Member Spotlight

Andy Loff, Composite Advantage

CEBI member, Andy Loff, is co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Composite Advantage and is responsible for the company’s technology, product development, business development and engineering. Loff is an industry expert in advanced materials processing and product development and holds numerous patents in his field.

The company specializes in the design and fabrication of large scale fiberglass products for the infrastructure markets. The product offerings include bridge decks, fender protection systems, military infrastructure and private label fabrications. The company was founded in 2005 with partner Scott Reeve. Since its founding, the company has grown from a startup, to an industry leader, over the last 13 years.

Before founding Composite Advantage, Loff spent many successful years at National Composite Center, developing technology and products for a wide range of customers. These unique skill sets would be the foundation for the new company’s products and customer base. Composite Advantage incubated at NCC until 2007, when they moved to a facility just north of downtown Dayton. Since then, the company has developed proprietary molding processes and Fiber Reinforced Polymer recipes that make it one of the few advanced material manufacturers able to fabricate very large, highly loaded structures - up to 100 ft. In 2017, Composite Advantage consolidated its 4 manufacturing facilities into one 320,000 square foot facility in west Dayton.

To learn more about Andy Loff and Composite Advantage, click here.


GREENCREST is a full-service integrated marketing agency that offers brand development, strategic marketing planning, public relations and digital marketing. Inspired in 1990, GREENCREST specializes in turning market players into industry leaders.™

CEBI member Kelly Borth recognized a need for privately held businesses to have a chief marketing officer’s voice in their boardrooms. Nearly 28 years later, GREENCREST thrives in this space, working as their clients’ chief marketing officer — propelling these established and emerging businesses to become distinguished category leaders. GREENCREST helps its clients compete at a higher level and elevates its clients’ profiles within the markets they serve so that they are known, heard and recognized.

The business has grown to become an integral part of the Columbus business community and beyond. As a full-service agency, GREENCREST works to define a brand and turn that recognition into increased market share and absolute results. The business is the only certified brand agency in Central Ohio — and one of only 35 in North America.

The GREENCREST staff specializes in all aspects of strategic communications — advertising, thought leadership, public relations, websites and SEO and social media. GREENCREST’s key programs begin with a solid marketing strategy and result in increased market penetration and awareness.

Kelly, who has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership, serves on several local business and non-profit advisory boards. A featured columnist in Smart Business Columbus magazine, she also leads a business development peer group for the Conway Center for Family Business and facilitates marketed-related discussions for The Entrepreneur Institute.

To learn more about Kelly Borth and GREENCREST, click here.

James Jordon, JCC General Contractors

James Jordon’s business interest started at a young age.  He began experimenting with some wild ideas and strategizing on how to bring them to market. He continued building on his entrepreneurial spirit and purchased his first rental rehab as a teenager. Although this initial project was a disaster (i.e., major learning lesson), those setbacks served as a staircase leading to greater opportunities. These resulted in James achieving his ultimate goal, building a corporation.

CEBI member, James Jordon, is the founder of JCC General Contractors. The company is a general contracting firm with documented past performance in construction and facilities support services.  They specialize in commercial interior renovation.  Their team has completed various projects with multiple government, private, and public agencies.  As such, they have experience in dealing with projects of varying complexities.

The JCC team holds the following credentials:

· 8(a) Certified.

· HUB Zone Applicant.

· $5MM Per Project Bonding.

· South Carolina DOT Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).

· South Carolina Governor’s Office State Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).

· North Carolina HUB Zone Certified.

· North Carolina DOT Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).

· 30-Hour OSHA Certified.

· CICTI Certified Health Care Manager (Infection Control).

· United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lead Safe Certified.

· U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Quality Management (CQM) Certified.

JCC was involved in one of the trans-formative projects in downtown Greenville, SC. The project was a 108,000 square feet tenant up-fit of the West Tower at the One Building; the project's value was approximately $20 Million.  The company provides health care construction and has completed the building of a Children's Clinic, up-fit for a Neurology Clinic, and the renovation of 7,000 square feet of corporate office space for the Greenville Health System. JCC also works to support the military and has worked with various government agencies including the Air Force, Army, and Navy. In the last three years JCC successfully completed over 80 projects for the government.

Additionally, in 2016, JCC was selected as the South Carolina Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Minority Business of the Year and the South Carolina Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Service Provider of the Year. 

See the following link for a short video introducing you to JCC:  
JCC at a Glance

Jody Guokas, JAG Construction

CEBI member, Jody Guokas, is the founder and President of JAG Construction.  It is a local company committed to building quality crafted Green homes in the city of Asheville, North Carolina, and the surrounding area. They specialize in exceptionally built custom homes as well as smaller and simpler “JAG Built” homes.  Having a range of construction options allows them to build Green in all price points. They take pride in bettering their neighborhoods and creating sustainable housing that will be here for generations to come. 

