Page 1







Dr. Alex Stemer The View from Lake County


Gene Diamond The Costs of Care

Andy Arnold, Joy Colwell, Teresa Eineman, Lynn Eplawy, Sean Fadden, Rob Grill, Tom Hayes, Mark Maassel, Pete Novak, Debora Owen, Sharon Owen, Dr. Rachael Ross, Erik Schneider, Karen Vogelsang AND Barry Levin



Business Builder Rob Grill, co-owner of Gus Bock’s Ace Hardware, exemplifies the contribution small businesses make to Northwest Indiana’s economy

photo by Robert Wray

>> contents

2010 professionals to watch 5 6 7 8

21 Rob Grill by Jeremy Gantz 22 Karen Vogelsang by Brian Williams 23 Lynn Eplawy by Lu Ann Franklin

BUSINESS ADVISORY BOARD David Bochnowski, People’s Bank publisher notes by Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. By the numbers Statistics Concerning the Region’s Economy COVER STORY 2010 Professionals to Watch 9 Barry Levin by Lu Ann Franklin 10 Debora Owen 12 Andy Arnold by Jeremy Gantz 13 Mark Maassel by Jeremy Gantz 14 Erik Schneider by Lu Ann Franklin 15 Joy Colwell by Lu Ann Franklin 16 Tom Hayes and Sean Fadden by Jeremy Gantz 17 Sharon Owen by Kathleen Quilligan 18 Teresa Eineman by Carmen McCollum 19 Pete Novak by Keith Benman 20 Dr. Rachael Ross by Lun Ann Franklin

24 27 28 31 32 33 34

BIZ BUZZ Updates on Area Businesses Business Calendar Upcoming Events in the Area SALUTE Promotions and Accomplishments of Local Business People My turn An Environmental Legacy for NWI’s Future by Carl Lisek NEW FUTURES New Plan Is a Step Back by Alexander Stemer, MD MY BUSINESS The Cost of Obamacare by Gene Diamond Ethics matters Professional Ethics Demands Even Greater Attention in Tough Times by Bill Thon

cover photograph by ROBERT WRAY 4


>> business advisory board

David Bochnowski Committed to community service By LU ANN FRANKLIN

D “I always joke that I came up in banking the hard way. I had a great deal of exposure to the bank, and I remember the days of posting ledgers by hand, back when digitalizing was a revolutionary concept,” says the chairman and CEO of Northwest Indiana Bancorp and Peoples Bank, an institution started by Bochnowski’s grandfather in East Chicago. “But as much as I enjoyed the banking environment, my family encouraged me to explore the world beyond. I credit my parents for piquing my interest in other cultures and specialties.” Bochnowski explored his interest in foreign service by spending the summer of 1967 in Lesotho, Africa, with a faith-based group called Crossroads Africa. “It was a rewarding experience,” he says. “I enrolled in Howard University for a master’s degree in African studies.” In 1970, Bochnowski volunteered to go overseas as a military adviser during the Vietnam War. Bochnowski learned the Vietnamese language quickly. In country, the U.S. Army lieutenant’s assignment was to put Vietnamese forces into place to fight the war independently of the U.S. “It was a challenging assignment and helped me learn the importance of priorities,” he says. “Even though we all had different ranks, we also formed a team. In a true team situation, rank does not make a difference. Everyone has a job to do.” Bochnowski has brought that ability to meet challenges to other endeavors. He earned a law degree from Georgetown

avid A. Bochnowski, the newest board member of BusINess magazine, didn’t originally plan to be a banker.

University and worked as a special assistant to Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Indiana) in Washington, D.C. Returning to Indiana, Bochnowski set up a private law practice and in 1977 became legal counsel for Peoples Bank. “Banking was going through dramatic changes, and Dad thought I should pursue other opportunities that were on the table,” Bochnowski says. “But, once I made my decision to join the bank, my father fully supported me” Bochnowski, a Munster resident and father of four, took over as chairman and CEO of Peoples Bank in 1981 and was promoted to chairman of the Northwest Indiana Bancorp holding company in 1995. Under his leadership, the now century-old bank has continued to grow with 11 banking centers in Lake and Porter counties. Construction on a 12th banking center in St. John is planned this year. “Fair and honest dealings are critical to the success of any enterprise, but especially critical in banking,” he says. “These are not just words. They’re a way of life.” Peoples Bank calls its commitment to customers “You First Banking.” This way of doing business is driven by relationships, not just transactions, Bochnowski says. Because Peoples is a locally owned and managed community bank, “we can respond quickly and effectively with the service and solutions you need to meet your financial goals,” he says. And Peoples Bank has been recognized nationally for its commitment to custom-

ers. In 2007, 2008, and 2009 US Banker magazine listed Peoples among the top 200 community banks in America based upon a key banking industry performance indicator. Being a banker means making a commitment to public service at every level, Bochnowski says. He serves as treasurer for the Munster Community Hospital and on the board of the Community Healthcare System. He is also former chairman and current board member of the Legacy Foundation of Lake County; a director of the Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council; a trustee of the Purdue University Technology Center and a trustee of Calumet College of St. Joseph. Gov. Frank O’Bannon appointed Bochnowski to a four-term term as chairman of the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions. In 2001, the governor named Bochnowski a “Sagamore of the Wabash,” Indiana’s highest award for humanity, loyalty, wisdom and inspiration in leadership. As chairman of the American Bankers Association Government Relations Council, Bochnowski is a national advocate for change in the banking industry. Peoples Bank also supports a wide range of community activities through Bochnowski’s leadership. Over the past 25 years, the bank has donated some $4 million in charitable contributions and community support. In 2009, for example, Peoples provided in-kind contributions and financial assistance to more than 230 community projects.



>> publisher’s letter

The emphasis on professionalism remains critical


S e rv i n g N o rt h w e s t I n d i a n a & C h i c ag o l a n d



Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. Founding Editor Bill Nangle Associate Publisher/Editor Pat Colander Director of Product Development Chris Loretto


ooking over the roster of business leaders that are the focus of this issue, I was struck by the mixture of familiar and unfamiliar names as well as the diversity in age, gender and cultural heritage. Learning their success stories only further convinced me of the versatility and adaptability of the pros that stay in the game. One of the real world benefits of the many challenges that businesses face right now is the opportunity for good leaders to show just how innovative and creative they can be. True professionals inevitably rise to the top no matter what economic conditions surround them. NWI Forum CEO Mark Maassel embodies professionalism and always has. Maassel, who is already an alumnus of the BusINess Hall of Fame, who played a key role in the long-term building NIPSCO and Northwest Indiana, might seem to be at a point in his career where he could ease up on the 24/7 schedule and his typical intense level of involvement. But at this critical time for the region, he has stepped up again—first as Forum Chair and now back in the daily fray. Thank you, Mark, for all you do. You are certainly, undeniably a person to watch. A couple of others in this issue were originally honored as a part of our 20 Under 40 awards, like Lynn Eplawy, managing partner at Gary Jet Center, and Pete Novak, executive director of Greater Northwestern Indiana Association of Realtors (GNIAR). Both will not hesitate to say that they never expected to be where they are now. But both agree that when opportunity knocked, they seized it and never looked back. Purdue professor Joy Colwell, who is also a lawyer with a black belt in karate, did not succeed as planned, either. Lots of sweat, no regrets. The theme running through so many professionals’ career stories—whether they are hardworking entrepreneurs who started their own businesses like Andy Arnold (Precision Control), Erik Schneider (Hometown Appliance and Electronics), Sean Fadden and Tom Hayes (Omni Tobacconists), or like Barry Levin (Levin Tire), Karen Vogelsang (Vogelsang Asset Management), Dr. Rachael Ross (Tatum Family Health Center) and Rob Grill (Gus Bock’s Ace Hardware), who reinvented and evolved established brands—is the constant renewal of initiative and energy. Every day is a new opportunity and another chance. If the old idea doesn’t work, get a new idea. The third group of professionals is the people who have made it to the top of the business where they have worked for many years. These folks know the value of teamwork, whether you are the leader or a key player, and they include US Steel Gary Works general manager Sharon Owen, superintendent of Crown Point Community School Corporation Teresa Eineman and NIPSCO customer service chief Debora Owen. Thank you all for making the time to tell us about how you do, even though it is still kind of mind-boggling. You are the role models who inspire us, you set a wonderful example and you are definitely the people we need to watch.

Associate Editors Crista Zivanovic Julia Perla Matt Saltanovitz Art Director Joe Durk Graphic Designer Matt Huss Contributing Writers Heather Augustyn Cal Bellamy Keith Benman Dan Carden Wil Davis Lu Ann Franklin Jeremy Gantz Carmen McCollum Kathleen Quilligan Bill Thon Brian Williams Contributing Photographers Natalie Battaglia Jon L. Hendricks John Luke Robert Wray Advertising Director Lisa M. Daugherty Online Account Executive Craig Chism Advertising Managers Deb Anselm Eric Horon Frank Perea Jeffrey Precourt Business Advisory Board Dave Bochnowski Peoples Bank Wil Davis Gary Jet Center Tricia Geno NIPSCO Barb Greene Franciscan Physician Hospital Tom Gryzbek St. Margaret Mercy Hospital Terri G. Martin Gary Community Health Foundation Inc. Stephan K. Munsey Family Christian Center Bert Scott Indiana University Northwest

Bi l l Mas te Rson J r . P U B L I S H ER , B us INess WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK. E-mail me at or write to me at: BusINess Magazine, The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321



Bill Thon Ivy Tech State College Copyright, Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland BusINess, 2010. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without permission is prohibited.

>> by the numbers

Employment Lake County

LaPorte County

Cook County


March 2009 Labor Force: 227,820 Employed: 202,726 Unemployed: 25,094 Rate: 11 percent

March 2009 Labor Force: 53,175 Employed: 46,613 Unemployed: 6,562 Rate: 12.3 percent

March 2009 Labor Force: 2,590,376 Employed: 2,341,950 Unemployed: 248,426 Rate: 9.6 percent

March 2009 Labor Force: 6,613,300 Employed: 6,005,600 Unemployed: 607,700 Rate: 9.2 percent

Porter County


Will County

SOURCES: Indiana Department of Workforce Development/Illinois Department of Employment Security

March 2009 Labor Force: 84,375 Employed: 76,029 Unemployed: 8,346 Rate: 9.9 percent

March 2009 Labor Force: 3,238,673 Employed: 2,912,982 Unemployed: 325,691 Rate: 10.1 percent

March 2009 Labor Force: 364,057 Employed: 328,233 Unemployed: 35,824 Rate: 9.8 percent

March 2010 Labor Force: 215,794 Employed: 191,234 Unemployed: 24,560 Rate: 11.4 percent

March 2010 Labor Force: 79,510 Employed: 71,719 Unemployed: 7,791 Rate: 9.8 percent

March 2010 Labor Force: 51,053 Employed: 44,326 Unemployed: 6,727 Rate: 13.2 percent

March 2010 Labor Force: 3,123,102 Employed: 2,813,223 Unemployed: 309,879 Rate: 9.9 percent

March 2010 Labor Force: 2,612,501 Employed: 2,316,461 Unemployed: 296,040 Rate: 11.3 percent

March 2010 Labor Force: 368,995 Employed: 324,661 Unemployed: 44,334 Rate: 12 percent

March 2010 Labor Force: 6,669,300 Employed: 5,904,300 Unemployed: 765,000 Rate: 11.5 percent

Top 10 Occupations by Growth 2006 - 2016 Long-Term Projections (For Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, Starke counties) 1. Registered Nurses 2. Retail Salespersons 3.Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food 4. Customer Service Representatives 5. Home Health Aides 6.Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 7. Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants 8. Personal and Home Care Aides 9. Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer 10. Office Clerks, General SOURCES: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Indiana Department of Workforce Development



>> Feature Story

2010 Professionals to Watch What makes a leader a top professional? The list used to be standard: dedication, loyalty, the ability to listen to the staff and the clients. But there is nothing standard about business in the year 2010. Whether you have been steadfastly climbing the ladder to the goal you set for yourself, struck out on your own to test the dream of building the business you have always wanted, or learned the business from the ground up from your parents and grandparents, professionals today live and love their work like never before. The new breed of professionals are innovators, creators, inventors and transformers who make disasters into opportunities and shake solutions from problems turned upside down. Whether they have a straight career path or have taken the road less traveled, they have found success and continue to make their way up, turning obstacles into open doors as they go.

photo by Robert Wray

The Times and BusINess magazine present 15 such professionals to watch in 2010. Their stories may be as different as their businesses, but each shares the same ending: success.

