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THE STATE OF THE OHIO ECONOMY WHITE CASTLE SLIDES INTO SUCCESS

53 Companies That Have Grown and Positively Impacted Their Communities

CEO CORNER: WHAT’S NEXT FOR OHIO

Ohio Success Awards Winner Zeal40, Cincinnati. Stacy Koenig & Nicole Fariello Increased revenue and employees with more than 9% profitability


A LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER

The Power of Three T

he power of three. It’s a concept proven over time that to maximize effectiveness, you can have more than one thing working, but should have less than four. It’s a theme that can also apply to jokes, TV shows (Three’s Company) and, well, events. March 15, at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, we hope to see you for the inaugural Ohio Success Awards luncheon. As you will read in this issue, many of the companies awarded are ones growing in revenue, and a multitude show growth in employees. We also have nonprofits and governmental organizations that are pioneering new ways to work with companies while providing their local communities lasting value.

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Hence, for the Ohio Success Awards and feature, our power of three refers to forprofit companies, nonprofits and government. It’s a belief of ours that these major organizations provide us value in our lives and, when working well and partnering together, can serve us and our communities in ways beyond our imagination. If you like what you see in Ohio Business Magazine, we encourage you to sign up for a complimentary subscription and our weekly email updates. Let us know what you think—eharmon@ohiobusinessmag.com.


CONTENTS

WINTER 2019

4 Town Hall 5 CEO Corner BY TERRY TROY

6 MyHealth

Ohio experts give tips for healthy eating, information on vaccines and discuss the importance of an annual physical. BY LYNNE THOMPSON

DATELINE

8 Columbus

In Christy’s Shoes turns love of fashion into support for those in need. BY GAIL BURKHARDT

10 Akron

Akron focuses on new ways to develop the city, and Fuse Chicken faces modern challenges. BY JORDYN GRZELEWSKI & TERRY TROY

14 Cincinnati

The Urology Group connects to the community. BY JANICE HISLE

17 Watching Our Six

Ohio’s distinct economies face unique challenges and opportunities. BY TERRY TROY

22 Ohio Success Awards

The inaugural Ohio Success Awards showcase the growing businesses of Ohio. BY THE EDITORS

40 Ohio Brands

America’s iconic fast food burger restaurant “slides” into new markets. BY LYNNE THOMPSON

Family and Veteran Owned Publisher & President: Eric Harmon Editor: Terry Troy Managing Editor: Corinne Minard Contributing Writers: Gail Burkhardt, Jordyn Grzelewski, Janice Hisle, Eric Spangler, Lynne Thompson Creative Director: Guy Kelly Art Director: Katy Rucker Designer: Becky Mengel Freund Digital Content Administrator: Sara Elliott Production Manager: Keith Ohmer Sales & Operations Manager: Anthony Rhoades Sales Executives: Ian Altenau, Abbey, Cummins, Brad Hoicowitz, Susan Montgomery, Amy Scalia, Rick Seeney, John Specht, Katelynn Webb Advertising Manager: Laura Federle Events Director: Hannah Jones Events Coordinator: Alexandra Tepe Audience Development Coordinator: Alexandra Stacey Work-Study Students: Esvin Perez, Aliyah White Ohio Business Magazine Cincinnati Club Building 30 Garfield Place, Suite 440 Cincinnati, OH 45202 (513) 421-2533 Sign up for a complimentary subscription at OhioBusinessMag.com or purchase a copy at a local bookstore.

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TOWN HALL

Sounding Off AMAZON RESPONDS TO OUR FUSE CHICKEN STORY (SEE PAGE 10) While it’s Amazon’s policy not to comment specifically on matters under ongoing litigation, they did respond when queried about certain issues raised in our Fuse Chicken story. Here is that response from an Amazon Spokesperson: Our customers trust that when they make a purchase through Amazon’s store—either directly from Amazon or from one of its millions of third-party sellers—they will receive authentic products, and we take any claims that endanger that trust seriously. We strictly prohibit the sale of counterfeit products and invest heavily—both funds and company energy—to ensure our policy against the sale of such products is followed. Our global team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to and take action on reported vio- The new Amazon fulfillment center in North Randall, Ohio, has over 2 million square feet under roof. lations and notices of potential infringement. We also work closely with vendors, from Brand Registry within eight hours. With In order to detect bad actors and po- sellers and rights owners to strengthen our proactive innovations that learn from tentially counterfeit products, we make protections for their brands on Amazon. the information in Brand Registry, brands significant investments in machine learn- Any rights owner can enroll in Amazon’s in Brand Registry on average are finding ing and automated systems. We employ Brand Registry to manage and protect their and reporting 99 percent fewer suspected dedicated teams of software engineers, brand and intellectual property rights on infringements than before the launch of research scientists, program managers and our store. Brand Registry. We have also successfully investigators to operate and continually More than 100,000 brands are enrolled taken legal action against bad actors and refine our anti-counterfeiting program. in Brand Registry and are using our free will continue to pursue litigation and work When a business registers to sell products service to better protect their brand and with law enforcement where appropriate. through Amazon’s Marketplace, Amazon’s control product information displayed Customers are always protected by our systems scan information for signals that on Amazon—this means brands can A-to-z Guarantee, whether they make a the business might be a bad actor, and ensure their information is accurate and purchase from Amazon or a third-party Amazon blocks identified bad actors be- customers can make confident, informed seller. If the product doesn’t arrive or isn’t as advertised, customers can contact our cusfore they can offer any products for sale. purchasing decisions on Amazon. Amazon’s systems also automatically and We encourage rights owners who have tomer support for a full refund of their order. continuously scan numerous data points product authenticity concerns to notify us; we Customers trust that they will receive aurelated to sellers, products, brands and investigate all claims thoroughly. We remove thentic goods when they shop on Amazon offers to detect activity that indicates prod- suspected counterfeit items as we become and anything that diminishes that trust is ucts offered might be counterfeit. Over 99.9 aware of them, and we permanently remove unacceptable. Counterfeit is an age-old percent of all Amazon page views by our bad actors from selling on Amazon. Amazon problem, but one that we will continue to customers landed on pages that did not investigated and took action on 95 percent of fight and innovate on to protect customers, receive a notice of potential infringement. all notices of potential infringement received brands and sellers. n 4

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CEO CORNER CEO CORNER IS A FORUM WHERE OHIO BUSINESS LEADERS ADDRESS IMPORTANT ISSUES. THIS ISSUE, WE ASKED THREE CEOS FROM THROUGHOUT THE STATE: WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES FACING OHIO BUSINESSES IN 2019?

DANIEL WALSH

KIMM LAUTERBACH

UMBERTO FEDELI

Founder & CEO, Citymark Capital

CEO, REDI Cincinnati

CEO, The Fedeli Group

Ohio is a great place to start and grow a business. While we continue to have challenges related to talent attraction and capital formation, opportunity zones present a huge opportunity for the state. The Federal Tax Law changes in 2017 created 8,500 opportunity zones across the U.S. and 320 in Ohio. Investments in new real estate developments and operating businesses in these zones create significant tax advantages for investors and bring much needed investments to underserved communities across the state. Opportunity zones allow investors to defer taxes on capital gains for up to seven years, reduce the capital gains by 15 percent and forego taxes on future capital gains related to the opportunity zone investments as long as the investment is held for 10 years. The structure of this incentive provides significant motivation for a long-term investment in opportunity zones that will create jobs and encourage spending. These tax incentives can unlock a new level of creativity and entrepreneurialism across our state, helping to attract talent and capital. It is critical that Ohio move thoughtfully, nimbly and collaboratively as we are competing with other states to attract these long-term capital investments.

Ohio businesses have an opportunity in 2019 to influence the state’s talent base. The economy is strong on a national and state level, resulting in record employment numbers and continued strong capital investment and new payroll creation. The strategies being employed across the state to increase jobs and improve our economy are working. This creates an opportunity for businesses to think creatively about their talent strategy. Many companies that expanded in the Greater Cincinnati region in just the last 10 years are gearing up for a second or third expansion to accommodate their strong growth. Here in Greater Cincinnati, we are seeing an increase in local companies shaping the direction of our talent base to match unique business needs. Our companies are making great strides in closing the skills gap through partnerships with our local education institutions and training organizations. These companies actively engaged in the high school and postsecondary space, building awareness and filling their talent pipeline. Taking the opportunity to improve on this collaboration will pay off for Ohio in the future.

Nationally, we have three challenges that we are facing. I think the biggest concern we have long term in America is our deficit spending. We are spending significantly more than the revenue our government takes in—and it’s not just the $20 trillion we have in debt, but our unfunded liabilities. If we don’t get our debt and deficit spending under control, we will have problems down the road. The second issue is that they don’t raise the interest rates too quickly and create a recession. The economy is doing well. We don’t have a problem with unemployment or inflation. The third issue is trade, which I think will get resolved. The biggest concern you hear from businesses in Ohio is that they are having a hard time finding talented, qualified talent. We are fortunate that we have two outstanding people who are becoming governor and lieutenant governor. Governor [Mike] DeWine and Lt. Governor [Jon] Husted are dynamic, hardworking and will engage the various constituencies that are important be it public or private sector. Unlike Washington, people in Ohio are able to work in a cooperative, collaborative and cohesive fashion. n w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

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MY HEALTH

No Good Excuse

BY LYNNE THOMPSON

FEELING WELL SHOULDN’T STOP AN ANNUAL PHYSICAL

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he I-feel-perfectly-fine-there’s-absolutely-nothing-wrong-with-me reasoning makes putting off an annual physical downright easy. But Dr. Randy Wexler, associate professor and clinical vice-chair of family medicine at The Ohio State University, negates that justification, reminding that “feeling well does not necessarily mean there’s not something that you should be addressing”—conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prediabetes don’t come with symptomatic calling cards. Dr. Michael Todd, medical director of employer health solutions for Cincinnati-based Mercy Health System, adds that the annual physical is an opportunity to build a rapport between patient and physician. “If a medical issue does come up, that

patient has the confidence, the trust and, really, the relationship to be able to ask their care provider anything,” he says. To those who argue that they know their numbers relating to the aforementioned conditions, along with the various preventive tests and vaccines they’re supposed to get at prescribed intervals, Wexler answers that recommended numbers and screenings change not only with age but risk level. For example, the first coloncancer screening typically recommended at age 50 will begin earlier for those who have a first-degree relative or two second-degree relatives who developed the disease, usually 10 years before the age when the first relative was diagnosed.