Every home JAG Construction has ever built has been certified through Green Built North Carolina. They emphasize Green and energy efficiency in all product selection and in the construction process. Their homes exceed the 15 percent efficiency upgrade required by “Energystar”, typically achieving a 30 to 60 percent energy efficiency premium. Recently the company added a renovation division, which allows for Green upgrades in home updates. Also, as an interested side note, JAG Construction partnered with Scripps Network on the HGTV “Urban oasis” in 2015.

Jody received his BA from Warren Wilson College in 2001 in Environmental Studies and went on to work in both Vermont and Maine for small Timberframe companies. Upon returning to Asheville in 2002, Jody started his endevour into self-employment working for several local contractors, and building a few timberframe structures.

JAG Construction was established in 2003 completing countless rehab and renovation projects in the City of Asheville. Since then, Jody has refined the mission of JAG construction to be focused on infill construction of efficient green-built residential structures. He has a passion for trying to figure out how to provide the highest quality, well crafted home, at a reasonable price. Since 2010, Jody has served as vice chair of the WNC Green Building Council, a nonprofit, with the mission of promoting environmentally sustainable and health conscious building practices.

On the personal side, Jody enjoys time with his wife of four years, and their two young children. They enjoy outdoor activities such as riding bicycles, working in the garden and floating in the creek out behind their house. 

Arjun Dhake, Dhake Industries

Dhake Industries was established in 1979, in Plymouth, MI, by B.G. Dhake. He was a chief chemist at a major paint company and created many patentable paint formulas. Because he had the drive, the knowledge, the experience and the desire, he made the decision to start his own company. He created a company whose focus was on the customer and where quality, innovation and customer care were not just buzzwords. In his mind, this was the only way to do business.

B.G.’s son and CEBI member, Arjun Dhake, is a chemical engineer with a Master’s in Business Administration. He is now the second generation involved in the management and operations of Dhake Industries. Dhake Industries continues to grow, becoming a leading global supplier of interior and exterior automotive coatings – approved for more specifications than most other manufacturers for all the major automobile OEMs. They have become a leading supplier of specialty paint and coatings for engineered plastics all around the globe.

In recent years, Dhake Industries received the Presidential Award for Exports. Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, presented Dhake Industries with the President’s “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The “E” Awards are the highest recognition any U.S. entity may receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

In 2015, Arjun received Oakland County Executive’s “Elite 40 Under 40” Award in recognition of his innovation, talent and leadership.  

To learn more about Arjun and Dhake Industries, click here

Ed Karl,  Pentegra Systems LLC

CEBI Member, Ed Karl, is the Co-Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Pentegra Systems LLC. Pentegra Systems was formed in October of 2000 by Ed and his business partner. The goal was to become the premier systems integrator of converging technologies serving Northern Illinois and the Chicagoland market. The founders each with unique experience and talents began targeting successful niche communication contractors for acquisition.


Over the first several years Pentegra Systems acquired three separate companies, each specializing in their own technologies and served as the foundation of Pentegra Systems. Today, Pentegra Systems provides innovative Audio, Video, Data, Security and telecommunication solutions that converge on an organization’s I/P network.

With unmatched expertise, we excel at design, engineering, installation, training and service.

We welcome complex projects, requests to integrate multiple technologies, tight deadlines and

unusual requirements. Our clients encompass all vertical markets and engagements can vary

from school sound and security systems to large corporate networks and boardroom A/V

systems, to large audio and video systems for entertainment venues.

Currently Ed oversees the sales, administration, finance and strategic planning of the Company.

Prior to Pentegra Systems Ed was the CEO of a $1,000,000,000 asset base diversified holding Company.

Ed is a CPA and started his career in a Big Eight public accounting firm.

Morgan leads one of the largest CFO outsourcing groups in the Dayton, Ohio Area

CEBI member, Seth Morgan, is the President and CEO of MLA Companies and a member of the firm Morgan, Stuckey, Troutwine, CPAs, LLC.  Seth is known for his friendly but direct approach to challenging operations and management through the use of the finance discipline.  As the co-founder and leader of MLA Management Systems, Inc. he has lead the company to being one of the most recognized and largest CFO outsourcing groups in the Dayton, Ohio region.  His previous experiences have included merger and acquisitions operations, internal consulting, controller operations, and general management.

