OVA's Venture of the Year:
Co-founder & CEO
It's long since become a staple of entrepreneurial conventional wisdom that some of the hardiest and fastest-growing ventures first emerge from some of the gloomiest economic periods. That's certainly true of Youngstown-based Turning Technologies.
Launched in 2002, shortly after 9/11 and on the heels of the "dot-bomb" crash, the company grew from an idea first incubated in the Youngstown Business Incubator to a $40-million venture named by Inc Magazine as the fastest growing company in America in 2007. In the process, it has become something of a national poster child for Rust Belt rebirth, featured often in national publications, and now boasting its own gleaming headquarters in downtown Youngstown, and a new international sales office in Amsterdam.
Turning Technologies also emerged from three finalists to be recognized as the OVA's Venture of the Year for 2011, succeeding last year's venture of the year, PartsSource.
The company, which now has approximately 200 employees, provides purchase and rental of interactive software used in classrooms (including more than half the colleges and universities in America) and board rooms, and does business in about 90 countries. It posted a growth rate of nearly 4,000 percent between 2004 and 2007, and has topped the Weatherhead 100 list of fastest-growing companies in Northeast Ohio multiple times.
"The story of Turning Technologies is unique to the people who have written it and is shaped not only by our successes, but also by our failures," said Ron Smrek, vice president of sales. "And although our story has its own defining highlights, it is essentially the same story of every entrepreneur." He added: "We're here today to honor something much more than the accomplishments of the finalists. Rather, we have convened to honor the entrepreneurial spirit, the heart of the American dream, the lifeblood of the economy, and, as anyone here can tell you, the most rewarding and insane concept ever created--entrepreneurship."
This year, OVA chose three Venture of the Year finalists. They included Sagequest, founded in 2003 as a software supplier to the distribution industry, and A.B.S. materials, a company founded in 2008, which emerged from a scientist's lab at Wooster College to commercialize technology used to clean solvents, including those from oil spills.
Said program emcee and OVA board member Jim Weisman: "The three finalists we honor today have all proven our regions is a source of innovation and can serve as a fertile ground for establishing and nurturing exciting high-growth ventures."
Webcast from the Meeting:
Click on the image below to view the entire presentation as video.
Webcasts produced by Tom Kondilas.
September 9, 2011
Mark D. Kvamme
President and Interim CIO,
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