CEO Live

Breaking business news and updates in and around Columbus

  • Grange's chief property and casualty officer to succeed retiring CEO

    Posted on Sep 30, 2014

    Columbus-based Grange has announced John Ammendola, the company's chief property and casualty officer, will succeed retiring CEO and President Tom Welch. Ammendola will begin leading the insurance provider--with $2 billion in assets and more than $1 billion in annual revenue--on the first of the year. The details from yesterday's announcement:

    Tom Welch, 62, president and CEO of Grange Insurance, announced today that he will retire January, 2015 and concurrently, the Grange Insurance Board of Directors announced the election of John Ammendola, 48, executive vice president and chief property and casualty officer, to assume the president and CEO position effective January 1, 2015. 

    Welch has been with Grange Insurance since 2001 when he joined as president of the Grange Life Insurance Company and later served as vice president and chief financial officer until being named president and CEO in 2011. Under Tom’s leadership Grange’s surplus exceeded $1 billion – a first in the company’s 79-year history.

    “Tom’s leadership over the past few years has been invaluable in guiding Grange to becoming a high performing company. Although I am saddened to see him leave, I am pleased he is taking the time for himself and his family. On behalf of the entire board, I’d like to thank him for his contributions and leadership,” said Board Chairman David Wetmore.

    “When Tom was elected as president and CEO we agreed that developing the next generation of Grange leaders and ensuring an orderly CEO succession were among our highest priorities,” Wetmore said. “We are thrilled to have someone as exceptional and well-respected as John to lead Grange into the future.” 

    Ammendola joined Grange in 2010 as president of personal lines and became chief property & casualty officer in 2013. Under his direction, the personal lines business returned to profitable growth and the company began to diversify its portfolio through continued investments and growth in its commercial lines business.

    Ammendola’s record of building and leading high performing teams in the industry includes serving as senior vice president of sales and marketing at Kemper Insurance Company. He also successfully served as senior vice president of finance and strategy at Safeco Insurance Company after leading Safeco’s personal lines business as senior vice president. Ammendola started his insurance career with GEICO, where he served in claims, sales and underwriting leadership roles.

    “It is an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to lead Grange and our independent agency partners into the future.” Ammendola said. “Under Tom’s leadership, we have started on the important journey of becoming a high performing company. My commitment is to build on that success. I’m looking forward to what the future of Grange will bring.”

  • Guest Blog: How Promoting from Within Can Help Your Company

    Posted on Sep 26, 2014

    Rains photo

    By Colleen Rains

    How does a company create itself to be “built to last”? The organizations with staying power figure out ways to keep the years of knowledge, relationships and context within the workforce. This bank of wisdom is invaluable – and critical for companies to retain even as employees come and go. Even the most thorough transition processes fail to retain some of the mission-critical intellectual assets. So, what are you doing to preserve this wisdom wealth?

    Promoting from within is one key solution. Consider existing employees to fill open positions before going outside the organization. Internal advancement provides a wide range of benefits, including:

    Employee satisfaction and loyalty. Organizations that invest in their workforce see lower turnover rates, higher employee satisfaction scores, and improvements to safety and performance. Internal advancements validate an organization’s faith and confidence in the existing teams. Employees who receive an internal advancement build trust in the organization. They appreciate and acknowledge the company’s commitment to the workforce. High levels of trust build loyalty and dedication to the organization.

    Less risk. When promoting from within, managers know what to expect from that employee based on their track record. As the newly promoted individual learns higher-level duties, he/she can rely on existing relationships with co-workers and mentors to receive support and coaching. Not sure if someone is quite ready for a promotion? Try assigning a few higher-level duties to see how they perform. This “test drive” builds confidence in the management team and the individual ahead of the actual promotion.

    Retention of “Wisdom Wealth.” Employees all have unique knowledge sets based on past project involvement and individual experiences with the company. This specialized knowledge can help an organization improve products, processes, profits and services. Deeply aware of company capabilities, limitations, management, goals and customer or client needs, a long-standing employee has historical perspective that can drive results.

    For internal advancement to be successful, structured programs should be incorporated to help employees grow and advance in their roles. Three methods to consider as you commit to internal advancement:

    Individual Development Plans (IDP). An effective IDP acknowledges what skills the employee has mastered and provides a clear roadmap for what the employee needs to do to prepare to take the next step in their career, including opportunities to test and prove new skills (think Stretch Assignments).

    Mentoring. In a formal or informal structure, a mentoring relationship can provide specific career education, training and development. Remember: the best way to prove mastery of knowledge is to teach it, so also consider engagements when the mentee must “mentor up” and give information, not just be the recipient of others’ knowledge.

    Coaching. The best coaching arrangements are detailed with measurable outcomes before the start of the coaching session. The person being coached must be committed to the process including preparation and completion of assignments during and between sessions in order to achieve the full benefit of the coach.

    Promoting from within can help your company heighten employee satisfaction and loyalty, retain critical wisdom wealth and endure less risk; in other words, be Built to Last. Be courageous and invest in the skills of current employees. Showing your willingness to support internal growth and engage employees in the future of your company is a win-win all around.


