Leaders & Innovators: Peggy FenwickFenwick oversees strategic communications planning, marketing communications, content marketing, analyst relations, and program development planning for technology giants as well as start-ups.
Leaders & Innovators: Camille NicitaCamille Nicita is president and CEO of Gongos Inc. in Auburn Hills. Gongos, which includes Gongos Research and O2 Integrated, provides research on initiatives spanning the entire product and marketing life cycle, and combines enterprise and research knowledge through consultative relationships. Gongos works with corporations such as Coca–Cola, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler. First named to the Inc. 5,000 list of the Fastest Growing Companies in America in 2007, the company was a 2010 finalist in Inc. magazine’s Winning Workplaces and is among the Honomichl Top 50 U.S. marketing research organizations. Gongos is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Under Nicita’s leadership, the company increased revenue growth 12 percent in 2013, and the number of full–time employees increased by 15 percent. During the past five years Gongos experienced 70 percent revenue growth and 70 percent full–time employee expansion. Nicita is vice chair of the advisory board of Michigan State University’s master’s in market research program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and her MBA from Wayne State University. Read the complete profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: John BornotyJohn Bornoty is founder of The Big Salad LLC in Grosse Pointe. The Big Salad is a restaurant chain specializing in custom salads, soups, and sandwiches. Bornoty opened the first Big Salad in in 2008 and now has seven locations with plans to continue rapid expansion. The company has been named a 2014 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” by Michigan Celebrates Small Business, and was recently recognized in Crain’s Detroit Business’ Salute to Entrepreneurs as the winner in the up to $5 million category. Bornoty’s entrepreneurial background began at 15 when he launched T.N.T. Entertainment, a concert promotion company. He was then recruited to join A&M Companies as the special events director, moving quickly to vice president of sales and marketing, where he was responsible for opening more than a dozen offices nationwide, with sales exceeding $20 million. In 1995, he founded Netgroup, Inc., an Internet solutions provider, and the following year also launched Interactive Media Broadcasting Company, which became the first company to broadcast live via the Internet. The Detroit Free Press named Bornoty one of the top five “Star Techies” in Michigan. He also appeared on the cover of Tokyo’s PlayGraph magazine as an American technology innovator. After he retired from Netgroup, he founded Bornoty Holdings to invest in and manage various companies that need help identifying their goals and strategies. Since 2005, he has assisted companies in the technology, insurance, payroll, and food and beverage industries. Bornoty has served as president and board member of the Detroit Executives Association and as a director of Notre Dame High School. Other boards and committees on which he has served include the Young Entrepreneurs Association and the technology committee of the Detroit Athletic Club. He received his bachelor’s degree in marketing and public relations from Wayne State University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: Phillip CooleyPHILLIP COOLEY is co–owner of Slows Bar BQ and Slows To Go and general contractor of O’Connor Development Group LLC in Detroit. Cooley’s latest endeavor is Pony Ride, which provides cheap work space in a 30,000-square-foot Detroit warehouse for socially conscious artists and entrepreneurs. Pony Ride accommodates more than 25 organizations in the space and plans to add more. Cooley and his brother bought their first building several years ago and began renovating it. That led to the formation of O’Connor Development, a real estate and development company, which owns several commercial and residential properties in Detroit. Slows Bar BQ opened in 2005 and has been recognized nationally not only for its menu but for revitalizing a Detroit neighborhood. Cooley has been recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of the magazine's "20 in their 20s" young business leaders. He is on the board of the Architectural Salvage Warehouse Detroit, Greening of Detroit, Roosevelt Park Conservancy, Center for Community Based Enterprise, New Detroit, and the Heidelberg Project. Cooley is also on the advisory board of the ACLU of Southeastern Michigan, the advisory committee of the Knight Foundation (Detroit), and currently co-chairs the Mayor’s Advisory Task Force for the Detroit Works project. He also supports Playground Detroit. Cooley received his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Columbia College in Chicago. Read the complete profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: Jesse VollmarJESSE VOLLMAR is founder and CEO of FarmLogs in Ann Arbor. FarmLogs is an agricultural tech startup that helps farmers digitally manage their farm to increase yield and profitability. FarmLogs’ web and mobile apps bring critical farm data online in real time to help farmers manage and analyze the large amounts of heretofore underutilized data collected from their fields in order to make smarter, more efficient, and more profitable farming decisions. Vollmar grew up on his family's fifth-generation organic row-crop farm in Michigan and started an IT consulting business while still in high school. Under his leadership while a full-time student, FarmLogs grew to more than $350,000 in annual revenue and five employees in less than five years. The company was accepted into Silicon Valley's startup accelerator, Y Combinator and raised $5 million in capital from several notable technology investors. In less than two years, FarmLogs expanded beyond web to mobile and its software is being used by thousands of commercial farms throughout the United States and in 130 countries. The product is used by more than 5 percent of U.S. row-crop farms. FarmLogs recently closed a $4 million Series A round of financing led by Drive Capital with the participation of investors Huron River Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and Hyde Park Angels. Vollmar serves on the advisory committee for the technology and computer curriculum at the Tuscola County Technology Center. He was recently selected by Forbes as one of its 30 under 30. Vollmar received his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Saginaw Valley State University.
