Every year the Strome Entrepreneurial Center recognizes life long achievements in entrepreneurship. Below is a complete list of members of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center Hall of Fame.
2019 Hall of Fame Members
Ajit Prabhu is the Chairman and CEO of QuEST Global, which he co-founded in Schenectady, NY in 1997. Ajit played a significant role in establishing a scalable and sustainable company, an institution that he hopes will outlive him. This phenomenal growth within a short span of 22 years can be attributed to Ajit's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for organization development. What started as a 2 person operation currently employs over 12,500 professionals across 65 engineering centers across 14 countries.
He has been recognized by industry bodies and universities for his outstanding achievements as a passionate entrepreneur. In 2017, Ajit was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Old Dominion University, his alma mater. Ajit has also received Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2014 in the Services category. In 2014, he was also recognized by Singapore-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) for his achievement as an outstanding entrepreneur. Ajit is also the recipient of the prestigious Young Investigator Award, conferred by International Association for Dental Research during his studies at RPI. He is frequently invited to speak in global industry forums as well as educational institutes in US, UK, Singapore and India.
Having begun with a humble background, Ajit nurtures his passion of giving back to the community with specific interest in less-privileged children's education. He continues to support his alma mater and QuEST's adopted Government schools in Bangalore and Hubli, believing that 'Education' plays an inevitable role in shaping children's future and the society at large. He has personally pledged to support college education expenses of one thousand students by 2035 and profusely donate towards this cause. (Ajitprabhufoundation.org) Currently 202 students have benefitted via this foundation.
Prior to founding QuEST, Ajit's career began at GE's Corporate R&D Center as a contract engineer, in Schenectady, NY, while working on power generation, aircraft engines; appliances and locomotive related engineering problems. Ajit holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Karnataka University, India, a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA and, a MS in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic, Troy NY.
Drew Ungvarsky is the Founder and CEO of Grow, one of the top digital agencies in the world. Under Drew's leadership, Grow has created innovative digital experiences and marketing campaigns for leading brands like Google, adidas, Spotify, and EA Games. Drew and his company's work have been recognized by The New York Times, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Adweek among many others. They've also been celebrated by the industry's top award shows, including the Cannes Lions, CLIOs, and Webbys.
Drew is also the founder and CEO of Assembly, an iconic building campus and community of creators and technology innovators coming to Downtown Norfolk. The development is an adaptive reuse of three historic department stores, and will soon be home to the region's leading creative and technology companies, startups, and freelancers.
A 2002 graduate of Old Dominion University, Drew is an active community advocate and civic leader in Norfolk. He serves on the board of the Downtown Norfolk Council, where he's helped create the successful Vibrant Spaces program and the Selden Market. He's also a founding board member of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation. He's previously served on the boards of Re:Vision Norfolk, StartWheel, and RISE.
Renee Warren-Mebane is co-founder of Noelle-Elaine Media, Inc. (NE) and the president of Arielle-Wren, Inc. (AW). Renée celebrated her 26th year as an entrepreneur with her best friend and business partner, Kirsten Poe Hill this past October at Noelle-Elaine Media, Inc.. This dynamic woman has been able to incorporate all of her passions, from real estate to event planning to mentoring and teaching young minds -- she manages it all between her two companies. And, most recently, launching The Tea Standard - another passion of hers.
Under her two nationally recognized firms, she has worked with: Ariel Mutual Funds, BET, Charles Schwab, Citibank, Corporate Governance, Cricket mobile phones, Black Enterprise magazine, Essence, Joint Center Health Policy Institute, IR magazine, MONEY magazine, Disney & Disney Channel, L'Oreal, NAACP, The National Association of Black Accountants, The National Cancer Institute, The National Association Black MBA Association, The National Urban League, Pepsi, Porter Novelli, The SCOOTER Store, The Steve Harvey Foundation, UNCF and Williams Capital Group to mention a few. In addition to her national experience, she has worked on the four continents (North America, South America, Europe and Africa) producing large-scale events. She says it feeds her curiosity for learning.
Prior to creating her companies, she worked for CNBC, Dow Jones & Company and locally here at CBS affiliate WTKR-TV and local papers The Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot; additionally, she often wrote for Black Enterprise and Essence magazines.
She is the co-author of You Buy the Peanut Butter, I'll Get the Bread, The Absolutely True Adventures of Best Friends in Business, worked as an Adjunct/Assistant Professor at New York University for 15 years where she taught Social Media & Event Public Relations. She is currently working on her second book.
