Sunday, January 02, 2000

Business: 21 To Watch

        • Neal Arnold, CFO, Fifth Third Bank: Mr. Arnold is a fast-rising star at Fifth Third Bancorp, one of the nation's most profitable and fastest-growing banks.

        At age 38, he is the youngest member of the executive committee of the parent company of Cincinnati's Fifth Third Bank. He also is an executive vice president and the bank's chief financial officer.

        More important, Mr. Arnold has played a key role in helping Fifth Third make acquisitions that are expected to continue fueling its growth. The most recent came last year when he crunched numbers that spurred Fifth Third's $2.4 billion purchase of Evansville-based CNB Bancshares Inc., its largest ever.

        Some industry insiders have suggested that Mr. Arnold could be groomed to run Fifth Third someday. But for now, George A. Schaefer Jr., 54, Fifth Third's president and chief executive, has no plans soon to release the reins on the $41 billion banking company he helped build.

        • Pete Blackshaw, CEO, Planet Feedback: Things happen in Cincinnati 10 years late, Mark Twain said. The Internet revolution didn't take that long to get here, but in Internet years, it felt like decades.

        Enter Pete Blackshaw, a former California legislative aide and consumer advocate, who got his Harvard master's of business administration and came to Procter & Gamble to lead its interactive media effort. Last fall, Mr. Blackshaw quit P&G to start his own Internet business, Planet Feedback, aimed at greasing the skids between consumers and companies.

        Mr. Blackshaw isn't the city's first Internet entrepreneur, or even the first to set up shop in Over-the-Rhine. But his young firm landed a first round of venture capital worth $6 million from some well-known sources, and is aiming to raise tens of millions more early this year. If Planet Feedback is a success, it brings legitimacy to what's been seen previously as an Internet backwater.

        Even the company Mr. Blackshaw jilted — P&G — is pulling for his success.

        • Gordon Brunner, senior vice president, Procter & Gamble: Durk Jager, Procter & Gamble's president and chief executive, has said that what the Cincinnati consumer-products powerhouse needs more than anything is great new products.

        Mr. Brunner, director of global research, has been charged with delivering the goods.

        The longtime P&G veteran oversees the company's vast research network of more than 8,000 employees in 40 countries and 15 technical centers.

        But his focus in the near term will be on new products, which are expected to generate $1 billion in annual sales in each of the next five years under the company's Organization 2005 restructuring plan.

        The plan is designed to grow sales and earnings through innovation and faster product introductions.

        P&G spent about $200 million, or about 15 percent of its research and development budget, on new business projects last year. That spending will be increased in 2000, and Mr. Brunner, who lives in Indian Hill, will be largely responsible for the return on investment.

        • Phil Cox, president, Cox Financial Corp.: Mr. Cox put his fingers in enough pots in the 1990s to guarantee he'll help shape the Greater Cincinnati business landscape in 2000.

        The Lebanon resident is the owner and president of Cox Financial Corp., a downtown investment advisory firm.

        By the time he was asked to join the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cincinnati and the powerful Cincinnati Business Committee (as its first African-American member) in 1994, he was also a director at PNC Bank Ohio and Cincinnati Bell Inc.

        Mr. Cox, 53, has added board positions at Cinergy, BDM International Inc. and the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees. BDM has since been acquired, but Mr. Cox continues to sit on the boards of the Cincinnati Museum Center, Touchstone, the Children's Home of Cincinnati and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

        • Scott Farmer, president, COO, Cintas Corp.: The 40-year-old was promoted in May 1997 to president and chief operating officer of Cintas, which was molded by his father, Richard Farmer.

        Mr. Farmer joined the Mason-based uniform rental company in 1981 and held a variety of jobs, including vice president of the national account division, vice president of marketing and group vice president.

        The senior Mr. Farmer has used his wealth invested in Cintas to become Cincinnati's richest resident.

        The junior Mr. Farmer will help continue the momentum Cintas has built throughout the 1990s.