Leaders & Innovators: Randy BrodzikRANDY BRODZIK is president and CEO of RedViking in Plymouth. RedViking engineers support Fortune 500 customers in the aerospace, automotive, off-highway vehicles, and defense industries throughout the U.S. and internationally by providing test systems, helicopter test stands, powertrain testing, complete turn-key assembly lines, custom machine and software design, manufacturing execution systems, and process improvement. The company has more than 200 employees at its headquarters in Plymouth and offices in Raleigh, N.C., and Corpus Christi, Texas. Under Brodzik’s leadership, the firm has hired 48 people over the past year with several additional openings to fill. RedViking also recently merged with SuperiorControls, the company that originally spun out RedViking in 2010 to fulfill government contracts. The company values engineering leadership and believes in giving back to the community, with employee drives for Toys for Tots, Gleaners, Operation Homefront, and the Wounded Warrior Project. Brodzik has worked for RedViking since 1990 when the company had fewer than 10 employees. His previous roles include vice president of engineering and senior vice president prior to becoming president and CEO in 2011. He has helped to expand the company beyond being an automotive-only supplier. Prior to RedViking, Brodzik worked for 12 years for General Motors Powertrain Engineering. He received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from General Motors Institute and his MBA from Kettering University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: David CorriganDAVID CORRIGAN is president and COO of Corrigan Moving Systems in Farmington Hills. Corrigan Moving Systems is a relocation company. As the third generation at the helm of the company, Corrigan oversees the $75 million operation, including supervising the management team and all 600 employees. He serves as vice chairman for the board of directors of UniGroup and is an active director of the American Moving and Storage Association. He has been recognized as Mover of the Year by Michigan Movers and Warehouseman’s Association. Recently, United Van Lines presented its President’s Quality Award to Corrigan Moving Systems, recognizing the company as the highest quality mover among its 400 agents. The American Moving & Storage Association selected the company as the “Agent of the Year.” Corrigan Moving has 12 offices in four states, including nine in Michigan. The company’s revenue increased 5 percent and the firm hired more than 200 people in the past year, with 10 percent growth in Southeast Michigan. Over his 35-year career with the company, Corrigan has worked in virtually every position, from cleaning the trucks to his current role. He earlier served as operations and general manager at various Corrigan branches, in charge of dispatching crews and managing finances and personnel. He received his bachelor’s degree in transportation administration from Michigan State University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: Matt WiseMATT WISE is CEO of HelloWorld in Pleasant Ridge. HelloWorld Inc. (formerly ePrize), provides brands with a platform to communicate with consumers across the web, social and mobile channels, and at live events. Wise joined the company as CEO in March 2010. In his first year, he focused on the strategic expansion into mobile and social-enabled solutions, launching a multi-channel platform. Today, HelloWorld brings to market an SaaS platform. In the past three years, the company’s revenue has nearly doubled and its client base has tripled. Under Wise’s leadership, the firm acquired five companies, including promotions.com, and was itself acquired by private-equity firm Catterton Partners. HelloWorld has created promotional campaigns, CRM programs, and loyalty solutions in 44 countries for Fortune 500 brands and world-class agencies, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, The Gap, Live Nation, Yahoo!, and Procter & Gamble. The company has more than 400 employees with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, and Seattle. Prior to HelloWorld, Wise was president and CEO of Q Interactive, which became one of the largest performance-driven ad networks on the web. He was recognized as a Who’s Who technology leader by Crain’s Chicago Business three years in a row. Wise received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Iowa, where he is now on the College of Political Science advisory board, and his master’s degree in international marketing and finance from DePaul University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: Leslie MurphyLeslie Murphy is president and CEO of Murphy Consulting Inc., in Ann Arbor. Murphy Consulting provides services to businesses and professional firms in the areas of corporate governance, enterprise risk management, and programs dedicated to the advancement of women in leadership roles. Murphy also serves as a director of Kelly Services Inc., VSP Global, and the Detroit Legal News Corp., as well as such charitable organizations as St. John Providence Health System, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Early Childhood Investment Corp., Children’s Leadership Council, and Covenant House of Michigan. Previously, she was chair of the board at St. John’s, where she oversaw several initiatives, including a system overhaul providing several million dollars in savings, hiring a new CEO, and the opening of a new hospital. Murphy is a retired partner and former member of the senior leadership team of Plante & Moran, the nation’s 12th largest public accounting and management consulting firm. Her positions included group managing partner in charge of all client services. She co-founded the firm’s Personal Tightrope Action Committee, whose groundbreaking