Lynn Eplawy, Gary Jet Center

>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Barry Levin Owner, Levin Tire Center By LU ANN FRANKLIN


photos by Robert Wray

or more than 90 years, a Levin family member has been at the helm of the Levin Tire Center. “My grandfather, Henry Levin, started the business in Gary at 21st and Broadway. In the early 1970s, we built the facility in Highland on Indianapolis Boulevard and moved our operation here,” says Barry Levin, a Schererville resident and the company’s third-generation owner.

Today, Levin Tire Center has expanded to include six other stores in five communities – Hammond, Hobart, Crown Point, Valparaiso and Merrillville, where two Levin Tire Centers operate. The newest facility in Valparaiso opened two years ago in a newly constructed building. Levin Tire Center has been affiliated with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. of Akron, Ohio, for decades, Levin says, and that has helped grow the business. “Goodyear contacted us that they were putting a facility in Hobart and asked if we would run it. We were an existing Goodyear dealer so it was a natural,” Levin says. Building Levin Tire Center has also taken “hard work,” he says. “My father and uncle stressed that if you took care of the customer, the customer will take care of you,” Levin says. “You can’t live on one sale. It’s about referrals and recommendations.” The 80 employees of Levin Tire Center – including technicians, general service workers, sales staff, managers and clerical staff – continue that tradition, he says. In fact, that reputation for customer care continues to bring in generations of families who have relied on Levin for their tire and vehicle service needs, he says. “Our certified and experienced technicians use state of the art diagnostic tools and equipment,” Levin says. “We offer you the highest quality parts for your vehicle. We pride ourselves in bringing you the finest auto service in the area.” Tire sales compose about half of the company’s business. Full service vehicle care

represents the remaining 50 percent of sales. Those services include tire rotation, shocks and struts, computerized engine analysis, heating and air conditioning, batteries, hoses and belts, oil changes, front end alignments, disc brake repair and tire repair. “We don’t do body work,” Levin says. “We service vehicles like light trucks, vans and cars, all makes and models, foreign and domestic.” The customer service offered at Levin Tire Center has also won the company kudos. Since 1972, Levin Tire Center has been a Better Business Bureauaccredited company with an A+ rating. “We were also honored by The Times and Shore magazine Best of the Region-Tire Store for 2009,” Levin says. Levin says the family’s strong work ethic was a major part of his upbringing in Gary. “I always thought I’d go into the family business,” he says. While attending Horace Mann High School, Levin began working at the Gary store during the summers. Later, he attended Indiana University, majoring in political science and French, but continued to spend his summers at Levin Tire Center. After earning his degree from IU in 1970, he joined the firm full time and has been there ever since. However, he says, he will probably be the last generation to run Levin Tire Center. His grown children are pursuing their own careers in Colorado and Illinois. “We have a lot of really good people here to run the company when I finally do decide to retire,” says the 61-year-old, who adds with a chuckle, “Of course, I have no

plans to retire.” Levin remains active at the national level as a member of the Goodyear National Advisory Board, where he’s served for more than a dozen years. In addition to building his business, Levin says he also works to build up the communities where his stores are located. For example, he’s been a member of the Highland Rotary for more than 30 years. “I’ve been president of the Rotary Club and help with the annual corn roast we have at Main Square Park. Our company is a big supporter of that fundraiser and we’ve raised more money than anyone else,” he says. “We get behind it as a corporation.” Levin and his company also provide financial support for such community organizations as Little League and softball teams. In fact, it’s become a corporate climate at Levin Tire Centers to give back to the community, he says. “We belong to all the chambers of commerce in the towns where we’re located,” he says. “It’s important to promote civic organizations. Small businesses need to band together and bring in more small businesses. The big corporations don’t always do that.” On a personal level, Levin says he’s also become active over the last several years in such community service organizations as Meals on Wheels and hospice programs. “Of course, I’m involved in IU sports programs as a member of the Varsity Club,” he says. “This all keeps me pretty busy.”



>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Debora Owen Director of Customer Contact Center, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO)


hallenging times call for innovative approaches and strong leadership, especially if your job is to provide reliable and affordable energy service to more than 712,000 natural gas customers and 457,000 electric customers across northern Indiana. As director of Customer Contact Center for Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO), Debora Owen knows firsthand how today’s difficult economic climate has affected people in our region. She and her team have been at the forefront of NIPSCO’s efforts to help customers manage their monthly bills, and to assist low-income residents, elderly people on fixed incomes, or other customers working hard to make ends meet. “Everyone on our team understands that these are challenging times,” Owen says, standing amid some of the more than 160 customer service representatives who work in NIPSCO’s Merrillville call center. “That’s why we are doing everything we can to keep customers’ rates as low as possible, to help people get the assistance they need, and to continue delivering the reliable, efficient service that they and their neighbors depend on.” From a leadership standpoint, Owen says that means engaging her entire contact center team to make sure they are as responsive and proactive as possible. “We know that our team is the primary source of information and support for customers. As a leader, it’s my job to make sure our contact center representatives are always informed and ready to handle whatever issue or concern comes their way. I also am part of the broader NIPSCO effort to


continuously find ways to improve and develop new programs and services that will better meet our customers’ needs now and in the future.” Owen notes that a key factor working in NIPSCO customers’ favor recently has been lower energy costs. NIPSCO’s natural gas costs have been the lowest in Indiana for more than 13 months – in fact, among the lowest in the nation – and the company’s combined gas and electric costs remain in the lower half for all of Indiana utilities. “Since Indiana utility costs compare favorably nationally, NIPSCO customers’ utility bills have among the lowest in the nation,” Owen says. “That has been a huge factor in helping our customers manage through this economic downturn.” Owen’s NIPSCO career started 18 years ago. After working in various parts of the business, she settled in customer service and has spent more than half her career working to meet the needs of NIPSCO customers. As a front line supervisor, she helped establish NIPSCO’s first Quality Assurance department, responsible for monitoring the quality of customer calls. She later advanced to the position of Customer Contact Center manager and was promoted several years ago to director. She quickly credits her leadership success to being a part of strong, dedicated


and engaged NIPSCO teams. “My job is to provide talented people with the vision, mission, and resources they need to succeed, then get out of the way. I’m extremely proud of our team’s performance – especially during challenging times such as these. I believe it reflects our entire organization’s commitment to service and core values such as accountability, integrity and respect.” Looking ahead, Owen says she is excited about the prospects for NIPSCO customers and northern Indiana’s economy. “We have redoubled our efforts to develop new and innovative customer programs, and we will be investing more than $1 billion during the next several years to provide a cleaner and more efficient energy infrastructure to meet the region’s needs,” Owen says. “As a lifelong resident of this region, I know how important those investments are in maintaining and creating new jobs and promoting the economic climate that employers are looking for.” For Owen, however, it always comes back to the customer. “Reliable energy, more jobs, a cleaner environment. Those things matter, and are a big part of what we do,” she says. “But directly helping customers who want to save energy, lower their monthly bills or simply make ends meet – that’s what I take the most pride in.”

>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Andy Arnold Founder and Owner, Precision Control Systems By Jeremy Gantz


hen Andy Arnold founded Precision Control Systems Inc. in 1980, the United States was heading into a deep recession—not a great time to start a business, in theory at least. Thirty years later, Arnold is steering his company through an even worse recession, and it’s no worse for the wear.

Precision Control Systems—based in Griffith and affiliated with identically named sister companies in Chicago and Indianapolis—contracts with area institutions and businesses to install temperature control systems and retrofit buildings for more efficient energy use. The key to survival in Northwest Indiana’s fast-changing business environment, he says, is building long-lasting customer relationships and a highly skilled employee base. “Because we are more stable with our customers, we tend to provide better quality than our competitors,” says Arnold, a native of Lombard, Ill., who now lives in Chesterton. Many of the company’s customers, like hospitals and school districts, have long-term contracts that enable Precision to easily maintain and quickly repair systems. “We have a pretty loyal and skilled and competent employee base. Everybody in our company builds relationships with our customers. In Northwest Indiana, that really works well.” Although Precision has been hurt by the sharp decline of the region’s construction industry during the recession, it has made up for that loss of business by increasing what Arnold calls “performance contracting.” Many organizations, especially public schools being squeezed by tightening budgets, want to reduce their energy costs. Some hire Precision to provide “guaranteed energy-saving retrofits” by updating air conditioning and heating equipment. “We’ve been able to maintain pretty effectively through the recession,” Arnold says. He learned how to survive downturns the hard way when he started the company


at age 26, four years after graduating from Brown University with an engineering degree. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” he says. “A certain confidence and naivete helped us, we didn’t know all the problems and pitfalls.” That early recession taught Arnold and his growing company to stay efficient. When interest rates were at historically high levels—they topped 20 percent in 1981—you learned to “stay living within your means,” he says. “Things do change, and they change quickly.” Arnold has certainly been able to master changing circumstances. He’s seen plenty of change in the region’s business climate over the years, as he co-founded the affiliated Precision Control offices covering territory to the west and south. Northwest Indiana’s economy has diversified, moving away from steel and toward the health care industry, which has helped Precision Control. (Hospitals need robust temperature control systems.) “Being a smaller company,” he says, “we’re able to react to the change and move quickly.” (About 60 people work in the Griffith office, while another 90 people are split between the Chicago and Indianapolis offices.) The company’s latest adaptation is to move into the security systems market. Two years ago, it began helping schools and commercial enterprises improve their ability to control access to buildings. For school administrators, that means protecting kids. “Everyone’s making a more formal effort to control access to their buildings,” Arnold says. “It’s a natural fit for us.” Arnold does have interests beyond


guiding Precision through the next bump or bend in the region’s economy. Five years ago, he joined the board of directors of the Crisis Center, a nonprofit in Gary’s Miller Beach that provides counseling services and an “Alternative House” for females 6-18, among other services. “When you meet the staff of the crisis center and you see the work they’re doing,” Arnold says, “it seems like a no-brainer to help them out.” The center late last year began a highly anticipated $2.5 million expansion project to alleviate overcrowding at the facility. That money was raised, in no small part, through the annual Crisis Center Wine Fest & Auction fund-raiser, which is scheduled for June 10 at the Sand Creek Country Club, and will feature donated auction items like Cubs and White Sox tickets, artwork, and a five-day fishing expedition. “This is kind of the best charity fund-raiser around,” he says. Arnold also sits on the board of South Shore Arts, the Munster-based nonprofit supporting arts and culture in the region for more than 70 years. Corporate consolidation has often meant less support for the arts in communities, he says, making it even tougher for community nonprofits to survive. The arts “are important to the community and increasingly hard to sustain in the difficult economic times,” he says. Arnold plans on staying in the community long after Precision makes it through the current recession. “We enjoy working in the community… We were in Hammond for ten years as we got off the ground, and have been in Chesterton for twenty. It’s all been good.”

>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Mark Maassel President and CEO, NWI Forum By JEREMY GANTZ


photos by Robert Wray

he last day of April, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels traveled to Gary and delivered a clear message to a few hundred business leaders and officials gathered at the Genesis Convention Center: The people of Northwest Indiana, Daniels said, need to work harder to make the region an economic engine for the state.

It’s hard to imagine anyone working harder to reach that goal than Mark Maassel, who was of course in attendance at the luncheon. As the new president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum, Maassel is uniquely positioned to help ensure the region emerges from the recession to become the economic engine that Daniels and Northwest Indiana’s 850,000 residents want to see power prosperity. “This was a true recession—for the most part, it impacted everyone,” Maassel says. “But I think businesses here in Indiana have done better for a number of reasons.” The recession—from which most area business leaders now believe NWI is steadily recovering—would have impacted the region much more deeply if not for its basic strengths, Maassel says: a “superb” dedicated workforce bolstered by great educational institutions; close proximity to Chicago; excellent infrastructure; and businessfriendly environment. “The fact that Indiana has not raised taxes is very important,” says Maassel, who lives in Valparaiso, the school board of which he began serving on last year. “The last thing you want to do during a recession is raise the cost of doing business.” After more than 30 years of working in Northwest Indiana as an engineer, lawyer and executive—he was president of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) from 2004 to 2008 and a vice president of NiSource for eight years before that—Maassel, 55, certainly knows the region’s business environment better than most.

