SBN's Power 100

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print

They’re influential and dedicated. When they speak, people listen.

This year’s Power 100 lists individuals who affect the whats, whens, hows — and especially whos — of business in Central Ohio.

1. Les Wexner, chairman and CEO, The Limited Inc. and Intimate Brands Inc.: Besides overseeing the city’s most prominent business empire, Wexner is the region’s leading philanthropist, giving millions annually to charity — including a $45 million Picasso donated to the Wexner Center for the Arts. Then there are those little projects called New Albany and Easton.

2. John F. Wolfe, chairman, publisher and CEO, The Dispatch Printing Co.: As CEO of the Dispatch, WBNS-TV, ONN and WBNS-AM and -FM, plus several community newspapers, Wolfe has the power to make or break politicians, executives and civic issues. His role in developing Nationwide Arena and the founding of the Blue Jackets solidified him as a consummate dealmaker.

3. Alex Shumate, managing partner, Columbus and Cincinnati offices, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey: Shumate’s input is highly respected by the business community, as evidenced by his involvement in high-brow boards such as those of Intimate Brands and The Ohio State University Foundation. In addition, he was asked by Mayor Mike Coleman last year to head up a task force of business and civic leaders to guide Columbus in developing a downtown business plan.

4. Bob Walter, chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health Inc.: For more than 30 years, Walter has quietly led what’s become a $40 billion, multinational company. His growing influence is reflected in his service on the boards of Bank One, Battelle, Ohio University, Infinity Broadcasting Corp. and Viacom Inc.

5. Sally Jackson, president and CEO, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce: Jackson’s connections have made her the most powerful woman in the Columbus business community.

6. Ron Pizzuti, chairman and CEO, The Pizzuti Cos.: Applauded by Mayor Coleman for his role in helping develop the Downtown South community, Pizzuti continues to work with fellow heavy-hitters like Wexner and Wolfe.

7. Jerry Jurgensen, CEO, Nationwide: Jurgensen has really jumped into the job at Nationwide, laying the groundwork for much-needed changes. Despite being a relative newcomer to Columbus (and a Nebraska fan to boot), he has been accepted — even embraced — by the power players in Columbus with remarkable speed.

8. Bea Wolper, partner, Chester, Wilcox & Saxbe LLP: Wolper continues to distinguish herself as a leader among women business owners.

9. Roger Geiger, state director, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio: Geiger champions businesses and works to change legislation in their favor.

10. Bob Taft, governor, state of Ohio: Taft may not stick his nose into the business community much, but he’s still “the guv.” He can make executives’ lives easy or difficult with a single pen stroke.

11. Mark Barbash, director, Columbus Department of Trade & Development: Barbash’s department has its fingers in all the important pies, from economic development to building and development.

12. Mike Coleman, mayor, city of Columbus: His focus remains — as it should — on citizens, but he still carries considerable clout in the business community.

13. George Jenkins, partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP: Jenkins continues to be a powerful force in the private investment community.

14. Thomas Hoaglin, president and CEO, Huntington National Bank: He may be new to his position leading the second largest bank in the area, but he’s no stranger to Columbus. He spent years at Bank One, helping to transform it from a tangle of individual banks to a consolidated entity. He’s wasting little time putting his stamp on Huntington.

15. Rich Langdale, founder, NCT Ventures; executive director, OSU Center for Entrepreneurship: In addition to leading or holding an interest in an impressive list of national and international businesses, Langdale knows how to attract venture capital better than anyone in this city. And we all know the connection between money and power.

16. Jack Kessler, chairman, The New Albany Co.: Kessler led the New Albany development charge, and although his name isn’t grabbing headlines much these days, he’s still a regular in the Old Boys’ Network.

17. John Beavers, chairman, corporate department, Bricker & Eckler LLP: Although he stepped down as managing partner of Bricker and Eckler in 2000, he has developed a specialty practice focused exclusively on corporate boards and executives, keeping him firmly entrenched in the inner circle.

18. Curt Loveland, partner, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP: Loveland is a venture capital guru whose knowledge is sought by impressive clients including Too Inc., Max & Erma’s, Applied Innovation and Rocky Shoes and Boots.

