Meet the 2023 Midwest honorees
Congratulations to our region’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® winners, who were selected by an independent panel of judges based on their demonstration of long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes. Finalists were recognized and winners were announced during the regional celebration.
Regional winners went on to compete for National recognition. National finalists and winners were announced during the National awards gala.
Executive Chairman and CEO
AIT Worldwide Logistics
AIT Worldwide Logistics is a global freight forwarder that helps its customers grow by expanding access to markets all over the world where they can sell and procure raw materials, components and finished goods. For more than 40 years, the Chicago-based supply chain solutions leader has relied on a consultative approach to build a global network and trusted partnerships in nearly every industry, including aerospace, automotive, consumer retail, food, government, health care, high tech, industrial and life sciences. Backed by scalable, user-friendly technology, AIT’s flexible business model customizes door-to-door deliveries via sea, air, ground and rail — on time and on budget. With expert teammates staffing more than 100 worldwide locations in Asia, Europe and North America, AIT’s full-service options also include customs clearance, warehouse management and white glove services.
Bill Waltz Jr.
Atkore is forging a future focused on serving the customer and powering and protecting the world. With a network of manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide, Atkore is a leading provider of electrical, safety and infrastructure solutions.
Our Electrical segment manufactures high-quality products used in the construction of electrical power systems primarily for the nonresidential construction and renovation markets, as well as residential markets. Our Safety & Infrastructure segment designs and manufactures solutions for the protection and reliability of critical infrastructure within construction and industrial markets.
The quality of our products, strength of our brands, our scale and national presence provide what we believe to be a unique set of competitive advantages that position us for profitable growth. Our mission is to be the customer’s first choice by providing unmatched quality, delivery and value based on sustainable excellence in strategy, people and processes.
Braviant Holdings is a leading provider of online credit products and services for underbanked consumers. Its team of FinTech veterans, technologists and data scientists has developed a next-generation approach to lending that combines breakthrough technology with cutting-edge machine learning to transform how non-prime consumers access credit online. Braviant's growing suite of financial products look beyond a traditional credit score to help deserving borrowers access the credit they need in the short term and achieve better long-term financial outcomes as they build credit history and graduate to lower rates over time on Braviant’s Path to Prime®. Braviant has been recognized repeatedly as a top place to work by Crain’s, American Banker and Built In Chicago and has been named multiple times to the Inc. 5000 and Deloitte Fast 500 lists.
CEO and Founder
Founded in 2002, BrightStar Care is a national home care agency with more than 370 corporate-owned and franchised locations that provide medical and nonmedical home care services, as well as supplemental care staff to external businesses. BrightStar Care agencies across the country employ more than 15,000 caregivers and 5,700 registered nurses who oversee the care and safety of each individual client. Medical staffing is a large pillar of BrightStar Care’s services; its agencies offer personnel support to hospitals, nursing homes, doctors' offices, labs and more. Female-founded and led by CEO Shelly Sun, BrightStar Care is committed to making home care more accessible by offering a higher standard of care to keep individuals safe while aging in place. As a further commitment to its mission, BrightStar Care is a member of Moving Health Home, a coalition aimed at changing federal and state policy to enable the home as a clinical care site. BrightStar Care's superior clinical outcomes have been evidenced by data and third-party validators, as well as its network-wide Joint Commission accreditation. BrightStar Care has consistently received The Joint Commission's Enterprise Champion for Quality award for more than a decade.
Crash Champions is a leading provider of high-quality certified collision repair services, operating a lineup of more than 600 locations across 36 states and the District of Columbia. The company is currently one of the fastest-growing multi-shop operators (MSOs) in the US and today stands as the third-largest collision repair organization in the country.
Crash Champions was originally founded in 1999 and quickly established a reputation for high-quality repairs, personal service, and being one of the most desirable and rewarding employers in the industry. The company continues to thrive with its focus on operational excellence, employee satisfaction and giving back to local communities.
Today, Crash Champions proudly operates as the only founder-led MSO in the industry. In 2022, founder and CEO Matt Ebert was named the MSO Executive of the Year by BodyShop Business magazine. It is also recognized as a Level One partner with the National Auto Body Council®, regularly partnering with the organization to give back to the industry and local communities through vehicle giveaways and training classes with first responders.