policy recommendations helped Plante & Moran win recognition as one of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. In 2005, Murphy became only the third woman to chair the 350,000-member American Institute of Certified Public Accounting. She continues her service as a member of the AICPA Governing Council, the subcommittee on enterprise risk management of the assurance services executive committee, and the subcommittee on relations with the judiciary. In 2012, she received AICPA’s gold medal for distinguished service, the highest individual award within the profession. Murphy’s other recognitions include the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Fusion Group’s Horizon Award for Professional Services; the American Society of CPAs’ Woman CPA of the Year; an inclusion in Crain’s Detroit Business Most Influential Women in Southeastern Michigan and Health Care Heroes; CPA magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners; and Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Michigan and has honorary doctorates from Walsh College and Cleary University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: John ParmentierJOHN PARMENTIER is president of Paragon Laboratories Inc., in Livonia. Paragon provides chemical, physical, and biological testing services. Parmentier is responsible for developing and implementing the vision and strategic direction of the company. Paragon employs nearly 30 people and serves more than 450 customers, including a number of clients on the Forbes Global 2000 list. The company is experiencing record growth: third quarter revenue increased 11 percent compared to 2012 and the firm recorded its busiest month ever in August 2013. Paragon is capable of performing more than 225 unique analytical procedures and leads the field across a range of substances -- including fuels, lubricants, chemicals, and water -- for various industries to meet quality and regulatory standards. In addition to companies worldwide, the news media has used Paragon’s tests to develop investigative reports, such as on the amount of additives in gasoline. Parmentier has worked with Paragon for more than 16 years in roles of increasing responsibility and has served as president since 2011. He has been instrumental in developing many of the company’s programs, processes, and systems, including its core values and mission statement, For Health and Happiness. Since 2009, Parmentier has introduced several engagement and development programs aimed at empowering Paragon’s employees, vendors, and the organization, helping it to continue to grow in a highly competitive market. The company’s employees also support local charities, such as Toys for Tots. Parmentier himself is fundraising for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. He received his bachelor’s degree in individualized studies with concentrations in marketing management, communications, and economics from Eastern Michigan University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: Michael SharberMICHAEL SHARBER is co-founder and CEO of GreenLancer.com in Detroit. GreenLancer is a national network of green energy engineering freelancers (greenlancers) that uses a web-based system to design green energy systems. Sharber is responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations and serves as the main point of communication between the board of directors, investors, and corporate operations. Prior to starting GreenLancer.com, he held a sales and marketing position with a prominent global industrial supply distributor where he successfully managed 400 accounts nationwide. Under his leadership, GreenLancer.com has grown from three to nine full-time team members and moved to a new location in the David Stott building. The company quadrupled the size of its customer base from 2012 to 2013. GreenLancer.com won the Start-up Alley Challenge at the Solar Power International Conference, was named Emerging Company of the Year by the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Accelerate Michigan Innovation competition. During 2013, GreenLancer.com engineered and designed solar systems in 32 states and six countries while more than 200 contractors used its site. The company also completed a second round of investment in November from Bizdom (Detroit), Start Garden (Grand Rapids), Blue Water Angels (Midland), and Northern Michigan Angels (Traverse City) and expects to close on another $500,000 of investment early in 2014. Sharber received his bachelor’s in business administration from Western Michigan University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: Jim ProkesJim Prokes is co-founder, president, and CEO of MIPRO Consulting LLC in Milford. MIPRO is a consultancy specializing in the implementation, upgrading, and optimization of Oracle’s PeopleSoft applications. Prokes provides strategic direction and drives growth for the firm while overseeing the day-to-day operations. Under his leadership, the company has reported a three-year revenue growth of 118 percent, increasing from $6.8 million in 2009 to $14.9 million in 2012, earning MIPRO a place on the Inc. 5000. Now with about 100 employees, MIPRO has been named a Metropolitan Detroit 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For each of its eight years in existence. The company also has been named a Cool Places to Work in Michigan by Crain’s Detroit Business. Prior to founding MIPRO in 2005, Prokes launched and successfully managed several entrepreneurial endeavors. Previously, he was CFO of Ferrous Processing & Trading, a firm that generated more than $340 million in annual revenue. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lawrence Technological University and his master’s degree in accounting from Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration.