Mike Zeiders is Founder and Chairman of Zeiders Enterprises, Inc. With over 1,000 employees, Zeiders Enterprises provides quality of life support programs to military service members and families worldwide.
In 2007, Mike and his wife, Charlotte, founded the Quality of Life Foundation, a charitable organization that supports caregivers of severely wounded, ill, and injured veterans nationwide. He serves as President and Chairman.
In 2013, he founded the Zeiders American Dream Theater, known as The Z. The Z is a charitable organization founded on the belief that imagination, passion, and the discipline of creation are universal requirements for all successful endeavors - artistic and otherwise. The Z's mission is to introduce new works and emerging artists, present unique artistic experiences, and inspire creative growth in our community. He serves as Chairman.
Mike has served as Chairman of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board and is the author of the book, Entrepreneurship, The Art of Succeeding in Business.
Mike graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 and was awarded a Master's degree in Business Administration from George Mason University in 1984. In 1997, he was a state finalist for the Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Travis Priest currently serves as Entrepreneur in Residence for Vocap Investment Partners, providing strategy and growth consulting to its portfolio companies. Mr. Priest is a serial entrepreneur, having founded, grown, and exited several companies in his career.
After graduating from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in 1993 and serving as a computer systems analyst at NASA Langley Research Center, Mr. Priest co-founded URLabs. Symantec Corporation acquired URLabs in 1999, and the technology developed by URLabs still sits at the core of some of Symantec's consumer and enterprise products today. In 2010, Mr. Priest founded Sundrop Mobile, which was acquired in 2012 by the company that is now Worldpay, the world's largest payments processor. In 2015, Mr. Priest founded Obsidian Networks, whose technology has recently been acquired in a private transaction.
An innovative business leader, Mr. Priest identifies marketplace gaps and creates practical, dynamic products to satisfy the market and drive business growth. Mr. Priest is a financial technology (FinTech) expert with three FinTech patents. Many of Mr. Priest's product creations, some dating back to his early career two decades ago, remain in market today and have been used by millions of people. Mr. Priest spends his personal time mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs.
Jim Cheng has over 25 years' experience as a technology entrepreneur, angel/private capital investor, business leader, and senior state government executive. He is a Co-Founder of CAV Angels, an Angel Investment Club for University of Virginia alumni, a member of and advisor to several Angel Groups and private equity firms/groups; and is Of Counsel to the firm of Lee & Hayes PLLC. He is also an Executive Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Previously, Mr. Cheng served as Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia, from 2010 to 2014. As a senior member of the Governor's cabinet, his portfolio included thirteen state agencies with a focus on business, economic development and entrepreneurship. Before serving in State Government, Mr. Cheng was a tech entrepreneur in the government IT contracting industry, building his company to close to 600 people before successfully exiting in 2005.
Mr. Cheng holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from Old Dominion University, an MBA from the University of Virginia Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business, and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.
The Honorable Jeffrey L. McWaters is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO retired of Amerigroup, a managed health care organization launched from Virginia Beach in 1994. The company focused on meeting the healthcare needs of low-income families and individuals covered by state Medicaid programs. Under McWaters' leadership, the organization saw major growth and success and filed for their Initial Public Offering in 2000, moving from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange. In 2012, WellPoint, Inc. - now Anthem, Inc. -- acquired Amerigroup for approximately $4.9 billion.
Mr. McWaters is also a former member of the Senate of Virginia, where he represented the 8th District here in Hampton Roads from 2010-2016. During his tenure in office, he focused on healthcare, military, education, transportation and jobs and economic development. Among his many Board and community leadership roles include serving as Vice Rector, Board of Visitors, the College of William and Mary. His early career began with CIGNA Healthcare and Ernst & Young. He continues today to advise entrepreneurs and investors.
Mr. McWaters graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky and was inducted into the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame in 2003.
Angela D. Reddix PhD, currently serves as the President & CEO of ARDX, an award-winning healthcare management and IT consulting firm headquartered in Norfolk, VA. She is also Founder, Chairman and CEO of Envision Lead Grow, a Norfolk-based nonprofit organization aimed at aspiring girls of all ages to chart their destinies by teaching them the critical skills and dedication needed to accomplish their dreams through entrepreneurship.
