleveland-based architectural illustrator Pete Maric helped Go Media create a cheerful, inspiring space, sans cubicles. Instead, he designed airy work pods with half-wall partitions—which aim to encourage communication and creativity.

cool jobs

Search-and-Rescue Helicopter Pilot Lieutenant Kelly Duetermann Miami, FL


hen Lieutenant Kelly Duetermann was in flight school, she learned how to handle in-flight emergencies. She’d be soaring along at 8,000 feet, for example, and her pilot instructor would simulate a mechanical failure. With the engine on idle, she'd scramble to find a place suitable for emergency landing and put the aircraft into descent. “You’re basically taught how to crash the plane and walk away,” she says. Thanks to this rigorous training, Duetermann is able to keep her cool during real-life rescue missions. It’s a skill she uses each time the alarm goes off at the Coast Guard’s Air Station Miami, where she works as a search-and-rescue pilot. Last Christmas, she got a serious distress call from three veteran sailors stranded 260 miles off the coast of Miami. “They had the right survival equipment on board, but their rudder was disabled, and they were without compulsion,” she says. A thunderstorm made the situation more perilous. Despite the storm, the crew was able to locate the distressed mariners. Deutermann hovered 50 feet above the swells while a rescue swimmer escorted the sailors onto the aircraft. The mission took longer than expected—and Deutermann's craft nearly ran out of fuel. Luckily, the crew was able to land in the Bahamas with their charges safely on board. “Their boat was never found, so who knows what could have happened,” she says.—Bridget Herman

july/august 2011 |


cool jobs

Natural Perfumer Charna Ethier Providence, RI


or Charna Ethier, a natural perfumer and founder of Providence Perfume Co., inspiration can strike at any time. For example, she recently conceptualized a perfume while reading a bedtime story to her two children. The scent, called Gypsy, references Madeline and the Gypsies, Ludwig Bemelmans’ classic children’s book. “It’s a mysterious perfume, with a sort of fresh, forestinspired note,” she says. “I love that I can draw creatively from anywhere.” Ethier grew up making her own cosmetics; she remembers brewing perfume from lime peels and making lipstick from crushed berries as a young girl. Last January, she upped the ante by launching her own line of all-natural fragrances. Now, she spends her days blending and filtering scents by hand, and performing sales, marketing, and public relations duties for her firm. She seems to have a knack for business: within the last month, her company’s sales have more than doubled, and one of her scents was featured on AOL’s homepage. What really thrills her, though, is creating perfume. A delicious cup of chai tea recently sparked a new scent, which is still in progress. “I want it to be lighter on cinnamon and heavier on the spicy notes,” she says. Ethier is in no rush to finish, though: “I love the creative process,” she says. —bridget herman

24 | july/august 2011

Model and Makeup Designer Cindy Joseph Yonkers, New York


hen a Dolce & Gabbana scout discovered Cindy Joseph on a New York street, the Yonkers resident wasn't planning to launch a modeling career. She was 49 at the time, and had spent the last 25 years working as a makeup artist. Since her discovery, though, Joseph has signed with the Ford Modeling Agency and landed modeling gigs with Dolce & Gabbana, More magazine, and Experience Life magazine, among others. The scope of Joseph's career expanded again when she began thinking about how she could take her style and modeling expertise a step further. That’s when she decided to launch her own makeup line, BOOM! by Cindy Joseph. “A cosmetic line is like a club,” she says, “there’s a cosmetic line for everyone, from the sophisticate to the girl next door, to preppy, to alternative. But I realized there was no line out there that spoke to women from a pro-age perspective. “ And so, Joseph created three multitasking Boomsticks: one for color, one for moisture, and one for adding a touch of glimmer. “Society sends the message that as women age, their value goes down,” she says. “I wanted to create a cosmetic line that inspires women to age with style and pride.” —Annie Monjar

july/august 2011 |


Heenan Blaikie is proud to congratulate our longterm client, Ellen Kral of Kenilworth Media, for her recognition in the Industry Pioneer section of March Magazine.

industry pioneer

Gathie Falk, Pieces of Water: Royal Wedding, 1981. Oil on canvas, 198.1 cm × 167.6 cm

Congratulations and well deserved!

MOVING UP Kral began her career with Kenilworth Media as a sales rep. Today, as CEO, she oversees production on each of the firm's eight magazines.

“Attention to detail is the difference between a good magazine and an exceptional one.” Ellen Kral, CEO

26 | july/august 2011

Celebrating our 17th year of business. In our 9th year of association with Ellen Kral.

Media Mogul Ellen Kral helms a custom-publishing company —and loves every minute of it AS TOLD TO Thalia A-M Bruehl

As the CEO of Kenilworth Media, sometimes I feel like the conductor of an orchestra. I have to make sure the strings and the trumpets and the drums all play when they should, as they should. My orchestra is made up of 44 employees, and we all work towards the same goals: making the next issue better than the last, and surpassing the expectations of our readers and advertisers. Every issue of each one of our eight publications is a new symphony; they are each their own, and our clients are just as diverse as the five industries we serve. In 1989, I came to Canada from Germany to join my husband, who is Canadian. You could say I came for love. I started working for a different publishing company as a sales rep, and before long, I moved over to Kenilworth Media. It took a bit of time, but I managed gradually to work my way up the ranks. And when ownership was ready to retire, I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Today, Kenilworth focuses mostly on business-to-business, or B2B, publications, as well as niche publications. I truly believe in the power of the printed word, and I really enjoy the fast pace of publishing. I love what I do, I love the company, and I simply cannot imagine not being here. When it all comes together, it’s very satisfying. I always say that attention to detail is the difference between a good product or good magazine and an exceptional one. Our magazines really are exceptional and reach many, from Fortune 500 companies to smallbusiness operators. In the last few years, I’ve also introduced the

1-Minute Franchise Finder, Canadian Business Franchise magazine’s searchable database. Canadian Business Franchise is one of Canada’s top-selling business magazines on the newsstands, so I thought: what can we do to serve our readers better? The Franchise Finder is a web application that allows people to find a franchise in the industry they want, at the price they can afford, in a location of their choice, in less than a minute. It happens very fast, and right in front of you, so now it’s easier to buy a franchise than it is to buy a home. Currently, Canada is the second-largest franchise market in the world. The average franchise investment in Canada is between $150,000 and $200,000, so it’s an incredible tool that allows people to very quickly see that franchises span many industries, and that they’re often very affordable. People are at the heart of this business. I make a point of celebrating the people I work with. I’ve hired the best, and I treat them well, pay them well, and make a point to celebrate their successes. It is so important to keep people happy and healthy while they work. That’s why Kenilworth offers paid massages for each employee every month, and we have yoga twice a week. Some were skeptical at first, but it makes such a difference in the atmosphere; now people really look forward to it. I heard Steve Jobs talk at Stanford University in 2005 and what he said really impressed me: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I couldn’t agree more.

july/august 2011 |


We offer tax, assurance and business consulting services directed to private small to medium enterprises focused on owner-managers. In addition, we specialize in domestic as well as cross border tax planning and consulting. Michael J. Fremes, B.Comm, CA, TEP Tax Partner

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420 - 2560 Matheson Boulevard East Mississauga, Ontario Canada L4W 4Y9 TEL.: (905) 625-5688 ext. 223 FAX: (905) 625-8431 email: july/august 2011 |


an eye for design

Against the odds

As one of few women in the engineering industry, Marie Willis felt the cards were stacked against her—and yet she still managed to build a thriving construction company

civil service Willis provides engineering and construction services to the US military.

Marie Willis’ career has been studded with challenges. When she studied construction management at California State University, Long Beach—“I always had an interest in construction, architecture, and building,” she says—Willis was one of only four women in her department. She realized she was an outlier, and became determined to succeed in spite of it. In 1996, she went to work for Phillips National, a San Diegobased general contractor that specializes in change-of-occupancy maintenance for family housing on military bases. Although she’d only graduated college a year earlier, Willis was determined to prove herself as management material. “I wanted to be a superintendent,” Willis says. “I’m sure they looked at me—straight out of college, no experience and a woman, on top of that— and thought, ‘She wants to be out in the field? Yeah, right.’ But they gave me a chance.” Willis soon began work on a project at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego. Although she knew nothing about building wells, she successfully managed the project to completion. Subse-

28 | july/august 2011

quently, she managed approximately $50 million worth of construction for Phillips National. Then, Willis had an epiphany: she was already playing the part of boss, so she might as well become one. In March 2000, she quit her job and started MW Services, a full-service engineering and construction firm that specializes in federal contracts for the US military, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration. To get her business off the ground, Willis turned to the US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Mentor-Protégé Program, which helps socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs compete for government contracts as part of the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program. After cementing a mentorship with San Diego-based government-contracting firm All Star Services Corporation—a relationship that included joint ventures, advisement, and capital investment—she applied for the program and was accepted in 2001. Since then, Willis says, the firm has “done some amazing projects. We’ve done work on airfields.

We’ve built a flight simulator. We’ve installed 10 miles worth of water lines. We get to do things that most general contractors would never get a chance to do.” Having achieved her initial dream—MW Services is now a leading government contractor with 40 employees and approximately $10 million a year in guaranteed revenue from long-term government contracts—Willis has now set her sights on a new dream. In addition to engineering and construction, she wants to do design. In 2008, MW Services made design-build projects a major priority; since then, it’s completed $18 million worth of design-build work. Because she wants to be more hands-on than a CEO, however, Willis recently started a side project. Along with her husband, she’s designing and building a LEEDPlatinum Spanish colonial home in Murrieta, California. “We plan on living in it for a couple of years, then using it to launch a second business, this one a custom residential business,” Willis says.

—Matt Alderton

MW Services’ Portfolio highlights Coast Guard Training Simulator Overview: The Department of Homeland Security hired MW Services to convert an abandoned building into a training simulator for a new class of Coast Guard Cutters at the US Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma, CA. Cool Detail: Willis transformed an empty concrete warehouse into a functioning replica of a ship’s interior. Flight Simulator Bay Addition

Congratulations Marie We wish you and MW Services Inc. continued success!

We have worked hard to nurture an identity as one of the leading providers of accounting, tax and consulting services to businesses and individuals alike.

MW Services Inc. is a company that sets the standard for quality, integrity and hard work in the industry. For more than 23 years, Marks, Golia & Finch, LLP, has served the construction industry, representing prominent contractors throughout California. With construction and its related labor and employment aspects as its primary practice, you can expect immediate responses to your legal needs from lawyers who know your business.

Business Services Small Business Accounting Audits • Reviews • Compilations Cash Flow Management Bank Financing Business Valuation Strategic Business Planning Succession Planning New Business Formation Non-Profit Organizations Internal Controls

Overview: Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, located in North Carolina, hired MW Ser-

Services For Individuals

vices to build a 4,032-square-foot addition

Estates and Trusts Personal Financial Planning

to its simulator facility in order to accommodate new flight simulator equipment. Cool Detail: With this project, timing was

Tax Services

everything. Because new equipment had

Tax Preparation Tax Planning

already been ordered when MW Services was commissioned, the project was fasttracked; if the building wasn’t ready when the equipment arrived, the Air Force’s mis-

Samim Ardeishar, CPA

sion would have been disrupted and delayed.

