In this economy, it's not always easy to turn a profit. And it's even harder to turn a profit and reserve enough time, energy and money to make a difference in your community while you keep your company running smoothly. Every year at Smart Business, we present The Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service to honor businesses of all types and sizes that make outstanding contributions to their community. We do this to encourage a charitable environment — and this year, as something new, we're going to help you experience the charitable environment of the event itself, even if you can't join us at LaCentre in Westlake, Ohio.
Welcome to the live blog covering this evening's Pillar recipients. It will be updated throughout the night as we announce the winners and hear their stories.
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8:40 p.m. Ken Lanci (pictured here with Doug Piper of FirstMerit) remembers getting off the gurney and onto the table after he suffered a massive cardiac arrest. The doctor said, "Tell me what's going on." Ken said, "I'm going out." That's all he remembered before seeing a blinding white light and feeling, overwhelmingly, the love of God. "It was a wonderful feeling."
"The next thing I know, several hours later, I woke up on a respirator," he says. "That wasn't much fun, but it was meant to be. People said, 'There's more for you to do.'"
Ken was always a believer that if you do what you've always done, you'll get the same results you've always gotten. He was committed to doing whatever needed to be done, even though he know it would require a change.
When Issue 9 passed, someone suggested that he run for office. And then another, and another. "I never would have entertained the thought," he says.
"And then I woke up one morning and said, 'Ohhh crap. Maybe that's what I'm supposed to do. If this is my mission, I have to do it for the greater good of all. I'll finance my own campaign, run as an independent and give the money back to the community — which was more than $1 million of salary and benefits."
"The day after I woke up, I realized that my mission wasn't to be a politician. The journey was for me to have access and knowledge about the greater needs and what needs to be done for the greater good of all. My opportunity to work at the homeless center, at the jail, ride with the sheriff, understand issues and talk to people I never would have had the chance to talk to gave me tremendous insight into what's going on and what has to be done."
"I'm not here for me anymore. I'm not so arrogant to say, 'I'm the chosen one;' what I'm telling you is I'm grateful and blessed for the life I have, and I know enough to do the right thing — and that's to work for the greater good of all. So I've committed 90% of what my company earns, going forward, to charities and foundations that need it. I give back in a way that's meaningful for me."
"I would ask you all at this time of the year — those of you that can, because some of you can give money and some of you can give time, which is just as important as money — I would encourage you to be grateful for what you've achieved and help those in need."
There's no better way to sum up the message of the Pillar Awards for Community Service. Well deserved, Ken!
8:31 p.m. And now the news you've been waiting for, the only award we keep secret until it's announced at the event. The 2011 Kent Clapp CEO Leadership award goes to Ken Lanci, CEO of Consolidated Graphics. A standing ovation — much deserved!
From Ken's assistant, via video, "The employees see the things he does for the community and they’re very proud. He’s someone to look up to."
8:30 p.m. The Taylor Companies take the Fairmount Minerals Sustainable Business Practices Award. They invested nearly $900,000 in energy efficient equipment and processes to reduce energy consumption by 59%.