As a trusted community leader, Dr. Reddix serves as a board member and trustee to various local organizations, including the United Way of South Hampton Roads Foundation, the YWCA of South Hampton Roads, Junior Achievement and the Hampton Roads Chamber Regional and Trustee Boards. Dr. Reddix has been honored with various awards for her work in entrepreneurship, including the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities Humanitarian Award, the Old Dominion University Women of Achievement Award, the Still Hope Foundation's Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, the US Chamber of Commerce's Big Blue Ribbon Award, Inside Business' Women in Business Award, and many other notable achievements.
A committed lifelong learner, Dr. Reddix received her bachelor's degree in Business Administration in Marketing from James Madison University, a master's degree in Organizational Development from Bowie State University, and her PhD in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University.
Inducted 2017 Adriane Brown is Senior Advisor and former President and COO for Intellectual Ventures (IV), an invention capital company. With a portfolio of homegrown and curated high-tech patents, her leadership and business acumen served as the cornerstone for building strong, global performance for IV. Prior to IV, Ms. Brown spent 10 years at Honeywell where she served as President and CEO of the $5B Transportation Systems group. Before that Ms. Brown spent 19 years at Corning in a variety of roles from shift supervisor to corporate officer. Ms. Brown earned a reputation for driving business results, pushing innovation, strengthening customer relationships, and inspiring and developing talented people.
Dr. Brown holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Health and a Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from Old Dominion University. She holds a Master's Degree in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a Sloan Fellow.
Dr. Brown serves on a number of boards including Allergan plc, and advises two Seattle based start ups. Dr. Brown, a public speaker and advocate for young people, is recognized for coaching and mentoring emerging talent of all ages, from all walks of life.
Inducted 2017 Brian Holland graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and finance in May 1993. He entered the mortgage industry in 1993 and founded his own mortgage brokerage company, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group®, just three years later. The company's first branch opened in 1997 in Virginia Beach. Atlantic Bay transitioned from brokering to mortgage lending in 2004.
Under Brian's leadership, Atlantic Bay overcame the industry challenges of 2007-2008 and continues to prosper and grow. The company now has nearly 1,000 associates and has been recognized as a Top 100 Mortgage Company in America, Best Mortgage Company, and Most Enjoyable Place to Work.
Atlantic Bay has donated more than $2 million for humanitarian causes and has helped over 115 organizations and charities. Brian's personally served on many boards including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Old Dominion Athletic Foundation, Young Presidents Organization, Young Entrepreneurs Organization, Bayville Golf Club, and Tidewater Drillers Baseball. He was also past president of the Virginia Mortgage Bankers Association. Brian's wife Jennifer has been a key influence in his success. Together they have three children, who are active in athletics.
Inducted 2017 Göran Elovsson graduated from Old Dominion University with an MBA degree in Corporate Finance in July 1984. Elovsson has over two decades of experience in the manufacturing industry in a wide range of industries. He began his career as a sales & marketing manager at Warner Lambert Parke Davis, then continued as Vice President & General Manager for J.P Stevens, followed by President of the Moore Company Textile Group, until he left corporate America to start his own business in 2008.
Elovsson has started several new businesses in the USA, Mexico, Central America and Sweden. He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Additive Innovation and Manufacturing Sweden AB (AIR Sweden AB), a serial 3D printing company located in the heart of Sweden. The company's focus is to provide individually designed implants in metal, industrial components in both metal and plastic, and other complex product structures that are possible to manufacture using this technology. AIR Sweden AB has a leading position and offers 3D printed parts in the medical and industrial segments in titanium and stainless steel.
Inducted 2017 Walter Jones Ewell, founder of FranchiseRepublic, a franchise development company, has 40 years of experience as a corporate and franchise development specialist, having helped build seven of the top 50 worldwide franchise companies. He began his career developing franchise plans for Econo Lodges of America and consulting in hotel franchises, including Super 8, Radisson, Omni and others. He developed the franchise plan that put the storefronts of the income tax preparation firm Jackson Hewitt in nearly every city across the country. Since then he has worked for Ben Franklin - the oldest active franchise business in the United States - Liberty Tax, Zero's Subs, Geeks On Call, Mosquito Joe, and many others highly successful franchisors. His roles include Founder, President, Board Member, CFO directing public offerings, VP of Development, and Consultant. He has also provided consulting services to a wide variety of clients in other industries, including: Airlines, Banking, Education, Contractors, Technology, Accounting Services, and Condo Management.