CEO and Co-Founder
Kin is the only pure-play, direct-to-consumer digital insurer focused on the growing homeowners insurance market. Kin makes homeowners insurance more convenient and affordable by eliminating the need for external agents. Kin’s technology platform delivers a seamless user experience; customized options for coverage; and fast, high-quality claims service. Behind the scenes, Kin utilizes thousands of data points about each property to provide accurate pricing and produce better underwriting results. Kin is a fully licensed carrier that offers coverage through its reciprocal exchanges, which are owned by its customers.
Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants
2023 National winner
Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants is an independent, family-owned restaurant group based in Chicago that owns, manages and licenses more than 110 restaurants in Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, Nevada, California, Texas, Virginia, Florida and Washington, DC. It was founded in June 1971 by Richard Melman and Jerry A. Orzoff with the opening of R.J. Grunts, and today, thanks to the creativity of its partners, the company proudly serves guests at more than 60 concepts ranging from fast casual to fine dining restaurants.
Peterman Brothers is a family-owned residential services company. The company provides HVAC, plumbing and electrical services to homeowners across central Indiana from its six locations. Over the past five years, Peterman Brothers has grown from a small team of 50 team members to a team of more than 600 people. In 2020, Peterman Brothers founded the Peterman Top Tech Academy where, in 2023, the company will train more than 150 new technicians in the trades. With a focus on training and development, Peterman Brothers works to create a place where people can grow personally in order to provide the best possible service to its customers.
Rabine is a group of businesses focused and innovating in facility construction, maintenance and technology. Its technology platform, SITE Technologies, founded by Austin, is the fastest facility assessment tool in the world. SITE works with the largest property owners and managers in the world in all 50 states and 10 different countries. Rabine performs asphalt/concrete paving, roofing, snow removal, HVAC/mechanical services, doors and docks services, and technology-driven property assessments using drones and artificial intelligence all servicing commercial, retail and industrial facilities.
Rabine has offices in Schaumburg, Chicago, Richmond, Palatine, Illinois; District Heights, Maryland; and Dallas, Texas. One of the company's businesses, Rabine America, works in all 50 states paving parking lots all over the US. SITE Technologies, its facility assessment business, consults and assesses more than 10,000 facilities per year in eight different counties.
The Planet Group
2023 National finalist
The Planet Group consists of a group of related global consulting organizations and renowned staffing brands and has been purposefully built to address the professional services needs of leading companies in the technology, diversified energy and engineering, infrastructure, accounting and finance, human resources, health care and digital marketing areas.
ProPharma's purpose is to improve the health and wellness of patients by providing advice and expertise that empowers biotech, med device and pharmaceutical organizations of all sizes to confidently advance scientific breakthroughs and introduce new therapies. As the world’s largest research consulting organization, ProPharma partners with its clients through an advise-build-operate model across the complete product lifecycle. With deep domain expertise in regulatory sciences, clinical research solutions, quality and compliance, pharmacovigilance, medical information and R&D technology, ProPharma offers an end-to-end suite of fully customizable consulting solutions that de-risk and accelerate its partners’ most high-profile drug and device programs.
President and CEO
West Chicago, Illinois
Titan International, the leader of both the Titan and Goodyear Farm Tire brands, offers a full line of wheels, tires and undercarriage products for a wide variety of off-the-road equipment, used in agriculture, construction, earth-moving and forestry. With a network of dealers all over the world, Titan is a global brand that original equipment manufacturers and operators can count on for durable products and quality service.
Customer satisfaction is the hub of the business, and the ONE Titan model guides the action of the team, promoting honesty, collaboration and accountability to earn the respect and trust of the customer. These actions govern the day-to-day operations, driving innovation, opening communication and seeking new information.
Titan International has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 1994.