Since taking over the Forum in January (he had been chair of its board), Maassel has been clear that the mission of the memberbased organization—which claims more than 130 members from throughout the four-county region—will remain the same under his watch: “We make sure we put Northwest Indiana’s best foot forward.” All the Forum’s work is fundamentally about “creating high-quality jobs and maintaining and enhancing our environment,” he says. Beyond getting the word out to companies interested in moving to or expanding their operations in Northwest Indiana, Maassel overseas the Forum’s efforts to strengthen specific areas of the region’s infrastructure—which is the base of all future growth. Right now, the Portage-based organization is focusing its efforts in two areas: pushing for the Illiana Expressway project, which would connect Interstate 65 in Lake County to Interstate 55 in Illinois’ Will County, and filling in gaps in knowledge about Northwest Indiana’s fiberoptic networks through a comprehensive research project. The fiber optic project is a prime example of the uniquely regional work the forum does to lay the groundwork for future growth. It will produce a “fiber optic asset map” detailing the region’s fiber-optic strengths and weaknesses. To draw many types of businesses to the area, Maassel says, “you have to add fiber optic to [the network], you need to have solid data communications.” After it is unveiled in June, the report will be put in the hands of economic development professionals, who may attract

capital for laying additional fiber. With decades of experience working and volunteering for a variety of organizations in the region, Maassel is sure that a better future for the region can only be charted and secured through partnership. “I’ve spent a considerable amount of time not just inside of NIPSCO, not just inside the Forum, building partnerships so we can build together in a common direction,” says Maassel, who has sat on the boards of countless organizations, including Ivy Tech Community College Foundation, Harris Bank Northwest Indiana and the Indiana Humanities Council. “Anything that’s as important and broad as Northwest Indiana, we really need to think outside of ourselves to move the agenda forward.” There are clear signs that a full recovery to the recession is on its way, he says, pointing to BP’s expansion of its Whiting oil refinery and ArcelorMittal’s recent decision to expand steel production at its East Chicago plant. “You’re starting to see companies all over the place expand themselves,” Maassel says. “You see people starting to vote with their feet, voting with their dollars. Let’s make sure those companies get here.” After rising to the top of the region’s business world, he’s happy to give back by supporting the overall growth of the region. “This community has allowed my wife and I to raise our children. In many ways, that leaves us with the obligation to see if we can build this region for the future,” Maassel says. The Forum “is a great vehicle to use to help build the area.”



>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Erik Schneider Owner & President, Hometown Appliance & Electronics By LU ANN FRANKLIN


n January 2005, Erik Schneider fell on a building site, breaking two ribs and effectively ending his carpentry career. He had spent more than half a decade working in the residential and commercial construction industries, beginning right after he graduated from Lake Central High School in St. John. Now it was time to find something new.

What Schneider quickly settled on—the home appliance retail industry—both builds on his construction experience and makes him happy. This year, he decided to finally act on a dream first hatched while working as a manager at Nason’s Appliances in Crown Point. Schneider, 32, struck out on his own and opened Hometown Appliance & Electronics, located on busy Route 41 in St. John, in mid-March. It’s been open seven days each week ever since. “I had the idea of going out on my own and getting back to the roots of what the business is: customer service, being forward with people,” says Schneider, who still lives in his hometown. “The customer service end of things is really going to be the key to our business.” Thus the new store’s name—the idea being to combine “Big Box” store savings with classic small-town friendliness. “I’m trying to have some of the best trained and skilled sales people answer your questions to ensure the decision-making process is a smooth one,” he says. (His 10 employees together have nearly 50 years of experience in the industry.) “The name fits what we’re trying to do—get back to the basics.” Offering all the major appliance and


electronics brands, from Maytag to Frigidaire to Samsung to Electrolux, the 3,100-square-foot store certainly covers the basics. But Schneider is also trying to keep up with the latest trends by stocking things like 3D-capable televisions, supposedly the next big thing in the TV market after the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar broke box-office records. “We’re doing very well for what’s to be expected [for a brand-new store],” Schneider said in mid-April. “The biggest challenge is getting our name out there.” Schneider’s knowledge of construction industry practices and the region’s players—he’s on the board of directors of the Building Industries Association of Northwest Indiana—certainly helps to attract customers. “I understand the crazy hectic schedule that builders have,” he explains. “It helps with my background to be able to communicate and relate with builders to optimize my sales.” But of course, the collapse of the housing market has been nothing but bad for the construction industry, so Schneider is fully aware of the importance of existing homeowners. “[Appliance] replacement is a big part of our business, rather than full


kitchen sets,” he says. For homeowners interested in but unsure about how to remodel a kitchen, Schneider makes consultative home visits, offering thoughts on how “to optimize the use and flow of the kitchen to make it not just functional but as beautiful as possible.” He also encourages people to bring home blueprints into the store to talk about what might work best, “at a price you can afford.” Hometown Appliance also offers financing deals, cheap delivery fees (anywhere in area costs $10), and a five-year warranty on anything in the store for $90. And in line with its name, the store offers discounts to public servants (teachers, firemen, police officers and military personnel) and participates in a few fund-raisers, including one to help build a new concession stand at the Lowell Little League field. For Schneider, those kinds of community gestures are a big part of what will make his business stand out and ensure success in a competitive marketplace and struggling economy. But they’re also a big part of living close to where he works. “I’ve got a young family,” he says. “This is a community I want to be involved with. This is where we’re going to be.”

>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Joy Colwell Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, Associate Professor of Organizational Leadership, Purdue University Calumet By LU ANN FRANKLIN


photos by Robert Wray

ometimes people know exactly what job they want from a young age. Others start out in one profession and serendipity leads them to another. Both happened in the life and career of Joy Colwell, assistant dean for graduate studies and associate professor of organizational leadership and supervision at Purdue University Calumet. “In first grade I thought I would be a teacher because I had a wonderful teacher. I got there, but I didn’t take the straight path,” says Colwell, 52, of Munster. A graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, the Columbus, Indiana, native earned an English degree and enrolled at the IU School of Law. After law school graduation, she relocated in 1984 to Northwest Indiana to join a law firm. Colwell also trained lawyers in civil mediation through the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum. In 1992, the ICLEF asked Colwell to speak at an event attended by Carl Jenks, school of technology organizational leadership professor at Purdue University Calumet. “Carl Jenks invited me to teach here as a guest lecturer,” says Colwell, now a tenured associate professor. “Soon teaching became what I do. I’ve been full-time here since 2000.” Two years ago, Colwell was asked to help develop a new graduate program at PUC. That program – the Master of Science degree in Technology – is now in its second year with more than 100 students enrolled. The 33-credit-hour graduate degree “is a broad umbrella degree. Students can focus on one of eight different areas in technology,” Colwell says. “Or they can do an interdisciplinary program. It’s a customizable degree that can be fitted to the participant’s needs.” This program has become very popular “because there isn’t anything similar in the area. There was a pent-up demand,” she

says. “We are preparing our students for leadership or managerial roles in technical fields.” Some of the students are working at full-time jobs and want to advance in their fields. Others want to enhance their supervisory skills. “This program is designed to cater to working adults,” Colwell says. Two-thirds of those enrolled are part-time students. Classes are offered in the evenings Monday through Thursday and online. Most students take two classes each semester. “It makes it easier for working adults to work class into their schedules.” As assistant dean in charge of this degree program, Colwell works in various aspects of the program. For example, she coordinates information for the admissions committee and reviews curriculum proposals for courses. Part of the graduate program is an applied research project that all students must complete to receive their master’s degrees. “This is not a thesis program, although students do a general written report on their project,” Colwell says. Getting students started on this project allows Colwell to keep her hand in teaching. PUC works closely with area industries to apply the work students do to the needs of those businesses. “It’s a good opportunity for local businesses to get help with problems or where they’d like to see improvements,” she says. Once a self-professed couch potato, Colwell immersed herself in fitness and

self-defense programs six years ago. Kick boxing and weight training were among the first areas she mastered during workouts at Fitness Pointe. Then she began to study Tae Kwon Do at the Modern Day Martial Arts studio in Munster and has earned a black belt in this martial art. “I took up martial arts in my late 40s. It was a nice progress from cardio and kick boxing to the real thing,” Colwell says. She also gets to teach classes in fitness and kick boxing when she subs for instructors at Fitness Pointe because she holds a certification awarded by the American Council on Exercise. Colwell says she gets the most satisfaction out of watching her PUC students “find out they can do things they never dreamed they could do.” As a first-generation college graduate, she says she is able to relate to students at the urban campus who are themselves the first in their families to attend college. “College can be a big challenge. I get a lot of satisfaction from watching them succeed. These students are really working hard and have a lot to juggle in their lives with work, school, families. They have to make their education a priority.” In addition, Colwell says, she’s found teaching to be a rewarding experience because of the variety of students she encounters. “We have traditional college-aged students and those who are returning to school after many years,” she says. “It makes for good discussions.”



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Tom Hayes and Sean Fadden Omni Tobacconist By Jeremy Gantz


Tom Hayes and Sean Fadden enjoy smoking cigars, and for the last 18 months or so, they’ve also enjoyed selling them. In October 2008, they opened Omni Tobacconist in Schererville, catering to aficionados living in Northwest Indiana and beyond. The timing may not have been perfect—the recession was peaking and unemployment began to soar in late 2008— but the uncle-nephew team has stuck with it and slowly attracted a clientele. “We’re still building a customer base,” Fadden says. “Each month we see new customers, we see more customers.” That’s partly due to the posh lounge available to customers, and partly due to the huge selection of cigars from around the world. There are more than 5,000 cigars in the store’s cedar-shelved humidor, comprising dozens of styles from 20 brands, mostly manufactured in Central American countries like the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua. In other words, Hayes and Fadden are trying to make Omni Tobacconist not just a store, but a destination. “Our selection is extensive,” says 26-yearold Fadden. “And our lounge is probably one of the nicest lounges in the area— comfortable and spacious.” Private memberships provide access to individual lockers. “It’s a laid-back, relaxing atmosphere,” says Hayes, who is 52 and, like Fadden, lives in Munster. “It has a nice seating area, Wi-Fi and big-screen TVs.” Coffee and soft drinks are available; no liquor license right now,


but they may soon try to obtain one. The co-owners are happy to expand the store’s cigar offerings upon request. “We’re trying to accommodate everyone that we can,” Hayes says. “Our preference is to cater to people as they request things. We look to bring in anything that is going to be beneficial to our business and customers.” (Omni Tobacconist also stocks premium cigarettes, and hookah and pipe tobacco.) To attract adventurous smokers interested in trying new cigars, Hayes and Fadden started the Omni cigar club. There’s no cost to join; members, who are almost completely men—Hayes says there’s still an unfortunate stigma attached to women who smoke cigars—meet on Tuesday nights, and choose a different cigar-of-the-week, which is discounted. “True cigar smokers are willing to give it a shot and see what’s out there, Hayes says. “They’re interested in trying new things, regardless of price.” Omni’s selections range from $1.25 to $50 per cigar, a wider price range than ever due to the recession. Lower-priced lines have been added recently in recognition of the fact that although they stir passions, cigars are still a luxury many cut back on in tough times. The good news is, you don’t need to spend a lot to find a high-quality cigar that might become a favorite. “There are guys who can smoke a cigar and explain exactly what they get out of it,” Hayes says. He and Fadden are happy to pair customer taste preferences with what’s in


stock. “Between the two of us, we have quite a bit of knowledge.” But curious customers can also learn about new cigars during monthly in-store events highlighting specific manufacturers’ products. April’s event featured deals on CAO cigars, along with a raffle and a fund-raiser for Multiple Sclerosis research and programs; May’s event featured Joseph R. Gannascoli, a Sopranos TV alumnus, and his signature line of cigars, “Cugine.” But occasional celebrity events aside, Hayes and Fadden believe that what makes Omni Tobacconist distinctive in the region’s retail tobacco industry is the fact the business is a family affair. The two men split most of the store hours (the store is open seven days a week), and Hayes’ sister and his two sons also help out occasionally. “We just wanted to do our own thing,” Fadden says. “To have a family business, and hopefully be successful.” But they’re well aware that success isn’t a sure thing in a competitive marketplace. “Our competitors have been around for 10 years or more,” Hayes says. “The competition is pretty rough. Everybody knows the pricing.” The co-owners are hoping their comfortable lounge and family vibe provide the added value necessary to ensure the future viability of their business. “We enjoy sitting around watching sporting events,” Hayes says. “When you come into our store, it’s us—everybody gets treated the same.”

photo by Kyle Telechan

igarettes have been thoroughly demonized during the last few decades, but somehow cigars’ reputation has survived these antitobacco times intact. A symbol of refined prosperity, cigar aficionados have managed to avoid accusations of snobbery—and being a publichealth threat.