PARTNER Grossberg Company, LLP. 6500 Rock Spring Dr. #200 Bethesda, MD 20817

Tactical Exploitation Facilities (Iraq Urban Homes) Overview: The Navy hired MW Services to design and build prototypes of Iraqi homes (pictured below) at California’s Camp Pendleton US Marine Corps Base. Cool Detail: The homes were used to train US troops prior to their deployment to the Middle East as part of the Iraq War.



Grossberg Company LLP wishes Mrs. Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, and the National Museum of Women In The Arts continued success for many years to come.

From the boardroom to the courtroom

8620 Spectrum Center Blvd. Suite 900 San Diego, California 92123-1489


Telephone (858) 737-3100 Facsimile (858) 737-3101 july/august 2011 | 29

an eye for design

Portrait OF A COLLECTOR Holladay has traveled the world in search of works by female artists.

An Epic Collection Wilhelmina Cole Holladay was traveling around Austria with her husband in the late 1960s when she fell in love with the work of Clara Peeters, a female artist born in the late 16th century. After leaving Austria, the couple continued on to Spain, where they were fortunate to see more of Peeters’ work at the Prado in Madrid. “When we returned home we consulted our art library and found no Clara Peeters. At the National Gallery of Art library, I found just a small amount of information about her,” says Holladay. “In our search, we made a shocking discovery: there was not one woman artist featured in the leading art history textbook, Janson’s History of Art, used in most colleges and universities in our country.” It was only in 1987, the year the National Museum for Women in the Arts opened, that women were first included in Janson’s. The Holladays also discovered that New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art had not hosted a show by a woman artist in 117 years and the National Gallery had only shown two female artists

30 | july/august 2011

once, in an Impressionist exhibition. Holladay and her husband had been seriously considering beginning an art collection, but had yet to make the commitment. Richard Brown Baker, the well-known collector of contemporary art, had told Holladay, “You must first have a focus.” The focus became clear: the couple would collect women artists to better illustrate women’s contribution to the history of art. “We’ve traveled extensively. Wherever we went, we visited the top commercial gallery to ask what they had of interest by a woman artist. The answer was invariably nothing and we would leave our card. The dealer, knowing it meant a sale, would get in touch with us and say: I’ve found a magnificent work by a woman artist from the Renaissance, 17th century Dutch, or another period,” Holladay says. “We began to be alerted to available works.” After ten years of collecting, the Holladays had amassed a collection of approximately 500 works; these became the seed collection for

The National Museum of Women in the Arts. Today, The National Museum of Women in the Arts has more than 3,500 works, and holds about four concerts a year. It has hosted performances by Midori and the Washington Opera Society. The museum also hosts poetry readings, as well as a series of plays by leading women playwrights. Julie Taymor was a recent visitor; the museum featured an entire exhibition of her Broadway musical, The Lion King, with costumes and stage settings. Taymor gave a few lectures as well. “For our 20th anniversary, we were trying to raise an endowment. Our goal was $25 million, but we were lucky and we went over that,” Holladay says. “People kept making pledges, and now we have about $46 million. Our goal for our 25th anniversary is $50 million.” In 2012, the museum will celebrate its 25th anniversary with an exhibit of works by 18th-century French women artists, which will be on loan from the Louvre and other important museums. —Thalia A-M Bruehl

Photo: Michele Mattei

Wilhelmina Cole Holladay’s own collection of female artists’ work was so vast, it became the foundation for The National Museum of Women in the Arts

B R A N D I N G + A DV E R T I S I N G + D E S I G N

From the MUSEUM: Holladay’s Favorite Works of Art



Portrait of a Young Woman The Artist: Lavinia Fontana, 1552-1614

Why She Loves It: “It is the oldest paint-


ing in the museum’s collection. Fontana was the leading artist of Bologna in the 1500s.� (pictured above)

Portrait of Princess Belozersky


The Artist: Louise Elisabeth VigĂŠe-Lebrun, 1755-1842 Why She Loves It: “This painting was donated to the museum by a woman whose father presented it to her as a gift. She loved having it all her life and gave it to the museum a few years before she passed away.â€?

Untitled Portrait The Artist: Gwen John, 1876-1936 Why She Loves It: “Her work is very subtle and titillating. It invites you in. I have four pieces in my own home. Most great work speaks loudly and presents itself, but Gwen John’s work is subtle. Her famous brother, the artist Augustus Gwen, said: Some day I will be known as Gwen John’s brother.�

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july/august 2011 |


QUICK THINKING Sixty hours after a fire destroyed Knock Inc.'s office, Hall had moved the company into a temporary work space— so the firm didn't lose any time.

Proudly supporting women-owned businesses.

Heat Resistant


When a fire destroyed Knock Inc.’s office, president and CEO Lili Hall kept her cool—and, under her leadership, the design firm didn’t miss a beat

Accounting Auditing tAx PlAnning & PrePArAtion tAx ServiceS coMPliAnce


It was Friday the 13th in March, 2009 when an alarm went off in Knock Inc.’s Minneapolis office. A fire was spreading through the building. Though the firm was on a tight deadline, employees had no choice but to evacuate, leaving their work behind. “If ever there was a bad time for a fire to happen, this was it,” says Lili Hall, Knock's president and CEO. Before all 40 employees of the 10-year old company had even made it out of the building, passersby were Tweeting about the fire, and sharing photos on social-networking sites. Clients, alarmed, began calling to check in. Hall and her partner, Todd Paulson, didn’t waste time dwelling about what they lost. That very same weekend they signed a new lease and moved to a temporary space. They were up and

32 | july/august 2011

running by the next Monday morning, less than 60 hours after the fire. And though many material things were lost in the flames, both the staff and all of the firm's creative files remained safe. “That weekend, Todd and I felt like we earned our badges as leaders,” Hall adds. Hall may say that she only recently earned her stripes as a leader, but she has long been passionate about design. As a child, she loved fashion and often created her own clothing. By the time she was 12, she had fallen in love with architecture. After receiving a degree in International Relations—Hall’s mother is from Brazil, and Hall has always been interested in other cultures—she began working in the apparel industry. But after more than a decade, her passion drove her to a design firm.

Knock Inc.’s Portfolio / highlights PearTree Greetings' Holiday

Target's PFresh Campaign

National Parks Board's White


Overview: Picture an enticing,

House Ornament 2010

Overview: This campaign was

lush photographic style and

Overview: The 26 sculptural

all about real people sharing

clear, clean copy.

paper evergreen trees featured

their personalized cards.

Cool Detail: Target’s PFresh

student drawings.

Cool Detail: The cards feature

two-store test resulted in sig-

Cool Detail: Knock Inc. was

a smart tagline—“You,

nificant sales increase and

invited to attend the tree-

shared”—that sums up the

quickly became the company’s

lighting ceremony with Presi-

whole idea. (pictured below)

expansion strategy.

dent Obama.

Hall started Knock Inc., a branding, design, and advertising agency, after receiving a noncompete when she left her previous firm. “I was 36, and I really wanted to see if I could do something on my own. I knew I could get a job, but I did not know if I could start a business,” she says. “I wanted to start a company that was focused on amazing work and the client—on long-term relationships.” The firm grew quickly due to Hall’s determination and the joy she receives from her work, whether it be a project for a Fortune 500 company or a small boutique client. Knock Inc.’s clients include Target, Nickelodeon, Crayola, Riedel Vivant, New Balance, DreamWorks, and the Tony Award-winning Children's Theatre Company. Over the last year, Hall was able to increase the firm’s client base by 30 percent. “We stud-

ied our strongest client relationships and used them as benchmarks to identify who would be a good match. At the end of the day, we want to work with clients that believe branding and design affects business, builds brands, and delivers results,” she explains. Strategies like this earned Hall the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women Award in 2010, which also includes an invitation to an exclusive executiveleadership program. Seven weeks after the fire, Knock Inc. was able to move into a new, permanent home, but neither employees nor clients will forget the leadership and control with which the firm handled the devastating situation. “We could not wait for the insurance companies, or debate with our landlord,” Hall says. “We needed to protect our staff and our clients and get back to work." —Thalia A-M Bruehl

july/august 2011 |


a new path

Setting Sail

When Maria Horton joined the Navy, she was catapulted beyond her small hometown—and, after years of skill building, she landed at the head of a successful information-assurance and cyber-security company

breakout move Just a year after earning her nursing degree, Horton joined the Navy and quickly moved up the Nurse Corps ranks.


PATH to the top 34

As founder and CEO of information-assurance and cyber-security firm EmeSec Incorporated, Maria Horton is quickly becoming a powerful figure in the information-technology industry. Since 2003, the firm has provided support and technical assistance to government contractors, earned a number of accreditations, and garnered a reputation for excellence and efficiency in the field. When her career began, though, Horton didn’t plan to pursue entrepreneurship. She grew up in western Pennsylvania, in a conservative coal mining town with a population of less than 5,000 people. While living there, she says she felt pressured to follow a more traditional path. “The women in my town didn’t have many options; they became teachers or nurses,” she says. And, for a while, Horton seemingly followed suit. She received her nursing diploma in 1981 and began working as a nurse. Still, she wasn’t completely fulfilled. “I imagined that there had to be more to life than just getting a job and getting married,” she says. She decided to break the mold by entering the Navy—and, with this bold move, she set a new framework for her career. “I was commissioned as an ensign in October 1982, and I ended up having an extraordinary career in the Navy,” Horton says. She found herself rapidly moving up in the Nurse Corps ranks, reaching the post of director of information technology services at the Naval Medical Information Management Command, where





April 2003

Horton takes on

She is named

Horton is selected

She retires from

After three months

her first naval


as the CIO for the

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she was responsible for the development of centralized information-technology purchases for all Navy hospitals and clinics. During this time, she also managed to complete her bachelor's and master's degrees. “While pursuing my master’s degree, I focused on telemedicine and technology and, as a result, was placed in terrific technology positions,” Horton says. In May 2001, she was selected as the chief information officer for the National Naval Medical Center. “I was the right person at the right time for the job,” she says. “I was the first and only Nurse Corps officer to hold that position. It was a great honor.” Both the experience she gained in that role and the ensuing emphasis on information security following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks led Horton to her second career. In 2003, she retired from the Navy to pursue a career in the private sector. She worked for an information-technology company for three months before deciding to branch out on her own. “The company wanted me to articulate a clearer vision of how their company could be successful, but I felt that CEOs are responsible for the vision,” she says. Horton realized that if she were to establish a company’s core identity and have a strong role in business-development, she’d rather work for herself and enjoy the benefits of ownership. That same year, she launched EmeSec. Her approach was cautious: Horton and her late husband decided to give the business nine months to succeed before pulling the plug. “We knew we were able to fund our own living expenses for up to a year,” she says. But within six months of launching, EmeSec received their first subcontract. “It’s unusual that we were successful so quickly,” Horton says. Today EmeSec is recognized as a servicedisabled veteran-owned and woman-owned business, and an 8(a) small business. It’s also one of only 31 American companies to hold the ISO/IEC 20000-1: 2005 certification for IT Service Management. Horton believes her time in the Navy and her education as a nurse have contributed to her company’s success. “At first, people seemed to believe that I needed to have worked in the military telecom-satellite division or hold a computer-engineering degree in order to operate a company like EmeSec,” she says. “But my training and various positions have helped me understand and thrive in the [cyber-security] field.” —Lisa Ryan

Paladin Consulting is a business services and human capital solutions provider. Our services enable clients across the U.S. and Canada to achieve rapid resource deployment in support of business needs while neutralizing workload challenges.