Founded in 2001, Vivid Seats is a leading online ticket marketplace committed to becoming the ultimate partner for connecting fans to the live events, artists and teams they love. Based on the belief that everyone should “Experience It Live,” the Chicago-based company provides exceptional value by providing one of the widest selections of events and tickets in North America and an industry-leading Vivid Seats Rewards program where all fans earn on every purchase. Vivid Seats has been chosen as the official ticketing partner by some of the biggest brands in the entertainment industry, including ESPN, Rolling Stone, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Vivid Seats also owns Vivid Picks, a daily fantasy sports app. Through its proprietary software and unique technology, Vivid Seats drives the consumer and business ecosystem for live event ticketing and enables the power of shared experiences to unite people. Vivid Seats has been recognized by Newsweek as one of America’s Best Companies for Customer Service in ticketing.
2023 Midwest finalists
Julie Ross is the President and CEO of Advanced Clinical.
Advanced Clinical is a research services and strategic resourcing organization committed to providing a better clinical experience by delivering comprehensive CRO, FSP and strategic resourcing services that optimize effectiveness for both patients and sponsors throughout the clinical research journey.
Dennis Devine is the President and CEO of Alliant Credit Union.
Alliant is the original challenger financial institution. Challenging the banking status quo is in their DNA, and they’ll never stop disrupting it — always for the good of their members. Alliant is all-digital, with zero physical footprint outside its corporate headquarters in Chicago.
Alliant is a national digital credit union that is rapidly innovating to provide an industry-leading value proposition for its growing member base of 750,000+ members.
Alliant is now recognized as Best Overall Credit Union by the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, and CNBC.
Scott Mayer is the Chief Executive Officer of Ambulatory Management Solutions.
Ambulatory Management Solutions (AMS) began in 2007 when Mobile Anesthesiologists, already a decade into pioneering a safe, cost-effective anesthesia model for office-based procedures, brought all administrative and business services in-house to meet the growing demands of the clinical practice. The move proved successful. In 2011, AMS was spun off from Mobile Anesthesiologists under the leadership of CEO Scott Mayer and became an independent MSO. Today, AMS and its practice-partners lead the industry, having delivered care to close to a million patients, and continue as the innovators of a care model that offers turnkey anesthesia, perioperative and administrative services for outpatient surgical procedures, all focused on the “quintuple aim” of value-based care: health equity, clinician well-being, and the pursuit of better health, improved outcomes, and lower costs.
AMS is passionate about its own continuous process development while also growing regionally and nationally to be the largest office-based anesthesia and perioperative service platform in the country. The AMS team continues to be committed and proud of what the office-based surgical setting can offer patients, physicians and the community.
Gregory Harris is the CEO of Backhaul Direct.
Backhaul Direct is an innovative 3PL provider, managing the global acceleration of ecommerce and the increasing pressure on the supply chain through innovative solutions and personalized service.
Ryan O'Donnell is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ballyhoo Hospitality.
Ballyhoo Hospitality is the destination for feel-good dining. Founded by longtime hospitality industry veterans Ryan and Anna O'Donnell, Ballyhoo delivers the restaurant experience that guests crave. By pairing inspired menus with a unique ambiance, Ballyhoo focuses on all things quality — from the meals to the atmosphere and, above all, the service. Ballyhoo is redefining neighborhood dining throughout Chicago and the North Shore including with Gemini, Coda di Volpe, Old Pueblo Cantina, Sophia Steak, Pomeroy, Buck Russell’s and Pizza by Sal and continues to expand to more communities.
Ryan Close is the Founder and CEO of Bartesian.
Bartesian is the first-ever intelligent cocktail maker using capsules that contain the real, premium ingredients for on-demand, perfectly crafted cocktails. Bartesian creates Premium Cocktails on Demand™ with the customer's choice of spirits at customizable strengths. Behind the company is a group of innovative designers, engineers and mixology enthusiasts working together to elevate the cocktail experience. It is a winner of various awards including 2020 and 2023 CES Innovation Awards, The Knot Registry Award and the Good Housekeeping Best Innovation of 2020 Award and has been selected as one of Oprah's Favorite Things.
