July 1, 2011

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Ernst & Young ENTREPRENEUR Of The YEAR

For 25 years, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® Program ...Read More

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Article

Ernst & Young ENTREPRENEUR Of The YEAR

CONTINUING UTAH’S LEGACY OF SUCCESS

Candace M. Little, Heather Stewart, Sarah Ryther Francom

July 1, 2011

PAUL FAIRHOLM | RICHARD MILES, STEPHEN MILES | KIRK OLSEN, DAVID WEBSTER
Founding Members — Western States Lodging and Management

After seeing a need for hotel housing for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Western States Lodging and Management was born. About 16 years and 40 projects later, the company is recognized in Utah, Nevada and Arizona for quality real estate developments, superior hotel management and excellent senior care.

David Webster says he hated group projects in college—but this venture has been a complete success, and he attributes it to the size and diversity of the team. “We started with four partners (one hotel operator, one financial guy and two developers), we added a partner as we began development of seniors projects, and recently an additional partner to manage our new ancillary business and to develop another business line (hospitals). We have stayed partners because we all feel we need each other and each person’s individual perspective.”

Even with their differences, Webster says, “We recognize that the one thing we have in common is that we all ‘married-up.’”

DR. STEPHEN D. NEELEMAN
CEO — HealthEquity

Dr. Stephen D. Neeleman has long been passionate about healthcare. An accomplished surgeon by trade, Neeleman knew that his impact in the healthcare industry could be even greater than the individual lives he touched. He became a promoter of consumer education and consumer-driven healthcare, and in 2002 launched HealthEquity, a company that offers innovative health account programs, including high deductible health plans and health savings accounts. Today, HealthEquity serves more than 11,000 employers and 700,000 individuals.

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, HealthEquity aims to stay one step ahead of the mounting changes. The company’s proprietary software and service solution help companies control healthcare costs by providing transparency tools, personal health records and other healthcare decision support tools. HealthEquity was also a key partner with the state of Utah in its launch of its innovative health exchange.

Though Neeleman remains dedicated to HealthEquity, he still finds time to help his patients, performing at least one surgery a week.

RETAIL AND CONSUMER PRODUCTS

ORVILLE THOMPSON, CEO
HEIDI THOMPSON, President
Scentsy, Inc.

Orville Thompson has been an entrepreneur since he was a kid, raising a herd of sheep at age 11 and earning enough money as a teen to pay for college. Heidi Thompson says she became an entrepreneur the day her husband, Orville, told her they might have to declare bankruptcy. “When I told him we were going to swing for the fence and work our way out of debt, that was the day I became an entrepreneur because I knew it would take both of us working together to do it,” she says.

After purchasing the concept from a few women selling wickless candles from their basement, the Thompsons built Scentsy from the ground up with no credit, no loans, no office, no employees and virtually no equipment. Despite these hurdles, the company grew from $140,000 in sales in 2004 to $380 million last year.

STEVEN BAIN
President and Co-founder --— Simply Mac

Steve Bain co-founded Simply Mac, a retailer that focuses exclusively on Apple products and services, in 2006 with a single retail store in Orem. With an eye to future expansion, the company opened temporary demonstration locations in University Mall and Fashion Place Mall—just in time to capture holiday sales.

“There were no independent dealers or resellers that people could go and find [Apple] products,” says Bain. With data from the mall stores to back him up, he convinced Apple that an independent retail chain could help the tech giant distribute its products in smaller and mid-size markets.

Since that time, Simply Mac has grown from $2.8 million in sales to $25 million in sales last year. Additionally, the company has expanded to eight retail locations, as well as an e-commerce site.

Simply Mac customers “expect the Apple experience—they expect the technology, they expect the innovation, they expect the brand, they expect something new and different,” says Bain. “We aim to exceed their expectation.”

TROY CROSLAND, President
DANIELLE NIELSON, Executive Vice President  Diamond Wireless

What recession? Diamond Wireless had its strongest years during the economic downturn, and even grew by 50 percent last year. Brother-and-sister duo Troy Crosland and Danielle Nielson launched the company in 2000, mortgaging their homes and living on credit cards for nearly two years to make it happen. “We all put everything we had in the business,” says Crosland.

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