Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development has announced DRM Productions 2020 Small Business of the Year Award winner in the 14-and-under employees category. DRM has been a client in Braintree's Scaleup Assistance Program funded by the Richland County Foundation, and CEO Jay Miller is a current Braintree board member.

Debt Recovery Solutions of Ohio won the honor of the 15-and-more employee category on Wednesday. The winner for the 14-and-less employee category was DRM Productions Inc. The awards ceremony was hosted by the Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development and live-streamed on its Facebook page due to the pandemic. Chamber President and CEO Jodie Perry said DRS of Ohio takes great care of its employees and is actively involved in the community. The company has prospered in the area for nearly 20 years and “shown no signs of slowing down.” Shambre, president of DRS of Ohio, had tears in her eyes while accepting the award. Shambre said said she and Bethany Robertson, the company’s vice president, and have worked hard to build the business. It took them seven years to begin making a profit.“It's not easy to start a small business. But you know what? My mother always told me: reach for the stars … Today, we became a star,” Shambre said.The debt collection agency trains employees daily to make sure they have the knowledge to do the work correctly and in a diplomatic way, Shambre said. They also have game days during the week to motivate the collectors to stay on task.
DRM is a communications company that provides digital services ranging from video production to virtual reality. Chief executive officer Jay Miller said clients come in with new ideas and the team takes on the challenge to figure out the best solution. Jay Miller, CEO of DRM Productions Inc. The office environment at DRM is full of fun. Miller said there are board game days and Ping-Pong tournaments to help everyone relax. Some staff members take their dogs to work, too. The pandemic dramatically changed clients’ needs, Miller said, pushing the 14-person team to its limit. But they have managed it and produced 22 videos about local nonprofits’ efforts in the global crisis. He also said it's DRM’s honor to “scream from the mountaintops all the good things going on in this community. ”“If you guys keep being awesome, we'll keep yelling from the mountaintops and we'll eventually let the whole world know,” Miller said. Perry said the chamber received a record 92 nominations of small businesses and nonprofits this year.

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Braintree grad Hess Industries continues growth trajectory

December 10, 2020
by Peng Chen, Richland Source
Hess Industries Ltd. has launched its first major expansion, four years after graduating from the Braintree Building and moving to the Mansfield Industrial Park.

Construction of an expansion of Hess Industries, scheduled to be finished in late February, will create an additional 8,800 square feet of space for the tool-and-die manufacturer. Owner Mark Hess said the new floor space will allow his team to appropriately place equipment it's purchased over the years.In April, the company bought a five-axis computer numerical control (CNC) machining center. Hess said the machine, equipped with a trunnion table, allows a maker to work on multiple sides of a part in one setup. The equipment has helped the team be more productive, he said.The expansion will enable the company to react to the market growth in a timely fashion. Hess said with the nationwide efforts of reshaping manufacturing production back to the U.S., the additional area is going to give his business an opportunity to move quickly and regain market share. “We're not only just setting up for what's going to happen next year, we're setting up for what's going to happen in the next five to 10 years,” he said.With 18 acres of land at the current location, Hess said this will not be the company’s last expansion.Buy NowHess Industries Ltd. is based at Mansfield Industrial Park.By Peng Chen, Staff ReporterFounded in 1999 by Hess and his wife, Pam, what was once a two-person-business has evolved into a 14-person team. While revenue has doubled in the past 10 years, the hiring stays conservative.Hess said he does not hire employees for quick work. He has grown the company at a conservative rate to make sure he does not have to lay off anyone. He has kept that record for 21 years ─ even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s (laying people off) not part of who we are. We are always working day and night, trying to figure out how we can maintain those jobs, keep the cash flow of our employees OK at home, to where they could take care of their families,” Hess said.When the pandemic arrived in Ohio, he talked to the team and they decided to build a safe environment to keep everyone working. The protocols include daily temperature checks and a mask mandate.Hess said the next thing they thought about was how they could help the community. Within a couple of weeks, they came up with the idea of a hands-free door handle attachment, which allowed users to open a door without passing germs to the handle.The team used its industrial-grade 3D printers to print out the device and donated to several local and out-of-state hospitals and restaurants.Hess is always thinking about how he can help people reach their potential. It is not only the way he treats his employees but also how he runs the business.When the shutdown started to hit the economy, his team reached out to the customers, genuinely asking how they were doing and how Hess industries could help keep their business going. “Yes, we want to make money. We want to make money on every product. But we want to do good. We want to help people succeed,” he said.To him, sales numbers are just the “by-product” of doing good.“When you find someone that desperately needs help and you're there to help them or just listen to them, the rest of it just kind of comes pretty simple and easy. But I think being selfless and not thinking all about yourself is the key to success,” Hess said.While the company is conservative in expanding, it is progressive in adopting new technology to its work. The investment in 3D printers is the most recent example.Hess said the company teamed with Fasten8, a fastener supplier based in Ireland, about 18 months ago to develop a new in-die clinch fastener tooling.They have finished the research and development stage and started to build the unit. The product will combine traditional computer numerical control practices and state-of-the-art 3D printing technology. To conduct this project, Hess Industries has purchased four industrial-grade 3D printers.Hess explained that traditionally, a tool-and-die maker would design a part and machine it out on a solid metal block. The process could take from hours to days, depending on the size of the object.With a 3D printer for additive machining, they can print out the same part within hours and without subtracting any material. Hess said these printers use chopped and continuous carbon fiber to produce strong parts. His long-term goal is getting into metal 3D printing.

