Power 100

Columbus leaders battled several challenges this year — SEC inquiries, resignations and retirements, to name a few. As a result of these events, the movers and shakers in Columbus climbed up and down the “ladder” — and this list — at a dizzying rate.

For example, Sally Jackson resigned as president and CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor Michael Coleman’s Chief of Staff Ty Marsh stepped in, putting him in a position of even greater influence.

While most of last year’s top 10 hold fast to their positions, a large number of the remaining people on the list have moved positions or are new this year.

The revitalization of downtown over the next several years will be a major focus, and real estate and commercial developers will be at the forefront of the charge. Mayor Coleman and others with political clout will play a significant role in reshaping Columbus, its business environment and its skyline.

Here is this year’s Power 100 list. Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.

1. Les Wexner
Chairman and CEO, Limited Brands Inc. (1)
With no close contender for this top spot, Wexner ably controls his company, and has accumulated a $2 billion cash reserve and positioned it to make some healthy acquisitions. While there are no signs that Wexner intends to relinquish control, he did name Leonard Schlesinger vice chairman and COO of Limited Brands.

2. John F. Wolfe
Chairman, publisher and CEO, The Dispatch Printing Co. (2)

Wolfe’s influence is felt throughout his media conglomerate, which includes magazines, newspapers, television, the Ohio News Network and radio stations. Wolfe also has part ownership in the Columbus Blue Jackets.

3. Bob Walter
Chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health Inc. (3)
It’s been another good year for Walter’s $50 billion company, which continues to gobble up other businesses – including United Kingdom’s Intercare plc – to expand its product and service offerings and reach. Walter also lends his expertise to the boards of Bank One Corp. and Viacom Inc., as well as to Battelle Memorial Institute and Ohio University.

4. Thomas Hoaglin
President and CEO, Huntington Bancshares Inc. (7)

Despite SEC concerns of improper reporting of its auto lease portfolio, Hoaglin led the $30 billion regional bank to continued profitability last year. His impact on the community is epitomized by his leadership roles on the boards of The Columbus Partnership, Columbus Downtown Development Corp., Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Business Roundtable, COSI and OhioHealth.

5. Jerry Jurgensen
CEO, Nationwide (6)

Jurgensen battled a tough financial year in 2002 by stepping up advertising in 2003. Today, Nationwide’s bottom line is improving. Jurgensen shares his leadership responsibilities with new Chairman Arden Shisler, but he remains one of the most influential leaders in town, advising the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Law Enforcement Foundation of Ohio, Children’s Hospital, Columbus Downtown Development Corp., the Ohio Business Roundtable and Financial Services Roundtable.

6. Alex Shumate
Managing partner, Columbus and Cincinnati offices, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (4)

Shumate was recognized as the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus’ Humanitarian of the Year, and his counsel is sought by the boards of Nationwide Financial Services Inc. and the William Wrigley Jr. Co. He is a trustee of the Columbus Partnership, the John Glenn Institute and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

7.Ron Pizzuti
Chairman and CEO, The Pizzuti Cos. (5)

With the commercial real estate industry’s anticipated rebound this year and downtown development plans, Pizzuti’s company is positioned to take advantage of the expected growth.

8. Michael Coleman
Mayor, city of Columbus (11)

The mayor continues to demonstrate his dedication to and focus on business development, especially on recharging the ailing downtown. Coleman’s proposed initiatives could create 7,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

9. Jack Schuessler
Chairman and CEO, Wendy’s International (10)

Schuessler battled slow sales at Wendy’s restaurants early in the year by instituting initiatives such as accepting credit cards and offering higher protein items and more choices for children.

10. Jay Schottenstein
Chairman, American Eagle Outfitters; chairman, Retail Ventures Inc. (12)

Schottenstein owns more than 75 percent of the recently renamed Retail Ventures Inc., which posted 2003 revenue of $1.2 billion, and holds stakes in other Schottenstein family companies.

