Eleven Business Leaders From Nine Companies and Organizations Named Illinois Entrepreneurs of the Year(R) at Ernst & Young Chicago Banquet
CHICAGO, June 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Madolyn Johnson quit a teaching position 31 years ago to sell baskets and home decorative accessories to family and friends so that she could spend more time with her young daughter. Today, her Homemakers Idea Co. is a global organization of more than 4,000 sales representatives who continue to set records for explosive growth. John Rogers founded the nation's first African-American owned investment fund at the age of just 24 and with just one institutional client in 1983. Today, his Ariel Capital Management has 159 institutional clients with more than $9.8 billion in assets under management. Carolyn Gable began her freight brokerage business in the basement of her home in 1989. Now, thirteen years later, her New Age Transportation occupies two large buildings, is constructing an even larger facility, and has expanded into warehousing, distribution, order fulfillment and U.S. customs services. These are among 11 business leaders from nine different organizations (see list below) chosen by a panel of independent judges as the 2002 Illinois Entrepreneurs Of The Year(R) and announced tonight at Ernst & Young's 16th annual Chicago awards banquet. More than 450 attendees honored the award recipients at the black-tie event, held at Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom. Ernst & Young founded and produces the global Entrepreneur Of The Year(R) awards program, the pre-eminent program honoring outstanding owners of fast- growing companies. The program has grown to include 43 United States markets and 30 foreign countries, and honors entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. The 2002 Illinois Entrepreneurs Of The Year (see below for full profiles) are: Master Entrepreneurs Of The Year (companies in business more than five years) -- Carl Korn, Founder & Chairman and James R. Bazet, President & CEO, Cobra Electronics Corp., Chicago. Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year (companies in business less than five years) -- Paul J. Galeski, P.E., Chairman & CEO, Maverick Technologies, Fairview Heights. Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Elaine A. Hodgson, President, Incredible Technologies, Inc., Rolling Meadows. Technology Services Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Roderick Walker, President, Knightsbridge Solutions, LLC, Chicago. Manufacturing Entrepreneurs Of The Year -- Robert F. Hirsch, CEO and Richard M. Hirsch, Past President/COO, Gold Eagle Co., Chicago. Financial Entrepreneur Of The Year -- John W. Rogers, Jr., Founder, Chairman & CEO. Ariel Capital Management, Chicago. Services Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Carolyn J. Gable, President, New Age Transportation, Elk Grove Village. Retail/Distribution Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Madolyn Johnson, Founder & President, The Homemaker's Idea Co., Elk Grove Village. Socially Responsible Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Sister Rosemary Connelly, R.S.M., Executive Director, Misericordia/Heart of Mercy Center, Chicago. The Illinois winners are now eligible for the National Entrepreneur Of The Year awards which are designed to honor outstanding owners of fast-growing companies who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. The national search will culminate at a black-tie awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 23, 2002, where national finalists and the National Entrepreneur Of The Year award winners will be announced and celebrated by more than 1,500 attendees. Previous Entrepreneur Of The Year award winners have included a virtual "Who's Who" of business leaders, such as Michael Dell of Dell Computer Corporation, Jim McCann of 1-800-Flowers.com, Steve Case of America Online, Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee, and Scott Kriens of Juniper Networks. The most recent winner (2001) was Dr. Phillip Frost of IVAX Corporation, a pharmaceutical company based in Miami, Florida. Ernst & Young has been joined by local sponsors LaSalle Bank and Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman, as well as by national sponsors, USA Today, CNN, The Nasdaq Stock Market and the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The distinguished panel of independent judges who chose the regional award finalists include: -- Robert Abt, President, Abt Electronics -- Greg Butler, President, Market Day Corporation -- Joseph T. Charles, President and CEO, Charles Industries, Ltd. -- Ronald T. Jedlinski, President, Roman, Inc. -- Larry Levy, Chairman and CEO, Levy Restaurants -- Laura P. Pearl, General Partner, Frontenac Company -- John Shave, President & CEO, Globalcom, Inc. -- James C. Tyree, Chairman and CEO, Mesirow Financial PROFILES -- 2002 AWARD RECIPIENTS Master Entrepreneurs Of The Year (companies in business more than five years) -- Carl Korn, Founder & Chairman and James R. Bazet, President & CEO, Cobra Electronics Corp., Chicago. Develop or die! That's the philosophy of Jim Bazet and Carl Korn, and as a result Cobra Electronics develops at least one new product a year and has become a global manufacturer of mobile communications products. Carl Korn founded the company that would become Cobra in 1954 as a manufacturer of electronic testing equipment for industrial applications. In the 1960s, the company became one of the first makers of Citizens Band radios for the consumer market, to be followed later by cordless phones and radar detectors. Jim Bazet joined the firm in 1998 and has helped lead the company to a five-fold increase in net income. Jim made the bold decision to exit the low-margin cordless telephone business and aggressively pursue the two-way radio market. Another key has been a successful focus on expanding retail placement both domestically and globally. Cobra is a leader in every one of its markets, and has been named to Forbes Top 200 Small Companies for the past two years. Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year (companies in business less than five years) -- Paul J. Galeski, P.E., Chairman & CEO, Maverick Technologies, Fairview Heights. Entrepreneurship is more difficult the second time around, says Paul Galeski, but the quick success of Maverick Technologies has shown him up to the task. After stints as an engineer with McDonnell Douglas, Monsanto and Anheuser-Busch, Paul founded his first venture, Magnum Technologies, in 1989 with just $6,000. Magnum experienced unbelievable success with revenue growth of more than 1,000 percent in five years. Paul sold Magnum to GE in 1997, but quickly tired of the corporate bureaucracy. He founded Maverick in 1999, then acquired Software Architects, and he was on his way. Maverick has evolved into a unique company assisting its customers with complex industrial automation and sophisticated IT structures. Maverick develops integrated IT solutions "from the plant floor to the annual report." Despite a down economy, Maverick experienced 35 percent growth in 2001 and expects 40 percent in 2002. Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Elaine A. Hodgson, President, Incredible Technologies, Inc., Rolling Meadows. Elaine Hodgson likes to play games, but she's serious about it. So serious that she's led Incredible Technologies to the top-the largest U.S. designer and manufacturer of coin- operated video games. Elaine's degree is in biochemistry, but to pick up some computer skills she worked for a game company. Combining her math and computer skills to develop games and joining with partner Richard Ditton, she founded Incredible Technologies in 1985. Their big breakthrough came in 1996 with the introduction of Golden Tee 3D Golf. They decided to release updated software each year to keep the game fresh, they placed the game mainly in bars and restaurants and they introduced groundbreaking technology that enabled the establishment of an international tournament system that allow players to compete online for cash prizes. These innovations set the game apart from competitors and it is now ranked the #1 coin-operated game in the country with more than 100,000 units sold. Technology Services Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Roderick Walker, President, Knightsbridge Solutions, LLC, Chicago. Rod Walker has been on the front lines of information services consulting and systems integration for more than 30 years. He has held leadership roles at companies with tremendous growth cycles. The four founders of Knightsbridge Solutions launched their company in 1994, building around scalable parallel processing to solve complex, high-volume data management problems. In 1997, when they were looking for ways to take their three-year-old boutique consulting firm to the next level, they naturally thought of Rod, who had mentored them all. Wise choice! Rod focused the service offerings, restructured the delivery organization, recruited a strong management team, expanded geographically, and implemented a strong employee relations program that has drastically cut turnover. Knightsbridge has achieved a nearly 700 percent growth in sales over the past five years and has been named to the Inc 500 list of America's fastest-growing private companies. Manufacturing Entrepreneurs Of The Year -- Robert F. Hirsch, CEO and Richard M. Hirsch, Past President/COO, Gold Eagle Co., Chicago. Lawn mower racing seems like an unlikely way for a 60-year-old automotive products company to gain attention, but that's what Bob and Rich Hirsch founded in 1992 to promote their STA-BIL(R) Fuel Stabilizer. It was an instant hit and has grown into an annual event. Gold Eagle has come a long way since Bob and Rich's dad, Armin, started the company in 1932. When Bob joined the firm in 1958 to help his dad sell it, it had just five employees, 5,000 square feet of space and sales of $200,000. Rich joined in 1968 after practicing law. Today, Gold Eagle has more than 200 employees, occupies its own 200,000 square foot building and has more than $57 million