Solutions for Success

At 3D Strategies, LLC our clients are successful because we base every engagement on understanding our clients’ current business challenges and their vision for the future BEFORE identifying the best solution to accommodate the current with a design for the future. We focus on mobile application development; content management systems (proprietary and open source); Web 2.0 services and social media integration. We are subject matter experts in these areas. The 3D Strategies team works successfully with the latest proprietary and open source technology, and web services to implement award-winning solutions. For these and all projects we operate within a defined process including rapid, structured design and development; strict quality control and quality assurance resulting in products our clients want – on schedule and on budget.

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Sweet Success Armed with an arsenal of unexpected flavor combinations and a knack for luxury branding, Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, has rocketed to the top of the gourmet chocolate industry by Abi Nicholas

36 | july/august 2011

Mass appeal Markoff's creations run the gamut in terms of flavor, but they still manage to appeal to even the smallest palates.

atrina Markoff had two loves—cooking and horses— when she found herself at a career crossroads in her early twenties. She began weighing their pros and cons, envisioning her life 10, 15, and 20 years down the road in one direction, and then the other. Markoff eventually chose to pursue a career in cooking. Though she didn’t know it at the time, her journey to becoming a wildly successful chocolatier and entrepreneur had begun. “I’ve always believed that if you follow your heart, the rest will come,” she says. And so, after graduating with the Grand Diplôme from Le Cordon Bleu, Markoff bought a ticket to travel for nine months and “explore the cultures of the world through street food.” Her passport collected stamps from France, Spain, Italy, Southeast Asia, Korea, and Australia . And each country’s unique spices, flowers, and foods became her inspiration. But inspiration for what? She still wasn’t sure. “All I knew was that I did not want to work in a restaurant,” Markoff recalls. Instead, she passed the time in Dallas, Texas, working for her uncle’s mail-order company, buying, selling, copywriting, and managing its website. “I learned a ton about bringing a product to market, and the importance of having a story behind each product,” says Markoff, who was 24 at the time. “And I learned that chocolate sells really well.” And then it happened. “I had this epiphanous moment one night—I’d discovered a niche,” Markoff says. “Chocolate would be my medium for storytelling. No one had innovated in chocolate in the United States like this. No one put much emphasis on story.” Markoff's ephipahy also led her to conceptu-

alize a luxury brand. Today, each Vosges HautChocolat boutique is infused with an air of decadence, from the purple-hued color palette to the chocolate concierge. Beautifully packaged candy bars and exotic truffle collections are meticulously displayed on ornate shelves surrounded by an intricate lattice molding. Vosges is meant to be a luxurious, innovative experience, explains Markoff. So luxurious, in fact, that she has become the unofficial chocolatier to the stars: Kelly Ripa and Susan Sarandon, among many other celebrities, have all been known to indulge. And as the mission statement says: the Vosges experience is “rooted in a sensory journey of bringing about awareness to indigenous cultures through the exploration of spices, herbs, roots,

flowers, fruits, nuts, chocolate, and the obscure.” Markoff started with just $25,000 and a single business partner, whom she bought out after four years. “I pretty much did everything simultaneously,” she says. “I opened the first store in Chicago, as well as launched the website (where about 15 percent of sales come from today) and a newsletter, sold corporate gifts, and sold through friends of friends. I knew I wanted it to be multi-channeled from the get-go.” Thirteen years later, Markoff’s craving for “peace, love, and chocolate” has grown Vosges into a multi-million dollar company with revenue of about $20 million in 2010, and a 30 percent growth projection for 2011. The company has expanded to seven boutiques in Chicago, New York City, and Las Vegas, and Markoff has

july/august 2011 |


Inspiring style Each Vosges Haut-Chocolat boutique is unique, but they all inspire customers to live a life of luxury—at least gastronomically.

plans for an eighth boutique to open its opulent doors in Los Angeles this summer. Here, Markoff lays out her top seven tips for building a brand.


Carve out a niche In Markoff’s view, success is all about finding a niche. “There was no innovation in food in Dallas at the time I was working there,” she says. “It was just Tex-Mex and barbecue. I thought: there’s totally a market for this, most of these people have never even had curry.” Instead of being discouraged by the lack of culinary and cultural diversity, Markoff saw an opportunity. Dallas was the perfect launching pad for her luxury chocolate business, and her uncle’s employees were the perfect guinea pigs. She began bringing trays of truffles with paprika and wasabi and other exotic ingredients to the office, and encouraging her colleagues to try them. It took some coaxing, but it wasn’t long before they were craving Markoff’s innovative treats. “It was a warranty of future growth for me,” Markoff says. “I just knew that people were really going to like this.” The success of

38 | july/august 2011

her taste tests in Dallas gave Markoff the confidence she needed to make a move. And so, in 1998, she relocated to Chicago, where her then-business partner lived, and opened for business.


Follow your gut Markoff’s business has grown through a series of instinctual moves as opposed to carefully planned strategic decisions. For example, when she opened her second shop in New York City, the rent was four times as much as the flagship Chicago store, at which she had yet to turn a profit. But she formed an LLC and raised the Vosges flag in Manhattan anyway. She didn’t even tell her accountant. “On paper, I should have never done that,” Markoff says. “But it’s been so successful, and it was such a right move. I wanted to follow my instincts, and I did. And New York has been instrumental as far as the placement of the brand and international exposure. “It’s so, so important to value your own thoughts and impulses,” she says. “Because the more people you talk to, the more you second guess yourself.”

customer is king 3. The Walk into any Vosges Haut-Chocolat

boutique, and you’re instantly treated like royalty—for at least as long as you’re perusing the stylish displays of gourmet treats. Like most luxury brands, the customer experience is just as important as the product itself. “We focus on service to the umpteenth degree,” Markoff says. “We open up a box if a customer wants to try something. We guarantee perfection, and if anything is wrong, we send you something else.” Customers love the free samples and special treatment, but the company's commitment to service goes beyond that. Vosges offers a “concierge level of service,” Markoff explains. Her sales associates are true Haut-Chocolat aficionados, and they’re ready to suggest pairings, offer party ideas, and direct customers to the best restaurants in the neighborhood. And, of course, they can tell you anything you need to know about chocolate. “The service side is so critical,” Markoff says. “Really, I won’t accept anything less than perfection.”

an online community 4. Build The emphasis on customer service car-

ries over from the brick-and-mortar boutiques to the online experience. At a time when even the largest brands in the world are trying to figure out how to engage customers through social networks, Vosges seems to have perfected the recipe for digital engagement—and customer service is the main ingredient. For example, one customer noticed a problem with a coupon code. Within the hour, Vosges responded with a solution. A major testament to Vosges’ customer service, one satisfied patron actually made it a point to go back to the Vosges Facebook page and comment: “I called and was able to place my order. The person I spoke with—Meg—was absolutely delightful and very helpful with my order. Thank you :o)” Another customer simply responded: “Don’t you have a ‘Love’ button?” Through its Facebook page, Vosges has solved all types of customer issues and questions, from suggesting vegan options to replacing chocolates that just didn’t seem quite right. The company also posts product updates, relevant articles, and tips and ideas. The Facebook page has more than 3,000 “Likes” and almost a 1:1 ratio of corporate posts to unsolicited comments by customers who are so pleased with the product that they feel compelled to share the love online. Customers like Stephanie, a Vosges Facebook fan, take to the Web to rave about their experience. “I just had a piece of the Bacon Caramel Toffee with a glass of red wine and it was SO decadent and wonderful!! Thank you for these wonderful goodies,” she writes. Vosges handles its social media in-house, where just two employees manage the Facebook page. There’s no intricate strategy or detailed metrics goals, just two real people who understand and care about the mission of the company.


Know yourself and your ideal employee In the 13 years that Markoff has stood at the helm of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, she’s learned a lot about herself and, in turn, a lot about what she needs in an employee. She describes her leadership style as laissezfaire. “I don’t really have a lot of time to manage, and I’m really not a good manager,” she confesses. Once she was able to come to terms with that, Markoff realized that anything less than a self-motivated employee

wouldn’t work. She’s also wary of hiring anyone who’s too focused on the minute details to actually make progress, and anyone who’s adverse to change. Markoff’s company is based on the premise that people crave innovation and the unexpected—if pairing Hungarian paprika with chocolate isn’t innovative and unexpected, then what is?—and her employees have to be open-minded and willing to reject the status quo, just like Markoff does with each of her culinary creations.


Have a higher purpose Like every business owner, Markoff wants to make money. But for her, Vosges isn’t just about moving more units. “I set goals internally to model my personal ethics,” Markoff says. For example, she’s set ambitious eco goals for Vosges and has made great strides in achieving them. “I don’t want to be a hypocrite,” she says, so her certified organic manufacturing facilities and boutiques are fully powered by renewable-energy sources, namely wind. All of her candy-bar boxes are recyclable and are made from 100 percent recycled material. Her company ships green, cleans green, and operates green—Markoff even orders recycled office supplies for her employees. Vosges also supports organizations like Little Kids Rock, which brings free musical instruments and music instruction to public school children, and V-Day, a global activist movement committed to ending violence against women and girls.


Make a move When it comes down to it, starting a successful business is all about getting started. “Start something, anything,” Markoff says—rather, she pleads. “Just take one step. Because once you take one, then it’s easier to take the next. And then all of a sudden you’ve built a base.” Markoff finds it easier to move forward when she actually verbalizes her plans. “If I say it, I will do it,” she says, “for two reasons: one, it puts it out into the universe, and two, I think it’s so important to be a person of your word.” In which case, Markoff and Vosges have a pretty busy future that will include bean-tobar production and a luxury eco-resort. Whatever you do, Markoff urges, don't let good ideas languish. “The sooner the better. Start as fast as you can because it gets harder the older you get.”