    Colleen Rains has served as Director of Human Resources at Elford, Inc. for nearly 15 years. She was recognized as Executive of the Year (Small Organization) in 2013 by Columbus CEO for proving that great HR employees and great companies go hand in hand.



  • Guest Blog: Celebrating Family Business Milestones Strengthen Relationships by Honoring Special Achievements

    Posted on Sep 18, 2014

     (Editor’s Note: This is the tenth in a series of columns by family business leaders and advisors with information and ideas about topics unique to family businesses, developed in conjunction with the Conway Center for Family Business.)

     By Kelly Borth

     Whether a family business is celebrating 10 years or 100 years in business, it is a special time and an opportunity to be recognized for business longevity and best practices.

     There are many ways to leverage a milestone year. In all cases, how you celebrate should be fun and consistent with your company’s brand. Here are some things you might want to consider for your business.

     Determine a promotional timeframe

    It is not unusual for a company milestone to be promoted six months in advance of the milestone date and continue six months following the milestone year.

     Develop an anniversary logo

    Develop a special logo or adapt your current logo with a reference to the anniversary year. It is also common for companies to continue to use some form of the logo past the milestone year, sometimes as a standard part of the company’s corporate identity or logo and sometimes as a tagline. Incorporate the logo on the company’s website, company stationery, brochures (sometimes best done with a sticker) and other marketing and advertising materials, email signatures and social media sites. Also make it visible in all company offices.

     Create an anniversary theme

    Creating an anniversary theme can be a fun way to tie-in a special anniversary message. The theme can play off the milestone year such as, “100 Ways We’ve Led the Industry,” or emphasize a competitive advantage such as, “Emerging Through Innovation.” Incorporate the theme in all marketing and employee communications.


    Document the company’s history

    For many family-owned businesses, pulling together the company’s history can be a big task. Creating a company timeline, incorporating archive family and business photos and sharing tidbits of the company’s history can be fun ways to engage employees and social media contacts. Once documented, this information can reside on the company website and be incorporated into employee manuals and the on-boarding process. Another fun way to share company history is to produce an anniversary video (and if you have a theme, create a theme song) or a company history coffee table book.

     Celebrate with employees

    Commemorating company milestones with employees builds pride. Many family businesses use companywide corporate and family events, commemorative shirts, hats and other items to thank their employees during a milestone year.

     Celebrate with customers and vendors

    Communicating the company’s milestones, mailing or delivering commemorative gifts, planning celebrations such as open houses or plant tours and simple letters of thanks are great ways to involve customers and vendors.

     Share your story with trade and local media

    A company that reaches a milestone year is not necessarily newsworthy to most media, but if you can tie-in that message with what the company has done over time or recently that has assured the company’s growth and helped it obtain longevity, now you are talking about something that might catch the attention of a reporter. There might also be an interesting story that emerges from the company’s history, such as reinvention to remain relevant in the marketplace or an original building that is now a notable landmark. Also look to organizations like the Columbus Chamber or the Conway Family Business Center—both of which recognize company milestone years. Note: The Conway Center will be celebrating family business milestones at a luncheon on November 7th this year.

    Be philanthropic

    Giving back to the community in some way can also be a memorable way to share your milestone with all audiences. Choose a cause that your company is passionate about. Make a commemorative contribution such as 100 volunteer hours, 50 meals or a cash amount that ties back to your milestone year.

     So, don’t let a milestone year slip by unnoticed. Have some fun and celebrate these wonderful achievements.

     Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 24-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. She also is an advisory board member and service provider member of the Conway Center for Family Business. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership and is one of 35 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at 614-885-7921,, @brandpro or for more information

  • Chase CEO Jamie Dimon announced as keynote for 2015 Columbus Chamber Annual Meeting

    Posted on Sep 16, 2014

    Chase CEO Jamie Dimon comes up frequently in conversation with Columbus' business leaders. JPMorgan Chase has more than 20,000 employees based in the Columbus market--the firm's largest employee base outside of its New York headquarters.

    Dimon's ascension as chairman and chief of JPMorgan Chase began in Columbus: Dimon was elected to succeed John B. McCoy as CEO of Bank One (formerly Banc One). Chase named Dimon COO and president following its Bank One merger in 2004. Dimon was named Chase's CE0 and president in 2005, its chairman in 2006. 

    "Jamie is a great leader, he’s a great banker--there’s nobody better—and a nice person," says Jack Kessler (Columbus CEO, September 2014), chairman of the New Albany Company and a member of the search committee that appointed Dimon to lead Bank One. "There’s more employees (here) now for JPMorgan than when Bank One was headquartered here...Jamie loves it here because he said the work ethic is so good. He said he’d move everybody here if he could. He loves Columbus."

    The details of Dimon's keynote and the Columbus Chamber annual meeting, via the Chamber's announcement this afternoon:

    The Columbus Chamber today announced that James “Jamie” Dimon, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., will serve as keynote speaker at its 2015 Annual Meeting. The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. on February 12, 2015 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s Battelle Grand ballroom.

