Northwest Indiana is blessed with solid businesses guided by visionary leaders. Even when the economy has been dismal, the region’s business leaders have found new ways to succeed, better products to deliver, innovative services to offer.
But business success is just part of what it really means to be an exemplary leader of the business community. Excellence in leadership must be complemented by dedicated mentoring along with generous community and civic contributions. These kinds of attributes are what have landed these standouts on our list of the region’s top CEOs, CFOs and business leaders.
We compiled this list with lots of help from you, our loyal readers. We solicited nominations online, and were overwhelmed by the time many of you took to tell us about the peers you admire. Below and on the pages that follow, we’ll share some of the superlatives that you submitted in support of these worthy leaders. Congratulations to each and every one of our honorees!
Speros A. Batistatos-South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, Hammond
Speros Batistatos has headed up the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority for more than 16 of his 30 years in hospitality. He has increased the budget of the organization tenfold and facilitated the construction of one of the nation’s premier visitor centers, the Indiana Welcome Center. Under his leadership, the organization was listed among the state’s top workplaces by the Indiana Chamber. Batistatos founded the Lake County Gus Macker Charity Basketball Tournament that raised more than $300,000 for local youth charities, serves on numerous tourism-related organizations and non-for-profit community boards, and has assumed the responsibilities of the Gary Air Show.
David A. Bochnowski-Peoples Bank, Northwest Indiana Bancorp, Munster
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Peoples Bank, which was founded by David Bochnowski’s grandfather. Since David took over as chairman and CEO in 1981, the bank has grown from four to 12 locations, increased in asset size from $128 million to $690 million at the end of June 2010, and remains profitable despite current economic challenges. He was inducted into The Times Business and Industry Hall of Fame this year in recognition of his business success and community commitment. Moreover, U.S. Banker magazine recently listed Peoples Bank among the top 200 performing community banks in America for the sixth consecutive year. A community activist, he serves as treasurer for the Munster Community Hospital and board member of the Community Healthcare System. He is a board member of the Legacy Foundation of Lake County, a director of the Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council, a trustee of the Purdue University Technology Center and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Peoples Bank provided in-kind contributions and financial assistance in 2009 to more than 230 community projects and, over the last 25 years, has channeled some $4 million into charitable contributions and community support. As chairman of the American Banker Association’s Government Relations Council, he provides input on legislative decisions that affect all consumers and impact bank customers. Yet to his customers, David Bochnowski is only a phone call away. He still takes customer calls in the office or at home.
Mark Chamberlain-Lakeside Financial Group LLC & Lakeside Wealth Management Group LLC, Chesterton
After retiring as a trader in Chicago, Mark Chamberlain opened Lakeside Wealth Management in Chesterton, where he offers financial planning, risk management, estate and tax planning, and Investment Management. His vision for the company is evident its core values and mission, including integrity, trustworthiness and accountability. He believes that everyone has a civic duty to be active in the community, and he leads by example. His civic contributions include service on many boards of directors including the Duneland Education Foundation, LaPorte Regional Health System, Duneland Chamber of Commerce and the Duneland Economic Development Corp. Mark Chamberlain and Lakeside Wealth Management have received a number of important awards—the company was one of 19 small businesses in Indiana to be awarded the Economic Development through Entrepreneurship Award, and Chamberlain was one of three finalists for the Indiana Small Business Development Center’s 2009 Small Business Persons of the Year.
Gene Diamond-Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., Northern Indiana Region, Mishawaka
Gene Diamond is responsible for the operations of five hospitals in Northwest Indiana: Saint Margaret Mercy Hammond, Saint Margaret Mercy Dyer, St. Anthony Medical Center, Saint Anthony Memorial and Franciscan Physicians Hospital. His leadership has been instrumental in the growth and success of all five institutions. Diamond has been able to meet the identified needs of patients with integrated approach to health care delivery, in partnership with excellent physicians. Diamond is a mission-focused leader always looking for innovative approaches for addressing the unmet health needs of neighbors in Southeast Chicago, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan communities.