Sweet How It Is

Markoff gushes about her favorite candy creations. Go to to learn more about her flavorful goodies. The Sweet: Caramel Marshmallows The Ingredients: French grey sea salt, burnt organic sugar, organic walnuts and pecans, and handmade marshmallow are all dripped in dark chocolate and topped with toffee pieces Why She Loves It: “Did you read the ingredients? Heavenly pillows of fluffy light marshmallow with pulley caramel dotted with nuts and just a hint of bitterness from the dark chocolate. Probably my favorite thing!” The Sweet: Cherry Rooibos Bar The Ingredients: Rooibos tea, hibiscus flowers, dried Northern Michigan cherries, and milk chocolate Why She Loves It: “I like the texture contrast of delicate tea needles and the fruity cherry bit bathed in caramel nutty milk chocolate.” The Sweet: The Rooster Chocolate The Ingredients: Italian cow’s milk Taleggio Cheese and 66% cacao bittersweet chocolate, roasted walnuts, Tahitian vanilla seed Why She Loves It: “The acid notes complement the bittersweet chocolate and the texture of tiny walnut piece.”

july/august 2011 |


Creativity Goes Corporate


SAN DIEGO MUSEUM OF ART 40 | july/august 2011

art in some societies,” she says. “This means creativity is decreasing, because people are not visiting museums or attending the arts. Societies would be better if they included the art component all the time. It should not be a luxurious thing. It helps us understand who we are.” Velasquez believes the first step in integrating society and art begins in the Many art-world executives were once practitioners in their field. As a result, schools. Once moving to California from they’re uniquely passionate about their work, and determined to promote culMexico, she found it disheartening to learn the state had cut so many youth art classes ture—and their craft— in their city. and programs. According to the California Take Margarida Eidson, for example. She began dancing ballet at age four; Department of Education, budget cuts today, she’s school director of the All American Ballet School and Company in eliminated nearly half of art, music, and Ventura, California. Barbara Gaines, the daughter of a film director, worked as drama classes. “There are many adults who have never an actress before founding the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. And Roxana been to the museum because they conVelasquez, who took an interest in art at an early age, recently became the sider themselves distant from art. It is first female executive director of the San Diego Museum of Art. crucial for art to be in schools,” she says. Although these women have little time left to practice their disciplines, they “How do you make the understanding of art as clear and easy for people who don’t remain dedicated to making art accessible for everybody, as they believe its come from an art history or artistic positive influence to be universal. Of course, they also must spend considerbackground?” able time on more traditional executive tasks, such as raising capital—and Admitting that money is tight, Velasfinding funds for a nonprofit in today’s economy is no easy feat. quez refuses to back down from her mission to make art accessible for everyone. The performance and fine-art industries have suffered cuts since AmeriShe says being able to contemplate ca’s economy took a turn for the worst in 2008. Art institutions in major beauty was what initially drew her to the American cities have felt the sting: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New art world. Now that she operates on the York City has lost nearly $1 billion in endowments, and cutback 15 percent of business side, she considers spreading this beauty “a live result,” and it is her its staff. The Seattle Art Museum cut 7 percent of its staff, decreased managmain goal. ers’ salaries by 10 percent, and implemented a two-week furlough for 2011. “We are brainstorming at this point because museums have changed. We’re When it comes to finding money for upcomVelasquez is also a mother to seven-year-old more like corporations because now we need all kinds of professionals, like accountants and maring programs, exhibits, and performances, Alejandro, and finds distributing time evenly keting people. It’s not just about the paintings.” these women have their work cut out for them. amongst her different roles in life challenging. Nonprofit organizations and institutions In May, she wrapped up “Thomas Gainsborargarida Eidson, school director of the are particularly challenged, because art ough and the Modern Woman,” an exhibit celeAll American Ballet School and Commuseums don’t typically receive government brating much of what Velasquez represents. “As pany in Ventura, California, believes bailouts, and investors aren’t exactly clamor- a woman, we have more challenges in this field. dance is essential to making a young ing to buy stock in ballet. This means artistic Men have it a little easier,” she admits. “Why girl an elegant woman. “I want as many kids as businesswomen must do what they do best— are we so special? Because we are, you know. possible to take ballet, but girls especially. I think creatively. I’m convinced of that,” she says. see so many girls at the mall, and they don’t The exhibit featured 12 Gainsborough paintknow how to walk,” Eidson exclaims. “Ballet is n the art world, women are underrepre- ings celebrating women in art and fashion in so important for young girls to learn how to sented in leadership roles. Catalyst, a the late 18th century. “Women were not supcarry themselves elegantly.” research-based organization generating posed to think then because that was considEidson should know: she began formal dance data about industry demographics, found ered dangerous,” Velasquez says. “Wonderful training at age four. When she graduated from less than 12 percent of female directors in the women have been a part of my shows as the artthe National Conservatory Dance School in art, recreation, and entertainment industries. ists and the art itself.” Lisbon, Portugal, she went on to professionally As the first female executive director at the San Born in America but raised in Mexico, dance for the National Dance Company of PorDiego Museum of Art, Roxana Velasquez is a bit Velasquez has worked in art museums for 20 tugal, the Royal School of Ballet in London, and of an anomaly. Hired in May of last year, she years and served as director for three major the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, began her duties in September, and her historic Mexican art museums for more than a decade. DC. In 1998, after a brief stint working in human debut has been a hot topic. In between the wel- She’s credited with creating international resources, she moved from DC to Ventura, come parties and receptions, Velasquez has exhibits at these museums, and for attracting where she began teaching dance. In December spent time exploring the culture of San Diego a large audience. of 2010, she landed a job as managing director of and attending concerts and symphonies. “There is such distance between people and

These three artistic types each made a corporate turn, but they’re still motivated by a passion for their craft by Cassady Sharp



july/august 2011 |



ALL AMERICAN BALLET SCHOOL IN VENTURA, CALIFORNIA the All American Ballet School. Eidson is passionate about teaching. Since her promotion, she still teaches classes to girls between the ages of three and five. “When I teach my little girls, I just adore their progression. I love seeing them turn into beautiful ballerinas,” Eidson says. “It might have something to do with being a mom to four boys.” A background in human resources strengthens her ability to do business, Eidson believes. Being good with budgeting and numbers is rare in the art world, she says. “As a nonprofit school, I’m very hands-on. I spend a lot of time writing grants for student scholarships, outside fundraising, researching new budgeting programs,” she explains. Eidson says that the school will never turn away a student who wants to participate in classes. The idea is that when it comes to a student with passion, money is a secondary concern. She doesn’t consider an increasing number of financial-aid requests a bad thing. She just sees it as a growing interest in ballet. “We have to find creative ways to fund these programs that are being cut in the art, music, and dance world,” she says. “The important thing is making ballet classes available for everyone who wants to take them.”

42 | july/august 2011

view her as setting the standard for a professional theater company. Back in October, she made her debut directing an operatic version of Macbeth at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Gaines received favorable reviews praising her blend of theatrical drama with a gritty contemporary approach. Although the Shakespeare Theater has come a long way since its early rooftop performances, Gaines admits that her industry is a tough one with rare financial reward. “There is no way you would survive in it if you didn’t love it. You could make far more money doing something else,” she says. Besides its wide range of performances, one of the theater’s crowning achievements is its Team Shakespeare program, which enrolled its millionth student in 2010. The program brings Shakespeare into the classroom through teacher training, tours in Chicago schools, as well as exclusive performances and interactive activities at the theater. Gaines explains that, not only does she artistically direct performances, she also distributes Shakespearean teachings to the audience which can be applied globally. She insists that one of the great things we share in this world is our response to artistic and performance art and the necessity for its regular presence in our lives.



margarida Headshot: Natausha Greenblott


arbara Gaines knows what it’s like to be discouraged. More than 20 years ago, she was repeatedly told that her idea to establish a Shakespeare theater in Chicago would never work. Besides, a man— British theater director Sir Tyrone Guthrie—had already tried and failed. “Even if it had failed, I would never regret trying,” Gaines says. “You may never get there, but the journey will have the integrity that is true to your heart.” Since she succeeded in its creation in 1986, Gaines has directed more than 30 Shakespearean plays and won numerous awards for her work, including a 2008 Tony for Outstanding Regional Theater. Gaines is still in awe of her own success. “That we even have this theater in Chicago is amazing,” she says. “I mean, we started on the roof of a pub in 1986." Although the theater puts on traditional renditions of Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth, other performances step outside the classical Shakespearean box. This winter, the theater’s season included Funk It Up About Nothing, a “hip-hoptation” of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Gaines says the theater serves as Chicago’s ambassador to international theater. “People are moved by good theater,” she says. “Funk It Up is so now and so edgy and so much fun. The response to that work was overwhelmingly positive. It was positive feedback about America and the work we can produce here.” This diverse approach certainly works in Gaines’ best interest. Within the industry, theater critics, veterans, and novices

How to Build an All-Star Staff By Annie Monjar

A company is only as good as its weakest employee. Learn how to build—and keep—a dream team.

july/august 2011 |



s a managing partner at Utah-based Snapp Conner PR, Cheryl Snapp Conner has a vested interest in her company’s hiring process. Good employees do good work—and good works makes money for her firm. Snapp Conner recognizes this, and so she searches to find the absolute best candidate for each position. Once she’s snagged the top talent, she compensates them accordingly. For example, she knew one young man from his work as president of Brigham Young University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. She hired him, found his work to be as beneficial as she’d predicted, and recently gave him a raise. Like Snapp Conner PR, many companies dedicate much time and effort to recruiting, hiring, and maintaining talent. They rightly recognize employeeengagement efforts as a worthy investment. “A company’s competitive advantage is achieved through the quality of its people,” says Laura Sejen, a global practice leader at Towers Watson, a management-consulting firm headquartered in New York. “Human capital is the heart of your firm, and you need to treat it just as you would your financial capital, so you can get the best return on investment.” It’s not easy to keep employees happy, especially during an economic recession. Unfortunately, HR is often among the first divisions to downsize when money is tight. “Recently, I had a client that, to save money, had two people handling the HR for the whole company,” says Adrienne Graham, the president of Hues Consulting and Management, a recruitment and consulting firm. “It was a complete disaster.” With locations throughout the United States and some in the Philippines, the company was too big for the small HR team to handle. Many unsatisfied employees felt their needs weren’t being addressed, and left. To help you avoid a similar debacle, MARCH checks in with HR consultants and entrepreneurs for tips on how to build—and keep—a great staff.

networking. It’s a critical prong of recruiting today, and not expensive.” For companies looking to fill senior-level positions, or small companies with few positions, experts generally recommend pooling from an industry network. This is one of the most reliable ways to find a person whose personal and professional qualities you already know. “Participate in industry associations and attend their meetings,” Greaner advises. “You’ll meet a lot of great people who are involved in their industries; the high performers who do things above and beyond their normal jobs.”

The screening process  DO check references.  DON’T ask generic interview questions. Instead, challenge candidates to explain what they would do in job-specific scenarios.

Once the right candidates are found, and the screening process has begun, Greener says it’s important to understand exactly what you’re looking for, and to formulate interview questions accordingly. “Having a very clear position profile is important,” she says. “It determines what you are looking for,  DO add an attractive recruiting page to your company website. what the critical skills are, and should serve as the Today, most job seekers look for opportunities online. basis for creating interview questions. If you ask  DON’T lump HR and recruiting into one division. general questions, you won’t have a good under They’re different functions, and should be treated as such. standing of how they can meet your needs and add value.” Recruiters play a special role in the construction of a successful Plus, she says, it assures that each candidate will have a firm company. “They're there for a specific reason: to do the finding,” understanding of what the position entails. says Graham. Besides checking out each candidate’s technical skills, it’s Jackie Greaner, a talent management and organization alignimportant to get an idea of their personality. Are they more pasment practice leader at Towers Watson, offers a few pointers for sive, or are they assertive in a group setting? Do they mind being recruiters. Especially for larger companies, she says, an inforsecond-in-command? Do they take initiative, or just follow mative, sleek, and exciting recruitment page on your firm’s webdirections? site is essential. With job seekers using the web more than ever, “Ask them what kinds of independent projects they have initiit’s crucial to make your company look inviting to the best ated, why they did it, and what the results were,” Snapp Conner candidates. suggests. “For us, seeing someone initiating PR work with direct, “If candidates see what opportunities you have, and if you have measurable results has much more value than someone with a an exciting message about your culture and value proposition, high GPA.” they’ll be intrigued,” she says. Sejen agrees: “The person should fit the position not just from a Greaner also suggests that firms “tap into as many social-media technical perspective, but from a cultural one, as well.” sites as possible, because you can find a lot of people through that In addition, giving the interviewee a few case scenarios will


Recruiting Top Talent | july/august 2011

allow you to explore their problem-solving style. Ask them how they would handle a team conflict, and what their steps would be toward resolution, Snapp Conner suggests. And, she says, “always check their references.”

