Cascade Capital Corporation 2019 Business Growth Awards


38 outstanding companies that fortify the strength of our regional economy

It is with great pleasure that I would like to congratulate the 38 Cascade Capital Corporation Business Growth Awards winners for 2019. These companies are located within Summit, Medina, Portage, Stark, Wayne, Ashland and Holmes counties in Northeastern Ohio.
A company can earn a Business Growth Award by either increasing its sales level by 100 percent/$5 million, or by increasing its employee base by 50 percent/25 people over the course of the past five years. These impressive growth standards also create major economic benefits for our local/regional economy.
The sales of growing companies’ goods and services to other parts of the state, across the nation and even internationally enrich our economy. Receipts and profits generated by these companies are positively manifested when they purchase local goods and services, invest in new operating facilities/equipment and hire new employees. These wealth-creating mechanisms directly lead to the economic vitality of our local/regional economy.
Cascade Capital Corporation focuses on economic development. Its primary operating objectives are to provide attractive financing options to small and medium-sized companies investing in new operating facilities, equipment and human resources and to invest, on a long-term basis, in the Northeastern Ohio communities that it services.
Cascade Capital Corporation provides below-market, long-term fixed interest rate financing through its SBA 504 Loan Program. In combination with traditional bank financing, small and medium-sized companies receive 90 percent financing for new building, equipment and business purchases as follows: bank financing, 50 percent, Cascade Capital Corporation SBA 504, 40 percent; and business down payment, 10 percent. The primary SBA 504 financing term options are for 20 and 25 years, with current fixed interest rates set at around 3.5 percent.
Cascade Capital Corporation’s Ohio 166 Loan Program offers an extremely competitive fixed interest rate of 3 percent for nonretail companies investing in operating facilities or equipment.
A number of 2019 Business Growth Award winners have received funding from Cascade Capital Corporation through its SBA 504 and Ohio 166 Loan Programs.
Cascade Capital Corporation is very proud to have invested its own financial resources to promote economic development throughout Summit, Medina, Portage and Wayne counties for several years. To date, Cascade Capital Corporation has invested over $1.25 million to support new business development, existing business expansion, technology advancement and new job creation throughout the region.
Congratulations to all of Cascade Capital Corporation’s 2019 Business Growth Award winners on a job well done, and thank you for your continuing role in supporting and revitalizing our local/regional economy! ●
Robert Filipiak is president of Cascade Capital Corp., an economic development finance company that has provided dependable financing options to growing small to medium-sized companies in Greater Akron and Northeastern Ohio since 1983. Reach him at (330) 379-3160 or [email protected].


Huntington Legacy Award

Venture Products Inc. / Dallas Steiner, CEO and COB

Venture Products Inc. is a family-owned company and has been so since its start more than two decades ago. Even before the Ventrac tractor product line was added, the founding Steiner family spent almost 25 years building agricultural equipment and other compact tractors, laying the groundwork for a lasting legacy marrying passion for creative metalworking with entrepreneurial spirit.
Today, Dallas Steiner carries on that family legacy as CEO and COB of Venture Products, the manufacturer of Ventrac compact tractors and commercial-grade attachments. Learning the art of welding from his father and grandfather, he joined with his siblings to launch Steiner Corp. in 1975 — the same year he graduated from high school. Over 14 years, Steiner helped grow the company across three divisions — turf equipment, agricultural equipment and a community repair shop.
In 1998, he sold two of those divisions to recommit the business’s focus on the next generation of all-wheel drive compact tractors. By 1996, he had refocused the company’s vision and goals further by renaming the organization Venture Products. In the time since, he’s continued to lead the company in developing its high-quality subcompact tractor products under the Ventrac brand to become an industry leader worldwide.
Serving a variety of markets, Venture Products has developed a line of more than 40 custom Ventrac attachments, complemented by a Ventrac Mount System that enables machine operators to quickly change tasks, taking less than a minute to attach or detach an attachment. The core Ventrac tractor itself, meanwhile, is built with a proprietary FlexFrame, allowing it to both articulate and oscillate, ensuring the machine can crawl over terrain no matter how it changes for maximum stability and capability, even on nonflat surfaces.
Supplying versatility and capability for many different marketplaces, Ventrac’s evolving portfolio of durable machinery and parts has propelled company sales 145 percent in the last five years.
In addition to developing new, innovative products, Venture Products has found success in the discovery of new manufacturing and management techniques. Its Orville, Ohio-based corporate offices house state-of-the-art research and development facilities, leveraging 3D and 2D CAD software to computer generate the highest quality industrial designs.
As Steiner continues to honor his family’s transformative and long-lasting legacy of metalwork to grow Venture Products, he remains equally dedicated to its parallel legacy of service and generosity. This is articulated throughout the organization through its Heritage Principle: “At the end of the day, let this day be better because you were in it.” The organization participates in local service projects throughout the year, and recently built a tractor for YWAM, a youth ministry in Kiev, Ukraine. ●


Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Great Day Improvements LLC, dba Patio Enclosures and Stanek Windows / Ed Weinfurtner, Managing partner

Ed Weinfurtner is an entrepreneur and the founder of Blue Olive Partners LLC, a business investment and operating partnership. Over the past 30 years, he has been an owner, investor and operator of multiple privately held businesses in a variety of industries. Yet one of his greatest challenges came in 2014, when he took ownership of a young company struggling financially, operationally and culturally.
That company was Great Day Improvements, the exclusive retailer, manufacturer and installer of Patio Enclosures and Stanek Windoww, which today iareranked among the Top 25 largest residential remodeling companies in the U.S., according to Qualified Remodeler.
When Weinfurtner assumed leadership of the organization five years ago, employee morale was at an all-time low. Internal processes were inefficient or undefined altogether, and the business lacked any real-time data with which to gauge performance and customer satisfaction. Without the tools needed to drill down into every aspect of the business, he began his journey to overhaul the business blind.
With decades of experience, Weinfurtner took a simple, systematic approach to implementing new business intelligence tools and gathering customer feedback, as well as evaluating the business’s existing processes and core competencies. He then defined a mission, vision and growth strategy to unify and rally Great Day Improvements’ staff behind. He also revamped internal workings to support continuous improvement and growth initiatives measured against defined metrics of success viewable in real time. Empowered with this information, company leadership has not only been able to identify and focus on addressing deficient areas but also to encourage better decision making by employees at all levels of the organization.
Under Weinfurtner’s steady guidance, Great Day Improvements has accomplished much to be proud of over the past five years. Reaching $79 million in revenue, the organization boasts increased overall customer satisfaction levels, as well as positive online reviews. It’s also expanded into nine new markets over the past two years, bringing its total to 31, and just this year completed its first acquisition, of Hartshorn Custom Contracting Inc. out of Tampa, Florida.
The acquisition has further expanded the company’s geographical footprint and product line with custom manufacturing and installation of exceptional quality pool enclosures and screen rooms. It also added significant tenured talent to Great Day Improvements’ team of enclosure experts, with staff today numbered at 427.
Yet in Weinfurtner’s words, “e’re just getting started.” While he’s made significant impact in turning Great Day Improvements around in a short period of time, creating a customer-centric and rapidly growing organization, his long-term business strategy sees the company going even further, continuing to expand across new product lines, acquisitions and geographies. ●


Akron Community Foundation Philanthropy in Business Award

Daniel’s Amish Collection / Christopher J. Karman, President

Under the leadership of President Christopher J. Karman, Daniel’s Amish Collection has grown steadily over more than two decades to become a leader among North American furniture manufacturers, achieving nearly $30 million in sales. Providing customized, Amish-handcrafted furniture in rich American hardwoods, the Killbuck, Ohio-based organization has found success in pairing proven, traditional Amish methods with modern facilities and innovative designs.
Yet while Karman and his team have carved out a profitable American-made niche in the highly competitive furniture industry, it is its philanthropic work that it is most proud of. As dedicated to giving back to others as they are to delivering high-quality products, the staff at Daniel’s Amish Collection are involved in charitable and fundraising activities throughout the year.
Chief among these are donations to Haiti relief, auctions and fundraisers for community members in need and supplying Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for local families.
In addition to allocating time and funds toward these causes, Daniel’s Amish Collection donates the use of its facilities when needed. A prime example centers around a local person struggling with mounting medical bills. Alongside the local Amish community, employees used company facilities to make 3,000 pizzas by hand, starting at 2 a.m. before selling them door to door through noon. Donating the ingredients, labor and time, Daniel’s Amish Collection and its supporters donated 100 percent of proceeds — an impressive $24,000 — to help pay off the beneficiary’s medical debt.
Looking at Daniel’s Amish Collection’s founding roots, this generosity comes as no surprise. The company is built upon the woodworking career of Daniel Yoder, a humble Amish man from Holmes County, Ohio. His entry into woodworking was necessitated by his youngest son’s development of a serious condition in the mid-1990s that required significant medical care. Needing flexibility to make frequent, long trips to the hospital, as well as funds to make ends meet, Yoder resigned from his job as a stone mason and started hand-carving small Amish horse and buggies in his barn. That first year, he made 20,000 buggies – selling them to passersby for $1 each — and thus began his woodworking career.
Yoder’s son recovered from his illness and today, he is healthy and working hard at Daniel’s Amish Collection to provide custom, heirloom-quality furniture. Together with like-minded staff, he and his father continue to invest in philanthropic efforts to help others in their community realize similarly happy endings to their own stories of struggle — a company legacy that can’t be measured in dollars. ●