        “If he's anything like his father, I think the shareholders are going to love him,” analyst Walter Morris said when Scott Farmer was promoted two years ago.

        • Karen Hendricks, chairwoman, CEO, Baldwin Piano and Organ Co.: Ms. Hendricks will undoubtedly face continued scrutiny from investors dissatisfied with the Mason-based company's sluggish performance.

        Despite efforts to streamline operations and cut costs, most recently through the sale of its Keyboard Acceptance Corp. unit, Baldwin's shares fell more than 11 percent last year.

        Ms. Hendricks has told shareholders that all the benefits from the streamlining moves won't be fully reflected in the company's performance until this year.

        Ms. Hendricks, a former Procter & Gamble executive who joined the 137-year-old piano company in 1994, has been active in community affairs and was the first woman named to the powerful Cincinnati Business Committee.

        • Robert Hoverson, president, CEO, Provident Bank: Under Mr. Hoverson's guidance since April 1998, Provident has gone from a bank that many Wall Street analysts were concerned about to one they're recommending to investors.

        The bank — Cincinnati's second-largest, based on deposits — also boosted its marketing and acquisition efforts the past year. That included plans to buy two Cincinnati thrifts for nearly $250 million in stock, sporting a flashly red-white-and-blue logo and buying rights to put Provident's name on scoreboards at Paul Brown Stadium.

        Mr. Hoverson's biggest challenge heading into the next century: Maintaining Provident's profitability and independence in a banking environment that is constantly being changed by new dynamics.

        • Durk I. Jager, president, chairman and CEO, Procter & Gamble: As the top executive at P&G, Mr. Jager is the band leader orchestrating the shake-up of one of world's largest multinational corporations.

        In June, the 56-year-old native of the Netherlands announced thousands of job cuts and some plant closings as part of the Cincinnati consumer-goods company's Organization 2005 restructuring plan.

        In addition, Mr. Jager promised to eliminate the lock-step “Proctoid” corporate culture that killed initiative and led to the need for reorganization in the first place.

        Big changes are expected under Mr. Jager's direction in the coming year as he tries to remake a corporate culture that dates to the 1800s.

        • Diane Kamionka, CEO, Cintech Tele-Management Systems: As co-founder and chief executive of Norwood-based Cintech, Ms. Kamionka hopes lighting strikes twice.

        Cintech, started 13 years ago by Ms. Kamionka and Bryant A. Downey, chief technical officer, is a pioneer in developing software that allows personal computers to manage telephone systems for small offices and branch offices for large corporations.

        Now the small company, which employs about 60, has developed a new product called NetVia, which manages all types of customer contacts from e-mail to telephone calls.

        The product is being marketed by IBM as part of the electronic business applications for its Netfinity server. It allows service reps to handle multiple types of customer contacts while also allowing them to be handled anywhere, even from home.

        The new product makes Cintech a player in voice-over-the-Internet technology, a market expected to exceed $13 billion in five years.

        • Charles Kubicki, owner, Cincinnati United Contractors: There used to be a rule of thumb: $1 spent on public infrastructure creates $7 of economic activity. Economists have since corrected us, saying investment in infrastructure pays off best when it unlocks a previously unusable resource.

        Mr. Kubicki found himself sitting on 300 acres of underused resource — land at a tiny interchange off Interstate 275 in Milford. What the Milford Commerce Park needed was an expansion of the interchange, so Mr. Kubicki and local officials lobbied the state for money for the expansion.

        A deal was struck: The state would pay half the $1.1 million cost, with Clermont County and Mr. Kubicki himself each picking up a quarter of the cost. The ribbon was cut on the completed interchange in November.

        Duke-Weeks Realty Co. is already looking at the site to develop a big retail complex, and the site could hold hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space.

        This year may finally see the payoff for five years of work by the 60-year-old Mr. Kubicki.

        • The Lindners - Next generation: Carl Lindner Jr., Cincinnati's most prominent money man, has reached age 80. So, a new generation of Lindners is sure to exert its influence during the next several years.