Seth's  experiences have provided him experience in most all areas of small business operations.  These specific skills sets included bank negotiations, compliance audits and negotiation, business valuation experience, risk management, projections and budgeting, and dealing with the pressures and dynamics of small business ownership.

Seth’s path has lead through public accounting, private turnaround efforts, and entrepreneurship.  Additionally, through his efforts in public policy, he has developed an advanced understanding of dealing with people and complex issues and solutions sets. Outside of leading the MLA team which Seth finds as his greatest professional accomplishment, some of his other accomplishments are:

  • Presided over the finance operation of a company that has grown from roughly $8 million to over $20 million in revenue
  • Successfully assisted in negotiations of more favorable finance terms
  • Assisted in the securing of state level funding supporting a major leveraged management buy-out
  • Served in multiple senior leadership roles either at a board level or directly along-side of private company ownership.

Outside of his active professional life, Seth is a sought after speaker, commentator, writer, and policy advisor.  Having served as an elected official at both local and state levels, Morgan has a unique perspective on policies, people and the mutual impact they have on each other.

Roeder Consulting Drives Positive Change

CEBI Member, Tres Roeder, is the founder of Roeder Consulting.  His company drives positive change by helping organizations prioritize and manage strategic projects. They are a full-service strategic change management and project management consulting and training firm located in Cleveland, Ohio. From Fortune 500 clients to mid-size companies. Since their founding in 2001, they have helped clients with their important change initiatives, resulting in increased revenues, efficiencies and/or profitability.

Tres helps organizations change successfully. He has deep industry, consulting and training experience and leads major engagements in areas such as corporate strategy, operations improvement, process improvement and implementation. Industry experience includes serving as Director of Business Process Improvement at American Greetings with prior positions at RR Donnelly and Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Tres is a member of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute and has his PMP, BA in Economics from the University of Illinois and MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He is the author of A Sixth Sense for Project Management and Managing Project Stakeholders.

Tres teaches Advanced Project Stakeholder Management, Dynamic Leadership Skills for Better Project Results, Earn Buy In and Win Support, Implement Strategy and Change Behavior and Project Management Negotiation.

US&S, Inc. 

A Leading Provider of Facility Maintenance & Support Service Solutions

CEBI Member, Richard Hagins, is the President/CEO of US&S, Inc., founded 2003 shortly after serving his country for 23 years as a U.S. Naval Officer and retiring in 2000 with the rank of Commander. The company specializes in operations and maintenance, renovation, repairs, grounds maintenance, janitorial and staff augmentation services based in Greenville, SC. US&S offers an unparalleled level of service for clients and operates at offices and project sites predominantly throughout the southeast United States, serving a variety of markets. Over the past 13 years, the company has established an impressive portfolio of experience and grown to a $20 million company with over 120 employees under Hagins' leadership.

A substantial base of long-term, repeat clients demonstrates the importance placed on building and sustaining relationships through the culture of their people and performance excellence. In the last several years, US&S has been named “Minority Business of the Year” (2006) and “Small Business of the Year” (2014) by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and “Lockheed Martin Outstanding Small Business Partner” (2012). The company is especially excited to be embarking on a strategic direction focused on expanding the company’s presence in the Upstate of South Carolina across the private/commercial market.

Since settling in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1996, Hagins has become an integral part of his adopted home through not only the work of the company, but his unwavering commitment to service. He has previously held numerous community affiliated positions ranging from Treasurer of the South Carolina State Port Authorities (SCSPA) to the Programs Committee Chair for the Greenville Metro YMCA Board. Most recently, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Chairman of the Board for the Blood Connection.

Mr. Hagins received a BS from Savannah State College in Electronic Engineering Technology. He received his MA from Webster University in Management and completed the Executive Education Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

REMEDI Electronic Commerce Group -
Providing B2B Commerce Solutions

Brad Loetz is the President of REMEDI, a co-founder, and one of three principals of the company which was formed in 1994. The company assists clients with systems integration and data exchange among internal client systems and with those of client business partners. Integration solutions for clients involves assisting with automation of supply chain transactions included in Order to Cash and Procure to Pay processes, and synchronizing data among systems.

As President, Brad's responsibilities include strategy formulation and guiding activities in marketing, sales, talent management and operations/administration to execute on strategy and tactical initiatives. As a recovering information technology software developer in manufacturing (Cooper Tire), banking (Huntington Bank) and retail (The Limited), he is often involved in developing Thought Leadership pieces related to integration which are created for distribution via website, blog, or social channels.

Since 1994, REMEDI has endured industry change given the evolution of data transformation tools and standards, communications methodologies, rise of the internet for transactional eCommerce and message exchange, and trappings of the false economies of the DotCom era.