Manufacturing | Greatest Employee Growth

Fire-Dex LLC, a global manufacturing leader of head-to-toe personal protective equipment for firefighters and first responders, has increased sales $16.14 million since 2014. This rapid growth necessitated a facility expansion in 2018 to continue supporting the fire industry with new life-saving technologies, doubling the organization’s footprint in Northeast Ohio and bringing more than 30 new jobs to Medina.
Since its move to the city 20 years ago, Fire-Dex has acquired three businesses, the most recent of which is Darwood Manufacturing in Pelham, Georgia. Led by CEO Bill Burke, Fire-Dex purchased the plant in June 2018 as it was preparing to close and rehired more than 100 employees who had been laid off. The company is now transforming the building into a state-of-the-art facility that focuses on lean manufacturing, similar to its Ohio operation.
Focused on providing an excellent work environment for its rapidly growing staff, Fire-Dex has been recognized with the Northcoast 99 Best Places to Work Award three times. Equipped with on-site training facilities, it invests in the success of its employees as they, in turn, invest in the company’s efforts to develop new life-saving technologies to address the leading causes of occupational deaths in firefighters: heat stress and cancer. Improving its communities within and without, Fire-Dex maintains the business philosophy and culture on which it was founded as it continues to expand. ●

Manufacturing | Greatest Revenue Growth

Executive Chairman Matt Kaulig began LeafFilter Gutter Protection in 2005, founded from his basement, and has since grown the cutting-edge gutter guard technology provider into a top U.S. home improvement company based in Hudson, Ohio.
Selling its permanent gutter guard system directly to consumers, LeafFilter Gutter Protection has broadened the national reach of its industry-leading technology through strategic investment in automating and scaling LeafFilter’s processes, including implementation of a custom ERP and CRM solution to unify sales, service, marketing and finance. This central system has provided a strong foundation for the launch of LeafFilter’s latest venture, new accessibility solutions brand Leaf Home Safety Solutions. Leaf’Filter’s patented, high-value product solutions provide a stylish, safe environment to consumers with accessibility needs.
Kaulig Racing, founded in 2016, completes the LeafFilter family and elevates the entire LeafFilter brand in the market via its NASCAR exposure. The American professional stock car racing team currently competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Through diversified revenue streams and extensive market reach — backed by a reputation for excellent quality and customer service — Kaulig continues to grow the Leaffilter family of businesses nationwide. Leaffilter has increased sales fivefold since 2014, and nearly quadrupled its staff to keep pace. ●

Manufacturing | Best Overall Story

When serial entrepreneur Ed Weinfurtner first took ownership of Great Day Improvements — the exclusive retailer, manufacturer and installer of Patio Enclosures and Stanek Windows —In 2014, it struggling financially and operationally, and morale was at a low point. However, under Weinfurtner’s experienced guidance, the organization has since doubled in size and now ranks among the Top 25 largest residential remodeling companies in the U.S., according to Qualified Remodeler.
Weinfurtner came in with a simple growth strategy to turn the business around. He focused on the needs of the company’s customers, leveraging new tools to gauge real-time performance and customer satisfaction data, and evaluated the organization’s core competencies. He then defined a mission, vision and growth strategy, as well as key processes to support continuous improvement, to unite the Great Day Improvements team in executing an impressive turnaround.
Weinfurtner’s efforts have resulted in the organization being recognized for exceptional customer service, construction expertise and overall excellence by The business has expanded under his leadership into nine new markets over the past two years for a total of 31 and now boasts $79 million in revenue and employs 427 people, with increased overall customer satisfaction levels and positive online reviews. ●


Technology Services | Employee Growth

OEC, which helps dealers increase sales of original equipment (OE) parts, has increased its employee headcount 244 percent since 2014. This growth is due in large part to the company’s 2015 release of MyPriceLink, in partnership with General Motors. The industry-first, patented solution provides the automotive marketplace with real-time, dynamic list pricing on OE collision parts based on timing and local market conditions and has positioned OEC as a market leader.
Attracting OEC’s lead investor, Providence Equity Partners, in 2016 and expanding to include Ford Motor Company collision parts in 2018, the revolutionary MyPriceLink technology has put OEC in a position to make multiple strategic acquisitions in recent years. It acquired Clifford Thames in 2017 and Bluegrasscoms in 2018, both out of the United Kingdom, bringing complementary products and services to the OEC portfolio. Both acquisitions significantly extending the company’s footprint, with CT first expanding OEC’s offices from 350 employees in two locations to over 800 employees in 13 offices around the world, and BGC then bumping OEC’s global staff count to 1,000.
Chairman and CEO Chuck Rotuno continues to push OEC’s growth in terms of size and service capability. With sales more than doubled over the past five years — with record revenue in 2018—the organization will continue to invest in building a world-class team. ●