Craig Dwight-Horizon Bank, Michigan City
Hard work and solid business acumen paid off for Craig Dwight, who began his career in 1979 as a Horizon Bank branch manager and by 1998 accepted the CEO position when total assets were less than $400 million. Under his leadership, Horizon soon saw steady decade-long record earnings—with asset growth from $532 million in 2000 to $1.5 billion in 2010—and an expansion of its service area from eight branches in two Indiana counties to 22 branches in seven Indiana and southwest Michigan counties. In addition, he improved Horizon’s efficiency ratio from 70.2 percent in 2000 to 60.4 percent in 2009 and in the past five years oversaw two bank acquisitions. His leadership has moved Horizon from the “pink sheet” to a listing on NASDAQ as well as to an impressive ranking of 93 out of the “Top 200 Community Banks and Thrifts” (December 31, 2009). The bank has had ten years of record earnings, even in 2009 when the banking sector as a whole was in significant turmoil. Perhaps Dwight’s greatest achievement is how he’s perceived by others. Colleagues have called him intelligent, level-headed, thoughtful and ethical—a man who respects employees’ input by spurring debate and encouraging a work-life balance. In addition, he urges employees to volunteer by leading through example, including board service with the Sisters of St. Francis Health Services, the United Way of LaPorte County, the Michigan City Economic Development Corp., the board of directors of Saint Anthony Memorial’s Medical Staff Affairs/Quality Improvement Committee, and as Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City 2010/2009 Campaign Drive co-chair. Finally, he supports corporate giving through fundraising and employee time to support the economic and social development in areas served.
James W. Fleming-Aero Metals, LaPorte
James Fleming, who died in July at age 75, repeatedly demonstrated the attributes of a great leader and innovator. He led his company from a home garage startup to a world-class precision casting operation. His concern for his employees and their families was consistent, and he shared his leadership in countless ways to make Northwest Indiana a better community. He also was also active in local organizations and charitable causes, particularly LaPorte Hospital and its foundation
Mark Maassel-Northwest Indiana Forum, Portage
Mark Maassel is the recently retired president of NIPSCO, who is now president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum. He has a distinguished record with NIPSCO and has long been committed to Northwest Indiana. He has been on the board of directors of a number of nonprofit organizations in the region, and has been involved in economic development activities and devoted many hours to local improvements. Maassel is a natural consensus-builder.
Stephen A. Massa-Golden Technologies, Valparaiso
Co-founding Golden Technologies as a side venture while working in the process technology group at Bethlehem Steel, Stephen Massa has since grown his company into a 50-employee force that continues to set standards for technological innovation in Northwest Indiana. He also serves on the board of several charities and community-oriented agencies, including the Valparaiso Rotary Club, Porter-Starke Services Inc. and the Porter County Museum of History.
Ian McFadden-Methodist Hospitals, Gary and Merrillville
In just one year, Ian McFadden, was able to reverse six years of operating losses and post a surplus of approximately $3.4 million in 2009. He quickly assembled a highly experienced senior leadership team that implemented a vigorous and ongoing analysis of hospital operations and expenses. They identified potential areas for improvement and made the necessary changes as fast as possible. McFadden and his leadership team enacted an operational improvement plan that yielded more than $28 million in savings. Revenues were increased by negotiating favorable managed care agreements while expenditures were reduced on service contracts, including a new pharmacy service contract that saved the hospital $1 million. Most important, financial performance was improved without sacrificing patient care. In fact, Methodist continues to earn recognition of its quality of care from numerous national organizations, including the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, the American Cancer Society, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, HealthGrades, the American Heart and Stroke Association and the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program.
Christopher J. Murphy III-1st Source Bank, South Bend
Chris Murphy III has guided 1st Source through the roughest financial period since the Great Depression. The bank is rated as a five-star institution, the highest possible rating from Bauer Financial, and was ranked eighth out of the top 150 best performing banks in the country (Jan 2010) by Bank Director magazine—a reflection of overall strength, capitalization, profit/loss trends, soundness and financial stability. Murphy has run the corporation with a steady hand, avoiding pitfalls and never chasing the quick buck, and he has kept the bank's and clients' best interests in mind for the long term. He’s deeply involved in the community and the state of Indiana as a member and past chairman of the Indiana Higher Education Commission, a board member of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System, and chair of the Medical Education Foundation for the Indiana University Medical School South Bend at Notre Dame. He was named the 2010 Distinguished Business Leader of the Year by the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce.