SHINGLES VACCINES AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION AGAINST A TON OF PAIN One of the newer vaccines available helps prevent shingles. Dr. Michael Todd, medical director of employer health solutions for Cincinnati-based Mercy Health System, describes it as “a reactivation of the herpes zoster virus”—the same virus that causes chicken pox. Dr. Randy Wexler, associate professor and clinical vice-chair of family medicine at The Ohio State University, explains that the virus settles in the nerves and remains there, dormant, after a bout with chicken pox. If it does reactivate, it causes a skin rash along the distribution of a nerve that is often painful to downright debilitating. “For some people, the discomfort never goes away,” Wexler says. And according to Todd, a past episode doesn’t provide immunity.

THERE ARE TWO SHINGLES VACCINES: Zostavax. Wexler says the original, administered in a single shot, is 65 to 70 percent effective. According to Todd, it only is approved for use in adults (over age 60). And because of how the immunization is produced, it cannot be given to certain individuals— Wexler mentions the immunosuppressed and those on certain medications. 

Shingrix. According to Wexler, the latest version of the vaccine, administered in two shots, is about 98 percent effective. Todd adds that it is approved for use in adults starting at age 50—exactly when the risk of developing shingles increases.

“It is recommended that anybody who’s had the old one should get the new one,” Wexler says. However, not every insurance plan covers it. “We ask patients to check.”

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“The cholesterol level that is perfectly fine at [age] 40 may put you at risk at age 55,” he adds.

TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THE ANNUAL PHYSICAL: Bone up on family medical history. “It’s not uncommon for somebody to say, ‘My grandfather died of stomach cancer,’ and it turns out it was colon cancer,” Wexler says. “That generates a very different level of recurrent evaluation for colon cancer.” Todd treats patients who don’t have a family history “like they have the greatest risk of developing whatever condition we’re thinking about”—at least until he’s able to rule it out. “I think I speak for most docs.” Prepare questions abou t any physical / mental changes or issues. Wexler includes not i ng cha nges i n sleep and breathing, while Todd adds new skin growths, aches and pain, and variations in bowel habits to the list. While the physical includes a rev ie w of l i fest y le risks, bodily systems, Dr. Randy Wexler etc., Todd observes that “if a patient comes in organized with thoughts that have accumulated since their last visit, that drives a deeper, more valuable interaction between that doctor and that patient.” Dr. Michael Todd

Compiling lists of medications and  supplements. “Just because something is considered natural does not mean it’s safe,” Wexler says. “Just because something is natural does not mean it helps you.” n


DATELINE: AKRON

Time to Dine YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, WHEN YOU EAT IT

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leveland Clinic Chief Wellness Of- HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES: ficer Dr. Michael Roizen has a tip for winning that never-ending battle When you’re stressed and “hangry.” Avoid of the bulge and increasing energy at the the crash that inevitably follows a simplesame time: consume 80 sugar high—keep a snack percent of daily calories on hand that provides the during a six- to nine-hour fiber, protein and healthy window, ideally while the fat needed to allev iate sun is up. He cites recent hunger and satisfy the urge studies that support a caloto munch (raw veggies and rie eaten in the morning hummus, for example). is much more likely to be Roizen’s favorite is roasted metabolized than a calorie chickpeas, made by rolling eaten in the evening—a the legumes in paper towcalorie “much more likely els to dry them; spreading to go to fat.” them evenly on a baking “The relatively amazing sheet; sprinkling them with thing is that if you eat in a little extra-virgin olive the morning and at lunch, oil; and roasting them in a you’re not hungry at what 425-degree oven for 30 to 40 Dr. Michael Roizen you would consider normal minutes, shaking the sheet dinnertime,” marvels Roizen, who estimates every 10 minutes. Roizen likes to season his he used to down 70 to 75 percent of his daily with garlic, rosemary and cayenne before calories between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. roasting. In his latest book, What to Eat When [National Geographic Books, $28], Roizen— When you’re fighting fatigue. The first thing to who wrote the bestselling You series of grab is a half-gallon thermos of water to sip books with syndicated health-and-well- throughout the day. Roizen explains that ness TV-show host Dr. Mehmet Oz—and when the body is short of water, it releases co-author Dr. Michael Crupain also sug- hormones that cut blood flow first to the skin, then to the muscles. gest what to eat in certain situations.

THE BEST THING I EVER DID FOR MYSELF THREE OHIO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS NAME THE BEST THINGS THEY DID FOR THEMSELVES IN THE PAST YEAR Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, and vice president of health sciences, Wexner Medical Center, Columbus: He rededicated himself to cycling after training with his teenage son for Pelotonia, a cancer research fundraiser. “I actually got in really good shape and I had a lot of fun with my son. The race was hard—and I’m still biking.” Dr. Richard P. Lofgren, president and chief executive officer, UC Health, Cincinnati: He tried Pilates. “That has had both physical and mental benefits. I can genuinely see how it takes the tension out of my body and actually clears my brain.” Randy Oostra, president and chief executive officer, ProMedica, Toledo: He ate an increasingly plant-based diet. “My wife and I, I wouldn’t say we’re vegetarians, but we’re pretty close. On a typical evening, we cook vegetables. And if we eat any meat of any sort, it would probably be chicken.”

W h e n y o u c a n’ t sleep. Eating fish regularly has been linked to helping prevent poor sleep. According to Roizen, the benefit is assumed to be derived from tryptophan, that amino acid blamed for inducing naps after a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. A side of leafy greens such as spinach contains magnesium, which seems to relax muscles. And tart cherry juice has been shown to be a boon to bedtime, perhaps by increasing levels of the body-clockregulating hormone melatonin. When you’re sick. Roizen notes studies have found that long-touted home remedy, chicken soup, actually has an anti-inflammatory effect, although “no one’s isolated the active component, to my knowledge.” Ginger, he adds, “interferes with the attachment of the virus to the cell membrane”—good enough reason to sip a cup of ginger tea. n

OUR EXPERTS Dr. K. Craig Kent dean, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University School and vice president of health sciences, Wexner Medical Center, Columbus Dr. Richard P. Lofgren president and chief executive officer, UC Health, Cincinnati Randy Oostra president and chief executive officer, ProMedica, Toledo Dr. Michael Roizen chief wellness officer, Cleveland Clinic Dr. Michael Todd medical director of employer health solutions, Mercy Health, Cincinnati Dr. Randy Wexler associate professor of family medicine and vice president for clinical affairs, The Ohio State University, Columbus

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DATELINE: COLUMBUS

IN CHRISTY’S SHOES TURNS LOVE OF FASHION INTO SUPPORT FOR THOSE IN NEED BY GAIL BURKHARDT

Style

for a Cause A

fter her identical twin sister died from brain cancer in 2007, Katrina Levy Zidel decided to turn tragedy into positivity. Inspired by her sister Christy’s love of shoes, Zidel hosted a luncheon on the anniversary of Christy’s death in 2009 and asked people to bring shoes to donate to Dress for Success Columbus. They received about 350 pairs of shoes and In Christy’s Shoes was born. That initial luncheon at Zidel’s grandmother’s house has turned into a fullfledged charitable organization that has donated more than 9,000 pairs of shoes and more than $1 million to local nonprofits that support women. 8

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CEO Zidel and CFO Becky Sweeney, a childhood friend of the sisters, volunteer full time for In Christy’s Shoes in Columbus. Another childhood friend, Jacki Barnett, heads up the organization where she lives in Arlington, Virginia. “We all just wanted to do something together to be able to remember Christy and be able to talk about her and celebrate the person that she was, which was an incredibly giving, kind-hearted individual,” Zidel says. Christy had a large shoe collection in life and the shoes keep coming in honoring her memory. During a recent visit to the organization’s headquarters in southeast Columbus, at least 300 athletic shoes, flip

flops, professional shoes, prom shoes and more were on display in organized boxes to go to different charities to support women. The organization is so much more than shoes, however. In Christy’s Shoes partners with several area nonprofits that combat domestic abuse, homelessness, unemployment, human trafficking and substance abuse among area women. It also partners with the hospice facility where Christy spent the last six months of her life. Sweeney and Zidel enjoy the rewarding work even without receiving a paycheck. Sweeney recalls attending a graduation ceremony for an educational program through She Has a Name, a nonprofit that


DATELINE: AKRON

From left: Becky Sweeney, chief financial officer; Jacki Barnett, chief development officer; and Katrina Levy Zidel, CEO

man trafficking, echoed that sentiment. In Christy’s Shoes supports programs that work with homeless youth to prevent them from becoming victims of human trafficking. The funding from In Christy’s Shoes frees up Bromley to focus on that vital programming instead of on raising money. “To be chosen as one of their charities has just been the biggest blessing to us,” she says. “We just love being a part of that.”