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Sharon Owen General Manager, Gary Works, United States Steel By Kathleen Quilligan


ccording to Sharon Owen, there’s a saying at U.S. Steel: steel gets in your blood. Employees might say it as they stand in the plant, watching the raw material be heated until it turns into the liquid that eventually becomes car hoods and the top of washing machines. That moment still fills Owen with awe.

For Owen, the general manager of Gary Works for just over a year, the saying is especially true. When her grandfather came over to the United States from Poland, he worked for U.S. Steel, as did her late parents. Owen believes they’d have a hard time grasping that their daughter now runs the show. Owen, 55, was born in Gary but grew up in Merrillville. Growing up, she knew that steel was a dominant focus in the region, but it wasn’t until she graduated from Andrean High School and was well into her chemical engineering major at Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus that she began to consider that steel might become her focus too. She was a member of a co-op program where students worked at a company every other semester, and she applied for and was hired at U.S. Steel as a college student. She never left. It’s been 34 years since Owen started at U.S. Steel, and she’s moved around the company, doing a little bit of everything. Owen is no stranger to changing positions, but every couple of new assignments, she was returned back to Gary Works. Owen started in the Gary Works quality assurance department before moving to work as a customer technical sales represen-

tative. She worked as a senior area managersteel producing, a manager of automotive marketing and eventually general manager of automotive in 2004. Sometime during that period she found time to earn her masters degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh. She was back at Gary Works in 2006 to serve as plant manager-primary operations before heading to Granite City Works in 2008 to become general manager. She returned to Gary Works for her current role. A news release announcing her promotion to the general manager of Gary Works in February 2009 points to Owen’s “broad background and strong managerial skills” as her strengths coming into the position. Now back in northwest Indiana, she loves the Michigan lakeshore and taking advantage of the nearby parks. “After you leave and come back, you’re so much more appreciative of what the area has to offer,” she says. She now lives in Highland with her husband, Robert. Owen talks about steel, and the people who make it, with pride. “You get a sense that there’s something you’re proud to be a part of,” she says. She’s quick to point out there was a time when U.S. Steel employed 30,000 people

at Gary Works, but with increases in technology, can actually make more steel with 6,000 employees. Because of her different roles with the company, she’s well versed about who the company’s clients are and can enter an appliance store, run her hand over a washing machine and know that she helped make it. The company takes its plant employees to the plants of their clients, so they can watch as the steel they make is stamped into a car, appliance or appliance part. “A lot of us make a point to buy products made with our steel,” she says. While Owen says what keeps her at the company is the constant presentation of new challenges and the familiar people, one of her highest priorities is safety. A good day for her is having zero incidents, where everybody makes it home safe. The past year hasn’t been an easy one for Owen. As she points out, the economy hasn’t been easy on a lot of the company’s clients, and therefore, hasn’t been easy on U.S. Steel, whose business is a result of its customers. But Owen saw the recession as another challenge to work through and has seen things slowly begin to improve; earnings have been up in all segments of the company. “That’s good news for everybody.”



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Teresa Eineman Superintendent, Crown Point Community School Corporation


eresa Eineman doesn’t see herself as a hard-nosed business professional but rather a dedicated and passionate educator. A recurring statement from Eineman since she began her duties in Crown Point in April 2006 is that she intended to develop a plan to take the school corporation from good to great, and she’s remained steadfast along that path.

For many years, Eineman says people have compared Crown Point to local school districts but she said it was necessary to widen that lens and compare Crown Point to students across the nation. “Our students come to school above average,” she says. “We needed to change the benchmark. We needed new comparable schools. We looked at school corporations with similar socioeconomic levels, performance and populations across the state.” In addition to comparing Crown Point schools to Valparaiso, Munster, Lake Central and Duneland, Eineman has added school systems like Brownsburg, Carmel, Noblesville and Hamilton Southeastern to the mix. “We developed an action plan. We’re seeing our very best achievement scores. It’s coming one score at a time.” Overall, the school corporation’s ISTEPPlus percentage in English/language arts was 84.3 percent for all students, compared with 72.4 percent statewide in the 2008-09 school year. In math, Crown Point scored 86.3 percent, 11.3 percent higher than the state for the same period. The 2009 graduation rate was 89.8 percent. The district broke all records for Four Star schools this year, Eineman says. Eight out of 10 schools qualified for the Four Star designation. Eineman is particularly proud of the three Crown Point students who qualified for the geography bee, including Cvete Karamascoski of Taft Middle School;


Kyle Kirk of St. Mary Catholic School in Crown Point and her own daughter Abigail Eineman, a Wheeler Middle School seventh-grader. Abigail finished in the top 10 for the state. Taft Middle School was one of three Indiana schools designated “a school to watch” by the Indiana Middle Level Education Association. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce named Crown Point High School a “Best Buy” school based on the achievement level of students for the lowest amount of tax dollars. Eineman says all of these things mean that more children are learning. “We’re showing results at all levels,” she says. “Some school corporations are known by one school but we have 10 great schools.” Eineman says it was her love of children and family, and her respect and deep admiration for teachers at an early age that led her into the field of education. “I aspired to be like the teachers who inspired me,” she says. “When I had a work experience at 16 years old at a now-closed state hospital and worked with young people who had a disability, I knew then what I wanted to do with my life.” Growing up in New Castle, Indiana, Eineman says she had a rough childhood filled with physical and mental abuse. She says her mother left her and her three siblings with their abusive and alcoholic father who had just been released from the


Michigan City State Penitentiary. The oldest at age 6, Eineman assumed the responsibilities of a mother, including cooking and cleaning, before the siblings were split up among other family members. Eineman, who lived with her father until she was 17, strived to prove him wrong because she said he always told her she would never amount to anything. She said it was her teachers, whom she considers angels, who made a difference at each critical developmental stage in her life. She named her first-grade teacher Mrs. Brown and says her fifth-grade teacher Mr. Vaughn was the first positive male role model in her life. While in high school, Eineman worked 40 hours per week at a grocery store and as a carhop to pay her living expenses and provide for her siblings. Eineman earned her degrees through Ball State University, and climbed the ladder first as teacher, then principal, then superintendent. “I fell in love with Crown Point,” she says. “My family fell in love with it as we walked around the square and saw mothers pushing their baby carriages and others playing with their children. I knew we had found something special here.” She says her husband, who is retired, assumes the primary role with Abigail’s school. He volunteers and participates on the PTA, while she remains behind the scenes. Eineman said church is also a part of her life and the family has become members of Bethel Church in Crown Point. Eineman’s two older sons, Christopher and Jeremy, also live in Indiana, and she became a grandmother six months ago with the birth of granddaughter McKenzie. When asked what she does for fun, it took a few minutes for Eineman to think about it. Every now and then, she said she likes to go to the movies but she and her husband have different tastes. “I like a happy ending,” she says with an uncharacteristic grin.

photo by John Luke

By Carmen McCollum

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Pete Novak Chief Executive Officer Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors (GNIAR) By Keith Benman

photo by Lauri Dykhuis


n 2004 newly elected Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. made a leap of faith and installed a 25-year old still in college as his chief of staff.

At the time, Pete Novak was juggling his job as a mortgage broker with finance and accounting classes at Purdue University Calumet and had just finished a stint as McDermott’s campaign treasurer. “That is probably the best practical experience I’ve ever had,” Novak says of his time working in city government, first as chief of staff to McDermott and then heading up the city’s Department of Planning and Development. “It got me thinking about the how and why of things,” he adds. He says McDermott placing his faith in a youngster with little experience is a pattern that has repeated itself throughout his varied career. After attending Ball State for just one year, the 19-year-old Novak was brought into the red-hot mortgage industry by banker cousin Pete Sokolovich. Working at the home-lending arm of the major bank where his cousin was an executive in Arizona, Novak describes a “boiler-room” environment of men all older than himself “who made lots of money.” But he wasn’t as impressed by that as he was by the helping hand his cousin had extended him. “I’ve been fortunate to meet some good

people along the way that would take me under their wing,” he says. “There are a lot of talented people out there who never get that break.” Today, Novak, 32, is chief executive officer of the 2,000-member Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. Since being hired for the job in 2007, he has kept busy raising the organization’s public profile. That includes having its member Realtors play a key role in finding and arranging for housing for flood-stricken families in the fall of 2008 and publicizing the organization’s stand on sometimes highly-charged public policy issues such as the South Shore extension. Five months ago, Mayor McDermott appointed Novak to a seat on the Northwest Indiana Regional Developlment Authority, a two-county organization funding major economic development projects across the region. RDA Executive Director Bill Hanna says Novak, the seven-member board’s youngest member, has added value already to the organization. “He’s able to look at the issues facing us from multiple perspectives, as well as helping us find solutions.” The RDA is at a critical juncture in

its short history, with the Porter County Council attempting to exit the organization at the same time as the RDA is seeking to build bridges with local communities. But getting thrown into the fire feet first is nothing new for Novak. “I came into local government and we had the property tax crisis,” he says. “And I came into real estate when the market was crashing.” “Maybe it’s me,” he says, laughing at his habit of always seeming to come on board in the midst of a crisis. In addition to getting a professional boost from people like McDermott, Novak says the solid values he picked up as a child growing up in Hammond laid a good foundation for his varied and rapidly developing career. He credits his construction worker father, Peter Novak Sr., with doing a good job raising him during his teenage years in the absence of his mother. He attended Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Hammond as a youngster and graduated from Gavit High in 1996. He still lives in Hammond in the Higgins Park development in Hessville. He says he knows political disagreements between factions can be savage in Northwest Indiana, where politicians often play for keeps. But he has a basic faith in people that also extends to the region’s leadership. “Most of the groups do care and they care a lot about the community.”



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Dr. Rachael Ross Family Practice Physician, Tatum Family Health Center By LU ANN FRANKLIN


eeping others healthy seems part of Rachael Ross’s own DNA. A family practice physician at the Tatum Family Health Center, Ross has followed in her father’s footsteps at the clinic David Ross, M.D., founded decades ago at 1619 W. 5th Ave., Gary.

Medicine was “a safe choice. I grew up just a few blocks from the clinic,” she says. “No matter what, my mom stressed, especially to the girls, that they become educated and be able to take care of themselves. My two sisters and a brother are also doctors.” A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Ross earned a medical degree from Meharry Medical College. A resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, she brings her medical expertise to many pursuits. Part of Ross’s professional life revolves around the Gary-based health care clinic where she sees patients on a regular basis. “Our focus is on preventive care to keep families healthy. We show people how to take care of themselves,” Ross says. Women have a natural nurturing spirit and are often the ones who take care of their families. But many times they go it alone, and these caregivers don’t always take care of themselves, she says. “We strive to help them mentally and physically,” she says. Another commitment to health care takes Ross to Westville Correctional Facility in LaPorte County as the prison’s medical director. The 3,500-bed men’s prison houses prisoners in minimal, medium and maximum security units. “We have an infirmary and we see a lot of medical and mental health issues – a lot of hypertension, some cancer,” she says. “We have a dedicated team of mental health experts. We make sure the men get the health care they need.” Ross’s interest in the connection between the mind and body also led her to pursue a doctorate in clinical sexology through the


American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. “I was working with HIV/AIDS patients, mostly gay men. I wondered how and why people have sex,” she says. “There is such a shortage of clinicians in that field. Society still hesitates to really talk about sex. Two in three people cheat in their relationships. If you ignore it, it won’t go away.” Helping couples create long-term commitments is part of her work as a boardcertified sexologist. “We need to have frank and honest discussions about sex,” she says. Ross provides education and therapy for her patients at the clinic. She also sponsors “Girl Talk” a regular education program that brings in girls from the community, ages 9 to 18, with her sister, Rebekkah Ross, M.D. “We split them into age-appropriate groups and talk with them about their health and, of course, boys. We provide them with life skills,” Ross says. The Girl Talk program attracts 40 to 60 girls at a time and provides a “big sister/mom relationship with the staff at the clinic,” she says. “We try to get them where we are in life – educated, working at a good job.” Those self-esteem issues need to be reinforced, Ross says, because girls sometimes under-value themselves. “We had one girl who was particularly difficult. She tried to commit suicide several times and was having sex with all kinds of men. I didn’t think we’d ever reach her,” Ross recalls. “Today she’s in college and has turned her life around.” To reach even larger audiences with her expertise in sexology, Ross has become a


media consultant in the Chicago TV and radio market, and throughout the nation via cable stations. During her segments l on WGN Morning News, she answers viewers’ questions and comments on health topics that are in the news. An energetic, no-holdsbarred speaker, Ross is known for her open discussions about relationships, sex, abstinence for teenagers and HIV/AIDS prevention. She’s also featured twice weekly on You & Me This Morning on Chicago’s WCIU 9 (“The U”) as the “women’s health and happiness expert.” In addition, Ross offers her sex and relationship advice weekly on Chicago’s Power 92FM and provides medical commentary for the nationally syndicated Tavis Smiley radio show. As a writer, Ross contributes regularly to such magazines as Cosmopolitan and Real Health Magazine. And she recently published her first book, Down Right, Feel Right, Outercourse for Her & Him through her website, Several years ago, Ross also moonlighted as a dance music DJ in clubs and parties across Chicagoland, and was featured on The Oprah Show. However, her medical practice and media consulting work doesn’t give her time to pursue that secondary career. “Today,” she says, “what gives me the most satisfaction is feeling like I’m having an impact on people’s lives. Something I’ve said or done has helped someone change their life. As you walk through life, you see opportunities to help, and you should.”