Michael G. Rippey-ArcelorMittal USA, East Chicago
A steel industry veteran, Michael G. Rippey serves as president and CEO of ArcelorMittal USA. Rippey manages the U.S. leadership team and business functions such as finance, procurement, sales and marketing, and human resources. When the company merged to create ArcelorMittal in mid-2007, Rippey provided critical leadership to integrate U.S. facilities, including flat and plate steel operations. A member of the senior leadership team since 1998, Rippey began his career with Inland Steel in 1984. A Dyer resident, he is highly involved with several community efforts, including the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Children’s Home + Aid, the Kelley School Dean’s Council at Indiana University, and the Metal Service Center Institute board.
Rocco Schiralli-Porter Starke Services, Valparaiso
Rocco Schiralli has a human side to management, which empowers his staff and allows the organization to grow and expand well beyond its normal means. Among his recent accomplishments are the establishment of a new Portage facility and ties to healthLink for holistic health care. His creation of a working relationship with the city of Valparaiso to jointly confront substance abuse will pay future dividends. He also helped solve management issues at an area homeless shelter.
Michael E. Schrage-Centier Bank, Merrillville
Michael Schrage is the fourth generation of his family to run Centier Bank, and has been a banker for more than 38 years. In that time he has grown Centier to include 44 branches in four counties in the region. It’s a strong community bank, typically placing first or second in market share in the communities it serves. And it’s a prime place to work—the bank recently was ranked at the top of the Indiana Chamber’s Best Places to Work ratings. During the recent downturn, Schrage was committed to keep the bank independent, and it weathered the storm without downsizing or taking government funds. Centier and the bank’s employees are strong supporters of a wide variety of philanthropic, service, leadership and volunteerism efforts, with Schrage setting the example. He has been a strong advocate for Northwest Indiana by providing leadership to the Northwest Indiana Symphony, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Calumet Council of Boy Scouts, JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes and the American Heart Association.
G. Thor Thordarson-LaPorte Regional Health System, LaPorte
G. Thor Thordarson is a progressive, positive influence on not just the LaPorte Regional Health System but the community as a whole. He is active with employees on a day-to-day basis, and makes a point to get to know all 1,500-plus employees by name. He also serves the local board of directors for the United Way. Thordarson actively participates in community health fairs and events to promote a positive health change in the local community, leading by example as he regards his own health and wellness as a major priority. An avid runner, Thordarson is passionate in every area of his life, from participating in the Iron Man challenge to supporting work through his church.
Brad Toothaker-CB Richard Ellis-Bradley and Real Estate Management Corp., South Bend
Brad Toothaker continues to make his presence known in the Michiana and greater South Bend community. He has pushed his group of companies forward through challenging economic times, nearly doubling their sizes since taking charge eight years ago. His energy, passion and respect among peers make him an outstanding asset to not only to CB Richard Ellis-Bradley and Real Estate Management Corp., but also to the community and his industry.
Toothaker, who has earned the Certified Property Manager designation through the Institute of Real Estate Management, has been highly involved in a number of organizations: past president, Indiana Commercial Board of Realtors; past president, Building Owners and Managers Association Michiana; board member, Indiana Association of Realtors; member, National Association of Realtors; and member, International Council of Shopping Centers. He’s also chair-elect of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce board of directors and chair of the United Way Annual Campaign past president of the Madison Center Foundation. He is currently on or has served on executive committees for Downtown South Bend Inc., National Brownfield Association (Indiana Chapter), South Bend Symphony board of directors and the Broadway Theater League board of directors. And he has provided consultation for the TRANSPO, South Bend Airport Authority and City of South Bend board of directors.
Theresa Valade-Success Trek Inc., Valparaiso
Success Trek Inc. focuses on the process of getting individuals and organizations “unstuck” in a more comprehensive, energetic, fun and efficient way. Its bright and hardworking CEO is Theresa Valade, who has not only built her own successful company but also has been instrumental in the success of other Indiana businesses by changing their pre-existing perceptions and helping them to develop solutions leading them into the future. Since 2006, she and Success Trek Inc. have donated more than $42,000 in services and contributions to many Northwest Indiana nonprofits.