ANNUAL SOLE CELEBRATIONS

helps victims of human trafficking. The program gives women hope and another opportunity in life, she says. “To be a part of that and hand them their diplomas and the big smiles they get on their faces and the hugs and the thank yous we get from them, that’s a paycheck,” she says. Courtney Schmackers, executive director of She Has a Name, appreciates how much Zidel and Sweeney are interested in the work of her organization and the women they serve. “They really want to understand how specifically they can be a part of the solution to issues,” Schmackers says. Nicole Bromley, the founder of One Voice, another organization working to end hu-

A large portion of the money raised for these organizations comes from the Sole Celebration, an annual event featuring food, a fashion show, auctions and, of course, shoes. In 2018, more than 600 people attended the Sole Celebration at Signature Airplane Hangar in Columbus raising more than $140,000. Sweeney and Zidel are still looking for a location big enough to host the next event on May 16, 2019. Tickets run for about $100 a piece with the option for sponsors to buy tables. High-end Columbus restaurants donate food and area businesses contribute items for auctions. Professional models and volunteers walk the runway. Former Ohio State football players and Columbus Blue Jackets also have joined the show, Zidel says. They could not put on the event without the support of the Columbus business community, Sweeney says. “We have tremendous support from Columbus businesses,” she says. “We sit down and talk to people and they want to help us with whatever it is, whether it’s our event video or whether it’s the venue space or swag or whatever. People sit down, they listen to us, they hear our story and they say, ‘How can we help?’” In Christy’s Shoes also hosts several smaller events called Sole Soirees where

women gather with friends and donate shoes. Zidel and Sweeney go to the events and tell Christy’s story. Through those events they have brought in many volunteers who feel connected to the cause.

NEW ENDEAVORS Sweeney and Zidel’s continued success has pushed them to extend their reach. They are planning a women’s wellness expo for the fall of 2019. The expo will connect women in need with various services and nonprofits in the area. They also have come up with a way to remember Zidel’s grandmother, who raised her and Christy. Sally Levy passed away in March of 2018. “I wanted to make sure that we honored her as well because she was such an influence on my life and I know the lives of so many people,” says Zidel of her grandmother. Sally Levy was passionate about fashion. She had opened several high-end women’s boutiques in Columbus, called Sally’s. The Levy family also owned The Union department stores in Columbus. To honor her, In Christy’s Shoes is partnering with a local college to start a fashion program that will help young people learn about the industry including its history and merchandising. The goal is to have students in the program design the outfits for the fashion show at the Sole Celebration. Zidel is proud of the difference she has made since asking herself some tough questions and re-evaluating her priorities after Christy’s death. “It kind of brings you back to: Am I living purposefully? Am I living with intention? Am I making a difference? Do I feel proud? And I can answer that now and say, ‘Yeah, I am.’” n w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

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DATELINE: AKRON

New Tech Brings New Challenges

MODERN TECH TRAIL IS FRAUGHT WITH DANGER FOR ENTREPRENEURS BY TERRY TROY

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f Horace Greeley were alive today, he would probably say something like, “Go tech, young man.” He would also apologize to the millions of women who have broken into and been successful in the tech industry. Gender biases of past pioneer generations aside, the tech industry is America’s new frontier. And like generations past, it is a trail fraught with its own dangers for men and women who dare to traverse its path. Take Cuyahoga Falls-based and Kickstarter-funded startup Fuse Chicken as a case in point. Founder and CEO Jon Fawcett is no stranger to innovation and product design. “I worked for 20 years designing products for Fawcett Design, Inc., a company my father started in the late ‘80s,” says Fawcett. “We designed everything from vacuum cleaners to toys to parts for aircraft. I ended up taking over the company when my father was nearing retirement.” When you work designing new products every day, ideas pop into your head nonstop—even at the most unexpected times. Like any innovation, the idea for a Fuse 10

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Chicken’s new phone charging accessory was one of those “light bulb” moments that happened in the middle of the night. “I was in bed and rolled over to look at my phone as an alarm clock, but I couldn’t see it because it was laying flat on the night stand,” Fawcett recalls. “I remember thinking about gooseneck stands for microphones, and the light just popped on. Why couldn’t we throw a cable through the middle of one of those, shrink it down and customize it so it would hold your phone in any position?” Using his extensive factory and manufacturing contacts from his father’s company, Fawcett had some prototypes made. “When the first one came back, it worked exactly like I had envisioned it in my head,” Fawcett recalls.

KICKING OFF Approximately four months later in 2012, Fawcett went to Kickstarter to help fund his project, hoping to raise just enough capital to build a few products. “We loved the product and we loved the idea,” says Fawcett, who claims the unusual

name for the company was chosen because it was unique and would be easier to find on a search engine. “We weren’t expecting to launch a consumer electronics business. We initially only planned to make between 200 and 1,000. I figured we’d sell a few and I’d have one on my nightstand. So we were only asking for $10,000.” But Fuse Chicken wound up with more than $200,000. Naturally, there were some growing pains. “We soon found out that we knew how to design and manufacture our product, but we also had to ship them,” says Fawcett. “We had to figure out the logistics.” Still, the product was taking off, and taking off quickly. By the time it was all over, the company had shipped 17,000 units to approximately 50 countries around the world. The company even received a product review in Wired. “And we sold something like 400 units in the first few hours,” Fawcett recalls. So when the New York Times called asking about a company product to review, Fawcett was more than willing to accommodate. He agreed to provide a Bobine


DATELINE: AKRON

Bobine Auto, one of Fuse Chicken’s premier products in use inside a vehicle.

Jon Fawcett, founder and CEO of Fuse Chicken

Auto, a flexible iPhone dock, and one of Fuse Chicken’s premier products. It also was the item Fawcett had designed himself. “So we had a product shipped to [the newspaper] from Amazon because you can ship it really cheap with next day shipping,” says Fawcett. A few days later, the product reviewer reached out to Fawcett, asking, “What is this?” Turns out the Times reviewer had received a cable-based product, but not Fuse Chicken product, even though it had a sticker identifying it as Bobine Auto. “So he gets this rubbish product with a sticker identifying it as our product,” says Fawcett. “But it looks like a wiring harness, like something you would find under your dashboard.” Naturally, it cost Fuse Chicken what might have been a very lucrative product review in the New York Times. But the problems didn’t stop there. Fawcett started receiving complaints from people who were purchasing the counterfeit knockoffs from Amazon. The action was potentially damaging to his fledgling company’s brand.

“It’s bad enough when someone is marketing and selling an inferior product with your name on it that you know is not yours,” says Fawcett. So Fawcett started sending out notices to Amazon that for the large part went unanswered. What started out as a random trickle soon grew into a waterfall in the fall of 2016. And it’s easy to see how it happened. Fuse Chicken’s product retails for more than $30, while counterfeits may retail for less. “We soon found ourselves sending out hundreds of notices to Amazon, which eventually grew to over 1,500,” Fawcett says. Clearly, the protocols Amazon had in place to protect this sort of thing from happening were simply not effective. Amazon told Fawcett to contact the seller and get information from it to file copyright or trademark infringement, says Fawcett. Unfortunately, counterfeit sellers are not quick to reply to the folks they are ripping off. Fuse Chicken is trademarked and its product designs are patented in the U.S., E.U. and China, with patents pending in South Korea and Philippines. So you would

think that the company would not have to worry about such issues. Unfortunately, that is just not the case with budding entrepreneurs and small startups like Fuse Chicken. Today, the matter is in the courts with Fuse Chicken in a David versus Goliath fight against the nation’s largest e-commerce retailer. “It’s not just selling one product, or losing out to a counterfeit product, it’s also the time that I have had to spend battling all of the counterfeits being sold,” says Fawcett. “I spend the majority of my time doing it. It has literally chopped off our company’s growth at the knees.” So what advice would Fawcett give to other budding entrepreneurs? “Be diligent,” he says. “Make sure you have control over where your product is sold, who it is sold to, and make sure you are tracking everything so you can catch all the issues.” This is, indeed, a cautionary tale offering sage advice for all those traveling down the modern high tech trail. n See Amazon’s Response to this story in Town Hall, on page 4. w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

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DATELINE: AKRON

Above and Beyond ELEVATE AKRON AIMS TO FURTHER DEVELOP THE CITY THROUGH SUPPORT OF EXISTING LOCAL BUSINESSES BY JORDYN GRZELEWSKI

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he Akron area is doing just fine. But economic development leaders hope a new strategic plan will position the metro area to go beyond the status quo in the coming years. Elevate Akron was developed by the city, Summit County, the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce and the GAR Foundation. The initiative takes a unique approach to economic development, eschewing the traditional model of incentivizing bigname, big-employment companies in favor of supporting existing local businesses. Area leaders also plan to change the status

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quo by connecting what they say is a fragmented system of economic development, focusing on working together to create a more innovative local economy. The plan’s strategies are based on a market assessment conducted by the partner organizations. “What we found generally is that Greater Akron is doing OK. We’re not doing great, we’re not doing terrible. We’re kind of moving along at status quo,” says Steve Millard, president and CEO of the Greater Akron