>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Rob Grill Co-Owner, Gus Bock’s Ace Hardware By Jeremy Gantz


photo by Robert Wray

any small business owners rightly feel threatened by “big box” stores, but not Rob Grill, co-owner of Gus Bock’s Ace Hardware store in Dyer. The way Grill sees it, his store has developed a loyal customer base by offering unique products and services—things even sprawling home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s don’t carry. “You want to make big purchases, [so] I understand you’ll want to go to the big stores,” Grill says. “But they’re not going to be able to fix things,” Grill says. “We have a service department where customers can get items fixed.” With a licensed mechanic on staff and unusual product lines in stock— the store offers hundreds of work boots, plenty of work clothing and rentable equipment—Grill is confident that Gus Bock’s can co-exist with the big boxes. Some of that confidence might come from having worked closely with his father and brothers during the last 30 years to keep the business going. It’s done more than survive the arrival of bigger stores during those years—it’s thrived. “We have tons of loyal customers, ranging from homeowners, contractors, handymen and custodians that have been with us for years” he says. “It’s nice to see the friendships that have been made at our stores.” Grill began working part-time at age 14 in the original Gus Bock location in Lansing, Ill., which his father bought from

Bock’s family in the late 1970s. The Dyer location was opened in 1990, and a third store was opened in Munster in 2004. Grill and his brothers Keith and Tom bought the business from their father upon his retirement in 2006; it’s been going strong ever since. “My only other job was a newspaper deliver boy,” Grill says, laughing. With some bookkeeping help from his wife, the 42-year-old now manages the Dyer location, while his brothers manage the other stores. “We all take pride in carrying on our father and grandfather’s business [his grandfather worked in a Midlothian, Ill., hardware shop]… Dad did a great job of establishing a very solid business by focusing on taking care of our customers, and everything else seemed to fall in line.” Keith Sr.’s conservative approach to building the business, which is affiliated with but independent from the Ace Hardware brand, has helped the Grill brothers weather the current economic recession relatively painlessly. It also helps

that the hardware business is, according to Grill, “pretty recession-proof. When money gets tight for our customers, they are more prone to doing thing themselves such as painting [or] cutting their own grass, instead of hiring someone to do it for them.” The family doesn’t release sales figures, but Grill says sales are up 10 or 15 percent this year thus far, a nice contrast with last year’s 2 percent decline. “It’s fair to say that our stores perform well above average compared to our peers,” he says. Beyond the niche product lines and repair service in Dyer—to which customers in Munster and Lansing are directed—Grill thinks the secret of Gus Bock’s success is fairly obvious: “It’s a local feel, with local employees,” he says. “We live in the town. We’re part of the community, we give back to the community.” (Fans of Dyer’s little league and softball league may have seen Gus Bock’s teams in action.) The hardware business is the only business Grill has ever known, and he has no plans to leave it. It’s a family affair, and something he’d like to pass on to his children. His oldest son Matt, who’s 10, has expressed interest. “I would love to see my or my brothers’ kids get involved in the hardware business,” he says. “But, it’s up to them to decide what’s best for themselves.” If current trends at Gus Bock’s continue, that shouldn’t be a very difficult decision; loyal customers in Lansing, Dyer and Munster—and perhaps other towns—may soon be helped by the fourth generation of Grills in the hardware retail industry.



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Karen Vogelsang Senior Financial Advisor and Registered Principal, Vogelsang Asset Management By brian williams

T It seems too informal, too fun — at first. But then the visitor realizes the mug identifies Vogelsang as more than a financial advisor. She’s a real person, too. And that’s key to her calling, which she sees as more than simply managing clients’ money. Hers is a relationship business, Vogelsang says. “I like people — a lot,” says Vogelsang, senior financial advisor and registered principal at Vogelsang Asset Management in Valparaiso. “I know a lot about my clients — sometimes more than their doctors know.” That intimate connection with clients even led one — an 85-yearold lady — to ask Vogelsang to be maid of honor at her wedding. Raised in Kankakee, Illinois, Vogelsang earned a business degree at Valparaiso University in 1980. She went into insurance sales and estate planning, with some part-time helping out in her husband’s pizza restaurant. When children came along, she took a “sabbatical” for several years to raise them, but also owned and ran a dress shop during that period. In 1996 she returned to work as a financial advisor, working with several firms until 2007 when she ventured out on her own to establish Vogelsang Asset Management. About a quarter of her work is with corporate retirement plans; the rest is with individual clients. She’s never had a salaried job, preferring to remain independent and rely on her own drive. Part of what drives her is


stubbornness — wanting things to be done just right, she says. “My clients — I’m very protective of them. I get very ticked off if someone tries to take advantage of them.” Taking fear and worry about their financial future out of her client’s lives gives her great satisfaction, Vogelsang says. An important element of that is improving her clients’ “sleep factor.” “If your investments and money keep you awake at night, you’re not doing something comfortable,” she says. “That’s just not the way to live.” Getting through the economic disaster of ‘08 as a fledgling business is a feat Vogelsang is quite proud of. The downturn, in fact, may have helped her business, she says, as many investors who previously thought they could manage on their own sought out help. “People realized there was more to it than just throwing money at the stock market,” she says. Vogelsang’s peoplecentered approach includes involving all of her employees in decision making and the firm’s growth. “I want everyone on my team rewarded for what we do,” she says. “It has to be fulfilling for them, too.” That ethic extends to Vogelsang’s involvement in the community, where she has worked to help many organizations achieve their goals. She was capital campaign chair for the new Valparaiso Family YMCA, where she now serves on the board and executive committee, as well as on the YMCA Foundation Board.


In addition, she serves on the Valparaiso Economic Development Corporation and the board of the Entech Innovation Center business incubator. She is also a past president of the Valparaiso Rotary Club. Part of a definition of success, she says, is giving back to the community. “You find time (for) things you think are important,” she says. “Those are important to me.” But all work and no play makes Karen a dull girl, which Vogelsang gives no indication of being. Outside of work, she plays a bit of golf and occasionally helps out at AJ’s Pizza, her husband Richard’s restaurant, still going strong after almost 30 years. And with the return of nice weather, she’ll get back on her bike. Every August she and a small group of friends undertake what they call RALF — Ride Around the Lake Front — a 134-mile bike trek from Kenosha, Wisconsin to New Buffalo, Michigan. Vogelsang’s sense of drive and involvement goes at least as far back as her senior year at high school in Kankakee. There she landed the plum assignment with the student newspaper of interviewing presidential candidate Ronald Reagan. “He was really neat, very impressive,” Vogelsang says. “When he spoke to (you), you were the only person in the room.” Vogelsang herself seems to be on the road to attaining a similar degree of connection with her clients as his inspiration achieved with voters.

photo by Jon L. Hendricks

here’s something about the monkey mug Karen Vogelsang has her morning coffee in that doesn’t quite fit with her smartlyappointed business suite.

>> cover story: 2010 professionals to watch

Lynn Eplawy Managing Partner, Gary Jet Center By LU ANN FRANKLIN


photo by Robert Wray

ynn Eplawy grew up around aviation. Her father, Wil Davis, is a pilot and owns the Gary Jet Center at the Gary/Chicagoland International Airport. “While we were growing up, he was even a crop duster,” she says. But, Eplawy adds, she never really considered working in the family business. Her education and career path, in fact, took her in very different directions. Eplawy graduated from the Miami University in Ohio in 1995 with a degree in finance and moved to Dallas to sell paper to commercial printing operations for a large paper manufacturer. A transfer to Chicago took her from selling paper to a job as an account manager for a large national graphics firm. Her clients included Coca Cola and Harley-Davidson. “I was basically a liaison between the clients and the graphic designers,” she says. However, after several years, Eplawy says she began to feel dissatisfaction with her career choices. “I began to question where my future would be,” Eplawy recalls. Then a vacation with her family to Las Vegas gave her the answer. “We were at breakfast at Caesar’s Palace. I was talking with my family about feeling rudderless and wondering if I should go back to school to get my MBA,” she recalls. “My dad said ‘Come work for me. You can learn how to run a small business. If you don’t like it, you can quit’,” Eplawy says. “It was risk-free. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Also my mom was looking to retire, so I took her position.” Although she had grown up around pilots and planes, Eplawy says she really didn’t

have a background in aviation. But what she did have was a love of business “for business sake,” she says. “This gave me the opportunity to be part of my family business. That was nine years go. Today I’m managing partner at the Gary Jet Center” In those nine years, Eplawy’s life has changed immeasurably, she says. The 37-year old Chicago resident married Jason Eplawy and they are the parents of two children, a three-year old son, Cole, and an infant daughter, Jane, born in February of this year. “I have a great support network which allows me to work and spend time with my children,” Eplawy says. In her position at the Gary Jet Center, Eplawy says she wears many hats, which she enjoys. “At the Gary Jet Center, we’ve taken the job descriptions and thrown them out,” she says. “I’m handling human resources such as insurance, benefits administration and hiring.” Eplawy’s degree in finance also comes into play when she provides all the federal excise reports. “I get involved with contracts with larger clients such as Boeing,” she says. “I also do department development here.” The Gary Jet Center, located at 5401 Industrial Hwy, is a full-service FBO or

fixed based operator that provides a variety of services including selling three types of jet fuel, chartering flights, hangar space and fixed-wing and helicopter repair by Federal Aviation Administration-certified technicians. In addition, the center can accommodate jet crews and passengers with limousine and car-rental services and catering contacts. For crews, there’s a pilot lounge with Internet access, snooze room, conference room and a weather briefing room. Eplawy says she gains the most satisfaction from two aspects of the business. “The ability to make decisions without going to committees and without the delays that entails,” she says, recalling her work with national and international clients in previous careers. “The beauty of being able to make decisions quickly allows us to grow and prosper especially when the economy is down,” she says. “We can steer the ship where we want to steer it.” Another source of satisfaction is her 46 co-workers. “It’s a pleasure working with people who have whatever it takes to do the job,” Eplawy says. “No one says ‘that’s not my job’. The guys who pump fuel are not afraid to wash dishes. The pilots are able to help make travel arrangements for groups.” “Our employees give great customer service and make sure everything get done properly.” Eplawy says she foresees a lot of growth at the Gary Jet Center and plans to stay with the family business. “We are continuing to grow at the Gary Airport and will continue to serve our customers,” she says. “I don’t have the feeling that I’m going to work. It’s our business. I love it like I love my family. This is a blessed opportunity.”



biz buzz >> SCHERERVILLE

Wellness center opens in downtown Schererville Drs. Chris and Diane Hayes of Hayes Family Chiropractic Clinic recently opened a new Hayes Family Wellness Center, 11 E. Joliet St., in downtown Schererville. The doctors specialize in chiropractic, acupuncture and massage services. Chris also has training in recovery options for children on the autism spectrum. A grand opening is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, which will include tours and refreshments. For more information, call (219) 864-8284.


Area businesses named as top small businesses Task Force Tips of Valparaiso was recently named a Small Business of the Year Finalist by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Omnitech Systems of Valparaiso was named a semi-finalist for the same award. A South Bend-based company that provides friction welding technology and services was honored as the state’s Small Business of the Year by the Indiana Chamber. Manufacturing Technology Inc. was chosen from a field of dozens of nominees from around the state. MTI and other top small businesses were recognized at the recent annual awards luncheon held in downtown Indianapolis. A fourth-generation family-owned business, MTI primarily builds machines that carry out the friction welding process (the solid state joining of two parts using frictional heat and applied force to create a forge-quality weld). MTI also sells the only line of frictional welders worldwide that includes all three major variations: rotational linear and stir. The Small Business of the Year award is open to all Hoosier companies with 250 employees or fewer.