Bartesian can be purchased at Bartesian.com or in major retailers including Macy's, Williams-Sonoma and Kohl's. More than 50 unique cocktails are available with new recipes like Espresso Martini, Pomegranate Margarita, and Painkiller debuting regularly. Each fully recyclable Bartesian cocktail capsule is packed with the highest quality juices, bitters, extracts and ingredients needed to make the perfect cocktail in seconds.
Jeff Meredith is the CEO of Chamberlain Group.
Chamberlain Group, a Blackstone company, is a global leader in smart access solutions across residential and commercial properties. Its prominent brands LiftMaster®, Chamberlain®, Merlin® and Grifco® are found in millions of residential and commercial access applications across the globe. Its innovative products and partnerships, powered by their myQ® smart technology, provide customers with smart access solutions to move safely through garages, homes, communities, businesses and storage facilities. Chamberlain Group pioneered vehicle-to-home connectivity through patented technology aboard hundreds of millions of vehicles. Chamberlain Group includes Controlled Products Systems Group, a leading wholesale distributor of perimeter access control equipment in the US, and Systems, LLC, one of North America's leading dock leveler manufacturers.
David Stern is the CEO of Experity.
Experity is the leading software and services company for on-demand health care in the US urgent care market, providing an integrated operating system complete with electronic medical record, practice management, patient engagement, billing, teleradiology, business intelligence and consulting solutions. Nearly 50% of the US urgent care market runs on Experity solutions. With Experity, providers can best meet the demands of the evolving on-demand space and deliver high-quality, high-velocity care by streamlining operations, improving patient experiences and optimizing revenue. A GTCR portfolio company, Experity’s leadership comprises growth-minded urgent care experts and business leaders committed to improving on-demand healthcare for all.
Scott Fitzgerald is the CEO of FitzMark.
FitzMark is a 3PL company headquartered in Indianapolis, IN. In addition to the fast organic growth over the last three years, FitzMark has made seven acquisitions in the past five years.
Stephen Hagerty is the Founder and President of Hagerty Consulting.
Hagerty Consulting is an emergency management consulting firm that helps clients prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Established in 2001 and incorporated in July 2002, Hagerty’s work includes some of the nation’s largest recovery projects, including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Michael, and the Camp Fire (among other major disasters). Our professionals have further supported disaster preparedness and response across the nation, including major preparedness initiatives for the federal government and 45 different response and recovery missions associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. The firm is (and has been) consistently recognized throughout the industry for its innovative thinking, client-centric service, and the superior results it delivers to every project. Hagerty professionals reside across the United States in all 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regions. Our corporate headquarters is in Evanston, Illinois, and we have offices across the nation.
Frank Ravndal is the CEO of HAVI.
HAVI is a global, privately owned company that connects people with ideas, data with insights, supply with demand, restaurants with deliveries and, ultimately, people with the products they love. Whether we are sourcing, storing or delivering products, we bring unmatched category expertise and unrivaled operational excellence, combined with powerful digital analytics and insights. Founded in 1974, HAVI employs more than 10,000 people and serves customers in more than 100 countries. HAVI’s business units include Supply Chain, tms and Stanley. Our portfolio of businesses offers best-in-class sourcing and supply chain capabilities, brand-defining marketing and promotion services and innovative consumer products.
Bob Oros is the Chairman and CEO of Hightower Advisors.
Hightower is a wealth management firm that provides investment, financial and retirement planning services to individuals, foundations and family offices, as well as 401(k) consulting and cash management services to corporations. Hightower's capital solutions, operational support services, size and scale empower its vibrant community of independent-minded wealth advisors to grow their businesses and help their clients achieve their vision of “well-th. rebalanced.” Based in Chicago with advisors across the US, the firm operates as a registered investment advisor (RIA).
Patrick Trippel is the CEO of Inventus Power.
Inventus Power manufactures lithium battery and charger products for a broad range of industries. They are the largest company in the United States and one of the largest in the world in the market.
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren is the CEO of LanzaTech.
Headquartered in Skokie, IL, LanzaTech transforms waste carbon into materials such as sustainable fuels, fabrics, packaging, and other products. Using a variety of waste feedstocks, LanzaTech’s technology platform highlights a future where consumers are not dependent on virgin fossil feedstocks for everything in their daily lives. LanzaTech’s goal is to challenge and change the way the world uses carbon, enabling a new circular carbon economy where carbon is reused rather than wasted, skies and oceans are kept clean, and pollution becomes a thing of the past.