11. Ty Marsh
President and CEO, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce (NEW)

This former chief of staff for Mayor Coleman walks into one of the city’s top business leadership positions with a formidable Rolodex already in place. He has worked closely with other high-profile agencies, including The Columbus Partnership.

12. Jack Kessler
Chairman, The New Albany Co. (14)

In addition to developing one of the hottest residential areas in the region, Kessler is on the board of trustees of the United Way of Central Ohio and the board of directors of Bank One.

13. Tanny Crane
President and CEO, Crane Group Inc. (32)

Crane is one of the most influential business leaders in the region. In addition to running one of the largest family owned companies in Columbus, she was recently named a board member of Wendy’s International, is on the chamber’s board (and its nominating committee), and serves on the board of trustees of the United Way of Franklin County, as well as on the Dean’s Advisory Council at OSU’s Fisher College of Business.

14. Robert Werth
Managing partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (28)

Werth ably leads the largest firm in the city — one with attorneys who continue to receive awards and recognition and provide leadership on community boards including the Airport Authority Board and the Ohio State Bar Association.

15. John Beavers
Chairman, corporate department, Bricker & Eckler LLP (16)

Beavers’ advice has been sought by organizations such as the Economic Club of Columbus and the Mayor’s Steering Committee for Operations and Efficiency Review of the City of Columbus. Beavers is also a member of the Columbus Foundation Arts Advisory Committee.

16. Mark Barbash
Director, Columbus Department of Trade & Development (17)

It’s been a busy year for the department, with trips to China and Germany, among others. With the emphasis on development intensifying, Barbash’s importance will increase.

17. Friedl Bohm
Chairman, NBBJ (19)
Bohm leads the third largest architectural firm in the world, putting Columbus on the architectural map. NBBJ won national recognition for health care design for the Naval Hospital Bremerton, Clinic Addition and Renovation. Clients include Novartis and Reebok.

18. Don M. Casto III
President, Don M. Casto Organization (20)

Casto’s company is one of the largest developers and property management companies in the city, and his advice is sought by the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Bancshares and the Columbus Airport Authority Board.

19. Curt Loveland
Partner, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP (19)

Loveland’s legal and business counsel are preferred by clients including Too Inc. and Max & Erma’s. He serves on the executive advisory board of the Ohio University College of Business and the board of directors of the Business Technology Center.

20. Rich Langdale
Founder, NCT Ventures; executive director, OSU Center for Entrepreneurship (21)

Langdale fosters entrepreneurship through his efforts at The Ohio State University. After NCT purchased Retail Planning Associates Inc., it landed a multimillion contract with Sprint. Langdale was recently elected to the board of the Chamber of Commerce.

21. Bob Taft
Governor, State of Ohio (8)

Despite the governor’s Third Frontier Project, many businesses are not thrilled with recent tax changes that are not considered “business-friendly.” Taft’s star is clearly falling in his final term as governor.

22. Bea Wolper
Partner, Chester, Wilcox & Saxbe LLP (22)

Wolper’s knowledge and support of businesses have earned her awards such as the Entrepreneur Of The Year Award (Support Category) and the YWCA Women of Achievement Award. She is a founder and president of the Women’s Business Board and a board member of the Wexner Director’s Circle Council and Mt. Carmel College of Nursing.

23. Michael Fiorile
President and CEO, Dispatch Broadcast Group (33)

The Wolfes may own the company, but Fiorile wields a great deal of power as president and CEO of this media conglomerate and as chairman of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

24. & 25. Paul Tipps & Neil Clark
State Street Consultants (23 & 24)

Tipps’ and Clark’s client list reads like a Who’s Who of Columbus businesses. Limited Brands Inc., Cardinal Health and Bank One are just a few of the companies that have solicited the pair’s political and lobbying prowess.

26. Roger Geiger
State director, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio (25)

From fostering entrepreneurship through scholarships to lobbying for overtime regulation reforms, there is no underestimating the NFIB, its influence and Geiger’s role in supporting a growing number of members. Geiger was also appointed to the Ohio Commission to reform Medicaid.