Mr. Ewell's most recent successes Geeks On Call and Mosquito Joe have received national media attention including: The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Franchising World, NBC News, ABC News, Tech TV, PBS Money Matters, and CNBC. Ewell's development strategy for these two franchise opportunities resulted in Entrepreneur Magazine ranking both companies #1 among new franchise companies and among the top 30 in the Entrepreneur 500.
Ewell is a Certified Franchise Executive through the International Franchise Association and has a Bachelor's Degree in Finance from ODU.
Inducted 2016 Jack L. Ezzell, Jr. is the Founder and CEO of Zel Technologies, LLC (ZELTECH), one of the nation's outstanding corporations. Mr. Ezzell, a retired USAF Colonel, is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and holds an MBA degree from the Ohio State University. He has overseen ZelTech's growth from a small consulting firm into a multi-faceted engineering, manufacturing and Professional Services corporation. ZelTech is a recognized leader in the introduction of leading edge technologies to support critical national security activities. Headquartered in Hampton, Virginia, ZELTECH has operations in multiple locations throughout the United States and abroad.
Mr. Ezzell was Virginia's Small Business Person of the year, Virginia's Outstanding Industrialist and the Daily Press newspaper Distinguished Citizen of the Year. ODU awarded him an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Some of his many community service awards include the CIVIC Leadership Institute's Darden Award for Regional Leadership, induction into the Hampton Roads' Business Hall of Fame, the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce's Distinguished Citizens Award and the WHRO Public Broadcasting Pioneer Award.
He was a two-term Rector of the Norfolk State University (NSU) Board of Visitors and has chaired the Hampton Roads Partnership, the Hampton Industrial Development Authority, the CIVIC Leadership Institute, WHRO and Versability Resources. He currently serves on the boards of several public/private enterprises and education institutions, is active in regional entrepreneurial activities and chairs the Virginia Science, Technology, Engineering and Applied Mathematics (VASTEAM) Board of Governors. Mr. Ezzell spends a considerable amount of his personal time mentoring youth and small business owners. He and his wife Linda reside in Hampton, Virginia.
Inducted 2016 Dr. Venkat Maroju is the Chief Executive Officer of SourceTrace Systems, a global leader of providing software solutions for making agriculture value chain more sustainable, transparent and equitable and empower smallholder farmers in developing economies.
SourceTrace is charged with the mission of transforming the global agriculture value chain enabling developing countries grass-roots resources to participate in the global supply chain and shown the impact it can have. SourceTrace innovative solutions have reached over to 250K smallholder farmers in 14 countries in 3 continents.
Venkat started his career in automotive industry and held leadership positions at Bose Corporation and ComauPICO (A subsidiary of Fiat).
Given his humble beginnings in rural Telangana in India, Venkat has a long history of working on social causes which eventually lead him on the entrepreneurial path and he found Factum Ventures, a holding company in India that set up and promoted new business ventures in sustainable agriculture, microfinance and renewable energy. He also advised venture capital firms investing in social enterprises serving the people at the bottom of the pyramid in developing economies.
Venkat holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. He was a Sloan Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia and Masters in Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. His Bachelor's degree in Engineering is from Osmania University College of Engineering, Hyderabad.
Inducted 2016 Paul Hirschbiel has had a long and successful career in private equity investing. Mr. Hirschbiel co-founded one of the first venture capital firms in New York City in the early 1980's and spent nearly two decades successfully investing in a broad array of growth companies including Dell Computer on whose Board of Directors Mr. Hirschbiel sat for 13 years. When he returned to Hampton Roads in the late 1990's, Mr. Hirschbiel helped found Envest Ventures, the first professionally managed venture capital firm in Hampton Roads. Currently Mr. Hirschbiel chairs 757 Angels which works to assure high quality, high growth businesses get funded and remain in Hampton Roads, and chairs StartWheel which endeavors to connect local entrepreneurs with a broad array of services and activities. Mr. Hirschbiel is also involved in numerous other initiatives all focused on building a stronger, more supportive environment for entrepreneurs in Hampton Roads.
Mr. Hirschbiel graduated with a B. A. from UNC Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar in 1975, and with an M.B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill as a Dean's Scholar in 1981.