Making an offer  DO show enthusiasm when offering a position to a candidate, but also be prepared to discuss the fine print.  DON’T make a job offer over e-mail. Always do it over the phone or in person. A job offer sets the tone for how a candidate will view the position and the company. When you pick up that phone to call and make an offer—and yes, it must be done via phone or in person—arm yourself with a detailed list of everything that needs to be covered. Before you delve into the fine print, though, let the candidate see your enthusiasm. “It sounds obvious, but make sure that you are very positive and optimistic about the individual when you’re making the offer,” Greaner says. “You are still in the recruiting process, and you want them to walk away from your call feeling good about the offer and your company.” After all, if you decided this person was a great hire, it’s likely that they’ve interviewed with other companies and possibly received other offers. Make sure, at the very least, that your company sounds the most excited. Lay out clearly what their compensation will be, what types of benefits they can expect, what their role will be, and who they’ll be reporting to. Later, send them that same information in an e-mail, so they have documentation.

Keeping hires happy  DO give regular employee reviews—they offer a platform for exploring each employee’s capabilities and attitudes.  DON’T overwhelm one HR generalist with too many responsibilities. If your firm is small, consider outsourcing HR services.

with compensation and benefits needs a specialized knowledge of market rates, and how to assess talent and tenure; it’s not something an HR generalist is skilled to do. You can’t get quality that way.” In fact, if your company has less than 50 people, Snapp Conner advises, it might not be a bad idea to outsource your human resource services. Perhaps the primary function of human resources is to keep an open communication with employees; personnel should feel comfortable going to HR to discuss their concerns and even their vision for their future at the company. Graham recommends doing staff reviews every six months: “The manager should be talking with each employee about their future. Reviews are the only way you’ll know if a person is happy, or what their expectations are. It’s a way to find out if they’re busy enough, and what their capabilities are.” For many firms, the recession has put a damper on employeeengagement initiatives. Still, there are ways for your staff to stay motivated and fulfilled even when facing budget cuts. Towers Watson, for example, conducts an annual Talent Management and Rewards Survey, which looks at the driving factors of employee attrition and retention. The survey aims to help the firm understand and compare employee perspectives versus employer perspectives. When asking employees what would convince them to stay at a company (or to move to another one, if the opportunity was offered), the firm found that employees valued a greater ability to manage their work-life balance more effectively. If a company would offer flexible hours, maternity leave, or the option to work from home, those factors would strongly influence employees’ decision to either leave or stay at a company. “Employers need to think beyond just compensation and benefits,” says Sejen. “Because so many companies have [frozen salaries] and bonuses, employers need to focus on offering flexibility. It doesn’t come at a tangible financial cost to them, and is valued by employees.” If a candidates and employees sense that you care about them and their performance, they’ll be inspired to do their best work every day.

Even the best staff won’t accomplish much if turnover is high. An effective human resources department—or, at the very least, effective policies—assures that employees are happy and productive. There are plenty of bases to cover when it comes to HR work, like payroll, employee relations, and conflict resolution. It’s easy to overwhelm a handful of HR people with too many duties. “A lot of companies lump all the human resource functions onto one person,” Graham says. “For instance, someone dealing

july/august 2011 |


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LETTERSHOP #10 customer service SUPPRESSION mail uspsonline bill payment SECURITY

SHE'S FLEXIBLE Deutschmann allows employees to bring kids and pets to work, so they can better handle the work-life balance. Photo: Jude Ferrara


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LetterLogic is the only company to issue a refund check on undeliverable mail, regardless of the reason


Chain Reaction Sherry Stewart Deutschmann awards employees with cushy perks and, in turn, they provide clients with stellar service

D E R E V I L E D LetterLogic is a premium lettershop services provider, specializing in outsourced printing and mailing of statements, invoices, and letters for businesses nationwide. On a recent survey, 100% of client respondents stated they would recommend LetterLogic to others. 1.800.477.0180

LetterLogic adheres to sustainable business practices, including using only SFI Certified paper and enveloples.

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Back when Sherry StewartDeutschmann was vice president of sales for a business-communications firm, she spent most of her time apologizing to clients for the company’s inferior performance. Determined to improve operations, Deutschmann asked the owners to let her run the division, but they turned her down because they felt she didn’t have the “bandwidth” to oversee operations. She quit the job and, armed with some savings, founded LetterLogic, Inc, a business-communications company headquartered in South Nashville, Tennessee. The company’s beginnings were humble: Deutschmann worked in the basement of her home, at a makeshift desk built from Goodwill filing cabinets and an old door. In its first year, though, the company netted $1 million in revenue. In its third year, the company brought in

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$4 million, enough for Deutschmann to move operations into a 27,000-square-foot, 100-year-old factory in South Nashville, Tennessee, where she now has a fully equipped office and a 200-year-old antique desk. Today, LetterLogic earns $20 million annually, and its staff of 35 employees serve clients in 42 states. “We have no debts, and we’re profitable,” Deutschmann says. She’s proud of how far she’s come: “When I first started the company, it’s not that I had never written a business plan, I had never read a business plan,” she says As president, Deutschmann acts as a visionary, setting company standards and creating and maintaining a positive company culture. Inspired by companies like Zappos and Southwest Airlines, Deutschmann distributes ten percent of LetterLogic’s profits

Deutschmann distributes 10 percent of LetterLogic’s profits among employees every month. The profit share is split evenly, so that each employee knows his or her job is equally important.

among her employees every month—the profit share is split evenly, so that each employee knows his or her job is equally important. LetterLogic offers employees full medical, dental, disability, and life insurance; as an added perk, the company helps employees accomplish their personal goals by giving loans for down payments or closing costs on their first homes. Deutschmann also knows what it’s like to be a single parent, so she allows her employees to bring their kids—and their pets—to work. “At LetterLogic, the employees come first,” Deutschmann says. “The success of my business is not in spite of the things we do for our employees. It’s successful because of it. I take care of my employees. Their needs are met. They come to work happy and take great care of our customers. In turn, our customers gush about us.” Deutschmann once dreamed of being a singer, and moved to Nashville with hopes of becoming a star. “To be frank, running a printing factory was never in the plan,” she says. “But I saw a niche, a need, and found a way to make a living and to build wealth for myself and my employees. You have to be open to new dreams.” —Sally Deering

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the entrepreneurs

Early Adopter Ricki McGuire knew about new scanning technology first—and she staked her career on helping others to digitize their processes Think of Ricki McGuire As an ambassador of the digital age. As founder and president of Optitek Inc., an electronic documentmanagement and business-process-automation firm based in St. Louis, Missouri, McGuire has spent the past two decades helping other companies transition from manual to electronic forms of content management. Prior to launching Optitek Inc., McGuire worked as a sales representative for Tab Products, a manual-filing firm. At the time, Tab had garnered renown around the world for developing and manufacturing mobile-filing systems, as well as the first color-coded paperbased filing system. “Tab had the third document-management system in the marketplace, back when there were 5- or 12-inch optical platters, as opposed to CDs or DVDs,” McGuire says. “I knew this was the future of filing.” After the death of the company’s owner, the board of directors decided to sell off its filing division. “I didn’t understand why they were doing that,” McGuire says. “I thought it was a bad decision.” Though she kept reading about transition in the filing industry and thinking about opportunities, McGuire didn’t pursue her ideas until a family tragedy occurred: her father passed away, which caused her to pause and reflect on her own life. “I had always wanted to own my own business, and viewed this transition in filing as an opportunity,” she says. “I knew I needed to just go for it.” Freshly inspired, she launched Optitek Inc. in 1992. The company began as a full-service scanning bureau, and has since evolved into electronic-content-management services. Today, the firm concentrates on businessprocess automation by providing the software and professional services needed to integrate systems and implement those processes. Optitek Inc. also offers a hosted document solution for companies who do not wish to actually purchase the electronic-content-management soft-

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Tech savvy McGuire launched Opitek Inc. in 1992 as a fullservice scanning bureau, before scanning technology was widely used. Photo: David J Studios

ware, or do not have available IT resources. At the outset, McGuire's clients had limited knowledge about emerging technologies, including scanners. “We would go out and do demos, and people wouldn’t believe that we had actually scanned the piece of paper that was showing up on the computer screen,” McGuire says. “We were constantly having to educate people,” she says. As an entrepreneur, McGuire also had to learn to balance a personal life with the demands of building her own business. “In the beginning, all I did was work. I hated weekends because there was no one to talk to in the office,” she says. “I was wearing myself out. So four or five years ago, I took up golf; I try to get out at least once or twice a week.” McGuire may have found more time for relaxation, but Optitek Inc. shows no signs of slowing. “We have a pretty aggressive growth plan for the next five years,” she says. That plan includes developing niche products, and acquiring government contracts or work as subcontractors with larger contractors. —Lisa Ryan

Strategy to Share

Embracing Change

The strategy: Being an early adopter has helped McGuire’s business to thrive. Optitek Inc. was the first scanning bureau in St. Louis, at a time when scanning a document necessitated manually indexing the document for retrieval purposes by hand. McGuire and her team created a way to automatically insert the information from a customer database, saving Optitek and its customers both time and money. why it works: “Developing this method was extremely innovative at the time,” McGuire says. “No one else was doing it, and we won several new customers because no one else could match our price.

the entrepreneurs

Problem: Ineffective and Costly Employee Benefits Administration

moving on After her unexpected medical discharge from the Navy, Craig founded a successful software engineering firm.

Solution: Integrated Employee Benefits and HR Management Solutions Keystone Benefit Group is a provider of , the only single source data management software designed for HR managers by HR managers. reduces benefit administration costs and processing time by as much as 75 percent.