Technology Services | Revenue Growth

Open Practice Solutions Ltd. (OPS) was founded in 2005 with the mission of developing a web-based practice management and medical billing application that fully incorporates all components of the revenue cycle to help private practices stay viable. By combining a robust and ever-improving suite of products with outstanding customer service, the company has grown consistently since its start and today employs 25 across 43 states.
In the past five years alone, OPS has increased staffing 78.6 percent to keep up with nearly tripled sales growth. It has continued expanding the reach of its end-to-end revenue management solution, OpenPM — one of the only true web-based solutions in the industry — and now boasts a user base of 800 practices representing over 2,700 providers. To reach additional practices, OPM recently added a partner channel to the existing direct sales channel, now serving 12 resellers.
Looking ahead, OPS President Michael Teutsch plans to continue accelerating the organization’s growth through a dual focus on continuous improvement of its financial management tools and on client experience. Placing particular focus on the latter through a high-quality client onboarding experience, as well as excellent first-call support resolution, OPS strives to ensure its client base of independent physicians can work as efficiently as possible in an ever-increasingly difficult market, not just to survive, but to thrive. ●

Technology Services | Best Overall Story

Akron-based software architecture and development company Metisentry LLC has fostered more than a decade of steady growth in an extremely competitive industry, specializing in the development and maintenance of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms. And with the strategic acquisition of WillCo Technologies in 2017, it has reached new heights, becoming the largest credentials management software provider to the U.S. Department of Defense with its proprietary CyberSTAR™ online software, which boasts a user base of more than 1.6 million, including sole assurance compliance support for the entire U.S. Army.
This has played a significant role in Metisentry’s recent revenue growth, which is up 357 percent over the past five years. Led by President Marling Engle, the company is also branching out to focus on SaaS investment opportunities, benefiting not only seed and startup SaaS businesses but stage two SaaS businesses. The Metisentry funding network is connecting outside investors and investment groups with new SaaS funding opportunities, as well, benefiting the industry at large.
While the size and scope of its growing national portfolio is impressive, equally so is the organization’s commitment to maintaining strong support of its local Akron community. Giving back, Metisentry participates regularly in the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s annual food drive and Downtown Akron Partnership’s “Green and Clean” event, among other initiatives. ●


Service ◆ Established | Employee Growth

Peoples Services Inc., a third-generation, family-owned supply chain logistics services organization, initially started as a moving and storage company more than a century ago. It has since grown to operate 45 third-party logistics warehouses in multiple states to provide more than 7.5 million square feet of public and contract warehouse space, specializing in handling commodities from chemicals and plastics to food-grade and consumer goods.
To support consistent growth, Peoples Services has quadrupled its staff in the last five years. A significant portion of that stems from the organization’s acquisition activity. In 2015, it acquired Style Crest Logistics’ assets, which included seven new Midwest locations, with more than 1 million square feet of storage space. The additions have helped the company improve its customer service levels and expand its services in food-grade storage, an industry President and CEO Douglas J. Sibila anticipates significant growth and stability in, now and in the future.
In 2017, Peoples Services acquired the assets of B&M Storage & Distribution Inc., adding another 90,000 square feet of warehouse space. And in 2018, it acquired the assets of Grimes Logistics Services Inc., adding five new locations with almost 1 million square feet of warehouse space. This latest acquisition added a seventh state to Peoples Services’ footprint, extending it from Michigan down to Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. ●

Service ◆ Established | Revenue Growth

Transportation and logistics solutions provider Jarrett is the parent organization of Jarrett Logistics Systems, a third-party logistics company, PackShip, a white-glove and final-mile carrier, and Jarrett Fleet Services, a truck fleet maintenance company. It has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies 13 times, and looking at the company’s revenue over the past five years, it’s no surprise why. Jarrett has increased sales 153 percent and doesn’t show signs of slowing.
Much of its growth success can be attributed to JLS Advanced Analytics, the company’s robust analytics platform. President and CEO W. Michael Jarrett and his team strategically leverage the business intelligence gathered to make confident business decisions. This is particularly true when it comes to continuous enhancement of Jarrett’s proprietary transportation management system, jShip, which facilitates improvements throughout its clients’ entire supply chain.
In addition to strategic technology investments, Jarrett last year acquired the Schneider National location in Seville, Ohio, to expand Jarrett Fleet Services’ maintenance and repair services, as well as to serve as a dropping and hooking location for PackShip and autonomous truck transfer hub. The 53-acre property is located near the I-71 and I-76 interchanges, a heavy truck traffic area with easy accessibility to the Cleveland and Akron markets. This positions Jarrett for significant growth opportunities. ●

Service ◆ Established | Best Overall Story

When family-owned equipment rental agency Leppo Group Inc. failed to secure a winning spot as a Top Workplace in Northeast Ohio in 2016, CEO Wm. Glenn Leppo took the results not as a failure but as a challenge to become an even better place to work. He and his team took action and achieved Top Workplace status in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Implementing a new recruitment and hiring program, complete with a revamped onboarding process, the company has filled all but two of its 184 positions despite the current labor shortage and has grown its staff by 41 percent over the past five years. This growth correlates with the company’s continued geographic expansion, now spanning six full-service locations serving Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
Today, Leppo Group is better positioned than ever to service its booming client base with the best products, best service and best people — as evidenced by its 76 percent increase in revenue since 2014. Driven by trust in “The Leppo Way,” the company’s reinvigorated team members participate in regular small group sessions and achievement celebrations with senior leadership. They not only contribute to the continued growth and development of the organization but to recognize just how far the “Top Workplace” has come in more than six decades in business. ●