In the early days REMEDI stuck to a somewhat conservative growth model of slow and steady wins the race. The momentum of time, scale, and brand awareness took hold in the mid-2000s. Company growth excelled during this time given global competition, the Great Recession, and the Affordable Care Act, where a contracted contingent workforce became favored strategy to deal with the ups and downs of business and regulations. In addition to the above a heavier emphasis on software resales and deployment services via a relationship with IBM resulted in the company's INC5000 honor in 2008 and 2013.

With the efforts of CEBI member Scott Hulme, former member Tracy Loetz, and dedicated REMEDI associates, the company recorded an all time high in revenue and profit in 2015. Additionally, the company was recognized as a top 3 IBM Partner globally in the group of IBM B2B Commerce solutions in which it resells.

From a personal perspective... Brad is involved with his church, Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and enjoys sports, hunting, aviation, and vacations with his wife and teen boys. Brad received his BBA in Information Systems from The University of Toledo in August, 1989, and his MBA from Capital University in May, 1995.

Tandem Innovative Payment Solutions -
15th Fastest Growing Small Business in South Carolina 

Larry Feniger is the founder and president of Tandem Innovative Payment Solutions, an electronic transaction processing company. The firm delivers payment processing solutions and resources to businesses within the small and mid-sized merchant market (Revenue less than $20mm). Under his direction, Tandem has grown from a one-man shop into five offices in the Southeast and in 2015 was recognized as the 15th fastest growing small business in SC by the SC BIZ News.

In 2009, Larry spearheaded the strategy for fast, accurate and ethical credit card processing services with dedicated, highly trained representatives at the local level. Tandem became one of the first payment processors to employ Certified Payment Professionals and is known for its continuing education classes and workshops.

Prior to Tandem, Larry was director of business banking for The South Financial Group, a bank holding company that had $12.4 billion in total assets and 175 branch offices. He also served as retail banking executive from 2007 to 2008.

Larry is a frequent speaker on financial matters, leadership and entrepreneurship. A Certified Payment Professional, he serves on the Electronic Transaction Association Education Committee that is responsible for seminars, training sessions, workshops, distance learning offerings and classroom-based courses. In Greenville, Larry is a member on the Palmetto Society Board of the United Way of Greenville County. He also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Upstate Inc.

Feniger earned a BS in Management/Marketing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, Larry and his wife, Liza, enjoy watching their children, Kylie and Landon, play sports. He lives by the motto, “You always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Larry enjoys coaching, playing tennis, soccer and running the occasional marathon.

Youngblood Executive Search, Inc. 

Ava D. Youngblood, Chief Executive Officer of Youngblood Executive Search, Inc., has over 25 years of corporate and recruiting experience. In 2002 Youngblood founded Youngblood Executive Search, Inc. (YES), a retained executive search firm which helps clients identify, recruit, develop, and retain wisdom-driven, innovative leaders. YES conducts searches for
senior executives and board members, and differentiates itself by presenting to clients a highly qualified, inclusive, and diverse slate of candidates with demonstrated leadership skills. 

Youngblood founded Youngblood Executive Services to assist clients with executive development and retention. The firm provides clients access to certified executive coaches, image consultants, executive wardrobe services, communications coaches, and fitness coaches.

Prior to her executive search career, Youngblood spent nineteen years in the global energy/petrochemical industry with BP (Amoco) in various roles with increasing levels of responsibility ranging from research and development, operations planning & logistics, quality management, sales and marketing, executive development, strategic planning and competitive intelligence.

In addition to an active professional career, Youngblood is involved in the community. She is currently a member of the advisory council for Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering, the advisory council for Northwestern's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and a member of Northwestern's Council of One Hundred. She was formerly a Northwestern University trustee, president of the Northwestern Alumni Association, and president of Northwestern's Women's Board.™ For her many years of distinguished service to Northwestern, Youngblood was awarded Northwestern?s Alumni Service Award in 2009.

Youngblood also serves on the boards of Herzing Educational System, Herzing Educational Foundation, Communities in Schools of Chicago (CISC), Communities in Schools' national board, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and the Booth School of Business' Black Alumni Association at the University of Chicago.™ Her professional organizational memberships include The Marathon Club, The Economic Club of Chicago, and The Fortnightly of Chicago.™ In addition to being a frequent guest speaker, Youngblood has been featured in the book Mothers Lead Best, and in numerous magazines including Business Week, Forbes, Working Woman and Information Technology.

Youngblood earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University, and an MBA at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. She and her husband, Haj Gueye of HAJ Designs, live in Chicago. They have five children.