27. Julie Kunkel
Managing partner, Columbus office, Ernst & Young (NEW)

First Kunkel was transferred to Columbus to handle the Limited Brands account. Then she was named Ernst & Young’s managing partner. She’s earned a lot of clout and respect in a very short time.

28. Curt Moody
President and CEO, Moody/Nolan Ltd. (26)

Moody heads one of the city’s largest architectural firms, and his expertise led to his appointment to head the chamber’s infrastructure steering committee. The architectural future of the city is in Moody’s hands.

29. Kurt Tunnell
Partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP (28)

The Ohio Republican Party, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and the Association of Ohio Life Insurance Companies have turned to Tunnell for legal and legislative expertise. In his spare time, he serves as treasurer and board member of the Ohio Public Expenditure Council and is a member of the board of trustees of Maryhaven Inc.

30. Larry Hilsheimer
Managing partner, Columbus office, Deloitte & Touche LLP (80)

Hilsheimer is among the heavy hitters who chose the new chamber president. He is on the chamber’s nominating committee and the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Fisher College of Business.

31. Robert Eversole
President and CEO, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio (NEW)

Eversole replaces Tim O’Dell, who retired from the bank in September after a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry. He’s already making a place for himself in the community, filling O’Dell’s seat on the chamber’s board of directors as well as at the bank.

32. Jeff Keeler
Chairman, The Fishel Co. (30)

This Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame member and Entrepreneur Of The Year sits on the board of Ruscilli Construction, Metatec and Sports Imports and contributes to the boards of Bank One and AirNet.

33. Carl F. Kohrt
President, Battelle (46)
Admiration for Kohrt in the business community is growing. He founded a $150 million venture capital fund for Battelle technologies and recently stepped into Dimon McFerson’s shoes as chairman of the board of COSI.

34. Leonard Schlesinger
Vice chairman and COO, Limited Brands Inc. (76)

This former Brown University professor is second-in-command at Limited Brands and serves on boards at the Columbus Foundation, Harvard University and The Ohio State University Medical Center, where he is part of the strategic advisory group.

35. Curt Steiner
Co-founder, Steiner/Lesic Communications (31)
Steiner advises some of the top execs in town. His client roster includes OhioHealth, Mount Carmel, Nationwide and Squire Sanders & Dempsey. The two-year-old PR firm continues to grow and add clients.

36. Tami Longaberger
President and CEO, The Longaberger Co. (34)

Longaberger’s business expertise is used by the Ohio Business Roundtable and The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. She is contemplating expanding the company’s territory and reviving its growth by venturing outside the United States.

37. Melissa Ingwersen
President, Bank One NA Columbus (36)

Ingwersen’s involvement in Columbus includes board memberships at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Franklin University, YWCA of Columbus, Grant/Riverside Foundation and I Know I Can.

38. Brad Beasecker
President, Helston Capital Group (37)

With less venture capital available to entrepreneurs, Helston Capital Group is more important than ever. Beasecker’s connections with Battelle Venture Partners and the Columbus Investment Interest Group make him an important man to know.

39. Cheryl Krueger
President and CEO, Cheryl&Co. (38)

Revenue of $25 million represents a lot of cookies, so Krueger is definitely doing something right. You’ll find Cheryl&Co. cookies on airlines such as Delta and US Air, and her Cookies for A’s Program is going strong.

40. Karen Holbrook
President, The Ohio State University (44)

Holbrook continues to gain respect as she tightens OSU’s economic belt and takes measures to keep the institution in the black.

41. Lewis Smoot Sr.
President, Smoot Corp. (39)

Smoot’s firm is not only a contender in Columbus; this smart businessman is also taking advantage of lucrative Washington, D.C., and Indianapolis markets. He sits on the Huntington Bancshares and Columbus Foundation boards.

42. Jack Ruscilli
CEO, Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. (40)

This newly elected Chamber of Commerce board member’s company is one of the city’s largest construction firms and is ready to take advantage of the projected commercial construction upswing.