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The CEO of the Year for 2020 in the Large Business category is the chief executive of Root Insurance. Root Insurance began offering auto policies online with the promise of revolutionizing a staid business in which the youngest top-10 company has been around for 83 years. It took a few iterations to work out the bugs and offer a product customers liked, the cofounder and CEO of Columbus’ most innovative insurer says. “It took about a year of engineering after launching that first product to get people to use it. Then we started to see a lot of the growth.”

Alex Timm will never forget the day in 2016 when Root Insurance began offering auto policies online with the promise of revolutionizing a staid business in which the youngest top-10 company has been around for 83 years.“Nothing happened,” he recalls. “You’re watching your dash boards, and you’re like, ‘OK it’s live!’ And no one bought anything. It was a really slow start.”It took a few iterations to work out the bugs and offer a product customers liked, the cofounder and CEO of Columbus’ most innovative insurer says. “It took about a year of engineering after launching that first product to get people to use it. Then we started to see a lot of the growth.”In 2020, Root hit more milestones. Timm and cofounder Dan Manges, the company’s chief technology officer, rang the Nasdaq opening bell in late October for Root’s initial public offering. Root sold 2 million more shares than projected, raising $724.4 million and making history as Ohio’s biggest-ever IPO, with a company valuation surpassing $7 billion. It also was the biggest IPO of the year for technology-driven insurers in a growing field dubbed “insurtech.”“There’s no way I could have predicted it would become this big this quickly,” marvels Timm, whose father introduced him to the business by having him call bar owners whose policies were about to be canceled. “I always thought we’d be a big company, but I thought it was going to take years and years and years. The sheer speed at which it’s happened, that has surprised me quite a bit.”It’s been part of Timm’s plans for a long time, though. As that 14-year-old self-described “math nerd” whose dad had him call late-paying policyholders, Timm “fell in love” with actuarial work and started dreaming of starting his own insurance company. He earned his bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, accounting and mathematics with a 4.0 average at Drake University and worked as a corporate-strategy consultant at Nationwide for about 3½ years before striking off on his own.“I remember waking up the next day after quitting my job and having money in the bank and saying, ‘Oh, my God, we have to build a company.’ I remember sitting down with a spreadsheet and some product-management tools, talking with some engineers and saying, ‘How are we going to build this?’ That was terrifying. One Line Coffee in the Short North and Fox and Snow were really our office.”For all the buzz out there now about Root Insurance, very little of it is self-generated. Its logo doesn’t flutter when the endzone nets go up in NFL stadiums. Agency-created characters don’t sing its praises. You don’t have a Root jingle stuck in your head.The company, instead, has latched on to easy-to-understand differentiators, operating solely online and basing rates primarily on drivers’ behavior instead of factors such as their age, address and credit score.It’s a message that resonates with consumers, particularly those 22- to 35-year-olds who make up the bulk of Root’s customers. In August, the company pledged to eliminate credit scores, which tend to increase rates for Black and immigrant drivers, as a pricing factor by 2025. In October, Root cut an ad featuring African-American NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who pushed the racing circuit to ban Confederate flags at its events earlier this year.“A big part of it is fairness,” Timm says of Root’s appeal to consumers. “I think there were a lot of people who felt insurance was a rip-off and were a little angry at the industry. They didn’t feel that the industry and big insurance companies were really on the consumers’ side.”Despite this year’s foray into celebrity advertising—the Bubba Wallace ad still was less of an insurance pitch than an appeal to consumers who want corporations to take a stand on social issues—Timm says Root still values substance over style.“I’m a math nerd, and my cofounder is an engineering nerd. So we weren’t very good at hype,” he says. “We just stuck to what we were good at, and that was math and engineering. Our competitors, they’re advertising machines. We decided to take a very different approach. What we’re good at is building new products.”