Rolling With the Punches Confronted with professional and personal roadblocks, Carol Craig refused to be defeated Carol Craig, CEO of Craig Technologies, has a knack for looking on the bright side. When a knee injury led to her medical discharge from the Navy, where she was a P-3C Orion Naval Flight Officer, she didn’t despair. Rather, she decided to return to her pre-military career as a software engineer. This time around, Craig wanted to tailor her professional life to the needs of her family, including her husband, John, who was still in the Navy. She began looking for flexible work that would allow her to put her best talents to use. In 1999, she began to offer her own software- and systems–engineering consulting services to commercial clients, and Craig Technologies was born. After only a decade in business, the firm now boasts nearly 240 employees and more than 50 government and commercial contracts. Craig says her company is on track to make $30 million in revenue in 2011. “During my time as a civilian engineer, I identified a lack of customer attention and technical follow-through,” she says. Craig’s own attention to detail has been key to the firm’s success. After working for the mili-

tary, it was difficult for her to ignore deficiencies in the ways other firms handled contracts. “I saw my business begin to increase simply because of the quality of work I was producing,” she says. She initially handled the business alone, but Craig soon recruited her mother, father, and husband to help with the company. “It made sense to bring John in as my senior military advisor—even on an unpaid basis—because our military [experience allows us to better serve] our targeted customers,” she says. “It's great working with my mom and dad. They help to remind me of where we came from, and it’s important to stay humble!” Despite the steady and impressive growth of her firm, Craig admits that it did not come without both personal and professional challenges. As her company began to grow, the Craigs learned that their first child had been born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that can cause cognitive and behavioral dysfunction. “It forced me to adjust my [schedule], and I learned how to achieve a healthy work-

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the entrepreneurs life balance by making family a priority, and bending corporate operations to fit around my personal needs,” Craig says. Always an optimist, Craig says this difficult period actually made Craig Technologies a better place to work. “I never want people to feel pressure to ignore family or health obligations for the sake of job security,” she says. “I honestly can say that I understand how difficult life can be at times for people,” she says, adding that employees are granted flexible scheduling options, generous paid-leave allowances, and great health benefits. The result of an understanding workplace, Craig surmises, is an efficient workplace. “I believe a positive attitude and passion for what we do contributes significantly to our success,” she says. “There are so many opportunities available to anyone who has the drive and passion to pursue them.” Her own passion is evidenced in her concurrent enrollment in two PhD programs (one in electrical computer engineering, another in modeling and simulation). Craig acknowledges that there are roadblocks and challenges ahead, but it’s no surprise that she has a positive outlook. “It is still more difficult for a woman in this business, since we have major responsibility for our husbands, children, and family, but I’ve learned to relax and remember that my family is the most important thing in life,” she says. —Carolyn Dorant

Strategy to Share

Set yourself apart from the competition

The STRATEGY: Craig wanted to ensure her company would stand out among the other commercial-service firms performing under federal contract. "We find out what the competition is doing wrong, or [identify] mistakes they are making and not addressing,” she says. For example, Craig noticed that other consulting firms in the government sector were often lacking in customer attention and technical follow-through. Craig is able to deliver on those issues, thanks in part to the disciplined eye for detail she developed while in the military. why it works: Craig says she saw her business increase “simply because of the quality of work” it produces. And after only a decade in business, the firm boasts more than 50 government contracts. ©2011 Spherion Staffing LLC

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risky business After launching Benefit Express Services, Bradley had to take out a second home mortgage—but the risk paid off, as the firm now nets more than $9 million in annual sales.

"I always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Maria Bradley, owner of Arlington Heights, Illinois-based Benefit Express Services. “I started working in the [employee-benefits] industry in the 1970s, and I had a chance to flex my innovative muscles.” Back then, Bradley was working at Miller, Mason, & Dickenson, an employee-benefits consulting firm. When the firm was purchased by Aon Consulting, the workplace shake-up led Bradley to move from Philadelphia to Chicago, where she pioneered Aon’s outsourcing practice. Bradley was quick to embrace new technological tools to organize a paperless employee-benefit system. She courted the idea of digital benefit statements, pensionadministration systems, and employeebenefit data management—all in the early stages of the computer industry. Her knack for finding forward-thinking solutions inspired her to break out on her own and start Benefit Express Services. Making the transition from managing Aon Consulting’s outsourcing practice to helming her own benefits-administration business hasn’t been easy. As the owner, Bradley has taken risks and made sacrifices to

“At Benefit Express, our unique, highly involved partnership approach and dedicated levels of client service distinguish us from others.”

Ahead of the Curve Maria Bradley’s innovative spirit has helped her to stay ahead in the employee-benefits industry

Strategy to Share

Seek Referrals

THE STRATEGY: Ask satisfied clients to refer your firm to potential new clients. “Word-ofmouth is the best advertisement proven for the company,” Bradley says. And so, when working with clients, the company always asks for references. WHY IT WORKS: Recently, Bradley and her chief customer officer went to meet a prospective client. Upon entering the building, they ran into one of their current clients. “We had such a good relationship, that she walked us up to our prospect’s office,” Bradley says. “Her onthe-spot testimonial made it an unforgettable introduction. We can sell ourselves, but people are looking for real, honest references from client experiences.”

become a successful entrepreneur. “I took out a second mortgage on my home, and I took the constant risk of managing the company’s finances,” she says. “But I’m a brave person. After all, I moved single-handedly with three children from Philly to Chicago. The risks were worth it.” Named one of the 50 fastest-growing women-led companies in North America, Benefits Express is a full-service employeebenefits administration outsourcing firm that focuses on administration solutions. “We offer high-end intuitive HR and benefits administration and enrollment tools,” says Bradley, who is a certified employee-benefits specialist. “There’s a real advantage to how we do things. We are not order-takers. Our team has strong benefits knowledge, and we integrate those ideas into real solutions tailored for each client.” Bradley is responsible for everything from

administration to technology services, not to mention managing a client list that includes University of Chicago Hospitals, Snap On, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “Companies need to be as lean as possible, so they’re outsourcing more and more benefit functions, which affords the time to focus more on their employees,” Bradley says. In 2001, Bradley launched her company with just two employees. Now she’s staffing more than 100 and netting more than $9 million in annual revenues. “We stress to our clients that they are our partners. It’s not just our responsibility to respond with a ‘yes,’ but to integrate examples, options, and solutions in our consultations,” she says. Bradley is taking steps to revolutionize the firm with My Benefit Express, an online enrollment communications tool. The tool aims to decrease overall healthcare costs, leverage benchmarking industry practices, provide a method to validate, and update carriers with eligible dependents. Bradley understands that, at any give time, there are changes to be considered and new directions to be examined. “We have to be responsive to the changing healthcare environment, and adept at innovating solutions to better serve our clients and their employees,” she says. —Kaleena Thompson

In 2001, Bradley launched her company wth just two employees. Now, she's staffing more than 100 and netting more than $9 million in annual revenues. july/august 2011 |


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the entrepreneurs

the entrepreneurs

in the Zone Husband-and-wife duo Michelle and Michael Kilby provide clients with land-coordination and zoning services

Based in Birmingham Alabama and serving the Southeast

Land Planning Land Surveying Civil Engineering Municipal Engineering 1550 Woods of Riverchase Suite 100 Hoover, AL 35244

Establishing a land-surveying firm was not in Michelle Kilby’s life plan. “I didn’t have a background in engineering or surveying,” she says. Still, when she met her husband, Michael, she began to reconsider her career in business development. “I was a client of his engineering firm,” she says. “We got married. Then we realized we were both unhappy with our respective firms. We felt this was an incredible opportunity to make a career change.” Kilby’s husband formed a business plan while she recruited clients. And, in 1998, the duo formed MKAssociates, a Warrenton, Virginiabased company that provides nationwide land coordination and zoning services for corporations and commercial and residential properties in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. MKA is the only national certified womanowned company in the industry. “We have an edge over our competitors because this effects super-giants, like Walmart, [who use] diversity

tracking,” she explains. “Companies are striving to diversify their supplier services with womanowned and minority-owned businesses.” Kilby uses her entrepreneurial skills in business development and client-relationship management to fortify existing partnerships and acquire new ones. She often meets with top-level executives in major corporations involved in commercial real estate. One such acquisition is taking MKA in a new direction. Since 2009, Kilby has worked to further develop an existing relationship with a major oil company that was selling its entire portfolio of more than 2,200 gas station properties. “Once the announcement was made in the media, I started the hunt to find the right person responsible for awarding the required land-surveying services.” After much persistence and efforts to track down the right contacts, MKA was contracted to perform services for the properties. This has increased the workload and the gross revenue

surveying the LAND MKAssociates provides much-needed surveying and zoning services to corporations and commercial and residential properties alike.

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the entrepreneurs

“Companies are striving to diversify their supplier services with womanowned and minorityowned businesses.”

t s ir

r e d



—Michelle Kilby, Cofounder two-fold for 2010. Her tenacious business skills have earned her numerous honors, such as a Women’s Business Enterprise Award, an MBE Award, CREW Network, and the 2010 Annual Achievement Award. When she’s not in the office or on a job site, she’s making her mark with the American Land Title Association, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, Women’s Presidents Organization, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. In addition, she is an active volunteer with ThriveDC, a women’s homeless shelter. Becoming involved in organizations and her community has opened doors and garnered success for MKA. This success is also apparent in MKA’s client base, which includes Fortune 500 companies such as Exxon Mobil, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Shell Oil, and more. Kilby advises aspiring female entrepreneurs to get certified and make connections with other women in the industry. “I’ve found that it’s beneficial from a professional and personal standpoint. It has really opened doors for me as an entrepreneur.” —Kaleena Thompson

Strategy to Share

Building a Client Base THE STRATEGY: Kilby worked hard to identify corporations that need land services. “It can be challenging and daunting, but the more I persisted to find those clients who need our services, the better the outcome,” she says. WHY IT WORKS: For one project in the oil sector, it took Kilby several months to hone in on the primary contact who could grant her the contract. Her persistence landed her the deal and paved the way for future growth.

Sensible IT Expertise To Help You Grow TANTUS Enterprises provides full support for your IT systems from carriers to servers to workstations. Our clients engage us for targeted projects and leverage our depth of expertise to manage their IT systems.

Since 2002, TANTUS Enterprises has helped middle market firms in the greater Chicago area sensibly maintain and upgrade their IT systems. We help our clients grow by applying the right technology at the right time. We build

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877-4TANTUS (877-482-6887) july/august 2011 |


the entrepreneurs

Payroll Guru Goes Global

Foreign EXCHANGE Honomichl started handling one client's payroll needs in Dubai, and now she provides payroll services for clients in 97 countries.

Michele Honomichl handles complex international payroll issues, so her clients can stay focused on boosting business

Many major corporations have staffers stationed around the globe. It can be complicated to manage payroll across many countries; third-party support can ease the burden of such complex operations. Michele Honomichl recognized this niche, and so she used her experience in auditing, corporate HR, and expatriate management to become an expert in global payroll consolidation. In 2004, she founded Celergo, a company specializing in international payroll-consolidation services. She used her past work experience, along with her business education, to make it successful. “I worked for Ford Motor Company as an international internal auditor before switching to corporate HR to support the creation of regional centers of excellence for managing expatriates,” Honomichl explains. After leaving Ford and pursuing an MBA at Indiana University, Honomichl launched her first company, GPSLink, which was an

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expatriate workflow technology. While at Indiana University, she met her partner, Bert Brown, and he joined GPSLink about one year after its inception. But Honomichl soon identified a greater need. “All the while we were selling GPSLink services, companies were asking: great that you can handle my expatriates, but can you pay my four French employees in France?” she says. “Bert and I realized the market was actually in local payroll versus expatriate management. So in 2004, we revamped our business plan and launched Celergo to pay locals around the world.” Seven years later, they’ve been able to keep up the momentum, with Celergo having grown into a $13 million company with offices in Chicago, London, Houston, and Singapore. The firm has more than 120 clients across 97 countries. Today, Celergo applies its expertise in dealing with complex country require-

“Companies were asking: you can handle my expatriates, but can you pay my four employees in France?” —Michele Honomichl, founder

ments compounded by cultural and geopolitical issues and supporting clients’ local and expatriate payrolls in a variety of sectors including financial services, oil and gas, staffing, technology, education, real estate, manufacturing, and consumer goods. The company was recognized as one of the 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work in the Chicago area, based upon employee surveys. “Celergo has worked hard on creating a work place based upon core values,” Honomichl explains, pointing to some of the company’s core values, such as passion, entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and global diversity. “These values were created by the employees of Celergo and are core to its culture.” In addition to sticking with their original values and sales strategies, Honomichl and her partner have been focused on strengthening their core competency since day one. “During the initial years, when clients were asking us to do everything from entity set-ups to employment contracts to benefits, we stayed focused on global payroll consolidation,” she explains. “This allowed us to keep risk at a minimum and get very good at what we do best.” Honomichl thrives when her schedule is full, and so she’s constantly looking for new opportunities. “I am an experience junkie,” she says. “I love new challenges and experiences.” She encourages others to take a similar approach. “My best advice to entrepreneurs is just go out and do it,” she says. “Stop talking about it, stop writing about it, just do it.” —Kelly Matlock a message from tantus enterprises Michele Honomichl and the Celergo team have entrusted TANTUS Enterprises to build reliable IT systems while also stretching their budget. This partnering approach has allowed Celergo to flexibly apply our skills when they are needed and, more importantly, it has enabled them to focus on growing the firm. Celergo’s success exemplifies the power of aligning a firm’s resources with its core competencies.




