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Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Sue Artmeier
Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2005

Indiana Entrepreneurial Awards of Distinction awarded to 19 state firms

Oct. 21, 2005

EDITORS: Finalists for these awards were announced in a news release issued on Tuesday (Oct. 18). The inaugural winners of the Indiana Entrepreneurial Awards of Distinction were announced at a dinner Thursday (Oct. 20).

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Eighteen successful Indiana companies and one non-profit organization were the inaugural winners Thursday (Oct. 20) in a new awards program from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. The award recognizes them for their growth, innovation and willingness to take calculated risks.

This is the first year for the Indiana Entrepreneurial Awards of Distinction, which were presented by the school's Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The winners were selected from 62 finalists and 175 applicants. With the exception of a Social Enterprise Award that goes to non-profits with a social mission, companies had to be founded prior to the 2002 fiscal year, be a public or private corporation, proprietorship or partnership located in Indiana, and have revenues of more than $1 million.

Most winners were honored in three categories -- growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Growth Award winners are honored for revenue growth of at least 35 percent over a two-year period. The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award honors companies for risk-taking and for persevering through lessons learned. The Innovation Award goes to companies that pioneer new systems, products or best practices.

Award sponsors are NASDAQ, Katz, Sapper & Miller, LaSalle National Bank, Monument Advisors, the Indiana University Research & Technology Corp., and the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis.

The winning companies follow and are grouped by category.

Growth Award winners:

  • Ace Mortgage Funding Inc., Indianapolis, is a residential mortgage loan originator, which has grown considerably from primarily serving Indiana residents in 2001 to operating nationally in more than 40 states with over 700 employees. The company expects to increase to an annual mortgage volume of over 5 billion in 2006.
  • Fortune Diversified Industries Inc., Indianapolis, is a leading provider of wireless infrastructure services, outsourced human resource solutions, and commercial and industrial ink technology. Fortune Diversified Industries has a strong tradition of strategically acquiring under-valued companies that not only complement its core product offerings, but provide significant operating synergy and return on investment. FDI has completed 15 acquisitions since its inception in 2000 and has projected its 2005 revenue to total between 106 and 112 million dollars.
  • LHP Software, Columbus, is a software engineering and consulting company that provides global software outsourcing expertise in a wide variety of applications from embedded software design and PC-based applications to Web and Datasource solutions. Between 2002 and 2005, LHP Software experienced a 357 percent growth in sales and expanded from 13 to over 70 employees. LHP Software focuses on determining accurate customer requirements while delivering high quality software through strict process control and software testing.
  • Marketing Informatics, Indianapolis, is a direct marketing services company that offers market research, database analytics, data/list acquisition and management, and full-spectrum mail programs. Marketing Informatics is committed to being a premier national direct marketing company, functioning as a superior solution provider to all clients.
  • Performance Assessment Network Inc., Carmel, is a leading provider of Internet-based testing and assessment solutions, with over 12,000 corporate, government and education clients internationally. In 2004, Performance Assessment Network's patented technology became the standard for government organizations due to the size of its Web-based testing program. With an established footprint in Europe and emerging business in the Pacific Rim, Performance Assessment Network is focused on being the leading Web assessment business internationally.

Innovation Award winners:

  • Arxan Technologies Inc., West Lafayette, is a privately held company backed by five top-tier venture capital firms with over $4 billion under management. Arxan provides software and hardware application security and anti-tamper products and solutions to protect nation-state level assets as well as commercial products. Arxan developed and produced innovative software-based fortified deployment technology that not only defends against compromise, but actively detects and reacts to attempted attacks. This enables products to be secured, using all-software protection, at levels only previously attained using highly inflexible and costly hardware.
  • Baker Hill, Carmel, originally started as a software company over two decades ago and saw its first market expansion after the realization that software's true value lies in its ability to improve the work process, not in the sophistication of its code. Baker Hill began teaming with its clients to design and document processes, and to configure and implement software solutions. Now known for its extensive banking expertise and solution innovation, Baker Hill delivers the focused expertise capable of bringing together the people, processes, technology and knowledge across financial organizations to help leverage technology to achieve strategic goals. Baker Hill introduced the first integrated relationship management solution for bankers, launched the first Web-based loan small business origination solution run in an ASP environment, and offered the first common platforms for loan origination across lending processes.
  • gh LLC, West Lafayette, is a leading assistive technology company that helps people with visual and print disabilities access information from a variety of sources including textbooks, publications, standardized tests and Web sites. Using a content-independent media conversion process, gh offers a full range of accessible media format and software applications that enables people with visual and other print disabilities to improve their educational experience, become more competitive in the workplace and lead more enjoyable lives. gh has grown from four to over 40 employees in just over five years, dispelling the myth that the market for products and services for visually impaired individuals is too small to enable a larger company to be profitable.
  • Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, is a family-owned-and-operated theme and water park marketed to families with children within a three-hour drive. Concentrating on their guests' comfort and all-day experience, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari has revolutionized the amusement park experience. It offers free parking, sunscreen, unlimited free refills on a variety of soft drinks, and a clean, smoke-free environment, all serving to "wow" its customers and spread the park's popularity.
  • Product Action International LLC, Carmel, provides emergency quality control services to the auto industry. In business since 1980, Product Action International has engaged in over 75,000 projects and has unmatched experience working with original equipment manufacturers and suppliers to implement customized on-site programs serving to improve first-time quality. In addition, Product Action provides engineering and supplier education programs run by engineers with a vast amount of expertise and experience in problem-solving methodology.
  • Senex Services Corp., Indianapolis, is a leader in the purchasing and service of self-pay patient accounts generated by health care providers. Senex Services pays cash, on a non-recourse basis, for charged-off patient accounts that have already been worked by the provider's collection agency, immediately giving its clients money that can be used to purchase innovative equipment or hire additional staff. Since the acquisition of its first portfolio of health care accounts in 1999 -- a time when the purchase of self-pay patient accounts was virtually unheard of -- Senex Services has purchased accounts from more than 60 providers in 15 states, representing nearly 1 million patient accounts.
  • TGX Medical Inc., Carmel, is a software development company whose core product is the Alex Asset Management ("Alex") software, a state-of-the-art supply chain management solution for medical and surgical equipment and the first Web-based asset management software on the market. Alex software helps reduce costs and promotes improved cooperation between the central supply departments and operating rooms, verification and assurance of proper sterilization and decontamination methods, timely delivery of care, accurate costing of patient services, improved employee productivity, and a reduction in time spent with regulatory agencies. Alex allows for scalability in a hospital setting, allowing it to grow and keep pace with the facility's growth at minimal cost.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winners:

  • Briljent LLC, Fort Wayne, provides key services to national trade associations, governmental agencies and corporate clients in the areas of technical writing, curriculum design, learning assessments and training facilitation. In 2003, Briljent capitalized on an opportunity made available through new state legislation allowing them to build relationships, knowledge and contracts at the state level. This strategy resulted in more than 30 contracts in less than two years. After a two-year struggle, Briljent was certified with the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2004, granting them the ability to be considered for federal land contracts, a strategy that is expected to bring tremendous growth to the organization.
  • Electronic Communication Systems Inc., Bloomington, was started by Michael Dyer as a one-man radio sales and service business in 1989 with six years of technical experience and $7,000 in savings. Today, ECS provides radio communications, closed-circuit camera systems, outdoor warning systems and automated vehicle location systems to governmental, public safety and business entities. ECS has grown from a net profit of $50,000 during its first year to a growth rate of 91 percent with revenues of more than $1.5 million in 2004.
  • Harlan Bakeries Inc., Avon, manufactures and supplies a complete line of bakery products on a wholesale basis to three distinct markets: national account food service, contract manufacturing and retail stores. Harlan Bakeries strives to meet and exceed the ever-changing expectations of its customers by producing the highest-quality bakery products and rapidly adjusting to changes in market demand. In 2004, Harlan Bakeries expanded its offerings with the introduction of more traditional bakery items as well as new and innovative products like the square bagel or filled bagel bars. This move allowed Harlan Bakeries to remain viable in the domestic and international markets by enabling its customers to reduce the number of vendors that supply their company.
  • Helmer Inc., Noblesville, sells primarily to hospitals, blood centers and research laboratories. Helmer manufactures and distributes products for the storage, monitoring and processing of blood components and biological materials. After initiating a leveraged buy-out of the other investors in the company, President David Helmer instituted a more aggressive strategy, including a larger focus on product development and expansion of both national and international sales. As a result of these strategic initiatives, company growth more than quadrupled between 1999 and 2004.
  • Option Six Inc., Bloomington, a full-service developer of custom e-learning solutions, has been selected as the preferred provider of mission-critical courses by a number of Global 500 companies. Option Six consistently delivers successful customer experiences by establishing trusted relationships, producing effective results and receiving enthusiastic approvals from its customers. Option Six produces effective and engaging e-learning solutions for subject areas of strategic importance to its clients, including problems that affect critical business functions such as global marketing, product pricing, regulatory compliance, sales performance and product development. Option Six offers one of the most prestigious catalogs of courses available today, has authored best-selling books and has provided service to top-level executives.
  • POLARIS Laboratories, Indianapolis, offers extensive testing on oils, fuels, coolants and water-based fluid for preventive and predictive maintenance programs and asset reliability management. POLARIS specializes in customizing comprehensive maintenance programs that maximize reliability and provide oil analysis and cooling systems maintenance training and consultation services. In addition to its Indianapolis headquarters, POLARIS operates laboratories in Houston and Salt Lake City. Their Laboratory Information Management System allows all three locations to function as one laboratory by sharing a common database. LIMS also contains customized commenting and data flagging for specific recommendations. POLARIS utilizes a real-time Internet reporting site to give customers almost instantaneous access to test results once sample processing is complete.

Social Enterprise Award winner:

  • SCAN Inc., Fort Wayne, a non-profit, award-winning organization focused on abuse prevention and family restoration throughout northeastern Indiana. Some of the programs offered by SCAN include home-based individual mentoring, emergency respite child care for families in crisis, and free workshops for children ages 3-18 and adults which teach them how to protect themselves from abuse and neglect. SCAN helps restore families in crisis by providing short- and long-term home-based help, individual care, and safe, supervised visitation when children have been removed or risk removal from the home due to abuse or neglect.

Individuals who wish to nominate a company for consideration for next year's awards should contact the Johnson Center at 812-855-4248. For more information regarding the program and the Johnson Center, visit the center's Web site at