        The elder Lindner still makes all the major decisions, and his sons have yet to make their mark outside company ranks. But they are running the daily operations at major companies.

        Carl III, 46, heads some of the insurance operations; Craig, 44, heads runs annuity and investing operations; and Keith, 40, is vice chairman of Chiquita Brands International.

        Carl Lindner's brother Robert also has a son, 43-year-old Brad, running his United Dairy Farmers chain.

        All four of the second-generation Lindners live in Indian Hill.

        • Laura Long, executive director, Cincinnati Business Committee:

        The 48-year-old Newport resident took over in late 1998 as executive director of the Cincinnati Business Committee, the elite group of 25 chief executive officers of the region's most influential companies. But her influence had been felt long before that.

        Before joining the CBC, Ms. Long was economic development director in Newport. In her 15-year tenure there, she spearheaded the development of the city's historic residential neighborhoods, the Riverfront Place office tower, the Newport Aquarium and a planned riverfront entertainment district.

        With the CBC's traditional involvement in both downtown development and the Cincinnati Public Schools, Ms. Long is helping coordinate the potential expansion of the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center and several other major projects.

        Will she be able to repeat the magic she performed in Newport?

        • L. Ross Love, president and CEO, Blue Chip Broadcasting:

        Every successful businessman should have a theme song, and L. Ross Love's might well be “Ain't No Stopping Us Now.”

        The former vice president of advertising at P&G is president and chief executive at Blue Chip Broadcasting, owner of WIZF-FM (100.9) in Cincinnati. Blue Chip has grown dramatically since 1995, when it bought WIZF-FM in 1995 for $4 million.

        Today, the company operates 15 stations in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio, and Louisville and Lexington, Ky., and has grown from a radio company with only urban formatted stations to a firm with classic rock, news/talk, top 40 and country stations.

        Some observers predict that with drive and marketing expertise, Mr. Love can make the second-largest African-American-owned radio broadcasting company in the nation one of the most dominant as well.

        • W. James McNerney, president, GE Aircraft Engines: Whether it's at GE or another top corporation, W. James McNerney's next job makes him a person not to be ignored.

        Mr. McNerney, 49, is among a handful of top GE executives, including Finneytown native Jeffrey R. Immelt, in the running to succeed famed GE Chairman Jack Welch, who retires in early 2001.

        Mr. McNerney won't comment on the speculation about his future. But most observers think if he doesn't land the top job at GE, he'll quickly be in the executive suite of another leading company.

        A former Procter & Gamble brand manager, Mr. McNerney has been involved in management of a number of GE businesses since joining the company in 1982.

        • Bernie Schaeffer, chairman, Schaeffer's Investment Research: Mr. Schaeffer was trained as an actuary, studying complex mathematical and statistical formulas. But about 20 years ago, he transferred his formulas to stock market analysis — predicting market moves by watching options trading, short selling and mutual fund flows.

        He has since become one of the leading market timers — and the most bullish — as chairman of Forest Park-based Schaeffer's Investment Research.

        He's also been bold in his predictions. For instance, he correctly predicted the crash of October 1987.

        What does he envision for 2000? Nothing short of the Dow reaching 13,800 and the Nasdaq hitting 5,000.

        “We're going to see a tremendous amount of money pile into technology,” Mr. Schaeffer said. “This rally is going to keep going.”

        • Larry Schumacher, president, Schumacher Dugan Construction Co.:

        There's a movement in fast-growing Union Township (the one in Butler County) to change the name to West Chester, so no one confuses it with the other 27 Union Townships in Ohio.

        Part of what's motivating the name change is a sense Union Township has quite a bit more growing to do. The development at Union Centre Boulevard by Schumacher-Dugan Construction Co. has been the talk of the town for some time, but 2000 is the year when people really begin to inhabit the area.

        One new office building is being completed, as is a hotel. There are hundreds of acres of undeveloped land there. More offices and restaurants are planned, and retail developer Madison Marquette is expected to begin construction this summer on a shopping center.

