Welcome the inaugural class for the Cleveland Dealmakers Hall of Fame! This group of dealmakers has made an often-groundbreaking impact on their organizations, industries and the Northeast Ohio region over the course of decades in business.
Next Thursday, June 1, we'll celebrate their accomplishments at the Cleveland Smart Business Dealmakers Conference, which will be held at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. We're highlighting this amazing group of honorees as they together provide a strong picture of the Northeast Ohio business community. Here's who we're inducting this year:
Warren Anderson, President and CEO of The Anderson DuBose Company, a distributor for McDonald's and Chipotle, with centers located in Lordstown, Ohio, and Rochester, New York, is also the majority owner of Capital Distributing, a beer distributor in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He serves on the boards of PlayHouse Square, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Cleveland Clinic, and The Shoreby Club, and is a member of The Presidents' Council.
Ralph Della Ratta has worked in the fields of commercial banking, investment banking and private equity, with a career spanning more than 45 years. Currently a partner at Kirtland Capital Partners, a Cleveland-based private equity firm, he previously served as the CEO and co-founder of the investment banking firm Western Reserve Partners LLC and later as Chairman of the M&A Group of Citizens Bank, after selling WRP to Citizens. Prior to those positions, Ralph was Senior Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking at McDonald & Co. He held the same positions when KeyCorp acquired McDonald & Co.
Umberto P. Fedeli an active investor and entrepreneur, is CEO of The Fedeli Group, one of Ohio’s largest privately held risk management and insurance firms, specializing in property and casualty, employee benefits consulting, workers’ compensation, environmental risk management and surety. He sits on numerous private company boards, is a managing member of Strategic Value Bank Partners LP, and has previously held positions on the boards of many other public and private entities. Umberto is also a member of the board of directors of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and serves as chairman of the Government and Community Relations Board.
Michael Feuer co-founded of OfficeMax and for over 16 years as CEO grew the retailer to sales of $5 billion and 1,000 stores worldwide. Today he's the founder and CEO of Max Ventures, which invests in and consults for retail businesses. Feuer serves on a number of boards and is a frequent national speaker. His long-running nationally syndicated column “Tips from the Top,” which runs in Smart Business magazine, has received many national, regional and state awards for excellence.
Dee Haslam is the founder and executive producer of RIVR Media, CEO of the Haslam Sports Group and, along with her husband, Jimmy Haslam, is co-owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. The two are majority investors in the ownership group of the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, a team that won the MLS Cup in 2020. This year, the two became co-owners of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, and continue to be part of the family ownership group of the truck stop chain Pilot Flying J.
Jeff Heinen is Co-President, along with his brother, Tom, of Heinen’s Inc., a 23-store family-owned grocery chain with stores in Cleveland and Chicago. Heinen’s is Cleveland’s first supermarket, founded by Jeff’s grandfather Joe in 1933. The third-generation business owner grew up in Cleveland, graduated from Stanford University and has worked with Heinen’s for 45 years. Together with his brother, he's ushered in the fourth generation of the business.
Stewart Kohl is Co-founder and Co-CEO of The Riverside Company, a $13 billion global private equity firm that invests in premier companies at the smaller end of the middle market and employs more than 300 people in offices across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Since 1988, the firm has invested in more than 960 companies across the world. Prior to co-founding Riverside, Kohl was a Vice President at Citicorp Venture Capital, the private equity arm of Citibank.
After spending 16 years as a “Heavy Hitter” participant in the Pan-Mass Challenge bicycle fundraiser, he founded VeloSano, a similar event that has raised more than $20 million to fund cancer research since 2014. He also serves on the boards of Oberlin College (Honorary), the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and the Cleveland Clinic.
Ray Leach is the Founding CEO of JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland-based nonprofit venture development organization that has gained a national best-in-class reputation for its innovative economic development models and its ability to leverage its experience and expertise across the U.S. The nationally recognized thought and practice leader on the intersection of public, private, and philanthropic partnerships has deployed more than $90 million to 170 startups.
Leach began his career at IBM and went on to co-found four startups. He's also a founding member of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and currently serves on the for-profit boards of Axuall, Smithers and Signet LLC, and the nonprofit board of Venture Forward.
John Nottingham and John Spirk are Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Nottingham Spirk, a world-class product innovation firm that, since 1972, has co-created more than 1,400 patents, of which 95 percent have been commercialized. The Nottingham Spirk “Vertical Innovation Process” has helped client and partner companies innovate and commercialize digital IoT-enabled products that have earned more $50 billion in combined sales.
Among the products developed are the Crest SpinBrush, the largest selling powered toothbrush line; Swiffer Sweep+Vac; Club Car Tempo Walk, the world’s first autonomous golf caddie; Cardinal Health InPower Digital Medication Assistant; TecTraum, the first concussion therapy system; and Medtronic CardioInsight EC Vue, the first non-invasive electrocardiographic mapping system.
Nottingham is the co-founder of 20 venture companies and is the managing partner of Nottingham Unlimited Ventures. Spirk serves on the Boards of Trustees for Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Institute of Art, and University Circle, Inc. In addition, he is the Chairman of the Architectural Review Board of Gates Mills.