Deerfield Construction - Management Focused Company Continues to Thrive

Steve Bitzer is the second generation President of Deerfield Construction Company, Inc. in Loveland, OH. The company's mission:  Deliver quality construction through unmatched service and commitment.

Deerfield Construction Company is family owned. Founded by Joe Bitzer in 1981, he began providing commercial general contracting services. Deerfield performed with its own crews doing concrete, masonry, rough and finish carpentry, structural fabrication and erection. Rapid growth during 1988 and 1989 required company leadership to rethink their strategy moving forward. 

Major change #1: Deerfield expanded its geographic region of work and started building for nationally recognized customers, mainly east of the Mississippi River. This strategy resulted in a six year revenue growth averaging 35% per year. This type of rapid growth does not come without risk and challenges. 

Major change #2: Steve Bitzer took over as company president in 1998, making changes in management and company structure. Deerfield sold a carpentry company and closed a structural fabrication and erection company to become totally management focused. The goal was to build relationships with national organizations in retail, restaurant, grocery store, truck stops and others, with growth goals that would allow Deerfield to build projects in an expanded region of the US. Deerfield is now licensed and registered to work in 37 States throughout the US.

Steve is married to his wonderful wife Barbara, has five children and recently welcomed his first grandchildren, twin girls, to their family. Steve plays organized, competitive, adult baseball in Cincinnati and enjoys going to the shooting range with his kids.

Up & Up, A Purpose-Driven Digital Marketing Firm

You may know Merge and Adam Landrum from his "Building Your Business on No" CEBI talk. Although he initially built his business on 'No,' he has taken the concept of being laser-focused to rebrand his company based on his passion for helping people. Merge is now Up&Up, rebranded to better align to the the firm's values of being a purpose-driven digital marketing firm.

Up&Up lifts up brands that lift up people. Over 50% of Up&Up's clients are higher education institutions (which help improve student's lives through education), including Auburn University, the University of Georgia, Florida State University, Clemson University, the University of Kentucky and other notables like Ohio University and George Mason University in Washington DC.

Adam leads a team of 14 employees that serve organizations that serve people. Up&Up's mission is to impact people's lives by connecting them to the good our clients do.

As Adam continues to build a purpose-driven company, he's also building a purpose-driven family. He recently celebrated 18 years with his wife, Shely, and is integrally involved in his four kid's lives, by coaching soccer, leading cub scouts, and leading and hosting his church community group in their home.

Adam and Shely recently bought a 20,000 square foot building in Greenville, SC to be branded "Society Hall," which will house Up&Up and other businesses that positively impact the community.

Building Customized Homes for More than 40 Years

CEBI member John Tammaro is the president of Alan Simonini Homes, LLC, in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the region’s most respected renovation and home building companies. He is the third generation to continue the Simonini family legacy, by leading the company started by his grandfather nearly 40 years ago.


Simonini builds one-of-a-kind custom homes, as well as luxury homes from its architectural portfolio. In addition, a renovation division was created nearly 15 years ago in response to a demand by their existing custom homeowners.  Today, the renovation group provides a full spectrum of quality renovations, ranging from bathroom remodels to complete home renovations/additions. John’s team is a collection of the most experienced and talented individuals in the homebuilding industry; a group that is passionate about building and renovating homes of the highest quality, delivering exceptional design and unmatched client service.


Their national, regional and local recognition spans a host of categories such as home design, neighborhood design, client satisfaction, ethics in business, and many more. But of all their awards, those that mean the most recognize how Simonini Homes makes homebuilding a positive experience for their clients.  The Simonini team is the only one in the region to have won the coveted “Triple Crown” of builder awards, National Builder of the Year, America’s Best Builder and the National Housing Quality Gold Award.


Since graduating from Purdue University with a degree in Building Construction Management, he has continuously worked in the construction industry. He grew up in Highland Park, IL and moved south where he met his wife Jennifer. John, his wife and their three children, live in the town of Davidson, NC, where they enjoy boating and being outdoors. He is an avid snow skier and loves traveling with his family. John is a member of many community service organizations and is a licensed General Contractor and NCRE Builder.

Simonini Homes

Stephen Kowalski & Kowalski Heat Treating's Love for PIA (Pain in the @#$) Jobs!

CEBI member Stephen Kowalski is the President of Kowalski Heat Treating located on the “north shore” in Cleveland Ohio, overlooking beautiful Lake Erie.  Founded in 1975 by Steve’s father, Robert Kowalski in a small part focused 3,000 sq. ft. facility. 

This year KHT celebrates its 40th anniversary, in a growing business which includes 35 employees and five world-class distortion sensitive thermal processing divisions operating in six integrated campus buildings.