Allstate agency opens new office in Lake Station Allstate Insurance Co. has opened a new office. Owned and operated by Allstate Exclusive Agent Jerry Gasch , the Gasch Group is located at 3525 Central Avenue, Suite D, Lake Station. For more information, call (219) 962-4947.



Project connects students and businesses About a dozen local business owners and managers of corporations took part Tuesday in the Purdue University Calumet-Hammond High School Oral History Project. This year’s topic, The Making of American Businesses, allowed Hammond High School history students to interview the business owners and managers about what it is like to operate a company and how the current economic situation affects them. “This allows students to connect with local business owners,” PUC education supervisor Norma Coleman said. “And most students don’t know about any business that’s not in a mall.” Students learned from Hammond Fence Company owner George Huskisson that his business was steady despite the economic crisis thanks to repeat customers and a big demand for fences since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The students also were pleasantly surprised when they discovered how much Huskisson enjoyed his job. “Many people tend not to like their jobs. So when you find someone who does, it’s a unique thing,” junior Joshua Tobar said. Huskisson said it was important to participate in the project because the students who interview the business owners are the work force of tomorrow. “If they have an impression at their age that people hate their job, it’s got to be something to tell them not every job is horrifying to get up every morning and go to work at,” he said. Students also interviewed attorney and WJOB radio station co-owner Alexis Vazquez Dedelow. “This project was worth it because we got to know an owner of a business in the community,” junior Brisa Moran said. Ten HHS classes were involved in the project that included interviews and presentations with companies ranging from Walmart to The Hokey Spokes, a bike-safety lighting company in Gary. This marks the sixth year of the oral history project developed by Purdue history professor LaVada Brandon, who saw it as an innovative and exciting method for teaching. Projects of various topics have also taken place at Gavit Middle School and Roosevelt and West Side high schools in Gary.

[ Updates on local businesses ] >> INDIANAPOLIS

Governor honors longtime local businesses


Merrillville dealer adds Dodge A Merrillville Chrysler dealership has added Dodge to its portfolio of new vehicle brands it has for sale. Cary Bosak, president of Bosak Chrysler Jeep Dodge, said the addition of Dodge was “a long awaited union.” Customers also can have their Dodge products serviced at the dealership as well. Located at 3111 W. Lincoln Highway, the dealership is in the third-generation of family ownership after being opened as Bosak Motor Sales in 1928. It became a Chrysler dealer in 1936. The Bosak family also owns and operates Bosak Honda in Highland.


photographs by Robert Wray

Esmark buys University Park steel service center Chicago-based Esmark Inc. recently bought a University Park, Illinois, firm and, with the acquisition, it has returned to the steel service center and distribution business. Esmark said it paid $10 million for Amtex Steel Inc., which specializes in flat-rolled and bar products for light manufacturing and durable goods industries. The deal includes plant assets, real estate and Amtex’s rail line facilities. The facility’s more than 70 employees are expected to be retained, and Esmark plans to expand the workforce by adding commercial sales and plant staff. The company’s new name will be Chicago Steel & Iron, and it will be a subsidiary of Esmark Steel Group. Thomas Modrowski will be the chief executive officer of Esmark Steel Group. Esmark’s steel service center business began in 2003 with a facility opening in East Chicago.

Staying in business is never easy. Especially when times are tough. Valerie Steil is a small-business woman who knows this firsthand. “It gets to be more and more challenging as the world keeps changing,” Steil says. Steil has owned Marc T. Nielsen Interiors in Valparaiso for nine years. But Steil’s business has a long tradition to rely on. Marc. T. Nielsen Interiors has been designing rooms in the homes of Chicago and Northwest Indiana residents for 85 years. The trick, Steil says, is to have happy customers. “We try to give the best service, the best design, that we can.” In recognition of its longevity, Gov. Mitch Daniels honored Marc T. Nielsen Interiors and 96 other Indiana businesses that have managed to keep going, no matter what, for more than half a century. “I’m sure that you’re proud of the history that’s in your business, as Indiana is proud of it, too,” Daniels said. In addition to Mark T. Nielsen Interiors, several other region businesses were awarded the Governor’s Century Business Award and the Governor’s Half-Century Business Award during a ceremony under the brilliant skylight in the north atrium of the Statehouse. They include, from Lake County: Hammond Machine Works Inc., 101 years in business; Sickinger’s Jewelry, 81 years; and Don Bales Inc., 50 years; from Porter County, Valparaiso First Insurance Inc., 87 years; Grieger’s Motor Sales Inc., 50 years; and from LaPorte County, Fenker and Co. Inc., 106 years; Tonn and Blank Construction, 87 years; and Carlson’s Drive-In, 62 years. The century-award honorees received a foot-high crystal vase, handed to them by Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. Half-century honorees were presented a framed certificate.


South Shore CVA wins Silver Adrian Award The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International has recognized the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, with a Silver Adrian Award for web marketing excellence in the 53rd annual award competition. The Adrian Awards is the largest travel marketing competition globally. The Visitors Authority was honored for its 2009 e-mail marketing campaign. From the campaign, the Visitors Authority is able to measure the number of people visiting for events and increase visitation to local attractions, events and restaurants during their stay. The campaign also surveys visitors to receive feedback and address issues. This year’s contest attracted nearly 1,100 entries, with entries judged by top executives from all sectors of the industry.



biz buzz >> HOBART

Hobart insurance agent honored by state group

Bank names Crown Point branch manager Ashlin Hadden has been named branch manager for the newly-constructed Crown Point office of First Savings Bank of Hegewisch, 1351 E. South St., at the corner of Joliet Street (U.S. 231) and 113th Avenue. As branch manager, Hadden will manage all aspects of daily operations including staff hiring and training, account servicing, retention and new customer development. “This is an exciting time at First Savings Bank of Hegewisch,” Hadden said. “The Bank is known for developing strong relationships in every community we serve and we are committed to doing the same here,” she said. First Savings Bank of Hegewisch has grown to more than $525 million dollars in assets since opening in 1914. The Crown Point banking center is the bank’s newest full service office and joins eight other offices in Indiana and across the Chicago southland area. For more information, call (219) 663-3100 or visit


PNC forms local chapter of Sigma Beta Delta Purdue University North Central’s College of Business announced the formation of a local chapter of the Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society. The PNC Chapter recently inducted its first chapter members in the PNC Library Student Faculty building. Approximately 10 years ago, Sigma Beta Delta was created as a business honor society for institutions with regional accreditation. Sigma Beta Delta has now established more than 248 chapters in 46 states, with one international institution. PNC is the first and only chapter of Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society in Indiana.




MonoSol announces expansion MonoSol LLC, the world’s leader in water-soluble sustainable films and solutions, announces the next phase of its expansion program to increase production capacity at its global manufacturing facilities in Northwest Indiana. MonoSol expects to increase capacity for water-soluble film manufacturing by more than 20 percent in 2010 and an additional 20 percent in 2011.Headquartered in Merrillville, the company has manufacturing facilities in Portage and LaPorte and Hartlebury, England. “MonoSol’s investments will be greater than $20 million over the next two years, and the expansion initiative will include adding significant resources at our 16-acre, expandable LaPorte ... facility,” said David DeVoll, vice president, commercial director of substrates. “For the past five years, MonoSol has developed technology that has grown worldwide consumer and commercial demand for water-soluble films and solutions. This increasing demand has been met by consistently and methodically increasing capacity at our manufacturing sites in the United States and England,” said P. Scott Bening, president and CEO. Growth is being driven by advances in market areas such as unit-dose packaging, composite fabricating and MonoSol’s unique new dust-abatement product, TerraLOC. Since 1953, MonoSol LLC has been the world leader in specialty water-soluble polymer-based films. MonoSol offers a wide range of water-soluble packaging films for unit-dose applications for agricultural chemicals and consumer products, mold-release films, transfer printing, embroidery support films, water-soluble laundry bags, edible films and TerraLOC, a unique dust abatement system.

photograph by Robert Wray


Richard L. Smith, of Smith Insurance Agency in Hobart, received the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana 2009 Agent of the Year Award. Smith was honored on Nov. 14 in an awards ceremony at the IIAI annual convention. The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding performance and achievement of an individual who is an agent member of the IIAI. This individual must be a licensed agent and contribute to the agency’s performance through production and/or other management activities. In addition to his strong performance in his agency, the award recognizes Smith’s outstanding professional and industry involvement, participation in IIAI and serving his community. The award is sponsored by Encompass Insurance Co. in Indianapolis. The IIAI is a trade association representing more than 800 independent insurance agencies in Indiana. The association was formed so insurance agents and insurance consumers have a unified voice in government and can share common goals and information. Among the numerous services IIAI provides to its membership are more than 100 continuing education seminars across the state annually.

business calendar To read more of the calendar, visit To include an item in the local business calendar, send event information, time, date, cost and location to: or fax to (219) 933-3249.

Monday Merrillville | The Referral Organization of Indiana (ROI) Business Networking Group meets Mondays at A.J. Specialties, 1308 E. 85th Ave. Networking starts at 7:15 a.m.; meetings start at 7:30 a.m. For more information, contact Tony Schifino at (219) 736-0367. Valparaiso | The Northwest Indiana Professional Network meets from 8 to 10 a.m. Mondays in the Alumni Room of the Harre Student Union, 1509 Chapel Drive, Valparaiso. Contact Sandra Alvarez at the Center of Workforce Innovations at (219) 462-2940 or

Tuesday Gary | The Indiana Business Professionals Chapter of the Networking Club meets from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Tuesdays at The Baker’s House upstairs meeting room, 6004 Miller Ave. For information, call Tammie Galloway at (888) 263-6926, ext 1. Hammond | The North Lake Chapter of BNI (Business Networking International), which encompasses Hammond, Gary, Griffith and East Chicago, meets from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays at Cabela’s, 7700 Cabela Drive, in the upstairs conference center. For more information, call Michael Pelz at (219) 977-2090 or (815) 370-2940. Merrillville | Southshore Business Networking will meet from 8 to 9 a.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Cafe Divine, 9000 Taft St. Call Rick Gosser at (219) 808-9888 or visit Schererville | NWI PROs of Tri-Town meets Tuesdays at Tyler’s Tender, 350 E. U.S. 30. Networking starts at 7:15 a.m.; meetings start at 7:30 a.m. For more information, contact Twila Kaye at or (219) 227-8875. Valparaiso | Small-business operators are invited to Duneland Chapter of Business Networking International from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Tuesdays at Strongbow Inn. For information, call Sandy Boland at (219) 926-2505. Merrillville | Toastmasters of Southlake Club meets from 7 to 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Room 102 at the University of Phoenix, 8401 Ohio Street. For more information, call Shugunna S. Alexander at (219) 794-1500.

Merrillville | Referral Organization of Crown Point meets from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays at Café Divine, 9000 Taft St. For more information, contact Lisa Gapen at (219) 4338544 or The Web site is Merrillville | Toastmasters meets from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Lake County Public Library, 1919 W. 81st Ave. Contact Dale Brooks at (219) 775-7788. Munster | The Munster BNI (Business Networking International) business development group meets from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays at Centennial Park, 1005 S. Centennial Drive. Contact Michael Pelz at (219) 977-2090 for more information.

Thursday Merrillville | The Merrillville Noon Kiwanis Club meets from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays at the Old Country Buffet off U.S. 30 (1634 E 80th Avenue). Call Aaron Yakovetz at (219) 7075023, e-mail, or visit Schererville | A BNI (Business Networking International) business development group meets from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Thursdays at the Holiday Inn Express, 1773 Fountain Park Drive in the Fortis A Room. Call Michael Pelz at (219) 9772090 or (815) 370-2940 for more information. Valparaiso | The Porter County Business League meets at 7 a.m. Thursdays at Round the Clock restaurant, 217 E. Lincolnway. Visit Valparaiso | The Referral Organization of Indiana (ROI) Business Networking Group meets Thursday mornings at 8 a.m. at Regional Federal Credit Union, 2801 Boilermaker Court (behind Menards). Contact Cindy Zromkoski at (219) 741-7963. Homewood | The Homewood-Flossmoor Toastmasters meets from 8 to 10 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays each month at the Sylvan Learning Center in Park Place Plaza, 17936 S. Halsted. For more information, call Julie at (708) 903-0692.