Recognizing great leaders On behalf of Wells Fargo, we congratulate Michele Honomichl on her welldeserved recognition. Thank you for allowing our team to support you through your ongoing success.

Brian Ruger, Vice President Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Group – Chicago 312-845-9828

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july/august 2011 |

enterprising minds

custom made At request the request of its clients, Grigsby's firm can add customized messages to its paper products. The personal approach has helped the company to win new clients. Photo: Brian Yarbrough

Signed, Sealed, Delivered Moonlight BPO offers custom document-management and print-to-mail services, and founder Brenda Grigsby says the made-to-order approach wins—and keeps—clients

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As a single mother and a waitress, Brenda Grigsby wanted to give her kids a better quality of life. And so, in 2002, she purchased a limping mailing company for $600,000—and transformed it into a successful business that nets more than $5 million annually. One of Grigsby’s secrets to success is constant innovation. “I’ve always tried to look ahead of my competition and do different things,” Grigsby says. “I stay ahead of the game with cutting-edge software and equipment.” Moonlight BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) provides onsite document-management and print-to-mail services including mail processing; document scanning, storage, and archiving; confidential medical and financial; utility transactional documents; and cuttingedge advertising technology that puts commercial advertising directly on billing statements. “Our services help companies grow their revenue,” Grigsby says. “We become a partner with them. They don’t have to manage the equipment, they don’t have to hire the manpower and pay the benefits. They outsource to us rather than do it in house.” Moonlight BPO works with small and midsized companies throughout the United States and United Kingdom. Because of its certifications—the firm holds HIPPA, HITECH and

Shared Assessment, and SAS70-II certifications, and will soon have PCI certification— it has helped clients save money by providing an outsourced service for confidential-document handling. Moonlight BPO is but a handful of firms in the country that can boast this combination of certifications. The firm handles sensitive and critical healthcare documents, in addition to financial documents. Grigsby maintains Moonlight BPO’s steady rise in growth and revenue, while keeping an eye on the future. To continue a pattern of growth, she looks for great employees and cutting-edge technologies the company can use to generate income for clients. New services include onsite document scanning and archiving and the personalization-end variable data software “Transpromo,” which allows customers to receive their statements with commercial ads directly on the statement, instead of as paper-wasting envelope inserts. Grigsby also attributes her success to the firm’s personal approach. “Many of our clients didn’t have customized statements, but by using us as a partner, we customize to their needs,” Grigsby says. “Many of our competitors only offer their templates, but we will [provide customization] to add that personal touch, which helps them grow. We can add messages on their statements and personalize them, too.” Grigsby is proud of how far she’s come. After all, she began her career waiting tables and selling cheesecakes and macramé crafts to pay the bills. Her second husband, Dale Parkinson even wrote a book about her life, Minimum Wage to Millionaire. They hope Grigsby’s story will inspire women—and men—to follow their dreams. ” -Sally Deering

“Many of our competitors only offer templates, but we provide customization to add that personal touch.” —Brenda Grigsby, founder

SPEAKING PLAINLY Clients like that Robinson avoids tech jargon, and instead speaks in language they understand.

All Systems Go Alana Ward Robinson uses her high-tech wizardry to help other firms run smoothly

Alana Ward Robinson, owner and managing principal of Robinson Group Consulting (RGC), a Darien, Illinois-based IT-consulting firm, recently helped one client—a university—revamp its information-technology infrastructure. Before she came on board, the client’s IT systems were in disarray. The university was paying for services it didn’t need, buying unnecessary products, and failing to leverage the IT

talent of its own faculty and students. “The university brought us in for what they labeled an IT transformation project,” Robinson says. The project called for the creation of a governance structure across the university. RGC also consolidated and upgraded the university’s IT staff, and renegotiated its major IT contracts to get better terms. The university saved millions in costs. Before she began solving other firm’s tech issues, Robinson was a senior vice president of manufacturing operations with RR Donnelly, a global consulting firm. It seems that her transition to entrepreneurship went smoothly: Robinson founded parent company Robinson Holdings, Inc. with her husband, E. O’Neal Robinson. The couple then formed a franchise and, working in tandem with their friend Jennifer Gallagher, launched Robinson Group Consulting, Inc. with the aim of providing business advisory and IT-management services to businesses, nonprofits, and colleges and universities. Today, Robinson presents solutions that create better communication between management, administration, and IT departments,. To that end, RGC also performs talent assessments that identify opportunities to upgrade employees' existing technology skills. The firm’s clients, Robinson says, have been eager to recommend its services. “That’s how we get our business,” she explains. “The company has mushroomed due to our long-standing professional relationships and our ability to deliver excellent results for our clients.” Robinson remembers her company’s first client, a CEO who had mentored her back at RR Donnelly. He hired RGC to oversee a global SAP implementation, and he says Robinson is the only IT person who speaks in “language” he could understand. “We’ve capitalized on our ability to translate the complexities of technology so that an organization’s leadership can embrace it and govern without becoming techies themselves,” Robinson says. Being a techie, though, can be rewarding. In 2010, The Network Journal named Robinson one of the 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business. She was also selected as one of the 50 most important African Americans in technology. Robinson sets high standards for herself and her company. “Because we have a consultant business, people pay me to be a trusted technology advisor,” Robinson says. “That’s very close to my heart. I want my clients to view me as their counsel and trust me to advise them on multi-million dollar technology decisions. [I want them to know that] when we say we’re going to do something, we deliver.” —Sally Deering

july/august 2011 |


enterprising minds

Prepare for Takeoff

If you’re in need of some R&R, see Gloria Bohan—the founder of Omega World Travel helps millions to plan and execute travel plans

Omega World Travel began, quite appropriately, onboard a cruise ship. “[My husband Daniel and I] had our honeymoon on the ship, and returned the following year to relive the dream,” recalls Gloria Bohan, founder of Omega World Travel. Back then, she was a schoolteacher based in Washington, DC. “We had booked a small cabin and couldn’t help but notice all of the travel agents who were staying in the suites on the ship. I specifically remember pointing this out to my husband. It was at that moment that I started thinking about starting my own business.” Soon after, the couple moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia—and, in 1968, Omega World Travel was born. Bohan began working with a mentor who had much previous experience in the travel industry. “I started drawing on any contacts I had,” Bohan explains. “I would target travelers that other travel companies weren’t. I would work with everyone from senior citizens to highschool students. If my competitors were working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., I would work late and on the weekends.” At first, the workload shocked her. “It surprised me what a big undertaking this business was,” Bohan explains. “You never really rest in this business. It’s alluring and exciting. You must be proactive, have a vision, and carry that vision all the way though until the end. You also have to have a way to find out what’s on other people’s

Omega World Travel

through the years 58






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Mitchell Field. | july/august 2011

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“If my competitors were working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., I would work late and on the weekends.” —Gloria Bohan, founder

minds and how to communicate with them.” Once she got a handle on the job, Bohan’s pioneering instincts propelled her forward. In 1978, the firm rode a big wave after it automated its airline and reservation system. The system interfaced with accounting and produced management reports on travel spending for corporations. “This was the real beginning of managed business travel,” Bohan explains. In 1996, Omega World Travel launched, which today is the number-one seller of cruises online. “All of a sudden we were getting 260 inquiries a day,” Bohan recalls. “Our strong Internet presence will continue to drive the success of the company. More products are being launched. We are excited." Her employees are excited, too. Not often can such a large company—the firm has more than 800 employees and upwards of 160 offices worldwide—create an atmosphere where everyone involved feels that they are making a difference. Yet, for 40 years, the Omega World Travel team felt the love from not only their network of clients, but from the couple at the helm of the company. Through the years, Gloria and Daniel Bohan and their team have navigated deregulation, consolidation, and an ever-evolving world of technological advances to come out on top. Omega World Travel is now the third-largest travel management company in the United

States, serving corporate, government, and leisure clients throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Despite her large-scale success, Bohan herself has faced a number of personal challenges that have had an effect on where the company has been, and where it will go. “Obviously, my husband was always very involved in this business,” Bohan says. “He was very sick for seven years due to a brain injury, and spent the last six-and-a-half years in the hospital before passing away last August. My husband will continue to inspire me as I move forward in life. I feel his energy as do so many of my staff and friends who admired him.” ­—Tricia Despres a word from ihg IHG is proud to join March Magazine in honoring Gloria Bohan from Omega World Travel. We share a common goal – to provide quality services and products to our customers. We make it easy for Gloria and her staff to work with IHG because of our portfolio of wellrecognized and respected hotel brands – InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Hotel Indigo®, Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn Express®, Holiday Inn® Club Vacations, Staybridge Suites® and Candlewood Suites®. IHG is an international hotel company with more than 4,600 hotels in over 100 countries whose main focus is to create Great Hotels Guests Love.




The firm introduces

Omega rolls out

Omega launches


FlightLock’s Travel-

mobile applications

company TravTech.

Monitor security soft-

with global launch

ware for tracking

partner for Sabre


Travel Studio’s TripCase.

BlumShapiro applauds Terri Alpert ― a true entrepreneur with a strong strategic vision who is always looking three steps ahead.

The passion to unlock potential 866.356.BLUM

july/august 2011 |


enterprising minds

DOCTOR KNOWS BEST Allen left her medical practice to help her husband launch a tech business­—and never went back.