Service ◆ Emerging | Employee Growth

VMI Group Inc., a concrete construction contractor based in Macedonia, has grown from its 2012 start with just two employees to a staff of 75 full-time associates. Capable of fielding large-scale structural, industrial, commercial and site concrete work, the organization has scaled rapidly through investment in state-of-the-art equipment, certifications and the high-quality people needed to operate.
Led by President Neille Vitale, key technology investments include laser-guided horizontal concrete placement screeds to allow for consistently flat concrete surfaces and universal total station technology that allows for the tightest grading and concrete placing precision. VMI is certified by the Ohio Unified Certification Program as a Disadvantaged Business Entity, allowing it to participate as a DBE on federally assisted projects and contracts. It is also certified by the Cleveland as a Female Business Enterprise for poured concrete foundation contractors and structural concrete contractors.
VMI’s commitment to investing in the people, technology and certifications needed to provide the highest quality concrete work on time and on budget has paid off, resulting in a 264 percent sales increase since 2014 to reach $16.4 million in revenue. The company is trusted by owners, developers and contractors throughout Ohio and continues to grow its commercial and industrial building business int the Akron, Cleveland and Columbus regions. ●

Service ◆ Emerging | Revenue Growth

In its fifth full year in business, Shoemaker Rigging & Transport LLC continues to achieve astounding growth. Unlike others in the industrial rigging, moving machinery and heavy equipment machinery industry, the company hasn’t stayed local. Instead, Owner and CEO Steven Shoemaker has led the organization to expand its service capabilities nationally and abroad.
Fielding machine removal and reinstallation projects for small, family-owned shops as well as large Fortune 5000 companies, Shoemaker Rigging & Transport has built its success on its ability to handle difficult moves — typically indoors, where only a fraction of an inch is available to get through varying spaces. It’s also reputed for its ability to take apart complicated pieces of machinery, move them to the customer’s desired location and quickly and accurately reassemble them. Clients benefit — both from financial and expertise standpoints — from using the same rigorously trained organization to disassemble their heavy machinery as they do to reassemble.
Excelling in both, Shoemaker Rigging & Transport’s growth has exceeded a staggering ninefold increase in sales since its start. It has more than tripled its staff over the past five years accordingly. To attract and retain highly qualified personnel for its dangerous work, the organization provides profit sharing in addition to competitive wages, an excellent benefit package and travel opportunities. ●


Honor Roll | Manufacturing

Daniel’s Amish Collection | Christopher J. Karman
Providing customized, Amish-handcrafted furniture in rich American hardwoods for more than 20 years, Daniel’s Amish Collection has grown steadily to become a leader among North American furniture manufacturers. Earning $1 million in sales a decade ago, the organization has found success by marrying proven traditional Amish methods with modern facilities and innovative designs — achieving nearly $30 million in sales today. The business continues to grow its staff accordingly, hiring 40 new employees in the past five years.
Fire-Dex LLC | Bill Burke
Fire-Dex LLC is a global manufacturing leader of head-to-toe personal protective equipment (PPE) for firefighters and first responders. The organization has grown significantly through strategic acquisition and facility expansion to continue supporting the fire industry with new life-saving technologies. Additionally, Fire-Dex provides firefighters with resources and tools to help implement decontamination procedures and introduce alternative PPE guidelines. Its efforts have seen company sales increase $16.14 million since 2014, with a 63 percent increase in staff.
Flohr Machine Co. | Gerard Flohr
Family-owned-and-operated Flohr Machine Co. has grown from its humble start in 1966 as a backyard garage operation into a full-service precision contract machining company. Today it serves industries including medical, defense, automotive, energy and more, with quality machined parts requiring both small and large milling and turning diameters. Its consistent and sustainable growth over the years stems from timely upgrading of state-of-the-art equipment and technology. Notably achieving ISO certification this year, Flohr Machine has grown sales 20 percent since 2014.
Great Day Improvements LLC, dba Patio Enclosures and Stanek Windows | Ed Weinfurtner
Great Day Improvements is the exclusive retailer, manufacturer and installer of Patio Enclosures and Stanek Windows. In 2014, the struggling company underwent an ownership change that resulted in a cultural, operational and financial turnaround, with staff doubling and sales increasing $29.39 million since. Great Day Improvements ranks among the Top 25 largest residential remodeling companies in the U.S., according to Qualified Remodeler, and has been recognized for excellence by
LeafFilter Gutter Protection | Matt Kaulig
Company leadership has grown LeafFilter Gutter Protection from a home basement operation in 2005 into one of the largest home improvement companies in the United States, encompassing multiple offices across the country. Growing alongside new accessibility solutions brand Leaf Home Safety Solutions under the umbrella of Leaf Home Solutions, the LeafFilter family has achieved 402 percent sales growth and added more than 800 employees over the past five years.
Main Street Gourmet LLC | Steve Marks and Harvey Nelson
Main Street Gourmet LLC’s co-founding partners have used innovative concepts to grow the organization beyond its 1987 roots as a small, retail coffee and muffin shop to being an industry leader in custom baked goods manufacturing. From being one of the first bakeries to offer all-natural muffins in the 1980s and fat-free muffins in the early 1990s, to concentrating efforts on developing frozen custom bakery products for national and regional providers, the growing company is a consistent leader in its field.
Midwest Industrial Supply Inc. | Steven Vitale
Headquartered in downtown Canton, family-owned Midwest Industrial Supply Inc. is a national and international provider of dust control, soil stabilization, anti-icing/deicing and rail solutions. The company, which has been recognized repeatedly on the Inc. 5000 list, has grown steadily over more than four decades through strategic acquisition, expansion of its manufacturing capabilities and a world-class staff. With significant staff additions and plans for a new manufacturing plant currently underway, Midwest aims to double revenue by 2025.
Venture Products Inc. | Dallas Steiner
Family-owned Venture Products is a manufacturer of Ventrac compact tractors and commercial-grade attachments. With global headquarters in Orrville, Ohio, the company got its start locally in 1998 and has since continued to develop its high-quality subcompact tractor products to become an industry leader worldwide. Serving a variety of markets, Ventrac’s line of more than 40 custom attachments enables Ventrac machine operators to quickly move among tasks and have helped increase sales 145 percent since 2014.