Leaders & Innovators: Carl EricksonCARL ERICKSON is co-founder and president of Atomic Object in Grand Rapids. Erickson oversees operations and client engagements at Atomic Object, which creates custom web, mobile, and embedded software products. He is also the interim CTO of ReapSo; board member and co-founder of Blue Medora; and board member and investor at Varsity News Network. Under his leadership, Atomic Object has grown from three developers to a 45-person team of designers, developers, and support staff. In September, Atomic Object acquired Ann Arbor software development firm SRT Solutions. It also opened an office in Detroit. With $5.5 million in revenue and an average growth rate of 25 percent, Atomic Object was named to Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 three times. The firm has been recognized as one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch by the Edward Lowe Foundation, presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business, and received the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. The creation of Atomic Object followed the failure of a dot-com- era software startup where Erickson was vice president of development. Prior to that, he was a professor of computer science at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) for 10 years. He also was a part-time industrial lecturer at Uppsala University in Sweden and served on the board of the Swedish American Heritage Society for more than six years, part of that time as president. He is a board member of the West Michigan-based Grand Angels, and serves as a member and advisor for GVSU’s CIS advisory board and Business Ethics Center. Erickson received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and master’s and doctoral degrees in computer engineering from Michigan State University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.
Leaders & Innovators: Neetu SethNEETU SETH: Founder and CEO of NITS Solutions in Farmington Hills. NITS Solutions provides custom technology; marketing services such as direct mail, surveys and sales calls; and data-management services to Fortune 500 clients. The company began in staffing services and expanded into data analysis to meet customer demands. Since its inception in 2009, NITS Solutions has increased revenue significantly, projecting up to $2 million this year from $850,000 in 2012 and $400,000 in 2011. The company also has added several employees as it continues its rapid growth. Under Seth’s leadership, NITS Solutions recently has been named one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch. Previously, Seth held positions in e-banking services at ADP and Citigroup. She received her bachelor’s degree from Guru Nanek Dev University in India and her MBA from Eastern Michigan University. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders. (Note: Leaders & Innovators will be on hiatus for the next two weeks due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and will return Tuesday, Jan. 7.)
Leaders & Innovators: Claudine GeorgeClaudine George: CEO and Managing Member of ICONMA LLC in Troy. George oversees the activities of the overall business and promotes diversity initiatives for the staffing, consulting, and managed project services company. George began her career as an IT consultant to the automotive industry. While working at a major OEM, she founded her first company, which matched engineering and IT consultants and clients. Subsequently, George formed ICONMA, which has more than 1,700 employees throughout 25 national and international locations. Starting with staffing services, George has expanded ICONMA into additional service areas, including managed services, which provides web and mobile application development and testing services. Under her leadership, ICONMA has been named to the Inc. 5000 for six consecutive years, with $109.7 million in revenue for 2012, a three-year growth of 106 percent. The company has been recognized as one of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies in North America sponsored by the New York-based Women Presidents' Organization and the small-business division of American Express, as well as a Corp! magazine economic bright spot. George was named an Ernst & Young LLP Entrepreneur of the Year in the staffing and support services category. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. Read the full profile at www.ltu.edu/leaders.