19. Friedl Bohm, chairman, NBBJ: Not only does he run the third largest architectural firm in the world, he’s the designer behind such Columbus landmarks as Nationwide Arena, the Vern Riffe Center, One Columbus and the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

20. & 21. Paul Tipps & Neil Clark, principals, State Street Consultants: With Curt Steiner and Jan Allen launching separate businesses late last year, Tipps and Clark are now the top pair of hotshot lobbyists in this city working under one roof.

22. Walter Cates, founder and president, Main Street Business Association: Cates is an incredibly powerful — and enduring — advocate for minority businesses. And he watches local development projects like a hawk.

23. Kurt Tunnell, administrative partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP: Tunnell is sought after for his deep-seated political connections as well as for his legal expertise.

24. Roger Blackwell, president, Blackwell Associates Inc.: Is there a business marketing expert better known in this country? We can’t think of one.

25. Don M. Casto III, president, Don M. Casto Organization: This developer of shopping centers, multifamily housing and mixed-use entertainment projects also serves on the Huntington Bancshares board of directors, the Ohio Bicentennial Commission and the Columbus Airport Authority Board.

26. Curt Steiner, co-founder, Steiner/Lesic Communications: Will separate mean equal for Steiner and his wife and former business partner, Jan Allen? We think not. Both are still well-known and well-connected, but part of their power came from their collective experience — as well as the corporate backing of HMS. Without that, Steiner’s stock will drop, although not drastically.

27. Curt Moody, president and CEO, Moody/Nolan Ltd.: Moody’s impressive client list speaks for itself. With projects like COSI, the Schottenstein Center and the Smith Bros. Hardware building, Moody’s presence is felt in many corners of the city.

28. Jeff Keeler, chairman and CEO, The Fishel Co.: Keeler’s past and present board positions, which include Bank One, Ruscilli Construction and AirNet Systems, prove his business acumen is respected and in demand.

29. Tim O’Dell, president and CEO, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio: Leading the third largest bank in Columbus is enough to qualify O’Dell, yet he also sits on the board of The Columbus Council of World Affairs and Columbus State Community College and is part of the chamber’s work force development committee.

30. Jan Allen, owner, Jan Allen Consulting: Allen’s ties to the Democratic Party might grow stronger now that she’s on her own, but with the opposing party in control of the statehouse, she slides down a few notches on this year’s list.

31. Al Dietzel, vice president of public affairs, The Limited Inc.: He’s Les Wexner’s right-hand man. Enough said.

32. 33. & 34. Nancy Kramer, Martin Beck and Rick Milenthal, co-founders, Ten Worldwide: These three built immensely successful businesses in their own rights prior to the 2001 merger of their talents. Since then, they’ve attracted top-notch firms to their ranks, most notably Zero Base Advertising, which handled ad campaigns for the Blue Jackets, OhioHealth and Time Warner. Clearly there’s not just safety in numbers, there’s power. And lots of it.

35. Karen McVey, CEO, Women in New Growth Stages: She may not be widely known outside the business community, but within it, she’s a mentor to many and influential enough to get things done not just locally or statewide, but nationally.

36. Brit Kirwan, president, The Ohio State University: Kirwan has quickly carved a name for himself in the business community, serving as the founding chair of the Columbus Technology Leadership Council, on the advisory committee for the Columbus Downtown Business Plan and as a director for Intimate Brands Inc. He’s also on the boards of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and its Workforce Leadership Council, Children’s Hospital, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and United Way of Franklin County. When, exactly, does he have time to lead the university?

37. Brad Beasecker, president, Helston Capital Group: If you’re looking for venture capital, Beasecker may be your man. He specializes in matching companies and investors, and has been Helston’s principal adviser for Battelle Venture Partners. He is also past chairman of the Columbus Investment Interest Group, which encourages the development of innovative technology companies in Ohio.

38. Terry Foegler, president, Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment Inc.: Foegler has been slowly and methodically reclaiming nearly all the salvageable property along High Street in the campus area for redevelopment. What goes up on that land is going to be largely his call.

39. James Conrad, administrator and CEO, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation: Conrad is another bureaucrat who can either help or hinder the business community. Fortunately he’s chosen to use his power for good, rebating and discounting workers’ comp premiums numerous times in the past few years.

40. Linda Hondros, president, Hondros College: Hondros has high enough connections to get an audience with President Bush last spring when he was seeking input from business leaders on his proposed tax cut plan.