Honor Roll | Technology Services

AtNetPlus | Jay Mellon
Celebrating 20 years in business, IT service provider AtNetPlus is also celebrating the successful turnaround of its cultural and financial standing. Over the past four years, leadership has strategically rebuilt a positive, customer-centric team that shares a common vision for AtNetPlus’ future. These efforts have resulted in significant sales growth, including a 35 percent jump in monthly recurring revenue due to increased Managed Services deals from 2016 to 2017, and an additional 39 percent increase from 2017 to 2018.
Corporate Technologies Group | Jeff Sumner and Brett Harney
Corporate Technologies Group started out selling traditional telephone lines and long-distance services. Over the 20 years since, it has evolved to offer telecommunications services including local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) management, SD WAN, hosted phones and — as of its early 2019 acquisition of Pro OnCall’s Northern Ohio division — on-premise phone systems and managed services. Over the past five years, the organization has realized a 70 percent staff increase and 32 percent sales increase.
DRB Systems LLC | Dan Pittman
As a leading provider of point-of-sale software, tunnel control solutions and more, DRB Systems LLC helps car wash operators improve profitability and productivity. Founded in 1984, DRB was a pioneer in commercializing the unlimited monthly wash plans that are now an industry standard — a legacy of technology innovation it has continued, complemented by strategic acquisitions, to dominate the industry. To support its ongoing, rapid growth, DRB leadership has added 190 employees to the organization since 2014.
Drips | Aaron Christopher Evans
In three short years, startup Drips — a pioneer in conversational marketing™ — has grown from three employees with a single client to more than 50 employees managing more than $10 million in revenue, with no assistance from outside capital. Leveraging innovative direct marketing and lead generation strategies and technologies, the organization is helping some of the biggest brands in the world use automated, humanized texting conversations at scale to communicate with customers both how and when they want.
Etactics Inc. | Michael Teutsch
Etactics Inc. is a revenue cycle solutions company serving more than 2,000 clients nationwide. The company’s core services help physicians, hospitals and medical groups to immediately improve their accounts receivable while automating and enhancing the invoicing and statement process, ultimately improving cash flow. Focused on adding new products and services that add significant value for clients, the organization has seen a 29 percent increase in sales and a 31 percent increase in staff since 2014.
Metisentry LLC | Marling Engle
Since a strategic acquisition in 2017, Akron-based Metisentry has become the largest credentials management software provider to the U.S. Department of Defense with its proprietary CyberSTAR™ online software. Building upon a decade of steady growth prior, the organization has continued to add to its core competency in SaaS applications, most recently adding a focus on SaaS investment opportunities. Over the past five years, Metisentry’s efforts have realized a 357 percent increase in sales.
OEC | Chuck Rotuno
An organization helping dealers sell more original equipment (OE) parts, OEC has seen significant growth since 2015, when it partnered with General Motors to release MyPriceLink. Its industry-first solution provides the automotive marketplace with real-time, dynamic list pricing on OE collision parts based on timing and local market conditions. This technology recently expanded to include Ford Motor Co. collision parts and has positioned OEC to make multiple strategic acquisitions, with the number of employees increasing by 244 percent since 2014.
Open Practice Solutions Ltd. | Michael Teutsch
Open Practice Solutions Ltd. has provided industry-leading software for medical billing and practice management since 2005. The company has since grown to employee 25 employees across 43 states, leveraging new partner channels to help private practices stay viable. By prioritizing continuous improvement both to the client experience and to its financial management tools, Open Practice Solutions has achieved 288 percent revenue growth over the past five years and increased its staff by 78.6 percent.
QualityIP | Ryan Markham
Award-winning managed IT services company QualityIP began operating in 2004 with a focus on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Leadership has continued to evolve the organization in the years since to offer a variety of additional high-quality IT support services, resulting in a 145 increase in sales since 2014 and the addition of 32 employees. Still growing, QualityIP’s certified IT technicians are experts in managed infrastructure, managed IT security, managed Cloud and managed support.
S3 Technologies | Nancy and Chris Larker
Focused on helping companies overcome challenges through technology, Akron-based S3 Technologies provides security, audio, video and network technology solutions for clients across industries including commercial, institutional, manufacturing and government. Adept at finding the right solution for a unique space and budget, most of S3’s client base stems from satisfied customer referrals. Building upon its reputation for excellence and skill, the organization has doubled its staff since 2014 to accommodate steadily increasing sales.
Sherlock Services Inc. | Ron Pollard
Originally operated as an HP system parts broker and HP3000 support vendor at its start in 1991, Sherlock Services Inc. has evolved to become a premier third-party IT maintenance provider. Its global reach supplies data center infrastructure services for storage, servers, networking systems and printers. Continuing strategic expansion of its service capabilities that has nearly doubled the organization’s sales since 2014, it has acquired two companies since 2017, growing its expert IT support staff accordingly.