Inducted 2016 Mark Geddis is the Chairman of Geddis Holdings, Inc., an investment entity that maintains ownership interest and serves on the Board of Directors with various portfolio companies. He is a Co-Founder and currently serves as President & CEO of Super Fan Fundraising, LLC. In 2002 he launched Collegiate Images, LLC which was later acquired by IMG Worldwide and XOS Technologies, Inc. in 2008. Collegiate Images served as the centralized licensing and rights clearance agency that managed the distribution of copyrighted intellectual property content, focusing exclusively on college sports.
Prior to Collegiate Images, Geddis co-founded Convizion, Inc., a digital content management company, in 2000. He served as Chief Marketing and Business Development Director for several H. Wayne Huizenga Holdings companies between 1999-2000.
For more than seven years (1992-99), Geddis served in numerous roles with the Florida Marlins Baseball Club. He was the head of Communications during the teams first World Championship in 1997, overseeing the club's marketing communications, broadcast operations and the coordination of broadcast matters with Major League Baseball. In addition to promoting the ballclub in the areas of promotions, community relations and non-baseball related activities, he was involved with the club's new technology areas and special projects.
Geddis, a native of Liverpool, NY, served as the Media Relations Director for the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Club in 1992 and as Sports Information Graduate Assistant at Syracuse University (1990-92) before joining the Marlins. Prior to his stint in Syracuse, Geddis worked in Media Relations for the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs (1990) and at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA (1986-89). He also served as an operations assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1991.
His event management experience includes working Super Bowl XXIX and XXXIII for the NFL, in addition to serving as a media coordinator for the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival, 1992 NCAA East Regional Basketball Tournament, the 1993 National League Championship Series and four MLB All-Star Games.
Geddis received his B.S. degree in Sports Management from Old Dominion University and Master's in Media Administration from The Newhouse School at Syracuse University.
Inducted 2015 Ting Xu, a native of Shanghai, China began her studies at Fudan University but became an international student in 1986 at Old Dominion University where she earned her B.S. and M.S. in computer science. After graduation, she moved to Richmond to work for the Virginia Health Department as a computer programmer.
Ting wanted to launch a small business that her parents could manage after retiring from successful careers in academia and engineering in China. When she was introduced to a couple making decorative flags in their home, a business idea was born. Ting launched Evergreen in her garage in 1993 with help from her husband Frank Qiu and her brother James Xu, both ODU graduates. Today, the Company is one of the largest home and garden decor wholesalers in North America, offering over 12,000 products across categories such as flag, garden, table top, gift, baby, and licensed sports. The extensive product lines can be found in over 15,000 independent gift shops, garden centers, and major retailers throughout North America. In 2010, Ting acquired Plow & Hearth, a well-known, 30-year- old, Madison, Virginia-based catalog company. Since the acquisition, Ting has actively transformed Plow & Hearth into a leading multi-channel merchant with a premier internet marketing platform and robust retail store expansion. Ting is living an exciting and rewarding American dream. Her entrepreneurial spirit drives her continued leadership of over 800 employees and the growth of her business.
Ting is married to her college sweetheart Frank Qiu and lives in the green hills of Goochland, Virginia with their two children Emily and Allen. She enjoys travelling to experience new adventure. She is an active investor in start-ups and mentors new entrepreneurs. She serves on numerous civic, cultural, and business boards, several of which highlight her passion for fostering strong relationships between the U.S. and China.
Inducted 2015 William E. Lobeck's entrepreneurial vision, financial management and leadership skills have fueled the success of more major brands in the daily car rental industry than any other individual. In doing so, he significantly impacted the landscape of the automotive industry.
Mr. Lobeck began his career in the 60's in Norfolk, Virginia, Pontiac and Chevrolet dealerships, cultivating daily car rental companies as his largest customers. Utilizing his entrepreneurial vision, he created the very first dealer repurchase program and established a special purpose leasing company out of a need to serve his customers. Eventually, manufacturers took notice of these programs and today, repurchase programs and special purpose leasing agreements are now a significant component of the automotive and daily car rental industries.
Mr. Lobeck was ultimately persuaded to join one of his daily rental customers, Dallas-based American International, becoming President and CEO in 1979. During his 11-year tenure, the company grew from 18 offices in 7 states to nearly 300 offices across the country.
In 1981, Mr. Lobeck and four partners purchased Thrifty Car Rental, a North American car rental franchise system with great potential but in serious financial trouble. Reengineering every aspect of the company from its financial management to its public brand, the company's profitability and growth eventually led to a very successful IPO in 1987.