Hammond | Free business counseling services are available through the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) from 9 and 10 a.m. Fridays at the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, 5246 Hohman Ave. Call (219) 931-1000 for an appointment.

Highland | NWI PROs (Professional Referral Organization) West Lake Chapter meets from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays at Mrs. Dornberg’s 24 Carrot Cuisine, Port De L’eau Plaza, 2130 45th St. Networking before and after. For more information, call Dru Bocek at (219) 613-1125.

Merrillville | Northwest Indiana Networking Professionals meet at 7:15 a.m. Fridays at Towne Center Retirement Community, 7250 Arthur Blvd. (73rd Avenue, east of Taft). Contact Beverley Steinman at or (219) 730-1262. More info at



salute Promoting local business people who are climbing the professional ladder Julie Kelchak, a commercial lines producer and account manager, recently celebrated her 25th anniversary with Anton Insurance Agency Inc. of Chesterton and Valparaiso.


Two physicians have joined the Community Heathcare System. Dr. Rajshri Shah is fellowship-trained in both breast imaging and musculoskeletal imaging. Dr. Ayis Pyrros is fellowship-trained in neuroradiology. Seferino Farias, MD, FACS, general surgeon, of Crown Point, has joined the staff of St. Anthony Medical Center. Farias is certified by the American Board of Surgery. Farias will be located at Franciscan Physician Network at Franciscan Point. Kwame Larbi, MD, has joined the medical center staff as a hospitalist. Larbi is board certified in internal medicine.






Jonathan Gallagher has been appointed as upstream development marketing coordinator at MonoSol LLC, headquartered in Merrillville. Gallagher is responsible for leading marketing initiatives that further advance and commercialize new applications for MonoSol’s products worldwide. Tarun Kukreja, MD has joined the Dermatology Department at Hammond Clinic and will treat patients at the Specialty Center in Munster. Akeek S. Bhatt MD has joined the staff at Hammond Clinic and will treat patients with gastrointestinal problems at the Specialty Center. Bhatt is board-certified in internal medicine. Geoff Blanco, co-owner at Rigg’s Outdoor Power Equipment in Valparaiso, has been selected to serve as president of the National Dealer Advisory Board for Kubota Tractor Corporation for a two-year term. The Purdue Alumni Association board of directors has selected regional directors for the 2009-2010 academic year. Mike Moskalick, of Crown Point, will serve a three-year term as a regional campus representative, representing the interests of members who attended Purdue Calumet. Ismael DeJesus Jr., of Portage, is the alumni interest representative to the board. DeJesus will represent Purdue alumni interest groups including the black and Latino alumni groups, the Grand Prix


foundation and the alumni band. Two associates have joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP’s Schererville office. Jarrod A. Malone focuses his litigation practice in the areas of professional liability defense, appellate practice and general liability matters involving catastrophic injuries. Kate Van Bokkelen is experienced in all aspects of litigation, including court appearances, case strategies, pleadings, document discovery, depositions, motion practice, oral argument, settlement negotiations and mediation. Robert E. Johnson III and Glenn S. Vician have joined the Methodist Hospitals Board of Directors. Johnson is the president/CEO and co-founder of Cimcor Inc., a software development firm that develops security software. Vician is president of the Bowman, Heintz, Boscia & Vician and started and developed American Acceptance Co. LLC. Dr. Cynthia Lembcke recently achieved board certification in foot and ankle surgery through the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. Lembcke provides comprehensive foot and ankle care at Great Lakes Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Crown Point and St. John. Julius Ellis, MD, joined the LaPorte practice of Drs. Stiller, Phelan and Taylor. Ellis is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. He also sees patients in Michigan City. Janet Foglesong, MSN, WHNP-BC, joined the LaPorte practice of Drs. Stiller, Phelan, Taylor and Ellis. Foglesong is board certified by the National Certification Corporation for Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal nursing specialties. Ellis and Foglesong are members of LaPorte Regional Physician Network. Anne Van Keppel has been promoted to associate director of athletics for marketing and constituent support at Valparaiso University. Van Keppel is responsible for all of the corporate sponsorship and marketing for the department. Kendra Simon, broker associate, has joined Prudential Executive Group, which has offices in Portage and Vaparaiso. LaPorte Hospital volunteer Walter “Wally” Hrankaj recently received the

Golden Hoosier Award. The award, recognized by Lt. Governor Becky Skillman, distinguishes senior volunteers who demonstrate unique efforts to promote the health and well-being of their community. Jared Persinger, DDS, recently joined Accent Dental in Valparaiso. Persinger is a member of the American Dental Association, Indiana Dental Association, and Northwest Indiana Dental Association. The Indiana Credit Union League Board of Directors, which includes Sandy Heller of Northern Indiana FCU in Merrillville, elected table officers at its reorganization meeting recently. Donna Holmer, senior loan officer of Flagstar Bank in Merrillville, has been selected as the preferred mortgage loan officer for employees of Community Healthcare Systems through their PerksCard benefit. Braman Insurance Services in Merrillville has named James Padilla, JD, as director of the Sports and Entertainment Division. Prior to joining Braman Insurance Services, Padilla owned and operated his own specialty brokerage. Lauren Goldstein, of Dyer, and Eusebin Torres, of Whiting, recently attended the Reliv International Conference held in St. Louis. They learned ways to strengthen their home-based business. The following local residents have become independent consultants with Tastefully Simple Inc., a national direct-sales company featuring easy-to-prepare food products: Debbie Martin, of Dyer; Portia Williams, of Hammond; Rachel Delaney, of Highland; and Trisha Cahill, of Highland. Mary Ann Korenic joined First National Bank in Lansing as vice president and senior trust officer. She will be responsible for service and expansion of First National Bank’s Trust Department at its Illinois and Indiana locations. Richard Smith, of the Smith Insurance Agency in Hobart, was recently honored by the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors for earning his CIC designation and maintaining all updated requirements for 20 years. McColly Real Estate recently recognized

sales professionals who have achieved Top Listing or Sales Status for July: Michelle Boicken-Top Listings and Top Sales Beecher; Joyce Lawson-Fleming-Top Listings and Carlos Lemus-Top Sales Chesterton; Bonnie Ford-Top Listings and Dee Steiber-Top Sales Crete; Bernie Taylor-Top Listings and Bob Calabrese and Kristi Davids-Top Sales Crown Point; Joan Majerik-Top Listings and Top Sales DeMotte; Lestra Cole-Top Listings and Kathie Dinga-Top Sales Highland; Dennis Keithley-Top Listings and Sharon Webb-Top Sales Lowell; Candee Warren-Top Listings and Top Sales Portage; Pat Hill-Top Listings and Diane Cline-Top Sales Schererville; George Dubovich-Top Listings and Karen Maynard-Top Sales Valparaiso; Terry Papp Jr.-Top Listings and Paula Casanova-Top Sales Winfield. McColly Real Estate recently recognized the following sales professionals who have transferred from other companies to McColly: Philip Pardus to Winfield from Century 21 Executive, Jacky VanDusseldorp to Crown Point from Keller Williams; Deborah Stuart to Portage from Re/Max Hometown; Jami Douglas to Tinley Park from Van Witz Real Estate. Family Practice Nurse Practitioner Jeffrey Rhodes has joined the Hammond Clinic and will see patients at the clinic’s St. John Facility. Rhodes is a registered nurse in Indiana and Illinois. ACLS certified Osteopath Dr. Brian Jacover has joined the Hammond Clinic as a family practice physician and will see patients at the clinic’s Specialty Center in Munster. Neha P. Patel, MD has joined the Hammond Clinic’s staff of doctors. She will serve patients as a hospitalist. Master Trooper Dave Miller was recently recognized for 30 years of service to the Indiana State Police. Miller patrols Porter and LaPorte counties in the Lowell District. Lansing resident Shirley Uhll, pharmacy tech at St. Margaret Mercy’s Dyer Campus, earned the Going the Extra Mile award. Uhll has been employed at Saint Margaret Mercy since December 1976. Crown Point resident Evelyn Bays, who teaches science, math and life skills at St. Margaret Mercy’s St. Francis Center, earned the GEM Award. Bays has been employed at Saint Margaret Mercy since May 1990.








salute Dr. Nandini Menon has joined the Lewyckyj-Taglia-Felton Eye Clinic, with locations in Munster, Crown Point and Valparaiso. Prior to becoming an ophthalmologist, Menon had been practicing Internal Medicine for several years.


Kelly Shikany has joined Vogelsang Asset Management in Valparaiso as an account administrator. She has been in the financial services industry for 15 years, most recently as an investment officer for a local trust company. Dominic Pampalone has joined Century 21 Executive Realty as a Realtor Associate in their Schererville office. The Valparaiso resident is a veteran of eight years in the Northwest Indiana real estate market.






Jennifer Gholson, an American Family Insurance agent in Dyer, has been recognized for customer satisfaction excellence under the J.D. Power and Associates Distinguished Insurance Agency Program. Gholson has been an agent for American Family since October 2006. Dr. Gina Dudley has joined the Hammond Clinic as a family practice physician and will see patients at the clinic’s Wellness Center in Munster. She holds certifications from the American Board of Internal Medicine and American Board of Pediatrics. Dr. Judith Pickett has joined the Hammond Clinic as a family practice physician and will see patients at the clinic’s Wellness Center in Munster. Her credentials include PALS, CPR/BLS and ACLS Certifications by the American Heart Association and ALSO Certification by American Academy of Family Physicians.

The following employees of Fleming Bates & Barber Insurance in Crown Point have earned the Accredited Advisor of Insurance designation from the Insurance Institute of America: Angela Janus, commercial lines manager; Yvette Strayer, customer service agent; Julie Cruz-Lopez, customer service agent; and Jane Shipley, customer service agent. Melissa Newell and Jillian Earnest have joined Audiology Services of Community Hospital in Munster as clinical audiologists. In their new positions, Earnest and Newell will help to identify and treat newborn through geriatric patients with hearing loss and vestibular disorders. Munster dental practitioner Dr. Richard E. Jones recently received the Distinguished Alumnus award from the Indiana University School of Dentistry Alumni Association for his contributions to the profession of dentistry in Indiana, particularly his leadership role in dentistry’s peer review process. La Porte dental practitioner Dr. Daniel W. Fridh received the Distinguished Service Award in part for his efforts in working with the community to identify dental resources for La Porte children in need. Interventional cardiologist Rishi Sukhija, MD, with offices in La Porte and Knox, is now a member of the La Porte Regional Physician Network. Sukhija is board certified in cardiovascular disease. The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes in Fond du Lac, Wis., recently installed its new general leadership. Sister Doris Klein will serve as a general councilor. Klein is originally from Crown Point and is a former member of St. Mary’s Parish.

The following local lia sophia advisers have earned top honors for the company’s Excellent Beginnings Program Achievers for their outstanding sales accomplishments and professionalism: Nadia Coffey, of Crown Point; Meghan Noonan, of Crown Point; and Kelly Emerson, of Schererville.

Kristen Mauk, Kreft professor for the advancement of nursing science at Valparaiso University’s College of Nursing, was recently inducted as an American Academy of Nursing Fellow. The Academy advances health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge.

Mark Machnic, owner of Business & Matrimonial Valuation Services of Schererville, has successfully completed the certification process with the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts to earn his designation of Certified Forensic Financial Analyst.

To submit an item for Salute, send information and a photo, if available, to 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321, e-mail to or fax to (219) 933-3249. Faxed photos will not be published.