Linda Woloshansky-Center of Workforce Innovations Inc., Valparaiso
Linda Woloshansky is always willing to take on challenges and find solutions. She works tirelessly to help individuals get jobs or upgrade their skills to improve their careers. She has been in workforce development for more than 30 years and serves on multiple community boards. Her latest endeavor is to keep as many of the Portage Adult Education sites up and running after the Portage Township School Board decided late in May to close these sites. All of this is taking place is a timeframe of less than three months.
Susan Bublitz-Center of Workforce Innovations Inc., Valparaiso
Susan Bublitz handles the books for not only the Center of Workforce Innovations but also for the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board. She was recently commended by the auditing firm for both companies for exceptional integrity, performance and accuracy, and her strict adherence to all of the rules and regulations required in this line of work. She is past president of the Forum of Indiana Financial Officers, and her volunteer work benefits such organizations as the Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, 4-H and the Girl Scouts.
Loren Chandler-Methodist Hospitals, Gary and Merrillville, Indiana
Loren Chandler was CEO Ian McFadden's right-hand man during the organization’s financial turnaround period, focusing on careful spending, transparency and accountability. The financial turnaround was accomplished without any significant increase in Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments from the state of Indiana, which provide extra funding to hospitals that fill critical roles as safety-net hospital institutions. Methodist received $40 million in 2009, similar to the payments it received in the two preceding years.
Jeffrey P. Costello-Memorial Health System Inc., South Bend
Jeff Costello is a highly dedicated individual and a great leader, with an excellent rapport with all of his direct reports and colleagues. Through hard work and focus he was able to help navigate the organization successfully through the very difficult market downturn of 2008, taking advantage of new and innovative opportunities to advance the organization. He also contributes to the community as a board member of community foundations as well as national hospital committees.
Mary Idstein-Porter-Starke Services Inc., Valparaiso
Despite numerous cuts in Medicaid funding, Mary Idstein worked with the organization's leadership to minimize devastating effects and minimize any impact on client services. Her long-term planning has allowed the organization to make numerous improvements to its physical plants, and she was instrumental in the construction of a new satellite facility in Portage. She recently completed her tenure as Valparaiso school board president, which included oversight of the selection of a new superintendent. She has assisted Housing Opportunities and Christian Community Action with the transition of the Spring Valley Shelter, serves on the board of Housing Opportunities and also on various committees for the city of Valparaiso.
Jim Lipinski-Northern Indiana Region of Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., Mishawaka
Jim Lipinski does an amazing job coordinating the complex areas of health care finance and reimbursement for Saint Margaret Mercy Hammond, Saint Margaret Mercy Dyer, Saint Anthony Medical Center, Saint Anthony Memorial and Franciscan Physician Hospital. He has a solid understanding of federal and state health care finance, and also is a mission-focused leader helping the organization find innovative ways to help address the unmet needs of patients across the region.
Business and Community Leaders
Joann Birdzell-St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago
Joann Birdzell presides over a large organization with tireless dedication, vision and leadership. She takes time to recognize all of the various teams that work together to carry out her mission. Her skills are calmly displayed as she administers her duties on a daily basis with staff and others. She takes well-deserved pride in her organization.
Howard Cohen-Chancellor, Purdue University Calumet, Hammond
Since becoming chancellor in 2001, Howard Cohen has directed and enabled Purdue University Calumet to achieve and distinguish itself in unprecedented ways, including transformation of Purdue Calumet from a commuter campus to a residential campus with the development of campus-based, student housing (apartment suites) for nearly 750 students. He guided the university as it embraced experiential learning as a graduation requirement for all undergraduate students, and as it developed an Academic Learning Center in Merrillville/Crown Point to welcome residents in and near southern Lake County into the higher education experience. The university has introduced centers and institutes that addressing various regional concerns, such as the Purdue Calumet Water Institute, Energy Efficiency & Reliability Center and Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation. Chancellor Cohen is respected and admired by educational peers and leaders of business and industry, and through his leadership the university has not only grown in enrollment to a record-setting 10,000-plus students, but also has emerged as a progressive and vital component of Northwest Indiana change, improvement and advancement.
John Gorski-Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana Inc., Munster
A look at the record of the Community Foundation and its accomplishments confirms that John Gorski is an outstanding businessman. He serves as executive vice president in charge of hospital operations.