It was only two years later that Chrysler acquired Thrifty with Mr. Lobeck remaining President and COO. Now part of Chrysler, he then orchestrated a restructuring, forming a holding company called Pentastar Transportation Group and subsequently acquiring three additional companies - Los-Angeles- based Dollar Rent-A- Car, insurance replacement Snappy Car Rental and Florida-based General Rent A Car. Revenues were in excess of $1 billion. Today, the company is known as Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
In 1995, Mr. Lobeck set his sights on another opportunity in need. GM- owned National Car Rental, long a stellar brand in the daily rental business, had been unprofitable for more than 8 years. After Mr. Lobeck and his wife Kathy Taylor and partners acquired National from GM, he restructured operations, infused its fleet with greater capacity, and set about leading the highly competitive industry in raising rates. As a result, the company's revenue increased by more than a third in only 12 months and thereafter experienced only one unprofitable month under his ownership.
Ultimately his success attracted the attention of Florida-based AutoNation, which had recently acquired Alamo Rent-A- Car. It was in 1997 that Mr. Lobeck brought National into the AutoNation family, becoming President and COO of AutoNation's Rental Group. Comprised of National, Alamo and CarTemps USA it became one of the largest daily rental organizations in the world. He orchestrated the sale of National and Alamo's international operations to Europcar and as part of the transaction created yet another industry first in structuring the first true rental car alliance where the companies co-branded and referred customers exclusively to each other in their respective operating territories.
Mr. Lobeck left AutoNation just two and one-half years later, and without his leadership, its rental group eventually fell into financial difficulty. Knowing its true potential, Mr. Lobeck along with an investment group, Cerberus Capital Management, re-acquired the assets of the companies bringing them out of bankruptcy under the name of Vanguard Car Rental USA in 2003. The Alamo and National brands quickly regained profitability with Bill at the helm. It remained one of the industry's most financially successful companies and eventually was courted by the world's largest rental car company, Enterprise Rent-A-Car . Enterprise purchased Vanguard in August 2007.
One of the most admirable qualities of Mr. Lobeck is that he does not take full credit for the successes of these businesses but takes enormous pride in his ability to create and pull together teams of professionals, many of which have repeatedly accepted his challenges through the years to make companies great.
Aside from transforming companies into profitable ventures, Mr. Lobeck has been very involved in a broad range of philanthropic activities including serving as Chair of the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa and as a Trustee at The University of Tulsa. Mr. Lobeck has been awarded an honorary Doctoral degree from his alma mater, Old Dominion University, and inducted into the University of Tulsa College of Business Hall of Fame and the Tulsa Historical Society Hall of Fame.
His most significant philanthropic venture began when he and wife Kathy along with their daughters, Molly Pellegrini and Elizabeth Ellison, ventured into a family philanthropic endeavor and established the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation with emphasis on giving charitable donations in support of education, entrepreneurship and civic engagement, primarily in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To date, LTFF and Bill and Kathy personally have donated over $20 million and have positively impacted countless lives.
Inducted 2015 Mr. John Lawson began his career with W. M. Jordan Company as a Field Engineer in 1975 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a BS in Geophysics. Under his leadership, W.M. Jordan Company has become one of the largest Construction Managers in Virginia, with annual revenues of $500 million dollars and a ranking in Engineering News Record's Top 400 Contractors in the United States for the past 29 years.
He is married to Paige and resides in Newport News with his 19 year old son, Taylor; 18 year old daughter, Tess; and 15 year old son, Jack. In his leisure time, he enjoys boating, college football, golfing, skiing, art and history.
Mr. Lawson is the Chairman for Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Fort Monroe Authority, Christopher Newport University's $42 million Comprehensive Campaign, and the Virginia Kappa Alumni Corporation, Virginia Tech Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He currently serves on the board of TowneBank, Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech, CEO Roundtable, and the Virginia Tech Foundation. He is the Past Rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, Past Chairman of the Mariners' Museum, Virginia Economic Development Council and was Co-Chair for the Virginia Tech $1Billion Comprehensive Campaign.
Inducted 2015 Mr. Grooms was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research in January 2012. He has 17 years of experience as a successful entrepreneur and has been involved with several startup companies serving as both an advisor and board of directors member.