43. Blane Walter
Chairman and CEO, inChord Communications Inc. (48)

Walter’s firm boasted capitalized billings of $695 million in 2002, and he was recognized by business heavy hitters when he received the 2003 Robert S. Crane Jr. Young Philanthropist Award, hosted by Abigail and Les Wexner at their home.

44. John B. Gerlach Jr.
Chairman, president and CEO, Lancaster Colony Corp. (67)

Gerlach’s company is one of only 23 in the country to increase its cash dividend each year in 41 consecutive years. He sits on the Dean’s Advisory Council, Fisher College of Business, and the board of directors of Huntington Bancshares Inc.

45. Walter Cates
Founder and president, Main Street Business Association (41)

With the increasing focus on downtown, Cates’ power will also continue to grow.

46. Dwight Smith
President and CEO, Sophisticated Systems Inc. (46)

Smith was on the search committee to find the chamber’s new president, is on the steering committee for the Ohio Business Gateway and was elected president of Columbus State’s board of trustees.

47. M. Valeriana Moeller
President and CEO, Columbus State Community College (47)

Columbus State’s enrollment has grown 35 percent since Moeller took office. Her influence is also felt at COSI, United Way of Central Ohio, the Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Technology Council, Franklin County Workforce Policy Board and Fifth Third Bank.

48. John P. McConnell
Chairman, Worthington Industries Inc. (42)

Worthington Industries was hit hard by a slow economy the last few years, reporting an overall sales drop of 5 percent. But McConnell is a force to be reckoned with, serving as chairman of the Workforce Development Committee of the Columbus Chamber and as a member of the Downtown Business Plan Advisory Committee and the Ohio Business Roundtable.

49. Roger Blackwell
President, Blackwell Associates Inc. (13)

The SEC filed insider trading charges against Blackwell early in 2003, which Blackwell denied. Despite the charges, he continues to thrive. His book “Brands That Rock,” coauthored with Tina Stephens, was released in October, landing him a spot on CNN and receiving positive remarks from the likes of Calvin Klein and Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO of The Sherwin-Williams Co.

50. Nancy Kramer
President, Resource Marketing (49)
Kramer was chosen to head the chamber’s marketing steering committee and is charged with creating a national image for Columbus. She also bought back her company, Resource Marketing, from Ten United this year. The agreement gave her three years to buy back the company; she did it in one.

51.Andy Geiger
Athletic director, The Ohio State University (50)

Geiger is raising awareness of the university’s athletic departments and was named Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal National Athletic Director of the Year.

52. James Conrad
Administrator and CEO, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (51)

There is no disputing the political clout associated with this post and the power Conrad has over Ohio businesses.

53. Frank Kass
CEO, Continental Real Estate Cos. (52)

Kass will be a big player in the redevelopment of downtown and throughout the country, thanks to his real estate and development interests.

54. Michael Petrecca
Managing partner, Columbus office, PricewaterhouseCoopers (53)

Petrecca’s financial and accounting expertise give him entree with many of Columbus’ business elite.

55. Dick Emens
Partner, Chester, Wilcox & Saxbe LLP (54)

He literally wrote the book on family business and advises many of the city’s top companies. This year, he was appointed to the Whittier Peninsula advisory board, a board planning to turn the area into a Metro Park.

56. Zuheir Sofia
Chairman, Sofia & Co. (65)

This former president and CEO of Huntington Bancshares is the chairman of The Ohio State University Board of Trustees and was appointed to the Ohio Banking Commission.

57. Herb Glimcher
Chairman, president and CEO, Glimcher Realty Trust (55)

Glimcher has done a lot of buying and selling, acquiring a new mall in North Carolina and Eastland in Columbus, which he plans to update. He hopes the new Eastland will be more competitive with Easton.

58. Kyle Katz
President, The Katz Interests Inc. and New World Restaurants Inc. (56)

Katz is a developer who will profit from downtown revitalization. His Buggyworks offices and condos on West Nationwide Boulevard are pulling in reservations with very little marketing effort.