Chamber. “But, if we don’t begin to make some hard pushes in some areas where we think there are some opportunities, we’re going to get left behind.” Put t i ng t he a rea at greater risk are several challenges. For examples: start-up rates are on the decline, business relocaSteve Millard tions are way down, manufacturing jobs are dwindling, the middle class continues to shrink and innovation is increasingly concentrated in a select few metro areas. On the uptick are investments from mergers and acquisitions, as well as growth driven by scale-up firms. Conventional economic-development strategies are also not as effective as they


over attracting new, buzz-worthy employers. The plan focuses on five strategies: Taking a new approach to business retention and expansion by bolstering the competitiveness of scale-up and middle-market firms. Creating ways to include Akron’s black population in the area’s economic growth, starting with initiatives such as digital skills training and new internship programs. Prioritizing innovative, high-tech ventures such as Bounce Innovation Hub, a business development service. Refocusing on urban centers. once were, and Greater Akron’s model in particular is too disjointed, according to the research. The assessment also found a skills gap in the workforce, Greater Akron’s African-American residents are being excluded from economic opportunities and job hubs such as downtown Akron are not the drivers of growth they should be. Also, the region has been overlooking

potential growth areas, such as high-tech firms, scale-up and mid-size firms, and polymers or advanced materials clusters. So, what’s the plan to address these obstacles to growth? Elevate Akron will focus on what its leaders call the “new fundamentals” of economic development. This means it will prioritize what the area already has to offer

Implementing changes in a coordinated, unified way. “It is not typical. I think a lot of communities have focused on doubling down on doing things the more traditional way,” Millard acknowledges. “We’re doing things a little differently. But we think economic development is about creating successful conditions for companies to be successful.” n

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13


DATELINE: CINCINNATI

DOCTORS TAKE EXTRA STEPS TO HONOR VETS AND CONNECT WITH COMMUNITY BY JANICE HISLE

Big

Strides D

octors are duty-bound to treat patients’ problems—and a group of Cincinnati-area physicians goes out of its way to do much more than that. The Urology Group sponsors events ranging from a 5K charity race to gatherings honoring military veterans. The reason: to demonstrate how much these physicians care about their patients as people—and to contribute to the community at large, says Dr. Gary M. Kirsh, president of The Urology Group. “Our deep involvement with community events truly is an extension of our deep involvement with individual patients,” Kirsh says. “Patients come into our lives—and we come into theirs—at critical times. We treat their health problems and try to give them their lives back…we get to know them, get to know their families.” Since The Urology Group’s inception in 1996, its physicians have sometimes even treated multiple generations of the same family, Kirsh says. 14

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“There’s a connection,” Kirsh says. “Especially with our veterans’ events, where we are honoring and celebrating true heroes. We can actually feel the connection deepening. It’s moving. It’s authentic.” A large percentage of The Urology Group’s patients happens to include men who served in World War II or the Korean War, the physicians noticed. So the doctors felt compelled to acknowledge those veterans. During the past four years, The Urology Group has sponsored three distinct veterans’ events: First: In 2015, The Urology Group covered expenses for four Cincinnati-area World War II vets to travel to Washington, D.C., for the 70th anniversary of V-E (Victory in Europe) Day, the day the WWII Allies accepted Nazi Germany’s surrender, ending six years of battle in Europe and sparking celebrations across the globe. Second: In 2016, the Urology Group marked the 75th anniversary of the bombing of

The Urology Group has sponsored several events centered on veterans since 2015.

Pearl Harbor with a program for World War II veterans. About 70 participants came to the Sharonville Convention Center for the largest such commemoration in the Cincinnati region and possibly one of the biggest unofficial events of its kind in the nation. Veterans added their personal stories to a “living-history” project that Princeton High School students were compiling. Third: Last July, about 75 Korean War vets attended a patriotic celebration of the 65th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting on the Korean peninsula. Cosponsored by GE Aviation, the gathering at GE’s Cincinnati-area learning center featured a display of GE’s J47, the jet engine that powered the F-86 Sabre, the first U.S. “swept-wing” fighter. That jet, with its iconic backward-angled wings, faced off against the Soviets’ comparable aircraft. Kirsh vividly recalls the poignancy of the Pearl Harbor commemoration: “The families provided us with World War


DATELINE: AKRON

II-era photos of these heroes when they were young, strong and brave. Now most of these men and women are in their early or mid-90s, and in our care.” Many were moved to tears as hymns of all U.S. military branches—Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines—played and veterans were thanked for their courage and sacrifices. “It was dramatic,” Kirsh says. “The appreciation shown to us from the families was its own reward.” Another big military anniversary is coming up this June: the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the day the Allied forces invaded the Normandy region of France. There, the U.S. Department of Defense website notes, on June 6, 1944, “more than 156,000 troops began the largest multinational amphibious landing and operational military drop in history.” This year, on June 6, “the hearts and minds of the Western world will be focused on the achievements of The Greatest Generation,” Kirsh says. Because the veterans of that historic event are elderly,

“it may be one last opportunity for us to thank our World War II patients, and perhaps all vets” of that era, Kirsh says. “Stay tuned, as we are considering how we might want to honor these veterans.” Another major initiative: This year—for the 12th time—the Urology Group will sponsor a 5K race to raise money for research on prostate cancer. “This is very dear to our hearts and to our prostate cancer patients,” Kirsh says. The race is the nation’s second-largest benefiting prostate-cancer research, often drawing upwards of 1,000 runners and walkers each year. In 2018, the race was held for the first time at Belterra Park, Cincinnati’s iconic horseracing facility, formerly known as River Downs. “It was the first charity run for humans ever held at the historic

ABOVE: The Urology Group is a sponsor of The Gentlemen Stakes 5K for Prostate Cancer. LEFT: About 75 Korean War veterans attended an event at GE Aviation last July.

racetrack,” Kirsh says, explaining why the race was renamed The Gentlemen Stakes 5K For Prostate Cancer. Last year’s event raised more than $115,000 for ZERO—The End of Prostate Cancer, a nonprofit agency that strives to create “Generation ZERO,” the first generation of men with zero incidents of prostate cancer. Plans for this year’s 5K run/walk are in the works. As Earl L. Walz, CEO of The Urology Group, wrote in his blog: “Interacting with our patients in the community is one of our greatest joys throughout the year.” For more information, visit theurologygroup.org. n w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

15


OHIO ECONOMY

Watching Our Six OHIO’S DISTINCT ECONOMIES FACE UNIQUE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES BY TERRY TROY

H

ome to more than 11 million, Ohio has an economy that is as diverse as the people who call our state home. From the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in the east, to the broad plains of western Ohio, to the major metropolitan areas that dot our state, Ohio is home to myriad industries, in very distinct and well-defined market areas. “Actually, the state of Ohio has six economies, each with a distinct labor market and each with a distinct set of goods and services that they produce,” says Edward “Ned” Hill, professor, economic development policy, John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. “Clearly, the Cleveland and Akron metropolitan area is an integrated market. The Columbus metropolitan market is an area that reaches all the way up to Mansfield. “Then you have the Cincinnati area, which includes northern Kentucky and southern Indiana. That area reaches up toward Dayton, which is also a distinct market because of Wright-Patterson [Air Force Base]. Toledo is closely aligned with Detroit and southeast Michigan, but it is also a distinct labor market.” And of course, there is the Mahoning Valley, which was in the news late last year because of the announced closure of General Motors’ Lordstown plant, and the subsequent closure of supporting supplier companies, including Lordstown Seating Systems, a subsidiary of automotive supply company Magna. That news, while certainly not welcome

to those employed in automotive manufacturing, is not all bad. The Mahoning Valley has a very diverse economy that is no longer solely dependent on automotive manufacturing. “I don’t want to be dismissive of what happened in Lordstown, because there are a lot of people who will be displaced,” says Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO. “But the positive side is that, at least in theory, a lot of those same people are now available to work in other organizations that are having a hard time finding talent. There is an opportunity for these folks, maybe not tomorrow, but certainly over a reasonable time. So the impact may not be as great as

many people fear.” Moody’s has singled out Ohio’s heavy manufacturing as an industry sector that will encounter slower growth in the future. However, Ohio’s soybean farmers are also suffering due to the trade skirmish with China. “I would also argue that commodity agricultural activity, [such as soybean production] is distinct, and is spread out over the entire state,” adds Hill. “Then you have old coal Appalachia, which is also distinct, but in a lot of trouble.” Agriculture accounts for approximately one in eight jobs in our state, according to Chris Henney, president and CEO, Ohio AgriBusiness Association. Agriculture is also responsible for a total economic outw w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

17


OHIO ECONOMY

Alex Boehnke, The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants

Bethia Burke, The Fund for Our Economic Future

Jacob Duritsky, Team NEO

put in excess of $100 billion a year. Other industr y sectors are equally important. Despite the well-publicized closure of shopping malls, retailing is very much alive and well across Ohio. The industry accounts for one in four jobs, according to Alex Boehnke, manager, public affairs, The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. “Retail spending is a great barometer of economic activity,” says Boehnke, whose organization partners with the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center to create an extensive report evaluating the industry each year. “Consumer confidence is at an all-time high, which bodes well for all of us in the state of Ohio.” Retailing boasts a total impact on state

GDP of almost $82 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. The industry is directly and indirectly responsible for 17 percent of the labor income in our state, supporting in excess of 1,564,300 jobs here. However, the industry is evolving to include to non-traditional retail venues such as Amazon. “Ninety percent of transactions still happened in stores and only 10 percent was online,” says Boehnke, citing 2017 statistics. “And that number is growing. However, most folks are still going to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and that is good for the industry and good for employment.” Amazon and Wal-Mart online retail operations, as well as others, are also causing

employment to rise in both warehousing and fulfillment operations, where wages are on the rise for semi-skilled and unskilled workers. “Amazon jumped into that market kind of like a fat guy jumping into the low end of a swimming pool,” says Hill. “It was hard to get family-friendly earnings in [the semi-skilled and unskilled labor] side of the market, but now I think it will top out at about $20 an hour.”