Mr. Grooms co-founded Regeneration Technologies (Nasdaq: RTIX), where he co-invented the primary value-added technologies that formed the basis of RTIX's product line. Prior to forming Regeneration Technologies (Nasdaq: RTIX) and serving as the company CEO, Mr. Grooms founded RTIX's predecessor in 1995 and led RTIX through its spin-off from the University of Florida in 1998, growing the company from under $5 million in revenues in 1995 to a profitable $150 million in revenues in 2001. He led the company through its initial venture capital fundraising, and oversaw its IPO in 2000, raising $75 million in proceeds. Mr. Grooms also co- founded AxoGen Corporation and from 2002 to May 2010 served as Chief Executive Officer. He has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of AxoGen Corporation since 2002, and has served as Chairman of AxoGen, Inc. Board of Directors since September 2011.
Inducted 2014 Luke Hillier is a successful entrepreneur who believes deeply that economic opportunity is an engine for driving growth. He supports entrepreneurs with investments of capital and mentorship. He gives to non-profit charities that have impact. Luke is a believer in the "teach a man to fish" philosophy. Luke has seen first-hand the desperate situations that have arisen from the extreme poverty in countries like Nicaragua and Afghanistan as well as those in the United States faced by too many veterans and their families confronted by unemployment, substance abuse and homelessness.
Luke enjoys volunteering his time and speaking to youth. He has spoken about business and entrepreneurship to students at Cox High School, where Luke graduated.
He has also seen the benefits of creating several successful businesses, hiring hundreds of veterans, assisting entrepreneurs develop their innovative ideas and paving the way to a better life through education. Luke is dedicated to the idea of furthering economic opportunity and giving back to the local Virginia Beach community so he established Hillier Ignite to make it happen.
Inducted 2014 Dr. Niel Ransom is President and CEO of Ransomshire Associates, Inc. providing corporate strategy development and support of venture capital investments. He advises Riverwood Capital and Carmel Ventures.
He is currently Chairman of Saguna Networks and serves on the boards of directors of RadiSys, MultiPhy, and Polatis. Previously, he served on the boards of directors of Teknovus, Cyan, AppliedMicro, kbro, CoreOptics, DesignArt Networks, ECI Telecom, Ellacoya Networks, Overture Networks, and Turin Networks.
He serves on the advisory boards of various technology startups including Quantenna, Corsa Technologies, Actelis, and Wefi and previously served on the advisory boards of 10 other successful high-technology startups.
As CTO of Alcatel, he directed a staff of 1200 engineers and scientists comprising Alcatel's research, corporate strategy, and intellectual property organizations. There he led the acquisitions of 15 technology startups. He started his career at Bell Laboratories where he headed various development and applied research organizations.
In 2000, Dr. Ransom was appointed to the Technological Advisory Council of the Federal Communication Commission. He holds five patents and is co-author of the book, Broadband Access Technologies, published by McGraw-Hill.
He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and BSEE and MSEE degrees from Old Dominion University.
Inducted 2014 Dwight Schaubach, Chairman and Owner of Bay Disposal, has over thirty-five years experience in the waste collection and disposal business in the Hampton Roads area. He moved to Norfolk in 1969 and started Feather-N- Fin, a chicken and seafood restaurant, which grew to 7 restaurants in the Tidewater area. Mr. Schaubach started Bay Disposal in 1975 and drove the first trash truck that he owned. He was also President of Area Container Services, and in addition to his local success, has been involved in trash companies in Alliance, Ohio, Hilton Head, South Carolina, Greenville, North Carolina and Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to his solid waste knowledge, Mr. Schaubach established a medical waste collection company in the mid 1980's (Incendere, Inc.) and permitted the first medical waste incinerator in Virginia. Mr. Schaubach has served as Chairman of the Virginia Waste Industries Association and Chairman of the Detachable Container Association. His extensive knowledge of all aspects of the industry is a tremendous asset for the success of Bay Disposal and has enabled him to grow it to one of the largest solid waste companies in Virginia. Mr. Schaubach, under the Schaubach Companies of Virginia, also owns and operates Johns Brothers Security, Johns Brothers Heating Oil and HVAC, Hampton Roads Recovery Center, a construction debris landfill in Virginia Beach, Star Creek, a residential lot development company in Suffolk, Va., and the Williamsburg Golf Club, a private golf club in Williamsburg, Va. He is an avid collector and restorer of a wide variety of antique automobiles, and is a supporter, both with his time and resources, of numerous civic and charitable organizations.