Honor Roll | Service

Cohen & Co. | J. Michael Kolk
With the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017, leadership at accounting and consulting firm Cohen & Co. knew the sweeping legislation would impact its client base. It responded by tasking the company’s tax department with analyzing the TCJA to understand its nuances and identify new opportunities, producing thought leadership and meeting with clients to help them continue to operate effectively and efficiently. Such dedication and expertise are why Cohen & Co. continues to grow year over year.
Concept Services | Dan Harsh
Concept Services began in 2002 with a sole focus on lead generation and management through old-fashioned phone call strategies. It has since grown into an operation employing more than 100 employees working in a 26,000-square-foot facility to help clients across multiple industries reach their sales goals through full-service strategies incorporating phone calls, CRM and digital marketing. Its continued evolution has resulted in a 105 percent increase in company sales over the past five years.
Crimcheck | Tom Sheih
Accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), Crimcheck provides companies with pre-employment screenings, Fair Credit Reporting Act-certified background checks, drug screenings and more to help clients protect their brand. The fast-growing company has seen a 155 percent increase in revenue over the past five years, due in large part to its easy-to-use, proprietary eFetch Platform and commitment to live, personal service, facilitated through its U.S.-based customer service center.
GPD Group | Darrin Kotecki
Architectural, engineering and planning services provider GPD Group first established roots in Akron in 1961. In the decades since, it has grown to a firm of more than 650 professionals located in 15 offices nationwide. Leadership attributes the company’s success not only to hard work but to its employee ownership structure — established in 1986 — which has fostered a deep sense of community and dedication. GPD’s sales have increased under this structure by $20.1 million since 2014.
Great Lakes Fasteners Inc. | Kevin R. Weidinger
Since 1958, Great Lakes Fasteners Inc. has been supplying quality production and MRO fasteners to Midwest manufacturers at a value price. Backed by a staff averaging 10 years in the fastener industry, the organization provides customized fastener designs and prototypes. Its commitment to providing customers with quality products and services on time and at the right price has seen Great Lakes Fasteners increase sales by 67 percent over the past five years.
Jarrett | W. Michael Jarrett
Jarrett is a leading provider of transportation and logistics solutions, creating continuous improvements throughout clients’ entire supply chain. It does so through continuous expansion of services and technologies, encompassing divisions Jarrett Fleet Services, Jarrett Logistics Systems and PackShip. Recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies 13 times, Jarrett has increased sales 153 percent and its staff 162 percent since 2014, and doesn’t show signs of slowing any time soon.
KHM Travel Group | Rick Zimmerman
KHM Travel Group began as a small, family-owned business in Brunswick with a handful of team members working out of a one-room office suite. It has grown over a decade to become one of the most innovative host travel agencies in the nation, employing a team of more than 50 working daily to support more than 4,000 independent travel agents. Recognized on Travel Weekly’s Power List, KHM has increased sales by 96 percent since 2014.
Laudan Properties | Kevin R. Weidinger
Founded in 2008, Laudan Properties has grown from a single-state residential property solutions provider to having a national reach and full-service capabilities. Laudan’s competitive advantage is its network of highly trained, licensed contractors who partner to develop creative, customized solutions to meet specialty needs. One of the strongest, most versatile networks of prescreened, prequalified contractors in the industry, Laudan has strategically built this team to deliver on the principle, “Do what you say you’re going to do.”
Leppo Group Inc. | Wm. Glenn Leppo
Since its founding in 1945 in Akron, family-owned equipment rental agency Leppo Group Inc. has expanded across six full-service locations serving Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Overhauling its recruitment, hiring and onboarding processes in recent years has helped the organization find and retain top talent, expanding its staff 41 percent since 2014. These efforts have helped it better service its growing client base and earn 76 percent more in sales revenue over the past five years.
National Interstate Insurance | Tony Mercurio
Leading specialty property and casualty insurance holding company National Interstate Insurance offers more than 30 insurance products, leveraging an eye for transforming niches in the transportation insurance market. Key among its innovative product segments is its Alternative Risk Transfer portfolio of products, which has grown by nearly 30 percent since 2013 to account for more than $425 million of the company’s $750 million in revenue. The latter is up by $66 million from 2014.