18

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DRIVING OHIO Even though GM decided to eliminate the Chevy Cruze from its product lineup and to shutter its storied Lordstown plant, heavy manufacturing and automotive manufacturing are still critical to our


Edward “Ned” Hill, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University

Bill Koehler, Team NEO

Kimm Lauterbach, REDI Cinncinati

state’s economy. Toledo is an excellent example. The city is home to Jeep manufacturing, which will soon begin production on the new and long-awaited midsized truck, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. The vehicle is already being billed by Fiat Chrysler (which owns the Jeep brand) as the most capable midsized truck ever. Lower gas prices are fueling an increased consumer appetite for Jeep’s SUVs, which are selling at a record clip. Jeep shut down production of its Jeep Cherokee plant in Toledo, laying off 1,350 to retool. But those same workers should be back on the job well before production of the new Gladiator begins in mid-April. In other sections of the state, both auto-

motive parts manufacturing and vehicle assembly are on the rise. Considered a part of the Columbus market, Honda of America Manufacturing employs almost 11,000 at its Marysville, Russells Point, East Liberty and Anna operations. The vehicles and components being manufactured at those plants, including the Honda Accord, are all selling well. In addition to the automotive manufacturing to its north and west, Columbus is a shining example of economic and population growth in our state. Indeed, Realtor. com ranked Columbus as America’s fourth hottest housing market. According to a report in Forbes, Columbus is the only large northern city with a population that grew by more than 10 percent from 2010 to 2017.

Today, it is the 14th largest city in the country and is home to financial giants, including JP Morgan Chase & Co., whose financial services, software services and data center employ more than 20,000 folks in the region. Insurance is another staple of the Columbus economy, with major firms, including Nationwide, employing over 13,000. Similarly, the three-state Cincinnati economy has enjoyed a great deal of recent success. “We have had great success with our business development efforts,” says Kimm Lauterbach, president and CEO, REDI Cincinnati. “In fact, we were recently named the Fastest Growing Economy in the Midwest by the Bureau of Economic LEFT: AgriBusiness accounts for 1 in 8 jobs in our state. MIDDLE: Retailing is still alive and well, providing 17 percent of labor income. RIGHT: Despite the closure of Lordstown, automotive and heavy manufacturing are still crucial to our state’s economy.

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19


OHIO ECONOMY Analysis. We have great momentum going on and we are constantly looking at ways to build on that momentum.” The Greater Cincinnati area was also ranked No. 2 for college grads by SmartAsset, 11th best city for tech jobs by Time Magazine and one of the top seven cities in the country for startups by CNBC. Cincinnati’s economy spreads across three states and five key industry clusters that include advanced aerospace and automotive manufacturing; biohealth; food and flavoring; information technology; and shared services such as financial firms and insurance companies. Those industry clusters are fed by workers and employees from a talent pipeline that spreads across the area’s three states. “We simply can’t look at our region as three different states, or it doesn’t work,” says Lauterbach. “We like to say that the Ohio River is our Main Street versus being a divide. “I don’t think we are any different from other cities across the country. We are all concerned that we have enough talent in our pipeline to continue to serve our economy and to make sure that it grows. I think we’re pretty far ahead of the curve.” However, the same cannot be said of every major economic region in Ohio.

NORTHEAST OHIO RESURGENCE “I’d say we’re very bullish,” says Team NEO member Koehler, evaluating the Cleveland/Akron area’s economy. “There are challenges that we have to deal with, but if you look at the economy in Northeast Ohio, it’s very strong.” Although it earned a reputation as a hardscrabble working class town in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Cleveland has made the transition into a world-class medical center. That industry sector employs more than 125,000 spread across three major hospital systems. Those include the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic; University Hospitals, consistently recognized as among the top care providers at both a national and international level; and the MetroHealth System, home to one of the most advanced trauma centers in the nation. “But you also have very strong manufacturing here and an emerging technological capability,” says Koehler. “We’re seeing the greatest opportunity where health care, 20

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IT manufacturing and IT are becoming more integrated, in terms of both business models and delivery systems.” “While we will see continued growth in health care at places like the [Cleveland] Clinic and University Hospitals, we’re also seeing a lot of new jobs in areas like professional services,” adds Jacob Duritsky, vice president of strategy and research at Team NEO. “We’re starting to see the growth of IT jobs in areas like headquarters, legal, accounting and finance. We have growth in IT not directly from IT companies, but imbedded in a lot of companies that need those services.” Duritsky’s optimistic vision is not tainted by rose-colored glasses. Even outside resources are recognizing the growth of tech jobs in Northeast Ohio. A report last year from CBRE Group ranked Cleveland as the eighth fastest growing tech talent market in the U.S., rubbing elbows with the likes of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Diego. In fact, Cleveland and Columbus were both identified in the report as being among the fastest growing emerging tech markets. According to Team NEO, the Northeast Ohio area is projected to add 20,700 jobs across all occupations over the next five years, including 8,500 new health care openings for practitioners, and technical and health care support personnel. Additionally, more than 1 million replacement workers will be needed over the next five years, including 160,000 in office and administrative occupations, and more than 100,000 in production sectors. Health care-related occupations will require 77,700 replacement workers. Demand for technology expertise continues to grow in manufacturing, as well as in headquarter operations across industry segments throughout the region, with corresponding increases in employment opportunities. “The landscape for future jobs is shifting as technology plays an increasingly pivotal role in our economy,” says Koehler. “Specialized skills are needed in areas such as smart manufacturing for the implementation of the Industrial Internet of Things.”

THE GREAT TALENT CHALLENGE AHEAD Ohio’s overall state economy faces common challenges from macro-economic fac-

tors, including the trade skirmish and the possible slowing of our national economy. In addition, each of our state’s six economies face the common and perhaps even more important challenge of developing, attracting and retaining talent to keep our industries thriving. While areas like Cincinnati and Columbus are slightly ahead of the curve, our overall state’s population is growing much slower than other states around the country. Indeed, even the Columbus area is attracting more talent from inside our state than people from other states wishing to relocate here, according to published reports. Certainly, the Mahoning Valley has a surplus of manufacturing talent, the silver lining in the dark cloud of Lordstown’s closure. But other areas, including Northeast Ohio, face the challenge of retraining workers and retaining homegrown talent in order to remain competitive. “The real headwinds that we worry about relate to talent,” says Koehler. “There is no question that over the last 20 to 40 years the nature of manufacturing has been changing as more innovation and automation have been introduced into processes and business models. “At the same time, we have a declining population of a potential workforce to draw


from. So the question becomes: how do we address this demand gap as a community? Do we do it through training opportunities, or by leveraging the education system to make sure we are building a robust talent pipeline?” “Our manufacturing story has been one of employment decline, but we still need more production workers because so many people are leaving the labor force in the next five to 10 years,” adds Duritsky. In terms of economic output, manufacturing continues to dominate the discussion, says Duritsky, and thanks to advancements in technology, manufacturing output will continue to grow. “Right now, it’s about 20 percent of what we do,” says Duritsky. “But it’s projected to become 21 percent of everything we do. When you think about productivity over the last couple of decades, it’s up around 90 percent, and it’s projected to grow another 70 percent in the coming decade.”

THE TWO TOMMOROWS In order to remain competitive, t he economy of Northeast Ohio must strive to be more inclusive. In its recent report, “The Two Tomorrows,” the Fund for Our Economic Future outlined two future paths for Northeast Ohio. One direction clings

to a legacy industry mix and declining access to jobs. The other sees a vision that embraces bold job creation, job preparation and job access strategies. So does Northeast Ohio have two economies today? “Many people feel that we do,” says Bethia Burke, vice president, Fund for Our Economic Future. “When you think about the difference between who has benefitted in the past decade from gains in employment and productivity, those gains have not been felt equally across the board.” Drive around Northeast Ohio, and it is easy to see the neighborhoods of the have and have-nots. “There is a collective sense that what has happened isn’t good enough, for our residents or for our economy,” says Burke. In December of last year, more than 80 civic leaders from across Northeastern Ohio came together to address issues of systemic racial exclusion. “Many of the folks who were included in those discussions have influence politically, in the community or through funding,” says Burke. “They can use their influence in a positive way to change things that need to be changed.” While changes are needed in urban environments, the challenge of better

education is an economic issue that is truly statewide and really knows no boundaries. When you take away the morass of racism faced in many inner city neighborhoods, and simply evaluate demographics in terms of teenage pregnancy, malnutrition, education and economic success, “there is actually very little distinction between low income rural areas of our state, low income small towns and low income inner city neighborhoods,” according to Hill. “So there is that ‘other’ Ohio,” she says. The state of Ohio needs to provide access to better education, nutrition, medicine and a safe environment for learning in order to remain competitive, says Hill. “We know what makes a successful school. We also need some sort of supplemental services for our education system,” Hill adds. “Every Ohioan needs to be literate and numerate. And Ohioans need to be resigned to and embrace the fact that they need to be lifelong learners. “We also need to make sure that the trades and technologically sophisticated manufacturers recognize a way to a middle income lifestyle.” If all of that does come to fruition, it would be like a rising tide that lifts all boats, including our state’s six economies. n w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