in sales. The company's products prevent and cure engine performance problems, and include well-known names like Heet(R) Gas Line Antifreeze and NO LEAK(R) Premium Sealers. Thinking of others, the brothers have contributed more than $1.5 million to worthy organizations. With a score of 98.5 on the latest Gold Seal employee satisfaction survey, it's obviously a great place to work. Financial Entrepreneur Of The Year -- John W. Rogers, Jr., Founder, Chairman & CEO. Ariel Capital Management, Chicago. As captain of the Princeton basketball team, John Rogers learned leadership, discipline and teamwork -- all attributes that have served him well since founding the nation's first African-American owned investment fund at the age of just 24. With no track record, John started a newsletter detailing his company's portfolio holdings, and soon signed up Howard University as Ariel's first institutional client in 1983. Today, Ariel has 159 institutional clients with more than $9.8 billion in assets under management. Ariel's success is based on its unique philosophy of blending smaller company investing with value investing. John also believes in significant time evaluating the company management's experience, background, education and goals. In 1989, John created the Ariel Foundation to work with inner city youth. The Foundation "adopted" forty 6th graders in 1991 and promised to make college affordable for every student who graduated. With 84 percent graduating and 65 percent attending college, the program was a huge success. Services Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Carolyn J. Gable, President, New Age Transportation, Elk Grove Village. When Carolyn Gable says she began in the basement and worked her way up, she's not kidding. Carolyn was a single mother with two young children, waiting tables to barely stay afloat, when she joined a trucking company as a customer service representative. Finding her niche in sales, Carolyn founded New Age Transportation in the basement of her home in 1989 as a freight brokerage organization. Now, thirteen years later, New Age occupies two buildings in Elk Grove Village and Barrington and is constructing an even larger facility to combine operations in Lake Zurich. The company has expanded into warehousing, distribution, order fulfillment and U.S. customs services. New Age has established a special niche in the cable industry to coordinate the shipments of vendor products between cable equipment suppliers and major cable firms like Time Warner and Cox. Carolyn hasn't forgotten her basement experience, however. She's formed the "Expect A Miracle" foundation to provide financial help for single parents and their children. Retail/Distribution Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Madolyn Johnson, Founder & President, The Homemaker's Idea Co., Elk Grove Village. Madolyn Johnson was well ahead of the current work/life balance initiatives in 1971. A successful school teacher, Madolyn wanted more time with her young daughter. She began selling baskets and decorative accessories in the homes of family and friends, then founded Wicker World Enterprises. Sales grew, but not profits. In 1988, Madolyn closed retail and wholesale to concentrate solely on direct selling. Today, Madolyn heads a company with more than 4,000 independent, mostly part- time, sales representatives nationwide, with another 125 full-time employees at Elk Grove Village headquarters and more than a 1,000 at international factories. Madolyn is providing other women with the means to set their own hours, devote time to their families and still make good money. The Homemakers Idea Company continues its explosive growth. Sales increased 60 percent in the first quarter of this year and in December 2001 the company experienced its first ever back-to-back million dollar weeks. Socially Responsible Entrepreneur Of The Year -- Sister Rosemary Connelly, R.S.M, Executive Director, Misericordia/Heart of Mercy Center, Chicago. As the administrator of Misericordia since 1969, Sister Rosemary has been a leader in providing professional care to persons with disabilities. On its two Chicago campuses, one north and one south, Misericordia/Heart of Mercy Center provides a loving, challenging and dignified environment for more than 500 children and adults with mental disabilities, some also physically challenged. Misericordia/Heart of Mercy is dedicated to the principle that each person should be encouraged to realize his or her maximum potential. This strategy is carried out through loving and intensive educational, vocational, spiritual and recreational programming tailored to each resident's individual needs. Sister Rosemary has received numerous awards over the years, but she continues to look to the future. In her words, "We are no longer willing to accept anything less than a good today and better tomorrow for all people, especially for those who need our help to make this a reality." 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SOURCE Ernst & Young
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