Kevin Williamson is the Chief Executive Officer of RJW Logistics.
RJW Logistics Group is a leading provider of end-to-end retail logistics and consolidation services for the entire US retailer distribution network, out-performing by getting its customers' products to the retail shelf faster, with greater accuracy, and at a lower overall cost. Their unique operational model and single-node inventory strategy generates a more consistent flow of goods to shelf with lower inventory requirements, fewer supply chain redundancies, and higher in-stock levels. RJW Logistics Group owns and operates the entire middle mile, including transportation, warehousing, and proprietary technology, to offer guaranteed capacity, transparency, and oversight that drives decision-making and improves control. Their teams are true experts who possess deep retailer knowledge to help customers comply with strict requirements and create the most resilient, efficient supply chain. With a full suite of in-house services, we’re able to generate efficiencies, contribute to a sustainable supply chain, reduce costs and lead times, and drive scorecard performance — benefitting not only the customer, but the retailer and the overall global supply chain as well.
David Meirick is the CEO of Roadsafe Traffic Systems.
RoadSafe Traffic Systems is a supplier of products and services in the roadway safety industry. Its customers are a cross-section of government agencies (city, county and state), General contractors, tier 1 railroads and national, regional and local utilities and their contractors. They provide workzone traffic control, signage and roadside hardware, pavement markings and ancillary products and services into the roadway railroad and utility space. They operate out of over 60 locations spread across the continental US, working in every state but Alaska and Hawaii.
Jeffrey Shapack is the Founder and CEO of Shapack Partners.
Shapack Partners is a Fulton Market-based, multi-asset class real estate development company that acquires, repositions, develops and invests in properties throughout Chicago. With an expertise in acquisition, design, leasing and development, Shapack focuses on office, residential, hospitality, retail and restaurants.
Shapack created Fulton Market District in 2014, converting a former leather belt factory into Soho House Chicago, serving as the neighborhood’s catalyst. The firm is an instrumental force behind transforming Fulton Market into a morning, noon and night Central Social District and the fastest-growing office market in the US.
After catapulting Fulton Market into a branded neighborhood with defined geographical boundaries, Shapack seized the opportunity to develop and bring to the neighborhood innovative brands, hotels, start-ups and headquartered companies centered on food, design, hospitality, art, culture, technology, financial services and commerce. Shapack's projects include Soho House, WeWork Fulton Market flagship location, The Parker Fulton Market, Shake Shack, The Hoxton Hotel, 811 Fulton and 167 Green.
Shapack continues to develop in Fulton Market and other Chicago neighborhoods.
Robert Onorato is the Chief Executive Officer of Shorr Packaging.
Shorr Packaging is an industry-leading, award-winning distributor of packaging products, equipment and services. It represents the best-known packaging product manufacturers and brands in the industry and is one of the largest independent packaging distributors in the nation. Founded in 1922, it is an established, employee-owned company with a long history and success record, all attributed to one simple principle — listen to the customer.
John Williamson is the CEO and Co-founder of Songfinch.
Songfinch is the leading music creator platform enabling anyone to choose from thousands of professional musicians to create one-of-a-kind, custom songs.
Frank Tortorella Jr. is the President of TAFCO Corporation.
TAFCO is a vertically integrated, best-in-class manufacturer and provider of a wide range of high-quality window systems, as well as a very large variety of injection-molded products that target consumers’ need. TAFCO has self-owned manufacturing campuses in both China and the United States.
Jamie Teets is the CEO of Transportation One, LLC.
Transportation One is a results-driven transportation company that offers full-service, multi-model logistics solutions. Transportation One focuses on retail, food and beverage, consumer products and goods, and OEM verticals. Our pioneering and spirited team is dedicated to exceeding the demands of a continuously evolving environment for our shipper and carrier partners alike.
Creating success is their passion, which has 360-degree meaning. They want success for their Transportation One teammates, customers, vendors and most importantly — the communities which Transportation One supports.