2020 Northeast Ohio Smart 50 Awards celebrate area’s top executives

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Kimberly Rathbone
Managing Partner
Rathbone Group LLC
Kimberly Rathbone had fairness to all in mind when she created Rathbone Group LLC. The firm’s managing partner had experienced environments where work and pay were not ideal. Rathbone designed the structure of RG’s member partnership to be equal pay and equal ownership. That required her to take a significant pay reduction from her prior position, but it helped ensure that the economic power of all member partners was equal.
The result has been that, instead of having issues where partners with equal pay were critical of each other in terms of workload or work quality, each partner fights to continually contribute at the highest level in order to bring the highest value to the company and to each other. This has increased the economic power of the entire law firm.

Jeff Dalton
President & CEO
reLink Medical
Jeff Dalton started reLink Medical three years ago with his father to reinvent the way hospitals dispose of excess and out-of-service medical equipment. By adding data and information services to a historically manual process, health systems can easily reduce waste, increase equipment reuse, comply with all environmental and privacy regulations, and deploy unused equipment to other hospitals in need.
The savvy and strategic solutions created by Dalton, the company’s president and CEO, and his staff have grown to support over 1,000 hospitals systems throughout the country.
Behind the scenes, analytics help hospitals develop capital planning and reuse strategies, optimize logistics across the reLink Medical network and offer equipment in up to seven distinct channels reaching over 12,000 buyers around the world.

Robin Doerschuk
Vice President
Snip Internet LLC
Robin Doerschuk, vice president of Snip Internet LLC, works every day to better her organization. Since joining Snip two years ago, she has grown the company’s portfolio by nearly 20 percent and was instrumental in securing Series B funding in the first quarter of 2020.
Doerschuk has added five buildings to Snip’s portfolio, increasing buildings serviced by 20 percent. She works every day to expand Snip’s portfolio in Cleveland and is working on expansion into Lakewood. In addition, Doerschuk is working with developers in Columbus, Akron, Milwaukee and Madison to expand Snip Internet into new markets in the U.S.
Overall, Doerschuk has improved Snip Internet LLC’s portfolio, revenue, company culture, and employee and customer relations.

Seth Uhrman
State Industrial Products
At the onset of the pandemic, Seth Uhrman, CEO of State Industrial Products, focused his leadership on helping customers and keeping employees safe.
State bolstered its inventory of raw materials for the production of cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants. As customers’ needs for these products skyrocketed, State expanded its production efforts, manufacturing these key items 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Uhrman also took steps to support employees and keep them healthy. Two care packages of sanitizer and disinfectant were sent out to employees, with a letter thanking them for their efforts. They also received company-branded masks to wear in the office or out in the field. State employees continued to work safely, without having to worry about their jobs, pay cuts or loss of benefits.

Stephen Peplin
Talan Products Inc.
The metal stamping industry in which Talan Products Inc. competes has an overabundance of companies and equipment, which creates a very competitive environment. Steve Peplin, Talan Products’ CEO, attributes his company’s success to partnering. Peplin, as early as 1986, developed a partnering philosophy with his customers, which was an innovation for the metal stamping, contract manufacturing, industry. That partnering also includes vendors and employees.
Through partnering with his team, Peplin has built a company with a very positive culture. Talan offers competitive wages and a full menu of benefits to its employees, resulting in some of the lowest turnover in its industry. By having an involved workforce, shipments are made on time and efficiencies yield lower costs to customers.

Ariane Kirkpatrick
The AKA Team
Ariane Kirkpatrick founded The AKA Team in 2009, specializing in construction management, commercial waterproofing, commercial cleaning and general trades.
To nurture her business acumen and management skills, in 2015 she enrolled in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program at Cuyahoga Community College and has subsequently increased her staff by more than seven-fold. She has also grown the company’s revenue.
Kirkpatrick entered the field of construction at the ground level with a job as a secretary and spent time on job sites to learn carpentry, electrical, plumbing and roofing skills.
Among The AKA Team’s clients are the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, Cuyahoga Community College and Amazon.

Raji Sankar
Wholesome International
Wholesome International is the Northeast Ohio and Pittsburgh franchisee for Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Choolaah, a new Indian fast casual concept located in Orange Village, Ohio. The franchisee operates 25 stores and employs nearly 550 associates.
As avid students of best practices in performance excellence, Wholesome International applies Maslow’s hierarchy and industry best practices to fuel its people growth engine. In fall of 2012, the company initiated the application of the Malcolm Baldrige framework for Performance Excellence.
Wholesome International was founded in 2004 in part by Co-CEO Raji Sankar, with the vision of transforming the quality of life of every person who eats in the franchisee’s restaurants. Its mission and core values are its daily moral compass.

Jeff LeBeau
WRL Advertising
WRL Advertising’s growing team, led by President Jeff LeBeau, is always looking to improve in new aspects of its business and evolve with the ever-changing times. The firm is continuously researching new technology, software and processes to bring its clients the latest and greatest solutions.
WRL is consulting with its clients on their touch screen video software and using its interior design services to remodel client workspaces, as well as capture video of clients’ corporate culture for recruiting.
This speaks to the WRL’s responsiveness to any challenges that its clients or industry throw at the firm. WRL’s combination of extreme innovation and numerous areas of impact show that it does lead to a sustainable, scalable business that also develops and fosters community.

Terrell Dillard
ZayMat Distributors & Jan-Pro
Terrell Dillard, president of ZayMat Distributors and Jan-Pro, has demonstrated excellence and innovation in product delivery and customer service. Dillard has excelled as a business leader who thrives on representing the importance of environmentally friendly building maintenance services. He is committed to sustainable practices and shares his insights, both as a business leader and supporter of the environment, to fellow entrepreneurs and youth.

Not only is he a consummate leader with hundreds of employees, he is a staunch community advocate and board member of nonprofit organizations. Dillard and wife were awarded the Jan-Pro President’s Award for their dedication to the brand, being exemplary ambassadors, mentoring others and executing the Jan-Pro business model in an extraordinary fashion.