Peoples Services Inc. | Douglas J. Sibila
Third-generation, family-owned Peoples Services Inc., which started as a moving and storage company, has thrived for more than a century. It has grown to operate 45 third-party logistics warehouses in multiple states to provide more than 7.5 million square feet of public and contract warehouse space. Specializing in handling commodities from chemicals and plastics to food grade and consumer goods, the organization’s sales have jumped $35.5 million over the past five years, with staff increasing 67 percent.
Pritt Entertainment Group | Ryan Pritt
Pritt Entertainment Group is an Akron-based creative agency that brings brands to life through high-quality video, animation, photography, graphic design and live events. While primarily focused in Northeast Ohio, the organization has grown to boast client corporations and sports teams across North America, generating 122 percent more in sales since 2014 and necessitating plans for a second office relocation to accommodate its doubled staff. PEG uses its broadened reach to spread enthusiasm and interest about Akron.
PROforma 3rd Degree Marketing | Steve Flaughers
Marketing agency PROforma 3rd Degree Marketing is a new, fast-growing division of PROforma, a leader in the printing, promotional products and packaging industries. Pairing robust creative services and digital media capabilities with PROforma’s global resource network — which includes 1 million custom products and services — PROforma 3rd Degree Marketing clients benefit from partnering with a single-source provider of full-service, integrated solutions. Staffed by experienced marketing professionals, the agency helps brands connect with target audiences effectively and efficiently.
QualCare LLC, dba Home Instead Senior Care | Therese Zdesar, RN, BSN
QualCare LLC, operating as Home Instead Senior Care, is a trusted source of customized in-home elderly care services. It has grown from its humble roots in 1994 as a small, kitchen table-run operation to become the largest senior care organization in the world, with a network of more than 1,000 franchise offices in 12 global markets. This legacy of growth is upheld by the local franchise — serving Portage, Lake and Geauga counties — through a strategic CAREGivers retention program.
Sequoia Financial Group | Thomas Haught
Financial planning firm Sequoia Financial Group has grown significantly since 2014, successfully integrating four firms for a total footprint stretching across two offices in Michigan, four in Ohio and one in Florida. Focused on acquiring and developing talent to provide the best client experience to its customer base, the organization has grown its staff 65 percent and more than doubled revenue in that time. This year, Sequoia formed a new growth department to drive continued momentum.
Shoemaker Rigging & Transport LLC | Steven Shoemaker
Founded in 2013, industrial rigging, moving machinery and heavy equipment company Shoemaker Rigging & Transport LLC has grown beyond the industry standard of local operations to serve client needs nationally and abroad. Fielding machine removal and reinstallation projects for small, family-owned shops, as well as Fortune 5000 companies, the organization’s growth has been explosive since operations began in 2014, with sales increasing 818 percent and Shoemaker Rigging & Transport’s staff growing 416 percent.
Spray Foam Solutions Inc. | Aaron Raber
Full-service spray foam insulation contracting company Spray Foam Solutions Inc. serves residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial and steel frame insulation needs with healthy, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly solutions. Leveraging a team with more than 70 years of combined experience in the construction industry, the organization uses custom-designed, state-of-the-art spray foam insulation rigs that are entirely self-contained to deliver high quality within a set timeline. This has propelled sales 65 percent in the last five years, with staff growth of 67 percent.
TruTech Tools Ltd. | Bill Spohn Sr.
TruTech Tools Ltd. has served the HVACR, building performance and weatherization markets with quality tools and equipment since 2007. It has grown steadily over the past five years by not only providing complementary advice, recommendations and resources before a sale, but by being a continued trusted partner after a sale. The distributor has built a helpful, knowledgeable staff that has increased 33 percent in the past five years to maintain this high level of customer service, even as sales have more than doubled in that time.
VMI Group Inc. | Neille Vitale

Founded in 2012 with two employees, concrete construction contractor VMI Group Inc. quickly scaled from its focus on constructing concrete driveways and small-scale concrete work to fielding large-scale structural, industrial, commercial and site concrete work. To do so, the organization invested in state-of-the-art equipment and technology solutions, as well as a fast-growing team of experts. Today, VMI employs approximately 75 full-time employees — more than triple its staff in 2014 — and has increased sales 264 percent over the same time period.