41. Lewis Smoot Sr., president, Smoot Corp.: Not only does Smoot serve on the board of Huntington National Bank and the Columbus Foundation’s Governing Committee, but we bet you can’t name too many buildings in downtown Columbus his firm didn’t help build.

42. Tanny Crane, president and CEO, Crane Group Inc.: Crane appears to be everywhere: the Dean’s Advisory Council at OSU’s Fisher College of Business, the board of United Way of Franklin County and its nominating committee, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Business Advisory Council. Where else will she show up?

43. Jack Ruscilli, CEO, Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc.: In addition to his community involvement, Ruscilli continues to land projects for Columbus area schools, hospitals and businesses, including Mt. Carmel and White Castle.

44. John Christie, president and COO, Worthington Industries: Christie is a long-time friend of the McConnell family and ran Mr. Mac’s private investment fund, JMAC, prior to joining J.P. in the executive suite at Worthington Industries.

45. Jay Schottenstein, owner, American Eagle Outfitters; chairman, Value City Department Stores: In case heading a $1 billion dollar department store chain isn’t enough to make Schottenstein powerful, he was also the major underwriter of the Schottenstein Center at The Ohio State University.

46. Dwight Smith, president and CEO, Sophisticated Systems Inc.: Smith serves on the Governor’s Small Business Advisory Council, the Greater Columbus Chamber board of directors and the board for Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, has his own foundation fostering entrepreneurship and was appointed by Gov. Taft last year to the High-Technology Start-Up Business Commission. Not a bad resume.

47. Kyle Katz, president, The Katz Interests Inc. and New World Restaurants Inc.: Katz is president of the Pen West District and he’s a business owner, a developer and a restaurateur. And he knows just about everyone who is anyone in Columbus.

48. Frank Kass, CEO, Continental Real Estate Cos.: Kass continues to be a major player on the real estate and development scene.

49. Maury Cox, president, The Ohio Partners LLC: This former CompuServe CEO shapes Central Ohio’s technology corridor through investments in high-tech companies around the world.

50. Cheryl Krueger, president and CEO, Cheryl&Co.: Krueger remains a strong role model in the business community.

51. Tami Longaberger, president and CEO, The Longaberger Co.: In addition to her business connections, Longaberger runs the 18th largest woman-owned company in the country.

52. Dick Emens, partner, Chester, Wilcox & Saxbe LLP: Emens’ leadership is evident in the family-owned business community, where he chairs the advisory board of the Family Business Center of Central Ohio.

53. E. Linn Draper, chairman, AEP: Draper holds the reins at AEP and sits on the board at Borden Chemicals and Plastics. He also serves on the Columbus Technology Leadership Council and the Ohio Business Roundtable.

54. Bob Weiler Sr., chairman, The Robert Weiler Co.: From downtown to Polaris — and beyond –Weiler’s ownership of hot property has led to the development and revitalization of many areas of Central Ohio.

55. Herb Glimcher, chairman, president and CEO, Glimcher Realty Trust: Glimcher has developed more than 100 properties in 26 states. His latest achievement, Polaris Fashion Place, has been a hit with shoppers from across the state.

56. Robert Werth, managing partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease: In addition to overseeing the city’s largest law firm, Werth serves on the Ohio Business Roundtable and The Columbus Technology Leadership Council and was among those selected to go on the inaugural Community Leadership Trip with Mayor Coleman and Alex Shumate a few years ago.

57. Sam Gresham Jr., president and CEO, Columbus Urban League: Gresham not only knows, but is liked and respected by, just about everyone who matters in corporate Columbus. His is a voice that is often sought out — and listened to closely.

58. Mike Petrecca, managing partner, Columbus office, PricewaterhouseCoopers: He made a name for himself — and many of the right connections — when he oversaw the entrepreneurial advisory services division of this Big Five accounting firm. Now, with his promotion to the top spot, he’s bound to find himself among the corporate elite.

59. Phil Urban, president and CEO, Grange Insurance: Urban was among the business leaders hand-picked last year by Mayor Coleman to help guide development of a downtown business plan.

60. Andy Geiger, athletic director, The Ohio State University: He’s gotten big business — and deep-pocketed CEOs — involved in the university like no other before him.