59. Bob Weiler Sr.
Chairman, The Robert Weiler Co. (54)

Weiler, a former Columbus City Schools board president, owns several key properties in downtown and at Polaris.

60. Jim Grote
Founder, chairman and CEO, Donatos Pizzeria (NEW)

At the end of 2003, Grote and his family reacquired the business from McDonald’s, placing him back in control of the 182-location restaurant chain that he sold to the restaurant giant in 1999.

61. Sam Gresham Jr.
President and CEO, Columbus Urban League (57)

Gresham carries out the Urban League’s mission of supporting black businesses. He is a member of the Committee for the Master Plan for the City of Columbus and a former President of the National Association of National Urban League Executives

62. Jan Allen
Owner, Jan Allen Consulting (60)

Allen’s deep political ties help her land clients. She coaches CEOs, and she and husband, Curt, work directly with all of Ohio’s public university presidents to elevate the importance of higher education with public policy makers.

63. David Milenthal
Chairman, HMS Partners (NEW)

This 2003 Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame member serves or has served on boards including those of OhioHealth Hospital System Foundation, Capital University, The Columbus College of Art and Design, the Columbus Urban League, The Ohio State University Development Committee and BalletMet Columbus.

64. J. Daniel Schmidt
President, JDS Cos. and Downtown South Association (72)

Schmidt is a former Oldsmobile dealer who quietly purchased 12 acres of downtown properties, which he is developing with the approval of Mayor Coleman. He may be the No. 1 player in the area’s revitalization.

65. David P. Blom
President and CEO, OhioHealth (81)

Blom’s focus on improving operating efficiencies is paying off. This year was the first in several that the system operated in the black, with revenue of $1.48 billion.

66. Terry Foegler
President, Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment Inc. (62)

Foegler’s $100 million University Gateway Center project is attracting attention and should re-energize and reinvent North High Street along The Ohio State University campus.

67. Phil Urban
President and CEO, Grange Insurance (63)

Grange’s bank has doubled its office space, and Urban gives his expertise to the Dean’s Advisory council and Fisher College of Business.

68. John Christie
President and COO, Worthington Industries (64)

Christie’s present and past connections include those formed at Battelle and the chamber. He serves on the advisory board of Battelle Memorial Institute Pension Plan, The Fishel Co. and Ruscilli Inc.

69. E. Linn Draper
Chairman, AEP (43)

Draper retires in April but is still a powerful man. He sits on the board of directors of the University of Texas and Sprint Corp.

70. Doug Borror
Chairman and CEO, Dominion Homes (68)

Dominion Homes posted record sales, and Borror has his hand in the downtown redevelopment as a board member of Capital South Redevelopment Corp. He’s also on the board of The Wellington School and the advisory board of Goodwill Industries.

71. Pat Dugan
Partner, Squires, Sanders & Dempsey LLP (70)

For acquisitions and mergers, Dugan is your man. He serves on the executive committee of the Columbus Venture Network.

72. John Rosenberger
Executive director, Capital South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. (71)

Within the next 10 years, Rosenberger plans to revitalize the downtown and will be at the forefront of development.

73. Patrick Grabill
Chairman and CEO, Homestead Communities (66)

Grabill is still a player in the real estate market, having joined up with Frank Cass and Continental Real Estate Cos.

74. Dimon McFerson
Retired chairman, Nationwide (69)

McFerson is slowly withdrawing from his community involvements but is still a strong presence, especially at The Ohio State University, where he is a trustee.

75. Sandy Harbrecht
President, Paul Werth Associates Inc. (73)

Harbrecht’s firm represents clients including the Columbus Technology Leadership Council and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. She also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for OSU’s Fisher College of Business.

76. Robert Schottenstein
President, M/I Schottenstein Homes Inc. (75)

Schottenstein’s company reported record sales in 2003, and just donated $1 million to The Ohio State University.

77. and 78. Alan Wasserstrom & Rodney N. Wasserstrom
Co-presidents, The Wasserstrom Co. (77 & NEW)

These grandsons of founder Nathan Wasserstrom continue to grow the company, whose clients include Wendy’s International, Long John Silver’s, California Pizza Kitchen and Panera Bread Co.