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Ohio Success Awards event

March 15, 2019 , from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ohio St at ehouse in Columbus

BY THE EDITORS Presented by Ohio Business magazine, the inaugural Ohio Success Awards honors growth companies, nonprofits and governmental organizations across the state of Ohio. The Ohio Success Awards recognizes the accomplishments of companies that have demonstrated growth in revenue and employees, as well as having demonstrated involvement in their community and service in their industry; nonprofits that have made a significant impact upon the communities they serve; governmental organizations that have created unique value or opportunities based upon their ingenuity, partnership and perseverance; and leaders who have demonstrated beyond comparison that their efforts have made lasting impact. Ohio Business Magazine will be holding the inaugural Ohio Success Awards event March 15, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. This event will bring together other successful business CEOs, along with nonprofit and governmental leaders from across the state, and will feature informational breakout sessions, networking, a keynote speaker and lunch. The event is sponsored by GBQ, Superior Dental Care, Custom Design Benefits and 10TV WBNS. Pete Scalia from 10TV will emcee the event. If you are interested in learning more or purchasing tickets for the event, please visit cincy.live or contact Amy Scalia at ascalia@ ohiobusinessmag.com or 513-675-3586. 22

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NOMINATION PROCESS For the inaugural Ohio Success Awards, a nomination form was emailed to businesses throughout the state, inviting them to selfnominate. A form was also posted online so that other businesses could participate. For-profit, nonprofit and government institutions were able to self-nominate. Nominees were asked to provide information on topics such as their revenue starting in 2015, company size starting in 2016, approximate profitability and revenue and profit projections. The winners were then selected by committee and had to show growth in one or more of these categories. If you are interested in nominating your company next year, subscribe to the Ohio Business magazine and newsletter (both of which are complimentary), at OhioBusinessMag.com.


PUBLIC/PRIVATE COMPANIES Year Founded

2017 Revenue

2015 Revenue

2018 Employees

2017 Employees

W. Gregory Guy, CEO

1984

$25-49 million

$25-49 million

217

165

Full Service Real Estate Brokerage

David Mussari, Managing Partner

2013

$25-49 million

$10-24 million

48/48

40/43

Columbus

Insurance Brokerage

Rick Miley, CEO & Founder

2001

$250-499 million

$250-499 million

2,800

2,400

Buckeye Home Health Care

Dayton

Home Health Care

Tina Hardwick, CEO

2006

$10-24 million

$5-9 million

156

124

Cassie’s Cardinals

Manhattan Beach

In Home Care Staffing Agency

Cassie Brungarth, President

2012

1

0

Centric Consulting

Dayton

Consulting Services

Dave Rosevelt, CEO

1999

$100-249 million

$100-249 million

680

639

Charles River

Ashland

Research Facility

James Foster, Chairman & CEO

1947

$100-249 million

$100-249 million

976

849

Component Repair Technology

Mentor

Aerospace Company

Rich Mears, President

1985

450

390

Deceuninck North America

Monroe

Window and Door Profiles Extruder

Filip Geeraert, CEO

1969 in U.S.

$100-249 million

$100-249 million

561

561

Ease Logistics Services, LLC.

Dublin

Freight Management

Peter Coratola, CEO

2014

$25-49 million

$10-24 million

42

21

Elite Biomedical Solutions

Cincinnati

Health Care Manufacturing

Jeff Smith, CEO

2012

$10-24 million

$10-24 million

41

31

ERPA

Dublin

IT Services

Srikanth Gaddam, President & CEO

2003

$50-99 million

$50-99 million

447

437

Everhart Advisors

Dublin and Dayton

401(k) Plan Consulting, Employee Education and Wealth Management

Scott Everhart, President & Founder

1995

$5-9 million

$1-4 million

29

25

FORCAM, Inc.

Cincinnati

Information Technology & Services

Manfred Heisen, CEO

2012

$1-4 million

$1-4 million

25

15

Foundation Software/ Payroll4Construction.com

Strongsville

Software/Payroll

Fred Ode, Chairman/CEO

1985

$25-49 million

$25-49 million

295

250

Franchise Insurance Agency, Inc. DBA Leavitt Group Midwest

Columbus

Insurance Agency

Robert L. Smith Jr., CEO

1979

$5-9 million

$1-4 million

47

42

General Tool Company

Hamilton

Contract Metalworking Manufacturer

William J. Kramer III, CEO

1947

$50-99 million

$25-49 million

285

220

Gold Medal Products Co.

Cincinnati

Manufacturer and Distributor of Concession Food Equipment and Supplies

Dan Kroeger, CEO

1931

$100-249 million

$100-249 million

570

550

Improving

Columbus and Cleveland

IT Consulting

Curtis Hite, CEO

2010

$10-24 million

$10-24 million

70

71

Ingage Partners, Inc

Cincinnati

Technology Consulting Firm

Michael Kroeger and Kelly Dolan, Co-Founders and CEOs

2011

$5-9 million

$1-4 million

90

45

Jane R. Mays, D.M.D. Inc

Cincinnati

Dental Office

Jane R. Mays, President

2004

$1-4 million

$1-4 million

9

9

LeafFilter Gutter Protection

Hudson

Home Improvement

Matt Kaulig, CEO

2005

$250-499 million

$50-99 million

1,500

728

Melink Corporation

Milford

S-Corp

Steve Melink, CEO

1987

$10-24 million

$10-24 million

94

90

Mid-American Financial Group

Cincinnati

Real Estate Finance

Duy Vu, CEO

2004

$1-4 million

$1-4 million

15

18

Peacox Learning

Canal Winchester

Education

Deonna Cox, President

2017

11

13

Petroff Law Offices

Columbus

Domestic Relations Law Firm

Ronald R. Petroff, Managing Partner

2006

$1-4 million

9

6

PRIME AE Group, Inc.

Columbus

Professional Services (Architecture, Engineering, Construction Management)

Kumar Buvanendaran, PE, President and CEO

2007

$25-49 million

435

390

PSA Airlines

Vandalia

Airline

Dion Flannery, CEO

1986

Wholly owned subsidiary, does not report revenue

4,500

3,500

Rise Brands

Columbus

Brand Development Firm

Troy Allen, Founder and Chief Experience Officer

2013

$10-24 million

52

32

Name

Location

Business

Top Executive

Air Force One, Inc.

Dublin

Commercial HVAC & Facility Services Provider

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty

Mason & Dayton

BroadStreet Partners, Inc.

$25-49 million

$1-4 million

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PUBLIC/PRIVATE COMPANIES (CONTINUED) Name

Location

Business

Top Executive

Smart1 Marketing

Blacklick

Marketing

Todd Swickard, CEO

Year Founded

2017 Revenue

2015 Revenue

2018 Employees

2017 Employees

2009

$5-9 million

$1-4 million

26

18

SmartFinancial Insurance

Columbus

Insurance Technology

Lev Barinskiy, CEO

2012

$10-24 million

$1-4 million

55

30

STACK Construction Technologies

Blue Ash

Software as a Service

Phil Ogilby, CEO

2010

$1-4 million

$1-4 million

50

34

Sunrise Treatment Center, LLC

Cincinnati

Counseling and Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Dr. Jeffrey P. Bill, CEO

2007

$10-24 million

$1-4 million

100

75

Superior Dental Care

Centerville

Group Dental Benefits

Taci Y. Harrell, President

1986

$50-99 million

$25-49 million

52

46

TACG

Beavercreek

Consulting

Brian Chaney, President

2006

$10-24 million

$1-4 million

300

135

The Dayton Jabber

Dayton

Publication

M Marciante, CEO

2018

Less than $1 million

Less than $1 million

5

0

The Matrix Companies

Cincinnati

Risk Management

Brent Messmer, CEO

2000

$5-9 million

$5-9 million

73

82

The Woodhouse Day Spas (Cincinnati, Dayton and Liberty Twp)

Cincinnati

Day Spa

Chris Mann, Owner

2007

$5-9 million

$1-4 million

100

89

Total Wealth Planning, LLC

Cincinnati

Wealth Management

Rob Siegmann, CEO

1989

$1-4 million

$1-4 million

12

11

Waterstone Property Management

Cleveland

Property Management

Ned Wasserstein, President

1986

$1-4 million

$1-4 million

15

10

Zeal40

Cincinnati

Creative Agency

Stacy Koenig & Nicole Fariello, CEOs

2015

$1-4 million

$1-4 million

6

5

Zipline Logistics

Columbus

Transportation Brokerage

Walter Lynch, CEO

2007

$25-49 million

$25-49 million

55

51

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NONPROFITS/GOVERNMENT Being successful means more than increasing revenue and employees—it also can means making an impact. These nonprofits and governmental institutions demonstrated exceptional impact upon the communities they serve. Name

Location

Business

Top Executive

Year Founded

Beacon of Hope Business Alliance

Cincinnati

Nonprofit Organization

Dan Meyer, CEO

2016

Centerville Noon Optimist Club

Centerville

Service Club, Nonprofit

Donna Huss, President

1968

City of Middletown

Middletown

Government

Doug Adkins, City Manager

1886

Economic and Community Development Institute

Columbus

Economic Development Organization

Inna Kinney, Founder & CEO

2004

LifeAct

Chagrin Falls

Lifesaving Education (Peer-Focused Suicide Prevention)