    “Jamie Dimon has been recognized as one of the most influential business leaders of our time, as well as one of the top CEOs,” said Michael Dalby, president and CEO, Columbus Chamber. “We are pleased that he has agreed to join us at the Columbus Chamber’s Annual Meeting, and we look forward to hearing him share his ideas and insights with our members.”

    JPMorgan Chase is the largest private employer in the Columbus Region, with more than 20,000 employees here.

    Pre-sale tickets for the 2015 Annual Meeting are on sale now through the end of the year. The cost is $85 for Chamber members and $100 for non-member guests. Along with hearing from Mr. Dimon, admission to the event includes breakfast, networking with more than 1,200 Columbus Region business leaders, and the presentation of the Columbus Award and Small Business Leader Award. After January 1, tickets will be $100 for members and $120 for non-member guests.

    For more details or to order pre-sale tickets to the Chamber’s 2015 Annual Meeting, visit

    The Columbus Chamber Annual Meeting is presented by State Auto Insurance Companies with support from Cassidy Turley and Bartha Audio Visual. The Small Business Leader Award is presented in partnership with Commerce National Bank.

  • Bob Evans colocates IT operations to Cologix Columbus using AEP Ohio incentive

    Posted on Sep 11, 2014

    The Bob Evans/Cologix partnership was announced in this morning's press release:

    Cologix, a network-neutral interconnection and data center company, is providing a bonus benefit to businesses that colocate IT and network equipment with Cologix in Columbus, Ohio via the AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency Data Center Program.  AEP Ohio, which provides power to much of central Ohio, offers incentive payments to business customers that invest in programs to increase energy efficiency and implement energy-efficient technologies. By replacing a legacy in-house data center with a deployment in Cologix’s enterprise grade data center, Bob Evans Farms met all of the programs’ criteria and is the first corporate user to qualify by leveraging third party data center services.

    Bob Evans owns and operates more than 550 family restaurants in 19 states, primarily in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States. Through the data center program, Bob Evans has achieved significant energy efficiencies and received cash incentive payments from AEP Ohio based on projected annualized energy savings.

    “By participating in the AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency Data Center Program and colocating in Cologix Columbus, Bob Evans has partnered with a hometown brand that enables us to focus on growing our business and serving our customers,” said George Haller, vice president, IT Infrastructure and Operations Services, Bob Evans. “The decision to move into Cologix was already compelling for us based on our confidence in their infrastructure and high touch support staff focused on our dedicated environment that allow us to focus more attention on creating a great experience for our own customers across the country.  The incentives from the AEP Ohio Business Incentive program presented a bonus for making the decision to work with Cologix and offered a great sense of pride for the company that we are doing our part for the environment.”

    “We are very pleased that Cologix Columbus is positioned as a strategic partner in the AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency Data Center Program,” said Frank Dargham, Customer Service Account Manager at AEP Ohio. “Cologix’s investment in infrastructure resiliency and efficiency make Cologix unique in our market, providing regionally headquartered enterprises the secure and efficient location they need to take advantage of our incentive program.”

    Cologix Columbus’ power and cooling systems work harmoniously with other efficiency measures engineered into the facility. Collectively, these measures help achieve a leading power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio. A very high percentage of the power delivered to the data center is available to power customers’ IT equipment, with only a small percentage of total power utilized for power conditioning or cooling purposes.

    “Energy efficiencies and cost savings are extremely important to our customers, which is why we’re excited to market the AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency Data Center Program,” said Kim Gerhart, general manager, Cologix Columbus. “Once prospective customers tour our facility, many are already convinced about the resiliency, performance and cost benefits of adopting our colocation model to replace legacy in-house environments.  The AEP Energy Efficiency Data Center program further validates those customers’ business cases and strategic decisions.” 

  • National MS Society honors OhioHealth Riverside president

    Posted on Sep 9, 2014

    Dr. Stephen Markovich, president of OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, will receive the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Norm Cohn Hope Award tomorrow evening as the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the NMSS hosts its 9th Annual Dinner of Champions gala.

    The award is given in recognition of individuals who "exhibit vision and commitment to leadership, philanthropy and community service" in the effort to research, treat and cure the central nervous system disease. The Buckeye Chapter National MS Society serves an "estimated 14,000 people affected by MS and their families in 64 Ohio counties."

    Past Dinner of Champions honorees have included Mills James president Ken Mills and former Ohio State University president Gordon Gee.

    As president of OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, Dr. Markovich has overseen the establishment and construction of a $321 million Neuroscience Center and 10-story tower, scheduled to open in summer 2015. The Neuroscience Center, led by Dr. Janet Bay, will unite all of OhioHealth's neuro services--including the hospital's dedicated MS clinic--in one central location, and allow for more tightly integrated neuro-patient care across all of Riverside's practice areas.

    The 9th Annual Dinner of Champions will take place tomorrow, Sept. 10 from 6-9 p.m. at the Ivory Room at Miranova.

    Individual tickets are $150 and sponsorships to benefit the Ohio Buckeye Chapter are available. Tickets available by contacting Michelle Wohlfeiler at ,216-503-4184 or by visiting .