Tech Rx

As an MD, Padma Allen never expected to run a technologyservices firm—yet she thrives at the helm of TechnoDyne, LLC

As a young girl growing up in India, Padma Allen dreamt of becoming a doctor. She considered it to be the noblest of professions. Her dream came true, and during her time as a practicing MD, Allen created long-term relationships with several patients. Her knack for building relationships would come in handy in her next job: president and CFO of TechnoDyne LLC, a New Jersey-based technologyservices consulting business. Allen left her practice for two weeks in 1998 to help her husband pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur and business owner. “Having come from an entrepreneurial family, I immediately was up for the challenge,” she says. While on the job, Allen began to enjoy her new role. ”I soon realized this was an opportunity to be in charge, create wealth, and ultimately share it with those less fortunate. Moving away from being a physician was no easy decision, but I was able to visualize serving humanity in a bigger way.” Today, TechnoDyne and its 500 employees count Metlife, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Bank of New York, Citi Bank, Pfizer, and numerous Governmental and Federal agencies among their clients. The company, which sees annual revenues of more than $80 million, has been aided by its own transformational technology, which enables customers to meet revenue targets by creating a highly productive and flexible work environment. The technology is also competing effectively in the marketplace, but in the last year, TechnoDyne has seen a slight drop in growth, due to the natural end of some long-term projects and a slow in new business acquisition. Allen has already turned those numbers around; the firm has been working to strengthen core practice areas in Green IT and Cyber Security, two areas being actively supported by the govern-

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ment. TechnoDyne also turned its attention to emerging technologies like cloud computing, collaboration, risk and IT security, and corporate governance. TechnoDyne and Allen are well regarded in the business community. She was named as a 2010 CFO of the year by the New Jersey Technology Council. She also netted the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award (given by the Women Tech Council) and the Ernst &Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. It seems clear that, though Allen may no longer carry a stethoscope, what started as a two-week assignment and turned into a 12-year run full of success has certainly proven itself a noble profession. —Thalia A-M Bruehl

“Moving away from being a physician was no easy decision, but I was able to visualize serving humanity in a bigger way.” —Padma Allen, president & CFO

enterprising minds

YOUNG AMBITION Allen founded her firm when she was just 24 years old.

Survival Instincts

Amberly Allen’s fledgling company took a serious hit during the economic recession—but now, thanks to her strategic troubleshooting, it’s back on a path to growth

After launching Direct Innovations Marketing in 2005, Amberly Allen, the firm’s president and CEO, was soon confronted with a series of roadblocks that threatened to put the breaks on her company’s success. “I was 24 and looked 17,” she remembers, “and I assumed no one would take me seriously. I used to pretend I was a sales rep because I wanted people to take my company seriously.”

She may have been a young entrepreneur, but Allen had earned the chops to launch a marketing firm. For one thing, she has entrepreneurial pedigree. Her grandparents and parents both started their own companies, and setting out on her own seemed like the natural course. She had experience, too: after earning a degree in marketing from the University of Mississippi, she worked for two years in direct

mail and marketing as a sales representative. Her decision to strike out on her own, she says, was spurred by the sense that she could improve the direct-marketing business. “Direct mail is considered the Rodney Dangerfield of advertising,” she quips. “It gets no respect. I felt like we could be doing it better, and with more integrity for our customers.” That’s when Allen decided to take a leap of faith by leaving her old company and launching Direct Innovations, a full-service, direct-marketing firm. At the time, she had just $5,000 in savings to her name. Today, Direct Innovations annually serves between 100 and 200 clients. While much of its work relates to its direct-mail services (including art, design, list acquisition, and printing), the firm also performs SEO and Internet marketing. Direct Innovations’ primary client focus is auto dealerships and large auto groups. In the past two years, the firm has taken on clients in other sectors, including medical, wireless communication, and retail. When she was building up her roster of clients, though, Allen says there was a lot of lonely cold calling. “I have cold called every small dealership between Houston and the Mexican border,” she says. She knew that in Houston, she faced some tough competition—but she had a hunch that she could gain some traction by working with smaller dealerships. Her hunch was spoton, and Direct Innovations earned $1 million in sales its first year. In 2008, the company was named number 21 on the list of top 50 fastestgrowing female-owned businesses in Houston by the Houston Business Journal. Then, in 2009, the economic crisis slammed the automotive industry—which in turn effected Direct Innovations. “We took a 45 percent hit, and it seemed to happen overnight,” Allen says. Just when it had found its footing, the company had to whittle down expenses, which meant that Allen had to let people go. “My team was crucial to my success,” she says. “Letting people go is tough for any small business owner, because [employees] become like family.” Allen says that by focusing on sales and efficiency, she was able to weather the storm. That very year, in fact, she earned a Stevie Award for Best Entrepreneur in her business category (marketing firms with less than 100 employees). Direct Innovations brought in close to $2.7 million in 2010, and has set its sights high for 2011. “So many companies think they can just mail something and hope it sticks,” she says. “We arm and equip our clients with the right tools. Everything we do is custom. That’s how we get an understanding of what we’re going to do to make our work successful.”

—annie Monjar

july/august 2011 |


enterprising minds

ahead of THE PACK In the Navy, Gerding says she learned to "run faster" than her competition.

Her Second Call of Duty

For Heidi Gerding, a 24-year stint in the Navy was like business boot camp, equipping her with the skills to run a governmentcontracting firm

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“There are three things I pride myself on as a woman,” says Heidi Gerding. “I’ve been able to serve my country, raise a family, and start a business.” After more than two decades in the Navy, where she learned to be fiercely competitive and disciplined, Gerding founded HeiTech Services, Inc. The Landover, Maryland-based company provides information technology, management consulting and program support, and professional support services to the federal government. Gerding launched the company in 1999. Operations were headquartered in the basement of her home. Along with her business partner, executive vice president Jim Clement, she worked hard to quickly build HeiTech Service’s reputation. The firm generated $1 million in revenue in its first year. Gerding is focused on her goal of continued growth: the company earned $43 million in 2010, and she predicts it will gross $100 million by 2013. Gerding says she picked up her business philosophy during her early years in the Navy. The preparation for a young seaman to become a petty officer involved an indoctrination program. During the training, she was advised to run faster than her competition. It struck a chord in Gerding that still resonates.

“I keep moving ahead, faster and smarter than before.” —Heidi Gerding, President & CEO

“Coming up through the ranks, there would always be others following you, looking to take your job, and do it better and faster,” Gerding says. “Unless you were truly committed to running faster than those following you, you would fall behind. Interestingly enough, this was true of conducting business, and, as such, I have always considered the 'run faster’ concept. I am continually looking over my shoulder to see what kind of competition could overrun me, and keep moving ahead faster and smarter than before.” Today, as president and CEO of HeiTech Services, Gerding oversees the effective implementation of IT solutions that help reduce costs and operations for twelve federal government agencies. She says HeiTech Services’ expertise and ability to partner with its customers is key, and so she spends much of her day outside the office meeting with customers to ensure everything is on track. “HeiTech Services has a portfolio of expertise necessary to understand our clients’ missions, including their goals, objectives, and challenges,” Gerding says. “Because of that understanding, we are able to take over

work critical to success, but outside of our clients’ core capabilities. This allows our clients to focus, improve, and increase efficiency of their core competencies; raise their internal level of efficiency; and increase their levels of customer service.” Gerding also holds daily meetings with HeiTech Services’ senior management to ensure all sections of the company run seamlessly and that staff members working off-site have the tools they need to stay aligned with the company’s goals. Gerding holds the distinction of being Maryland’s 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year for government services and earned the Smart CEO’s 2010 Circle of Excellence in Customer Relations. She was also 2009 Vetrepreneur of the Year (Honorable Mention); received the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Enterprising Veteran Award; and won the Women in Technology 2008 Entrepreneur Leadership Award. Her proudest accomplishment is the success of her evergrowing company, which currently employs more than 500 people. “It’s a great feeling to know that in today’s economy, we are employing more and more people every day,” she says. —Sally Deering

july/august 2011 |


july/august 2011 |


giving back

life's work Being in the kitchen is "like a playground" for Ardapple, who grew up working in her family's concession stand at the county fair.


as (apple) Pie Mary Ardapple is committed to spreading goodwill through sweets

64 | july/august 2011


n Mary Ardapple’s opinion, “a cookie is a token of unconditional love.” As owner of the Peoria, Illinoisbased Apple’s Bakery, Ardapple uses sweets as a platform for her philanthropic efforts. Of course, locals frequently stop into Ardapple’s sweet shop for a pick-me-up—but her reach goes far beyond Peoria. Over the course of four years, she has donated more than 500 tins of homemade cookies to servicemen stationed overseas. She also routinely participates in the Heart of Illinois Harvest program, and gives work to inmates on work release. For Ardapple, spreading goodwill goes hand-inhand with owning a small business. “I have been able to give back in many ways,” she says. “My dad was always self-employed, and preached to me early on the [business owner’s] strong responsibility of giving both time and resources to your community.” Ardapple says her philanthropy work has boosted her own quality of life. For example, last Thanksgiving, a local resident who had been

serving overseas stopped by the bakery to personally thank her for sending a care package. Ardapple was deeply touched. “I never really gave much thought to how this business would enrich not only my professional life, but also my personal life,” she says. Through the years, Ardapple has built a reputation around her passion for helping others, and for the incredible baked goods she creates. She’s skilled in the kitchen, probably because she’s been whipping up different treats since she was a young girl. “My family and I had a concession stand at the county fair, where we would make homemade coleslaw and apple pie,” she recalls. “Just being in the kitchen was like a playground for me.” Ardapple attended college in Colorado, where she pursued a business and economics degree. She quickly realized she was better suited to the restaurant scene than the corporate world. “I wanted to work at a restaurant called Apple Valley Inn, but they wouldn’t even accept my application because I didn’t have previous experience,” Ardapple says. “Eventually, I talked my

way in and was asked to make barbecue sauce and apple pie. I knew I wouldn’t have a problem with that.” After a brief stint at the Apple Valley Inn, Ardapple returned to her hometown of Peoria and landed a job at O’Leary’s Restaurant, a fullservice restaurant housed in a historic barn. Years later, in March of 1984, she bought the restaurant. “It was a tough and challenging economic time in Peoria, but I believed that this was the kind of place that would succeed,” she says. “I have always felt it has been incredibly important to have a gathering place where people can come and consume food with one another.” When many of Ardapple’s customers began asking specifically for her homemade pies, she began to turn her attention to a new business venture. In 1998, Ardapple debuted Apple’s Bakery. With the debut of the bakery, Ardapple had found her niche, and she’s happy to report that she’s “fed a lot of people through the years.” It’s a safe bet that she'll continue sharing sweets­with her customers for years to come. —Tricia Despres

“A cookie is a token of unconditional love.”  —Mary Ardapple, Owner HEART OF GOLD Ardapple (pictured above with her husband) has donated more than 500 tins of homemade cookies to servicemen stationed overseas.

july/august 2011 |


march questionnaire Annie Byrd Hamnett

Photo: David P. Edwards

Need to spread the word about your business? If you live in Charleston, South Carolina, Annie Byrd Hamnett's your go-to girl. As founder and owner of ByrdHouse PR, she handles publicity for some of the Lowcountry's most high-profile restaurants and boutiques. Here, she dishes about her work-life balance and what keeps her energized.

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The Power of Inclusive Leadership “As a member and board member of The “As Executive Council, a memberLeadership and board member of I haveThe witnessed powerI of Executivefirst-hand Leadershipthe Council, inclusion and diversity inthebusiness. have witnessed first-hand power of Withinclusion my years of experience in and diversity in business. Fortune 500 companies and as an With my years of experience in entrepreneur, I’ve seen so much Fortune 500 companies and as an progress. But we have so much entrepreneur, I’ve seen so much further to go. progress. But we have so much to go. years, The Executive Afterfurther twenty-five

Leadership Council is poised to After twenty-five The Executive continue its work years, of building equity Leadership Council is poised to and diversity in corporate C-suites and continue its work of building equity boardrooms.”

and diversity in corporate C-suites and boardrooms.” Alana Ward Robinson President and Managing Principal Robinson Group Consulting


Alana Ward Robinson Managing Principal – Robinson Group Consulting

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