Jack Binder, CEO

1992

Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center

Cincinnati

Nonprofit

Sarah Weiss, Executive Director

2000

Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries

Cincinnati

Employment and Training

Joe Byrum, President & CEO

1916

The Dancing Wheels Company & Schools

Cleveland

Professional Dance Company and School

Mary Verdi-Fletcher, CEO

1980

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James)

Columbus

Health Care/Cancer Hospital

Dr. William B. Farrar, Interim CEO

1990

The Port

Cincinnati

Economic Development Agency

Laura Brunner, President & CEO

2000

United Schools Network

Columbus

Nonprofit Charter Management Organization

Andrew E. Boy, CEO

2008

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WINNER PROFILES

Company Name: Gold Medal Products Co. CEO: Dan Kroeger President: Adam Browning Location: Cincinnati Business: Manufacturer and Distributor of Concession Food Equipment and Supplies Revenue: $100-249 million Employees: 570 Year Founded: 1931 Website: gmpopcorn.com

Gold Medal Products has added 70 new employees over the last two years and has a current profitability between 9 and 16 percent, but President Adam Browning attributes the company’s success to its relationships. “We are fortunate to have a solid foundation with the Evans family as owners for four generations. Their commitment and leadership have been integral to Gold Medal. Our employees are second-to-none in their loyalty and work ethic,” he says. Browning says the company had also kept its focus on its customers. “We invest our time and resources into what will help them grow and be profitable in their business. More than just a vendor, we are a partner in their success,” he adds. Gold Medal Products plans to continue to grow over the next couple years through innovation. “For products, it means new product development, engineering improvements and investing in technological advancements,” Browning says. “In terms of service, our goal is to enrich the customer experience by being the leading resource for the industry.”

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Company Name: The Woodhouse Day Spas Owner: Chris Mann Location: Cincinnati, Dayton and Liberty Township Business: Day Spa  Revenue: $5-9 million Employees: 100 Year Founded: 2007 Website: woodhousecincinnati.com and woodhousedayton.com

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Chris Mann, owner of The Woodhouse Day Spas in Cincinnat i, Day ton and Liberty Township, predicts his company will increase revenue by 25 percent in the coming years and it’s easy to see why. Over the last couple years, the company has dramatically increased both its revenue and employees. Mann attributes this success to the company’s guest services and the employees. “We’re fortunate to have both the best leadership team and the best therapists in the area, and a number of our team members have been with our Cincinnati and Dayton spas since the doors opened (in 2007 and 2013, respectively),” says Mann. The company opened its Liberty Township location in January and Mann says they will be focusing on building up its business for the next couple years. Mann says the company is also working with Chris Mann current and future franchise owners in Columbus; Cleveland; Lexington, Kentucky; and even Charlotte, North Carolina, to develop more locations.


WINNER PROFILES Company Name: Total Wealth Planning LLC CEO: Rob Siegmann Location: Cincinnati Business: Wealth Management Revenue: $1-4 million Employees: 12 Year Founded: 1989 Website: twpteam.com

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With an approximate profitability of more than 16 percent, Total Wealth Planning LLC is still seeking ways to grow and improve. CEO Rob Siegmann gives credit to both the company’s employees and its processes for this success. “Our team of experienced professionals care about their work, their co-workers and, most importantly, the clients we serve every day,” he says. “Process is also an important element in our industry and our firm. A well thought-through process helps us ensure that clients are served in a consistent manner and important items don’t slip through the cracks during peak times such as end of year.” Thanks to both, Seigmann says Total Wealth Planning’s clients trust the company to take on important matters and recommend the company to others, leading to even more growth. Siegmann says that the company’s immediate goals are to continue to enhance the client experience. Over time, he says the company is looking to add to its internal staff and add expert specialist to its team.


Company Name: Petroff Law Offices Managing Partner: Ronald R. Petroff Location: Columbus Business: Domestic Relations Law Firm Revenue: $1-4 million Employees: 9 Year Founded: 2006 Website: petrofflawoffices.com

Ronald R. Petroff

The Petroff Law Offices has some big goals for the coming years—increase revenue by 15 percent and add a sixth full-time family law attorney—but the company plans to do so while giving back. Managing Partner Ronald R. Petroff and all partners and associates offer their time and services to Operation Legal Help Ohio, which offers legal assistance to those in the military as well as veterans. In addition, the company is a sponsor of the Wine, Women and Shoes event, which raises funds for the homeless in Franklin County; fundraises for the American Cancer Society; and mentors young law students.

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WINNER PROFILES Company Name: General Tool Company CEO: William J. Kramer III Location: Cincinnati Business: Contract Metalworking Manufacturer Revenue: $50-99 million Employees: 285 Year Founded: 1947 Website: gentool.com

William J. Kramer III, CEO of General Tool Company, says that many factors have led to General Tool Company’s success, but one did so more than the others. “By clearly articulating the company’s strategic direction with all employees and focusing our energy on identifying and achieving related internal goals, the company has experienced an explosive growth in new orders and has attracted and hired talented individuals,” he says. The company has been able to triple its backlog and increase its workforce by almost 30 percent. Despite this tremendous success, Kramer says the company has no plans to slow down. In fact, it has four goals over the next couple years: to continue to grow by following the strategic plan, to continue working on making the company an attractive place to work, to refine business practices and policies, and to strive to achieve the company’s vision of being “the most respected team of experts.”

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Manjusha Akkapeddi, a lead in the human resources department, says that ERPA has found success by focusing on its values: empathy, responsibility, passion and agility. “Our CEO Srikanth Gaddam believes that the most powerful organizations are built from the heart. He encourages all the employees to work on their strengths—it allows them to be more productive,” Akkapeddi says. In the coming years, ERPA is projecting revenue growth of 20 percent, a profit increase of 5 percent and increasing its workforce by 5 percent. To do so, Akkapeddi says the company will expand its service offerings, continue to focus on its values and support the community through philanthropic initiatives.

Company Name: ERPA CEO: Srikanth Gaddam Location: Dublin Business: IT Services Revenue: $50-99 million Employees: 447 Year Founded: 2003 Website: www.erpagroup.com

Thanks to Leaf Filter Gutter Company Name: LeafFilter Protection’s expansion to 52 of- Gutter Protection fices, the company has doubled CEO: Matt Kaulig its employees and jumped up in Location: Hudson revenue, from the $100-249 milBusiness: Home Improvement lion range to $250-499 million. Revenue: $250-499 million Amanda Venditti, senior manEmployees: 1,500 ager of digital engagement, says this growth was possible thanks Year Founded: 2005 to the company’s employees Website: leaffilter.com and its unique business model. “While other gutter protection and home improvement companies are typically managed through a dealer-network, [CEO] Matt Kaulig opted to take 100 percent control of his company, electing to run his company through a no-dealer network. This gave Kaulig complete control over the customer experience, including the sales, installation and service process, in addition to complete quality control of the product. This business model proved to be a success that both customers and employees favored,” says Venditti.

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WINNER PROFILES Company Name: The Matrix Companies CEO: Brent Messmer Location: Cincinnati Business: Risk Management Revenue: $5-9 million Employees: 73 Year Founded: 2000 Website: matrixtpa.com

With an approximate profitability between 9 and 16 percent, The Matrix Companies have certainly found success in the last year. Crystal Sikes, employment engagement specialist, attributes this success to being a great workplace. “Matrix’s ‘Best Place to Work’ culture sets us apart by offering employees an environment where they are encouraged to have fun while they work. This culture is maintained in many ways such as charity work on company time, free monthly massages, happy hours and creative activities. According to Brent Messmer, our president and founder, ‘happy employees result in happy clients,’” she says.

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Zeal40 in Cincinnati is experiencing an approximate profitability of 9-16 percent thanks to it ability to provide a high quality experience to its clients. “It’s our zeal for the work we do and, we make sure that comes through in the client’s experience with Zeal40. We look forward to spending time with our clients Company Name: Zeal40 and helping them. We are Co-Founders/Partners: Stacy Koenig good listeners and give our & Nicole Fariello talented creative team a lot of Location: Cincinnati credit for Zeal40’s success. We Business: Creative Agency have worked hard to develop Revenue: $1-4 million a team that delivers excellent Employees: 6 results for our clients,” says Year Founded: 2015 Stacy Koenig, co-founder and partner. Website: zeal40.com


Company Name: The Port CEO: Laura Brunner Location: Cincinnati Business: Economic Development Agency Revenue: $5-9 million Employees: 31 Year Founded: 2000 Website: cincinnatiport.org

In 2015, The Port laid out a strategic vision called Vision 2022 that laid out where CEO Laura Brunner and the board of directors wanted to see the organization go. It focused on neighborhood revitalization, industrial revitalization and public finance. This focus has led to the rehabilitation of the Bond Hill Business District, and the rehabilitation of low- to middle-income housing in Evanston, as well as the addition of six new employees. “We believe through the convergence of our industrial and neighborhood revitalization strategies that we will facilitate the creation of jobs in our urban core and help more people participate in the housing market, building equity—bringing more people in Cincinnati into the middle class,” says Brunner. This year, the organization is looking to acquire unproductive urban brownfield sites and improve them for future high-end industrial use.

Real Needs. Real Partnerships. Real Solutions.

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WINNERS BY LOCATION

1

17

38

Akron

Columbus

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19

7

Cincinnati

7

Cleveland

Dayton

2

Other


AGE 100+ years

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES

4%

100-50 years

9%

Less than 5 years

8%

Medium: 50-200 10-5 years

19%

25-50 years

23% 10-25 years

38%

Small: 50 & below

39% 27% Large: 200+

35%

OUR EXPERIENCE RUNS DEEP. GENERAL TOOL COMPANY is an elite A erospace and Defense contract manufacturer of mission-critical sy stems. Our ex ceptional people do extraordinar y w ork in supporting the capabilities of the Armed Forces to p rotect and defend our nation.

