SOUTHFIELD — Dan Behm, president and co-founder of Open System Technologies, an IT firm based in Grand Rapids, has been named the Grant Thornton Leader & Innovator of the Year.
The award was announced at Thursday night’s reception at Lawrence Technological University, which co-sponsors the annual award along with Grant Thornton LLP, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report. Behm was chosen from nearly 50 nominees profiled during the past 12 months in GLITR.
The Leaders & Innovators program was developed in 2005 by Lawrence Tech to recognize Michigan business and nonprofit executives who are engaged in cutting-edge professions and industries expected to be key to Michigan’s economic future. The profiles that appear on Tuesdays in GLITR are edited by Matt Roush, who served as master of ceremonies at the reception.
“The collective work of the individuals recognized this year is truly changing opportunities and diversifying the economy in our state. They are an inspiration to us all,” said Lawrence Tech President Lewis Walker.
Founded in 1997, OST was originally a computer hardware sales company. Under Behm’s leadership, OST has become a $68 million technology company driven by software and service in four growing economic sectors: health care, manufacturing and distribution, finance and insurance, and enterprise technology.
OST is an employee-owned company with an award-winning culture. Its professional IT offerings include application development, managed services, and data center products and services. It builds custom apps for businesses, provides outsourcing of server and storage administration, and helps large companies optimize the performance, availability, and capacity of their servers and storage.
Over the past three decades, Behm has worked with more than 500 customers and partners in the technology marketplace and now uses his broad experience to help OST customers make transformational changes to enable them to compete in the marketplace.
In 2011, he won the Ernst &Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Michigan and Northern Ohio in the technology category. He serves on the advisory board for the HP division of Arrow ECS, an $800 million distributor of HP hardware and software.
Behm serves on the Metro Health Foundation in Grand Rapids, and OST supports local community nonprofit agencies such as Steepletown, Kids’ Food Basket, Supper House, and many others.
After graduating with honors from Michigan State University, Behm spent 10 years with IBM as a senior buyer, manufacturing and systems engineer, and advisory sales rep, before co-founding OST.
In accepting his award, Behm said it’s possible to look at parts of Michigan and “feel like we lost our heart …. there are still places where it’s painful, and a lot of people are still out of work.” But he said he now believes “Michigan is really starting a turnaround. It’s been a long 10 years, but the sun is starting to shine through.” And he said entrepreneurial business is a major part of that recovery.
At OST, he said, “we talk about our people being first, the customers being second, and everything else will follow, including profitability. Customers have asked, ‘How can we be second?’ But the reality is, if we really take care of our people, then they really take care of the customers, and you don’t have turnover.”
Besides Behm, the following executives were profiled by GLITR for the Leaders & Innovators program during the past 12 months:
* Hortensia Neely Albertini, owner, president and chairman, Global LT, Troy
* Gregory Basso, managing partner, Basso Design Group, Troy
* Karlin Bohnert, CIO, Retail Grocery Inventory Services LLC, Auburn Hills
* Bobby Bringi, president and CEO, Michigan Biotechnology Institute, Lansing
* George Brostoff, CEO, Sensible Vision Inc., Covert
* Paul Chambers, co-owner and CEO, Core3 Solutions, Birmingham
* David Dorner, founder and president, DornerWorks, Ltd., Grand Rapids
* Diane Durance, executive director, Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest, Ann Arbor
* Lena Epstein Koretzky, co-owner and general manager, Vesco Oil Corp., Southfield
* Bob Fish, co-founder and CEO, Biggby Coffee, East Lansing
* Steve Futrell, founder, CEO and president, Technology Solutions LLC, Livonia
* Paul Glantz, founder and CEO, Emagine Entertainment Inc., Troy
* John Gongos, president, Gongos Research, Auburn Hills
* Jennifer Grieco, partner, Neuman Anderson P.C., Birmingham
* John Harding, founder and president, Current Motor Co., Ann Arbor
* Jim Hiller, president and CEO, Hiller’s Markets, Southfield
* Paul W. Hillman, partner and director, Conway, Dierking & Hillman Inc. (CDH), Grand Rapids
* Paul Horst, CEO, Algal Scientific Corp., Plymouth
* Sean Hurwitz, CEO, PixoFactor, Southfield
* Ken Kousky, president and CEO, IP3 Inc., Saginaw
* Bhushan Kulkarni, chairman, GDI Infotech and president and CEO, InfoReady Corp., Ann Arbor
* Rachel Kuntzsch, founder and president, Kuntzsch Business Services Inc., Grand Ledge
* Jason Lambiris, founder and CEO, Apex Digital Solutions Inc., Sterling Heights
* Emile Lauzzana, founder and executive director, Energy Works Michigan, Ann Arbor
* William Lichwalla, president and CEO, Plante & Moran CRESA LLC, Southfield
* David Marino, president and owner, Vision Computer Solutions, Northville
* James McKim, founder and chief scientific officer, CeeTox, Kalamazoo
* Jane McNamara, president and CEO, GreenPath Inc., Farmington Hills
* David Miller, president, Duo-Gard Industries Inc., Canton Township
* Matt Mosher, co-founder and CEO, HiredMYway.com, Birmingham
* Sandy Munro, founder and CEO, Munro & Associates Inc., Troy
* Jason Raznick, founder and director, Benzinga, Southfield
* Dale Royal, chairman and CEO, Unitask Software, Bloomfield Hills
* Peter Schmitt, chief marketing officer and chief strategy officer, Dialogue Marketing Inc., Troy
* Kevin Schnieders, CEO and president, EDSI (Educational Data Systems Inc.), Dearborn
* Jason Schreiber, president and CEO, Spectrum Broadband, Lansing
* Christophe J.-P. Sevrain, founder and CEO, CJPS Enterprises LLC, Auburn Hills
* Michael Souders, president and COO, Logicalis, Auburn Hills
* Lisa Toenniges, owner and CEO, Innovative Learning Group, Royal Oak
* Pam Turkin, founder, Just Baked Cupcakes, Livonia
* Bradley Wardell, founder, president and CEO, Stardock Corp., Plymouth
* Jim Wineman, founder and CEO, Wineman Technology, Inc., Saginaw
* Brent Yax, president and CEO, Awecomm Technologies LLC, Troy
* Lorne Zalesin, founder and CEO, My Insurance Expert, Troy
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student groups and NAIA varsity sports.