Four Company Leaders Have Plenty to Share

Of the 90-plus BizVoice magazines we have published since kicking off this journey in 1998, nearly all have included a roundtable discussion. Getting four people together in the same room for a 90-minute conversation always proves interesting.

While most roundtables take place in our Chamber offices, I recently traveled to South Bend to meet with four of this year's 33 Indiana Companies to Watch. (The magazine debuts at the awards event on August 22). No reason for each of them to make an approximately three-hour drive to Indy when we could hit the road and accomplish our objective.

This was a very interesting group — excellent representatives of what Indiana Companies to Watch is all about. Taking part were Sportula Products (Warsaw, producer of "hamburger flippers"; you will have to read the article), Royal Excursion (Mishawaka, transportation services), StrataShops (Elkhart, online furniture) and Integrative Flavors (Michigan City, food bases and flavorings). Sportula Products and StrataShops are the newcomers (founded in 2009 and 2008, respectively), Royal Excursion recently celebrated its 15th anniversary and the history of Integrative Flavors goes back to 1938 and supplying Army rations during World War II.

The companies reflect tremendous diversity in what they do, but there are strong similarities in how they have grown and dealt with various business challenges. How is that for a vague teaser? But trust me when I say it was a very good discussion, and I believe you will enjoy the article (online on the BizVoice site and in the interactive version on August 23).

Thanks to Dave, Shannon, Georgeann and John for their participation and insights. Check out the full story in a few weeks. And congratulations to all the Indiana Companies to Watch for 2013. The upcoming issue will help tell their stories.

Awards Time; Companies to Watch Nominations Open

Indiana has a strong array of annual business recognition programs. At the Indiana Chamber and BizVoice, we’re pleased to be deeply involved in two of the best.

The 2012 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies will be recognized at the May 3 awards dinner. The list of 70 companies, honored for their strong workplace cultures, was released this week by the Chamber. The final rankings will be announced at the May celebration.

Starting its 2012 journey is the fifth annual Indiana Companies to Watch program. This initiative is led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation through its Small Business Development Centers. The honorees are high-performing, second-stage, Indiana-based companies that are making a difference. 

Nominations are open through March 30, with applications accepted until April 16. This awards celebration will take place in late August. Full details are available online, with the 2011 BizVoice coverage providing a look at last year’s winners. 

I Think You’re Going to Like This One

OK, I admit I’m a little biased when it comes to the Chamber’s BizVoice magazine. After all, I have been here since day one of the publication back in 1998; it consumes a large part of my days (and evenings and weekends sometimes) and it’s a passion.

But we’ve got a good one coming up. It’s nervous time right now — the final few days before going to the printer. The editing, proofing, fact checking and more always cause a bit of anxiety, but that’s part of the business. As with two of our other issues (Best Places to Work and Annual Awards Dinner), we get to show off the work at a special event in addition to the normal statewide (and beyond) reading audience.

The September-October issue will first be seen August 25 at the fourth Indiana Companies to Watch awards program. We have profiles of all 43 companies being recognized, an interesting roundtable with four of the winners and additional information on the economic impact of these and previous CTW companies.

In addition, there’s a feature section on business deals. We relied on the expertise of about 20 "dealmakers" throughout the state to allow us to put together a package we think you will enjoy. Also, our five-part Workforce Wise series concludes with a look at two workers simply seeking that next career opportunity.

We have a talented communications team at the Chamber. I’m thankful for their efforts and dedication. 

Keeping a Close Watch on Hoosier Success Stories

The BizVoice magazine team is hard at work on profiles and stories related to the 2011 Indiana Companies to Watch program. That included a Monday trip to Warsaw to conduct a roundtable discussion with the leaders of four of this year’s 43 honorees.

It’s always great to sit down and learn what makes organizations shine. Some (maybe a lot of) passion, willingness to take risks and deep caring for the people within their companies are a few of the common attributes typically seen. And Monday was no exception.

I don’t think the 2011 honorees have been officially released yet. But we gathered in Northern Indiana to bring in business leaders from Fort Wayne, South Bend, Elkhart and Rochester (thanks Sam, Bernie, Gregg and Rex). Three of the companies were formed in the last 11 years, while the fourth goes back to 1984. They may be diverse in their types of work, but similar in the good news their success means for their employees, families and communities.

Here is our 2010 Indiana Companes to Watch coverage in BizVoice. The 2011 edition will debut at the August 25 awards event.