61. Zuheir Sofia, chairman, Sofia & Co.: Sofia was a heavy favorite to succeed Frank Wobst at Huntington Banks until his seemingly sudden departure in 1998 to start a private investment company. Although he’s dropped out of the headlines, he continues to run in powerful circles. He’s a trustee of The Ohio State University, chairman of the board of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, chairman of the OSU Investments Committee and serves on the boards of University Hospitals and The Ohio State University Foundation.

62. Dimon McFerson, retired chairman, Nationwide: He may be retired, but McFerson hasn’t lost his sphere of influence. He still serves as a trustee of The Ohio State University, as board chairman for COSI, on the governing board of United Way of America and as honorary chairman of select local charity events. The man who made Nationwide Arena is clearly among the top movers and shakers in town.

63. Pat Dugan, partner, Squires, Sanders & Dempsey LLP: Dugan knows the ins and outs of corporate finance almost as well as he knows law. Heck, he’s even been known to invest in some private businesses. Now there’s a powerful combo.

64. John Rosenberger, executive director, Capital South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp.: With the downtown at stake and Mayor Coleman taking a renewed interest in revitalizing parts of it, Rosenberger’s organization will become even more important this year.

65. Patrick Grabill, president, King Thompson, Realtors: Not only does Grabill run a well-respected real estate firm, but as a chamber board member he rubs elbows with Alex Shumate, Jerry Jurgensen, Al Dietzel and Tanny Crane.

66. Blane Walter, chairman and CEO, inChord Communications Inc.: This 30-something is running an organization with more than 500 employees and capitalized billings of roughly $500 million.

67. Jack Schuessler, chairman and CEO, Wendy’s International: He may not be a household name like the late Dave Thomas, but Schuessler is the leader of this nearly $8 billion fast food chain. Under his leadership, Wendy’s has increased earnings in the toughest economy the food industry has seen in quite awhile.

68. Sandy Harbrecht, president, Paul Werth Associates Inc.: Harbrecht is often sought out by other business leaders as a facilitator for organizational change initiatives and as a consultant on public policy issues. She serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for OSU’s Fisher College of Business, on the board of directors for the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, on the Council for Ethics in Economics and as a trustee for the Ingram-White Castle Foundation.

69. Robert Schottenstein, president, M/I Schottenstein Homes Inc.: The Schottenstein name still carries clout in this town. Schottenstein has earned his stripes as a director for Huntington Banks and the Greater Columbus Chamber, as well as a member of the Dean’s Board of Visitors at Capital University Law School.

70. Larry Hilsheimer, managing partner, Columbus office Deloitte & Touche LLP: Hilsheimer’s expertise in tax issues will keep him in demand; he lends his service on the chamber board, Young President’s Organization and various community groups.

71. William Hartman, chairman and CEO, Bank One NA, Ohio and Kentucky: With the retirement of David Lauer — and Jamie Dimon’s determination to keep all of Bank One’s top executives in Chicago –Columbus has been searching for a strong leader from this homegrown financial institution to step up and show some real interest in the Central Ohio community. Hartman, elected to the Greater Columbus Chamber’s board last year, may be that person.

72. Joe Calvaruso, president and CEO, Mount Carmel Health System: Strong leadership in the health care community is becoming harder to come by in Central Ohio. With Bill Wilkins’ retirement from OhioHealth at the close of 2001, Calvaruso seems to be the sole survivor. He’s the only Columbus-based voting trustee of the Ohio Hospital Association. He also serves as trustee for COSI and as an advisory board member for OSU’s College of Medicine and Public Health.

73. Bill Habig, executive director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission: Transportation — or the lack thereof — in Central Ohio affects every major business. Habig is the guy who influences most of what happens in that arena.

74. John P. McConnell, chairman and CEO, Worthington Industries Inc.: He’s grown up with strong, influential leaders all around him. Now it’s his turn to call the shots.

75. Artie Isaac, president, Young Isaac Inc.: Isaac is a doer as well as a thinker. He continually proves actions speak louder than words.

76. Chan Cochran, founder and president, Cochran Public Relations: Even beyond PR circles, he’s a good one to know. He’s a trustee of the Ohio Public Expenditure Council and the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, a member of the Columbus Downtown Business Plan Advisory Committee and chairman of the Franklin County Children Services Board.

77. Brian Ellis, president, Nationwide Realty Investors: He’s the point person on all Arena District development and a trustee of the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District.