Always responding to customer opportunities and changing market opportunities, Stephen leads an ongoing strategic review of the company, focused on KHT’s Three P’s – Plants, Process and People.  Continuous improvement initiatives drive investments into cleaner and better technology, regular staff training and TQM manufacturing efficiency improvements, focused on solving each customer’s most difficult heat treating needs.  Multi-million dollar investments have been made throughout the company over the past 5 years helping solidify services to local, regional and national companies and attract “the big boys”.  

Dedicated to quality and on-time delivery, today KHT is providing improved thermal processing services to more regional and national OEMs and specialty vendor clients with better people and higher consistency and performance standards. 

With employment and business up over 25%, Kowalski Heat Treating continues to operate around its central promise – “A Family Business from the Past and for the Future.”  Stephen lives his ingrained family values by treating all customers right, training and protecting his people, investing in the local community, solving customer’s problems, standing behind a firm handshake and the meaning of a “Kowalski” promise, and having a little fun along the way. 

Stephen is the incoming President of the ASM- Heat Treat Society and stays involved in his local community as Past President of Bay Men’s Club, Bay High Athletic Boosters. He and his wife Jackie of 31 years have four grown daughters and they are enjoying being quasi empty nesters! 

14,000,000 Baby Shoes Bronzed by American Bronzing Company

CEBI member Bob Kaynes is the owner of the Bron-Shoe Company in Columbus, Ohio.  Bron-Shoe is a manufacturer with just over 30 employees that provide two unique services to their customers.  One is Keepsake Bronzing (mostly baby shoes).  Bob markets this business under the name American Bronzing Company…exclusively online.  The company has bronzed over 14,000,000 baby shoes since the company's inception. 

Bob’s grandmother founded the company in 1934.  She was truly the “mother of Baby Shoe Bronzing” and was the first to make a commercial business providing this service to sentimental parents.  Through the years, Bob has had to reinvent this business to keep up with the times.  As he says, “memories and sentiment are timeless…so this business, if promoted properly…should last well into the future.”

In the 1950’s, Bron-Shoe began restoring silver heirlooms for sentimental families who wanted to either use the restored silver again when they entertained…or at least restore it so they could pass it along to the next generation with love.  They have grown to become the largest silver restoration business in the USA…and Bob has had to reinvent this side of the business as well.  In 2008, he transitioned from having jewelry stores take in, send and receive the customers’ restored silver orders (no control by Bob) to having specially-trained sales reps (his employees) do very limited-time in-person promotions at those stores to drive business (Bob has almost complete control).  This has allowed him to see strong sales growth in this division over the past 4 years.  For an idea of how this division works, check out

Bob is a long-time member of CEBI and the Columbus Rotary Club.  He has served on various boards of directors and enjoys open-wheel racing…especially Indy cars.

Bob and Randy, his wife for over 33 years, have two grown daughters and their first grandchild on the way…scheduled for arrival in September, 2015.  


Sean Steimle, Dayton Business Journal, Top 40 Under 40

CEBI member, Sean Steimle, president of Hartzell Air Movement, recently recognized by Dayton Business Journal Top 40 under 40.  A message that has driven his career has been "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you aredoing the impossible", by Saint Francis of Assisi.  In his quest for being influential and impactful to his organization, he has always kept this quote in the forefront of his mind to inspire Hartzell and its customers 


As Hartzell reinvents itself, it also recognizes and appreciates its heritage that the company’s foundation is built on.  Since 1927, when Hartzell first engineered the propeller fan, the Hartzell name has been synonymous with quality air moving equipment.  Hartzell Air Movement first built heavy-duty industrial fans using an airfoil blade. Through the years, the company has developed industrial and general ventilation fans using metal, fiberglass and other materials to serve the needs of its customers in five key markets: heavy industry, water and wastewater, high technology/ semi-conductor, marine and power generation.


Hartzell is headquartered in Piqua, Ohio.  The company’s lean culture is part of a robust infrastructure focused on innovation and quality. Hartzell strives to not only be the first at it what it does, but also the best.  It is ISO 9001:2008 and ABS-certified. It also operates an AMCA lab and all testing is performed to AMCA requirements. 


Hartzell’s success starts with the sales and marketing team which supports customers domestically and internationally, as well as through OEM channels. Hartzell Air Movement also provides key support to customers with engineering and design team and a fully equipped research and design lab.  The group manages 60+ representatives which investigate, design, and support products in key markets. 