79. Linda Hondros
President, Hondros College (74)
Hondros’ powerful real estate and business connections keep her a powerful influence.

80. Todd Cameron
CEO, Retail Planning Associates Inc. (NEW)

Cameron navigated the advertising/branding firm through the last few years to its most profitable in the 27-year history of the company while sweeping most creativity awards in the marketplace.

81. Karen McVey
CEO, Women in New Growth Stages (78)

Both through her company and personally, McVey serves as a mentor to women business owners.

82. Paula Inniss
President, Ohio Full Court Press (80)

Inniss created a $4 million company in less than 10 years and has won many awards and much recognition, including placement on the Inner City 100 list and the JA Business Hall of Fame.

83. Bill Habig
Executive director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (82)

With the chamber’s focus on expanding Columbus’ presence in the logistics industry, this commission and Habig will increase their clout.

84. Artie Isaac
President, Young Isaac Inc. (83)

Isaac’s expertise pulls in clients such as Battelle Healthcare Products and COTA.

85. Maury Cox
President, The Ohio Partners LLC (35)

This former CompuServe CEO manages Ohio Partner’s funds for The Columbus Dispatch.

86. Robert Massie
Director and CEO , Chemical Abstracts; chairman, Columbus Technology Council (84)

Massie was appointed co-chairman of the chamber’s steering committee to save the government’s Defense Supply Center in Columbus.

87. Tom Button
Vice president, Park National Bank, Columbus, (85)

Button provides a strong Park National presence in Columbus and is working to make it stronger.

88. and 89. Cameron James & Ken Mills
CEO, president, Mills/James Productions Inc. (86 and 87)

Mills’ and James’ company continues to expand its markets and is delving into television production.

90. Abigail Wexner
Founder, Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence (NEW)

The wife of Les Wexner, her influence in the community cannot be overlooked. Since she founded the Coalition, she has raised $6 million to benefit it. She also serves on the boards of Limited Brands, Children’s Hospital, The Wexner Center Foundation and the Columbus Academy. Wexner recently concluded her chairmanship of the Columbus Foundation.

91. Daniel Slane
President, Slane Co. (89)

This former law partner is a leading shopping center owner and rubs elbows with the city’s most influential leaders as an OSU trustee.

92. Brian Ellis
President, Nationwide Realty Investors (90)

Ellis controls this company that owns approximately $1 billion in real estate investments and is the key developer of the Arena District.

93. Cameron Mitchell
President, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants LLC (91)
Mitchell was voted to the chamber’s board of directors, and despite the slow economy, he’s expanded outside the Columbus area into Cleveland and outside the state to Michigan.

94. Sue Doody
President, Lindey’s Grant Avenue Investments (92)

It’s full steam ahead for Doody and the family’s Bravo Development. Through 2006, Bravo Development plans to open 40 Bravo Cucina Italiana and Brio Tuscan Grille restaurants.

95. Robert C. White
Founder and chairman, The Daimler Group (93)

Business is booming for Daimler. There is continued interest in White’s Westar, and the company won the $9 million St. Ann’s addition project. Clients include Blane Walter and Don Casto.

96. George Skestos
Founder, Homewood Corp. (94)

Skestos serves on Huntington Bancshares board and the Columbus Regional Airport Authority board.

97. Gene T. Harris
Superintendent, Columbus Public Schools (95)

Harris was successful in bringing the school system off the list of Ohio schools in a state of academic emergency.

98. Janet Jackson
Executive director United Way Central Ohio (96)

Jackson’s former political connections serve her well as she works with the city’s top business leaders.

99. Bill Schottenstein
Owner, Arshot Investment Corp. (97)

Schottenstein is another developer who will profit from the redevelopment of downtown.

100. Doug Kridler
President and CEO, Columbus Foundation (98)

Kridler manages a $700 million fund and works with Abigail Wexner, Dimon McFerson John Gerlach and others.