78. Tom Button, vice president, Park National Bank, Columbus: Button heads up the Columbus commercial lending department, financing privately held companies in the area.

79. Bill Schottenstein, owner, Arshot Investment Corp.: Another key player in the development area.

80. Cameron Mitchell, president, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants LLC: Is there any restaurant concept he can’t make successful?

81. George Skestos, founder, Homewood Corp.: Skestos is a well-respected player in the business community.

82. Bob Maynard, partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease: Maynard’s involvement in the business community extends to the Ohio Foundation for Entrepreneurial Education, the Business Technology Center and the Industry and Technology Council of Central Ohio, where he serves as trustee.

83. Farah Majidzadeh, CEO, Resource International: Although she’s been successful on her own, Majidzadeh’s recent work with the Columbus Coalition Against Domestic Violence has given her an “in” with the Wexner family. Connections like that certainly can’t hurt.

84. John Kobacker, president and CEO, The Marlenko Group; co-owner, Scioto Valley Inc.: Kobacker is a board member of the Wexner Center Foundation and the Columbus College of Art & Design. He also serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Business Advisory Council.

85. Paula Inniss, president, Ohio Full Court Press: Is there any business award in Central Ohio she hasn’t won? Inniss is definitely going places.

86. Matthew Grossman, founder, The Axis Group: He appears to be holding his own against bigger and better-known agencies in town such as Ten Worldwide — and acquiring firms almost as quickly.

87. Sue Doody, president, Lindey’s Grant Avenue Investments: If there’s a Grande Dame of restaurateurs in Columbus, Doody is it.

88. J. Daniel Schmidt, president, Downtown South Association: Schmidt is working to make the Downtown South area the high-tech district in the city. He owns and renovates many downtown buildings.

89. & 90. Ken Mills, president, and Cameron James, CEO, Mills/James Productions Inc.: Mills and James have grown their video production company into one of the largest in the country, employing more than 140 people.

91. Bob Bender, chairman, president and CEO, Lord, Sullivan & Yoder: He runs one of the top five ad agencies in Central Ohio.

92. Mark Butterworth, vice president, Ohio Partners; chair, Columbus Venture Network: A CompuServe veteran, Butterworth works with Cox — and Wolfe — to fund promising tech companies.

93. Chip McConville, director, Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s Political and Candidate Education program: McConville has plenty of sway with deep-pocketed business groups and CEOs who want to know which incumbent politicians deserve their financial support.

94. Paul Astleford, president, Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau: Despite being relatively new to the job, Astleford is earning a reputation for making Columbus a leading destination for businesses and associations.

95. Peg Mativi, CEO, Solutions Staffing: Mativi is broadening her sphere of influence through her work with the Governor’s Workforce Policy Board, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, CCAD and the Greater Columbus Chamber — among other groups.

96. Sandy Dickinson, executive director, Ohio Foundation for Entrepreneurial Education: Dickinson is connected enough to regularly recruit heavy hitters like Mike Petrecca, Bob Maynard and Paul Otte to her board — and she’s a master at convincing busy, successful business leaders to donate their money as well as their time and expertise to the educational programs she oversees.

97. Denny Griffith, president, Columbus College of Art and Design: The past and present board rosters of CCAD read like a Who’s Who in Columbus.

98. Bobbie Ruch, CEO, Acloche: Not only has she succeeded in growing her business without the Olesen Staffing moniker, she keeps elite company through her involvement with the Wexner Center, Capital Club, Columbus Country Club and New Albany Country Club. She’s also a founding member of Women in Family Owned Business.

99. Paul Otte, president, Franklin State University: Although Otte has been a controversial leader lately, he’s still keeping the business community interested in the university. The business community, which includes Jim Kunk, regional president of Huntington Bank, and Robert Shenton of Plante & Moran, has even been praising his work.

100. Todd Ritterbusch, president, Columbus Technology Leadership Council: He’s harnessed the power of the city’s top minds — and used it wisely.

Your choice not listed?

If you think we’ve overlooked an obvious choice, tell us who you would’ve added to our list and why that person is apt to carry considerable influence in the local business community this year.

We invite your comments via fax at 428-2649, by e-mail at [email protected] or by U.S. mail at 2193 CityGate Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43219. Please include your name, title, company name, business address and a phone number (for verification purposes).