Hartzell exists to meet a core ideology of providing an industry, community, and employees with a meaningful sense of quality, value, and commitment. It’s commitment to doing what is necessary will help them to begin to achieve the possible and soon what was once impossible becomes achievable.

95 Years of Serving Clients' Insurance Needs

CEBI member, Roger Brooks, is a partner in one of the largest independent national insurance firms in the country, NFP (National Finance Partners).  The firm understands that every client is unique.  By understanding a client's individual situation (including family, work, philosophy and experiences) the firm is able to provide effective advice. NFP is dedicated to serving active and retired business owners.

In 1919, this firm started as Schwartz Brothers Insurance, a Property & Casualty firm.  The company was family owned until the mid 1990's.  New partners bought the firm, the Managing Partner approached Roger, and he became a partner in January 2003.  While the firm has always been headquartered in Chicago, Roger has remained in sunny North Carolina or South Carolina. 

The firm has grown exponentially by adding an employee benefit division and an estate planning/executive benefits division. Much of the growth occurred through strategic alliances with CPA firms, law firms, trust companies and banks. NFP is the exclusive provider of insurance services for BKD (the 11th largest CPA firm in the country), Northern Trust and PNC Bank.  They are also one of three firms serving the top tier clients of BNY Mellon.  

Roger is a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).  He is on the Board of the Forum 400, the most elite group of insurance professional in the country.  He also serves on Pacific Life's Advisory Council and has done the same for AXA and Sun Life in the past. 

He is a member of the Greenville Downtown Rotary, the Greenville Estate Planning Council, the Greenville Area Development Corporation and The Greenville Chamber of Commerce.  Roger and his wife of 40 years, Patti, have three grown children and three granddaughters. 

Advanced Diamond Technology Leads a New Era of Manufacturing Innovation

CEBI member, John Yerger, has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Illinois-based Advanced Diamond Technologies Inc. (ADT) since 2011, where scientists and business leaders have teamed up to leverage the unsurpassed characteristics of diamond for the benefit of electronic, industrial, biomedical and environmental applications worldwide.

ADT was co-founded in 2003 by Argonne National Laboratory scientists Dr. John Carlisle, Dr. Orlando Auciello, and Argonne’s former Illinois Technology Enterprise Center Executive Director, Neil Kane, to harness the versatile capabilities of nanodiamond technology. Until recently, it had been impossible to capture the unequaled qualities of diamond in a thin film that delivered reliable results. This has changed in large part due to the work completed at ADT’s labs in Romeoville, Illinois.

ADT has engineered a proprietary technology that harnesses the properties of natural diamond in an ultrananocrystalline, thin-film form known as UNCD®. The thin vapor-deposited film is applied to traditional engineering materials to imbue them with the many unique properties of diamond.

UNCD improves the performance of a broad range of products and applications, including diamond-faced hydrodynamic bearings and mechanical seals for industrial equipment.  In a carbon fiber factory, seals coated with ADT’s UNCD have run for over two years compared to non-UNCD seals, which never lasted over three weeks.  ADT’s water treatment systems have dramatically improved water disinfection. Using only the original water flow and power, the electrodes destroy pathogens and toxic pollutants such as biocides, pharmaceuticals and petroleum hydrocarbons much more effectively and safely than delivered hazardous chemicals.

Since Yerger joined ADT, the company has grown from a primarily research and development company to become a world leader in diamond film technology by focusing on emerging markets and making the needs of its customers a top priority. ADT, which has earned four R&D 100 Awards, was named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer in 2007 and was a finalist for a 2013 Chicago Innovation Award.

Prior to ADT, Yerger was president and CEO of both San Diego-based SMS Technologies and Total Electronics in Logansport, Ind., and Reynosa, Mexico, where his leadership doubled the value of those companies. Yerger, who has been a CEBI member for two years, earned BS, MSE and MBA degrees from Cornell University, and received the Richard Hall Award for Leadership Excellence from the Supplier Excellence Alliance in 2010.

With Yerger’s extensive business management experience (almost 30 years) and ADT’s groundbreaking developments in diamond technology, ADT is poised to realize significant growth, particularly in industrial and environmental applications, in the years ahead.


Locks Since Lincoln

Howard ("Howie") Smith, a long-time CEBI member, serves as President of Wilson Bohannan Lock Company. It is the oldest family owned padlock company still producing padlocks in the United States.

The company was founded in 1860 in Brooklyn, New York, by Wilson Bohannan and his son, Todd. They began by making mechanical locking devices in their garage. Before Wilson Bohannan passed away on February 22, 1896, his patented padlocks could be found worldwide. He enjoyed a fine reputation for his "well built" padlocks. His business was left to his family so that future generations could follow in his footsteps. In 1926 the company was moved to Ohio to be more centrally located to its customer base.