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After more than a year of searching, the Jefferson County Port Authority hired attorney Robert Naylor as new executive director. In addition to Chairman of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, his experience includes chair for the Jefferson County Community Action Council, and secretary for the Braintree Business Development Center in Mansfield.

Following a lengthy executive session during a special meeting of the Port Authority Board of Directors, the board voted to hire Robert Naylor to fill the position that has been vacant since August of 2019.Naylor, a county resident and current chairman of the board of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, will begin the role on Nov. 1.“I would like to express my gratitude to the Jefferson County Port Authority Board of Directors for affording me this opportunity,” Naylor said. “I’m humbled and honored to accept this position. We have a strong board and it’s time to get to work.”Naylor will be paid an annual salary of $100,000.In addition to his role with the chamber of commerce, his experience includes being the chairman of the board for the Jefferson County Community Action Council, being the director, secretary and legal council for the Braintree Business Development Center in Mansfield and business advisory council for Dublin City Schools.More details about the announcement will appear in the Thursday edition of the Herald-Star.

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North Central State College honored Mark Hess, owner of Hess Industries Ltd. with the 2020 Alum of the Year Award. Hess is a 1991 graduate from the mechanical engineering program, and a current board member of the Braintree Business Development Center. Hess Industries is a graduate of the Braintree business incubation program.

Mark Hess credits North Central for providing a great education that he continues to use every day. “NC State has helped shape my career and I continue to pull on things that I learned while attending the college,” Hess says.Hess enrolled in evening classes while working as a tool and die apprentice fulltime during the day. “I enjoyed working with my hands and learning how to use each of those machines to make useful things,” Hess explains. “The skills I learned were invaluable for my future plans. My goal was to own a tool and die business one day.”When he turned 30-years-old, his dream came true. “My wife and I sold everything that we owned and put it into the dream of working a business,” he says proudly. Today, Hess Industries employs 14 people. They started with just basic tool room equipment and a few customers. By investing heavily in technology, the company went from basic equipment to state-of-the-art machinery. “Twenty-two years later, we have a world-class tooling center selling value-added tooling to other companies all over the world,” Hess says. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hess and his team created a hands-free door handle attachment using their industrial-grade 3-D printer. “It’s during tough times that the true battles are won and your character is chiseled.”Hess and wife Pam feel strongly about giving back to the community. They not only support the North Central State College Foundation, but also the Shelby YMCA, Shelby Foundation, The Shelter, Harmony House, Richland Pregnancy Services, Shelby Help Line, Plymouth-Shiloh Food Pantry, Core Community Church, Shelby Community & Senior Center, and the Richland County Foundation. “We have been very blessed through the years and have been able to help others and give back in many ways.”

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