GENERAL TOOL COMPANY

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OHIO BRANDS

Building White Castle AMERICA’S ICONIC FAST FOOD BURGER RESTAURANT ‘SLIDES’ INTO NEW MARKETS

I

n 1921 E.W. “Billy” Ingram and Walter Anderson opened America’s first burger joint, a tiny white cementblock building with five counter stools in Wichita, Kansas. It was a bold move at the time. Food prepared outside the home—particularly “fair food” like the hamburger, a meatball Walt had flattened into a bed of onions and put on a small bun instead of bread—was viewed with suspicion regarding its safety. But Billy was a born marketer and a stickler for quality. He christened the business White Castle—“white” implying cleanliness and purity and “castle” denoting stability. Employees ground high-grade cuts of beef in plain view of customers. In 1933 he bought out Walt and the next year moved the fledgling chain’s offices to Columbus, a central seat of power for a realm with 16 stores from Kansas to New York. The restaurants with white turrets became landmarks. The burger, dubbed a slider, was distinctive: a square 2-by-2-inch 40

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BY LYNNE THOMPSON patty with five holes. That form eliminated the need for flipping and promoted steaming of the same-sized bun placed on top during grilling, according to Vice President of Manufacturing Dave Rife. “[Our buns] are designed to capture that steam-grilled freshness and flavor and hold it,” he says. Today White Castle, still family owned, employs more than 10,000 people. Most of the 382 restaurants in 13 states and two countries are open 24 hours a day. “It’s a hallmark of White Castle that the Castle never closes,” declares Jamie Richardson, vice president of communications and corporate relations. Two bakeries and three meat plants produce patties and buns for the restaurants as well as a frozen-food division. Three facilities turn out heat-and-eat sliders, along with a selection of other menu items, for sale in supermarkets, club and convenience stores,

White Castle has 382 restaurants in 13 states and two countries.

and even vending machines. White Castle doesn’t dominate its industry in terms of restaurant locations. McDonald’s, for example, has over 36,000. But those retail sales, which accounted for nearly 25 percent of approximately $711 million in gross sales for 2017, give the company an edge. “[We] have a presence in practically every neighborhood around the country in the freezer aisle,” Richardson says. That presence began expanding to Canada in 2017. According to Richardson, it was White Castle customers who inspired the creation of a frozen food division. In the 1980s thirdgeneration President and Chief Executive Officer E.W. “Bill” Ingram noticed during his annual restaurant visits that they were taking home large orders to freeze and microwave. Those legions of loyal Cravers (a name resulting from a 1990s “What You Crave” ad campaign) include actor George Clooney and rocker Alice Cooper.


side and on the service side.” Cravers have seen changes in their Castles over the years. New and rehabbed blue, orange and white interiors boast features such as an open kitchen, free Wi-Fi and Coca-Cola Freestyle stations, where Bartley says customers combine Coke products to create over 140 different flavors. Similarly, the menu reflects trends in consumer tastes. Ingram notes two additions: the Sriracha sauce-infused chicken breast slider, a limited-time item that appealed to a desire for bolder flavors, and the Impossible Slider, a 2018 addition featuring a plant-based protein patty produced by Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods that Bartley and Rife say tastes like a real hamburger.  “We’re no longer limiting ourselves to being a hamburger company,” Richardson says. “We’re a slider restaurant. And that gives us freedom to meet our changing customer needs.” But White Castle isn’t White Castle became known for its restaurants’ distinctive white turrets. looking to rule the burger Customers even develop recipes fea- White Castle food-truck world. Ingram points out turing sliders as the key ingredient for stops, help deter m i ne that remaining a familycompany-sponsored contests. The very where new Castles are ow ned company (nine first winner, in the early 1990s, was a young built, according to fourthfourth-generation memJamie Richardson woman who came up with a broccoli generation President and bers, including Richardcheese casserole. The best recipes end up CEO Lisa Ingram. son and Rife, and one fifthin cookbooks. Those hamburger fans have generation descendant are In 2015 the first of three reunions at restaurants and completely Las Vegas-area Castles— actively employed in the book restaurant tables on Valentine’s Day the first outposts west of business) allows W hite evening. the Mississippi—opened Castle to pursue its goals of consistently providing Richardson says an average seven to 10 in The Best Western Plus of the most passionate Cravers (identified Casino Royale on the Strip. a quality product and good by the lengths they go to satisfy a yen for or The action was the result work i ng env i ron ment exhibit devotion to White Castle) have been of a licensing agreement without worrying about inducted into the Cravers Hall of Fame with a group of familyshort-term numbers. each year since it was established in 2001.  owned convenience stores. Ingram points out that “The testament to the brand is the re- (At press t ime anot her some workers have been Lisa Ingram lationship we have with our customers,” is scheduled to open in with White Castle for up Chief Marketing Officer Kim Bartley says. Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2019.) And in 2017 to 40 years. Of the top 450 restaurant“We will create memorable moments for the company entered into a joint venture operation leadership positions, 442 are them. We’ll read their stories. We take with a management company to open two held by employees who started behind a seriously their comments that come into locations in Shanghai, the first outside counter at an hourly rate. us. We talk to every customer who gives the United States since an unsuccessful “I don’t know if there’s a genetic thing, us an opportunity to talk to them. … They international foray during the 1980s. but we’re sort of control freaks,” Ingram “[The country’s] middle class is the same says good-naturedly. “We really want to may not always like what we have to say, like why we can’t open a restaurant in their size as the U.S. total population,” Ingram be able to make sure that the legacy of neighborhood, but we definitely let them explains. “And when you go to China, it Billy lives throughout the generations looks a lot like any big city that you might and throughout the Castles, throughout know we’re listening.” Those customer pleas for local restau- go to in the U.S. in that there are lots of the plants, throughout the customer exrants, along with retail sales and lines at American brands there, both on the retail perience.” n w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

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side and on the service side.” Cravers have seen changes in their Castles over the years. New and rehabbed blue, orange and white interiors boast features such as an open kitchen, free Wi-Fi and Coca-Cola Freestyle stations, where Bartley says customers combine Coke products to create over 140 different flavors. Similarly, the menu reflects trends in consumer tastes. Ingram notes two additions: the Sriracha sauce-infused chicken breast slider, a limited-time item that appealed to a desire for bolder flavors, and the Impossible Slider, a 2018 addition featuring a plant-based protein patty produced by Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods that Bartley and Rife say tastes like a real hamburger.  “We’re no longer limiting ourselves to being a hamburger company,” Richardson says. “We’re a slider restaurant. And that gives us freedom to meet our changing customer needs.” But White Castle isn’t White Castle became known for its restaurants’ distinctive white turrets. looking to rule the burger Customers even develop recipes fea- mine where new Castles world. Ingram points out turing sliders as the key ingredient for are built, according to that remaining a familycompany-sponsored contests. The very fourth-generation Presiow ned company (nine first winner, in the early 1990s, was a young dent and Chief Executive fourth-generation memJamie Richardson woman who came up with a broccoli Officer Lisa Ingram. bers, including Richardcheese casserole. The best recipes end up son and Rife, and one fifthIn 2015 the first of three in cookbooks. Those hamburger fans have Las Vegas-area Castles— generation descendant are reunions at restaurants and completely the first outposts west of actively employed in the book restaurant tables on Valentine’s Day the Mississippi—opened business) allows W hite evening. in The Best Western Plus Castle to pursue its goals of consistently providing Richardson says an average seven to 10 Casino Royale on the Strip. of the most passionate Cravers (identified The action was the result a quality product and good by the lengths they go to satisfy a yen for or of a licensing agreement work i ng env i ron ment exhibit devotion to White Castle) have been with a group of familywithout worrying about inducted into the Cravers Hall of Fame owned convenience stores. short-term numbers. each year since it was established in 2001.  (At press time another is Ingram points out that “The testament to the brand is the re- scheduled to open in Scottsome workers have been Lisa Ingram lationship we have with our customers,” sdale, Arizona, in 2019.) with White Castle for up Bartley says. “We will create memorable And in 2017 the company entered into a to 40 years. Of the top 450 restaurantmoments for them. We’ll read their stories. joint venture with a management com- operation leadership positions, 442 are We take seriously their comments that pany to open two locations in Shanghai, held by employees who started behind a come into us. We talk to every customer the first outside the United States since an counter at an hourly rate. who gives us an opportunity to talk to unsuccessful international foray during “I don’t know if there’s a genetic thing, them. … They may not always like what the 1980s. but we’re sort of control freaks,” Ingram we have to say, like why we can’t open a “[The country’s] middle class is the same says good-naturedly. “We really want to restaurant in their neighborhood, but we size as the U.S. total population,” Ingram be able to make sure that the legacy of definitely let them know we’re listening.” explains. “And when you go to China, it Billy lives throughout the generations Those customer pleas for local restau- looks a lot like any big city that you might and throughout the Castles, throughout rants, along with retail sales and lines at go to in the U.S. in that there are lots of the plants, throughout the customer exWhite Castle food-truck stops, help deter- American brands there, both on the retail perience.” n w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . W I N T E R 2 0 19

41


Profile for Cincy Magazine

Ohio Business Magazine- Winter 2019  

Ohio Business Magazine- Winter 2019  

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