By the late 1930's, Wilson Bohannan Lock Company introduced its first "pin tumbler" mechanism padlock. This new padlock allowed for many more key changes and, for the first time, master keyed systems were offered.

The market for padlocks was also changing. New highways filled with freight trucks were quickly absorbing electric railways. Now the focus was on public utilities, and they remain to this day, the largest consumer of Wilson Bohannan padlocks. By the late 1950's the company introduced its first extruded solid brass padlock. This new weather resistant padlock was designed for outdoor utility usage and are still being produced today.

Now, 155 years later, the company is still thriving. Smith is the sixth generation to manage the company and both of Smith’s daughters and their husbands work in the business.

Company Thrives the Ages by Changing with the Times

CEBI member, Reiff Lorenz, serves as president of Lorenz Publishing Company.  Founded in 1890, The Lorenz Corporation has a vibrancy that belies its age.  The business has been family owned and operated continuously since inception. 

During its long history, Lorenz has survived two major crises. The first was World War I.

At that time Lorenz was publishing mostly in the German language. There was such hatred for the German people and customs that all of the anthems had to be translated into English and re-engraved, and new copies were printed. This process almost bankrupted the company. The second crisis was the Great Depression. The only thing that saved the company was that church attendance grew, and church choirs needed more copies of the music that was already in their libraries due to much larger choirs.

In the 1940's the company pioneered the introduction of handbell music to the United States and a decade later started a printing business to manufacture its own products. It was one of the first print-music publishers to use high-tech punchcards to automate warehouse functions.  Most recently it entered the general education market with Lorenz Educational Press, and the company's presence is already being felt. This was accelerated by the acquisitions of The Teaching & Learning Company and Milliken Publishing.

The Lorenz Corporation's 60+ full-time employees mostly work in the Dayton, Ohio printing, warehouse, and fulfillment facilities. Here, Lorenz prints its own products as well as publications from many other publishers.Long an industry leader in technology and applying it to improved business practices, Lorenz embraced a commitment to Lean Manufacturing principles in 2005. In 2009, The Lorenz Corporation turned its attention to ensuring that employees remain the finest in the industry with an impressive company-wide and -funded education initiative.

Previous Member Spotlights:

Each year the Dayton Business Journal recognizes the top 100 companies in the Dayton, Ohio area. Three CEBI member companies have been named to this list.  They include Acculube, CB Manufacturing and Brower Insurance. 

   Marilyn Kinne, Acculube           Chuck Biehn, CB Manufacturing        Jeff Lightner, Brower Insurance


In-Flight Crew Connections Wins Inavero's 2014 BEST - Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) February 27, 2014


In-Flight Crew Connections announced today it has been named as one of Inavero’s 2014 Best of Staffing® Award winners. Founded in 2002, In-Flight Crew Connections is the leading full-service aviation staffing service for operators of business class jets. The award is presented in partnership with CareerBuilder. The fifth annual Best of Staffing Award provides the only statistically valid and objective service quality benchmarks in the industry, revealing which staffing agencies are delivering the highest satisfaction levels to their clients and part-time employees.

Less than two percent of all staffing agencies in North America receive the Best of Staffing Award for service excellence. Utilizing the Net Promoter® methodology, the 2014 Best of Staffing winners achieved satisfaction scores more than double the industry average rated them a 9 or 10, compared to just 35 percent for the average staffing agency.

This stark contrast in scores is a clear indication that the firms who have earned the 2014 Best of Staffing Award truly stand out for their service quality. In-Flight Crew Connections received satisfaction ratings of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 70.6 percent of their part-time employees, significantly higher than the industry’s average of 53 percent. 87.1 percent of their clients

“We are thrilled to win these awards in both categories. It is a huge honor to be recognized by our clients and part-time crew members for the work that we do for them,” said In-Flight Crew Connections CEO and founder, Jennifer Guthrie. “I am so proud of my team because they are the ones that have made it all happen!” 

"The staffing industry is helping organizations bridge the skills gap and add jobs today more than at any other point in U.S. history,” said Inavero Founder and CEO, Eric Gregg. “Between the well documented skills gaps and economic uncertainty, partnering with a top staffing agency is more important now than ever. The 2014 Best of Staffing Award was earned by fewer than 2% of the more than 12,000 staffing firms in the U.S. and Canada.

In an era of scarce qualified talent, hard to fill positions, and ever-increasing expectations these firms have proven they have what it takes to deliver exceptional service to both clients and job candidates. We're proud of the accomplishments of our 2014 award recipients."

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