        Company President Larry Schumacher, 63, a car-racing enthusiast, is involved with the development at Union Centre every day. “We don't expect anything other than 100 percent success,” he said.

        • Richard A. Segal Jr., managing director, Hensley Segal Rentschler:

        Pardon Mr. Segal if he is sporting an ear-to-ear e-grin these days.

        At 42, Mr. Segal is the managing director of Hensley Segal Rentschler, a business-to-business e-commerce marketing firm with billings expected to grow fivefold by 2005.

        “Construction of the railroads is the only other time in history where business-to-business commerce was so dramatically accelerated,” Mr. Segal said.

        The company, one of the nation's premier providers of Internet and nonelectronic marketing solutions, directs Internet strategy for GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes. But more political consulting is not on this guy'se-horizon.

        “2000 will be a huge year,” he said.

        • David Siebenburgen, president, CEO, Delta Connection: A decade ago, Mr. Siebenburgen bet that regional jets would be the future of commercial aviation. Now, Delta Air Lines is betting $1.91 billion that Mr. Siebenburgen, 52, was right.

        As part of Delta's deal to buy Comair, the White Oak resident moves from president and chief executive officer of the regional carrier to head of the entire Delta Connection network. That includes directing Delta's other subsidiary, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, and its agreements with other independent commuter airlines.

        Delta's plan for the carriers and for him, he said, is vast and just beginning to reveal itself.

        “It's tons and tons of regional jets in lots and lots of new places,” he said. “It's every bit as big as we thought it would be.”

Ron Tysoe, vice chairman, Federated Department Stores:

        Mr. Tysoe is credited with being the brains behind Federated's $4.1 billion takeover of R.H. Macy & Co. Inc. in December 1994. That acquisition made Federated the nation's largest traditional department-store chain, and it put Mr. Tysoe in the spotlight as a financial and strategic whiz.

        Mr. Tysoe, who lives in Indian Hill, was rewarded. In November 1997, he was freed of his position as chief financial officer — succeeded by Karen Hoguet — so he could focus on strategic opportunities at the retailer.

        In the spring, Mr. Tysoe was put in charge of overseeing Federated Direct, a new organization to manage most of Federated's online and catalog endeavors. Federated Direct handles operations, distribution and fulfillment of Fingerhut, Macy's By Mail catalog and Macys.Com. It also manages distribution and fulfill ment for Bloomingdale's by Mail catalog.

        As the e-commerce locomotive continues to rumble, it will be Mr. Tysoe's job to make sure Federated does not get untracked in 2000.

        Mr. Tysoe is considered by some as a potential heir apparent to James Zimmerman, Federated's chairman and chief executive officer.

        • Pierre-Albert Wevers, president, CEO, Bigg's: Mr. Wevers' small chain survived Meijer, but the largely Cincinnati retailer that focuses on low prices will always be challenged. His latest threat comes from longtime rival Kroger, which is expanding more into nonfoods and saying cost savings will equal lower prices down the line.

        Mr. Wevers competes by practicing what he once said was the best advice he'd been given: “Know who you are. Be who you are.”

        He maintains Bigg's as a value-based superstore known for low prices, not a store that is all things to all people. As he opens a new store on Beechmont Avenue near a new Kroger, he'll have another opportunity to see how his concept stacks up against competitors in the next century.

        Tom Williams, president, North American Properties: The son of William J. Williams, board chairman of Western-Southern Life Insurance Co., the 42-year-old Indian Hill resident is president of North American Properties, the development company controlled by the Williams family.

        Although there has been no official talk of his future, the younger Williams could be a force in the family's growing insurance and financial-services empire. But that's only one of the marks he could make on the community.

        Mr. Williams has served on a number of high-profile boards, including the Cincinnati Zoo's. He also is among a group of local businessmen who own a stake in the St. Louis Cardinals.


People to watch in the 21st Century
Metro: 21 To Watch
Sports: 21 To Watch
Arts and Entertainment: 21 To Watch
- Business: 21 To Watch
Food: 21 To Watch
Nation and World: 21 To Watch