[ my turn ] by Carl Lisek Legacy Environmental Services, Inc. Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana

An environmental legacy for Northwest Indiana’s future


ometime within the next several months, we will emerge from the recession. Our NWI collective attention for at least the next 10 years -- our decade of determination -- needs to be on building the economic engine of the future. Sustainable-enterprise: advanced manufacturing, health care, universities, K-12 schools, research centers, the arts, building/trade organizations, transportation/logistics, our communities, and our nonprofit leadership all will play a role. Threading across the region’s diverse economic portfolio is a powerful cross-connecting innovation engine: sustainability is the business opportunity of the 21st century. What is sustainability? Sustainability is about creating and maintaining a state of balance between people and our environments, focusing on the social, economic, and environmental factors that are so vital to our futures and the futures of coming generations. With today’s tight credit market, rising raw materials costs, the high price of transportation, stiff global competition and a weak dollar, sustainability planning can provide the competitive advantage and profitability that Northwest Indiana must create. Being sustainable is a trend more organizations are beginning to recognize as important in an era of environmental responsibility. Unlike lean manufacturing, which focuses on ways to improve operations and cut wastes from the customer’s perspective, green initiatives look at ways to eliminate waste from the environment’s perspective. As we have seen over the past several months research has shown that virtually everything any organization can do to go green today will make it stronger, more competitive and more inspiring to its customers, partners and community. The sustainability revolution has ushered in what historians call a moment of “basic innovation,” a decisive time that creates new industries, transforms existing ones, and over time, reshapes societies. To be green A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reports: “An economy that shifts to generating 40 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, biomass and other fuels will generate 4.2 million green jobs by 2038.” Add the dramatic returns on federal stimulus funding for everything from wind energy, electric vehicle manufacturing to green construction, and NWI is poised to move faster than we have ever moved.

How NWI can take the lead Northwest Indiana can take the lead -- not just try to keep up. Northwest Indiana is uniquely equipped to become a leading sustainable economy because of its strategic location, freshwater advantages, world-class educational resources, advanced manufacturing expertise, and social capital. Northwest Indiana can take the national lead on the kind of innovation that matters most but happens least -- leadership innovation. We must connect and coordinate the efforts of thousands of people without building up a bureaucracy or creating a burdensome hierarchy. It’s not top-down or bottom-up, but engages our whole diverse system. There is not an area in America not seriously look-

Our attention needs to be on building the economic engine of the future ing to revitalize. NWI needs to embrace this “whole,” and to publicly dedicate a decade and beyond, to the sustainability-equals-innovation equation by empowering our leadership to carry out the task. This re-ignites our region’s advanced manufacturing capability and positions Northwest Indiana as the place for future research, testing and building. Then, as increased scale drives down costs for clean energy, suddenly electric vehicle and alternative fuel vehicles take on exciting new importance. Industries and new infrastructures are born, such as battery-swapping stations, where exhausted car batteries are swapped for fully charged ones; this drops the cost per mile below that of oil and gas, eliminates air pollution and breaks our addiction to foreign oil. Northwest Indiana becomes an icon as a central player in the establishment of a bright, green economy. Building an economic engine to empower a green area on a blue lake is about big profits and big purposes. It’s not just about making Northwest Indiana better; it’s about making the world better. The green revolution is already here, and Northwest Indiana can accelerate the process of creating a legacy for Northwest Indiana’s future in going green from the bottom up and the top down. Let’s agree to work together!



[ new futures ] by Alexander Stemer, MD President and CEO, Medical Specialists Centers of Indiana

New plan is a step back


he good news is most residents of Lake County enjoy access to top-quality health care. During my three-decade medical career in Northwest Indiana, the availability and quality of medical care has improved dramatically. The number of doctors tripled, four new hospitals were built, and older hospitals were renovated. In 1977, vital services like cancer treatment, open heart surgery, cardiac rehabilitation and kidney dialysis were unavailable in most local hospitals. Today, these services are plentiful. Every patient has access to board certified physicians. The 60 providers of Medical Specialists welcome all insurance plans including Medicaid and Medicare. We are fortunate that Munster Community Hospital is recognized as one of the elite “100 best hospitals” in the United States by Thomson Reuters. Other region hospitals are not far behind. However, recent health legislation will change nearly every aspect of care delivery. We are asked to believe this plan will improve the health services for all Americans. But, is this true? In a James Bond movie, miraculous

Patients and physicians will not “learn to like” this plan leaps, last-second grabs, and incredible acrobatics are all seen as real. That’s because we willingly suspend disbelief. Americans are now asked to do the same for the health bill. Instead, we must question how my healthcare and my costs are impacted. The reality may be unpleasant. Expansion of medical school classes has barely kept up with increasing health needs of our aging population right now; our most rapidly growing segment is people over the age of 80. In Lake County, it is estimated that the new insurance mandate plus expansion of Medicaid will give about 75,000 people paid health coverage. This will create an instant shortage of 15-30 primary care doctors. As a result, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will have an expanded role. The pent-up demand of the newlyenabled population will consume same day appointments with primary care doctors, as well as limited scheduled appointments with vital specialists. Everyone should expect longer waiting times. Your new “doctor” will likely be an NP or PA. We have all heard that people without insurance go to emergency rooms. Once they’re able to make appointments, they will go to the doctor’s office. However, if they pick your doctor, you may learn that he is too busy the day you get sick. You may now be told, “Go to the



emergency room”. While the costs of providing medical care have gone up dramatically, fees doctors are paid for office services have not gone up in years. HHS Secretary Sebelius has predicted these rates will remain unchanged another ten years. But, most of our best doctors are already working as hard as they can, and cannot see more patients to cover rising costs. The best and busiest physicians will likely convert to “concierge” practices, in which they accept your insurance, but charge an annual fee for services like returning phone calls or calling in prescriptions and expanded services such as enhanced education or immediate telephone or e-mail response. Eventually, these improved services may be rewarded by payers under a “Medical Home” designation, but initially, they will cost patients more. When it comes to buying medicine, most Americans will lose. Although the “doughnut hole” for Medicare patients will be closed, saving older people money on medications, everybody else will actually pay more because the federal government has agreed not to negotiate drug prices with drug companies. Drug manufacturers are allowed to raise prices at will. A promise to allow importing of drugs from other countries where they cost less seems to have disappeared. In addition, the cost of your health insurance will rise. Adding adult children to parents’ plans for several more years will add expense, and workers will ultimately pay that cost. Removing restrictions on pre-existing conditions will cause non-smokers to pay for the cancers of smokers, non-alcoholics pay for the liver transplants of alcoholics, and thin people pay for the diseases of obese people. With car insurance, good drivers pay less than bad, but not with the new health insurance. People who could not get insurance before will be happier, but people who had insurance will suffer. We heard the prediction, “Americans will learn to like this plan”. Like the “Mission Accomplished” statement of President George W. Bush, that is wishful thinking, unsupported by reality. Those who currently cannot get health insurance coverage will like the new plan, until rising costs result in restrictions. People who like their health plan now (about 85% of Americans) will pay more and wait longer. I, like all physicians, am pleased that the lives of many will be improved. No child should suffer because his/her family doesn’t have insurance. We needed to find a way to treat all Americans with serious illness. But, patients and physicians will not “learn to like” this plan. We will struggle to accept the costs and difficulties that will be added to our lives. In 2000, the citizens of Lake County looked forward to the improved health system we enjoy today. In 2020, we will look back on the great system we had.

[ my business ] by Gene Diamond CEO, Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Northern Indiana Region

The cost of Obamacare


ne of the most contentious aspects of the debate over The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Full disclosure: I am not an Obamacare supporter) concerned whether the legislation would “bend the cost curve’’ upward or downward. Reasonable people differed over the answer during the run-up to the vote in Congress and they continued to express similar concerns following its passage. On April 22, the Chief Actuary of Medicare weighed in with a report that provided Obamacare skeptics with ammunition. Among the findings: • Health care costs will go up, not down. National health expenditures will increase from 17 percent of GDP now to 21 percent under the new law and will be higher than without the legislation by $310 billion. Net federal spending on health care also will increase. • Health care shortages are “plausible and even probable.” Because of the increased demand for health care, “supply constraints might initially interfere with providing the services desired by the additional 34 million insured persons.” In other words, there won’t be enough doctors and nurses to keep up with demand. • Fourteen million employees will lose their employer coverage. Employees of small firms are especially at risk (despite small employer tax credit subsidies). • 2 million employees who lose coverage will have to enroll in Medicaid. • A Medicaid insurance card is not a guarantee of care. An estimated 18 million people will be added to Medicaid. However, because there is no corresponding increase in the supply of caregivers, “it is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of the increased demand for Medicaid would be difficult to meet, particularly over the first few years.” The likely result: long waits for care. • There are more than one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts. The new health law cuts “$575 billion“ from Medicare. This will be devastating to providers and to seniors. • Medicare cuts would threaten almost one in every seven hospitals. About “15 percent of Part A providers would become unprofitable within the 10 year-projection period.” All hospitals will find it difficult to keep up with planned Medicare cuts. • Overall access to care for seniors would go down. Because of the law’s payment reductions, “providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program. More and more doctors are threatening to stop caring for Medicare patients. The law could exacerbate the trend.

• The new “Medicare Tax” doesn’t go to Medicare. “Despite the title of this tax, this provision is unrelated to Medicare; in particular, the revenues generated by the tax on unearned income are not allocated to the Medicare trust funds.” • The new long-term care insurance plan (CLASS Act) is unsound. The program faces “a significant risk of failure” because the high costs will attract sicker people and lead to low participation. • The promise to those with pre-existing conditions is unfunded. “By 2011 and 2012, the initial $5 billion in federal funding for (high-risk pools) would be exhausted, resulting in substantial premium increases to sustain the program.” • The law does almost nothing to limit actual fraud and abuse. The fraud provisions in the law will save only about two percent of $47 billion in suspect claims. • Higher taxes will lead to higher premiums. The new taxes on medical devices, prescription drugs and insurance plans “would generally be passed on through to health consumers in the form of higher drug and device prices and higher insurance premiums.”

The law does nothing to limit actual fraud and abuse • Budgetary double-counting does not improve Medicare’s solvency. The actuary notes that the bill’s Medicare provisions “cannot be simultaneously used to finance other federal outlays (such as the coverage expansions) and to extend the (life of the Medicare) trust fund, despite the appearance of this result from the respective accounting conventions.” As economist John Goodman succinctly explained: • You cannot take close to $1 trillion away from one group of people and spend it on another group of people and somehow leave those footing the bill better off. • You cannot give millions of people large increases in medical care without creating any new doctors, new nurses or other paramedical personnel. • You cannot arbitrarily reduce what you are paying providers by billions of dollars and still expect to get the same quantity and quality of care. • You cannot give millions of patients and thousands of doctors new incentives to waste medical resources and then expect health care spending to go down. Is it any wonder then, that the American people continue to express deep misgivings about Obamacare weeks after its passage and as new revelations about it emerge?



[ ethics matters ] by Bill Thon Executive Director of Workforce Development, Ivy Tech Community College Northwest

Professional ethics demands even greater attention in tough times


veryone knows right from wrong, right? The reason that we have seen so many cases of what society has determined as unethical behavior in corporations is because people disagree about the definition of right and wrong all the time. Over the last several years, some of the world’s most esteemed organizations have been caught up in questionable ethical dilemmas. As people try to keep their jobs during these difficult economic times, they may concede to activities that they normally would not. “I want to have that information on my desk by tomorrow. I don’t care how you get it!” The employee receiving this sharp command from his supervisor may feel pressured to get that information using whatever means necessary in fear of losing his job. Would it mean stealing or creating false information if he didn’t have the data? Those without an understanding of the outcomes may do just that. The recent ethical “incidents” profiled in the news just as recently as last month have made it quite clear that business students who will be entering the employee ranks of our corporations and nonprofits could benefit from an understanding of the factors that contribute to ethical and unethical missteps in organizations. Students need to know that they have an obligation to the economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic well-being of their organization. It is easy for most to understand that a business needs to make a profit. But some values are so important to us that no matter what changes occur in society, government, politics, and technology, there will still be an ethical standard we should abide by. Most importantly, students need to understand that their organization is creating and sustaining community



and contributing to the overall health of the US economy and society. Each employee has an obligation to make sure their organization is contributing to that goal. Along with understanding the responsibilities and expectations in this country, students need to also understand business ethics in a global economy. The global businessperson must not only understand the values, culture, and ethical standards in America, but must be sensitive to those in countries around the world. At some colleges and universities the general thinking in the past was that ethics was a course that should be relegated to the religion or philosophy departments where students learn to identify moral and personal values. But business students need to learn to understand and cope with the differences between their personal values and those of a business organization. Business strategy decisions involve complex and detailed situations that many people never encounter in their daily lives. These decisions have to produce benefits for a company’s stakeholders and society, all while making a profit for the company. In response, schools with business programs such as Ivy Tech are moving the business ethics class from an elective to a requirement. At Ivy Tech, this decision wasn’t made in a vacuum but in conjunction with an advisory board comprised of instructors and business people from throughout the state. Their decision was based on students needing to be aware and understand the principles and standards that guide behavior in the world of business. Our future business leaders must meet society’s expectations and a worldwide growing demand for an elevated standard of corporate social responsibility.


Spring 2010 Top Professionals

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