Success Stories

Hear From Our Clients
Our client stories allow you to learn a little more about our business owners, their organizations and how they've benefited from Aileron and professional management. As you will see, no matter what industry you are in, professional management can help you gain control and grow your business.

Share Your Stories

How has Aileron helped you and your organization? We want to know!  Share your Success 

Video Testimonials

Jim Houpt
President and Owner
Merchants Security Service of Dayton OH, Inc.
Aileron Helped Me
  • Managing the changing marketplace
  • Working on vision and future
  • Culture
  • Developing my employees
  • Team building
  • Work/life balance

I Had Hit Rock Bottom

Since driving professional management throughout his organization, Jim has transformed the company culture and his employees are working together as a trusted team. And Jim has finally found the right balance between work and family.

Scott McGohan
McGohan Brabender, Inc.
CEO
Aileron Helped Me
  • Strategic thinking and planning
  • Setting vision
  • People development
  • Empowering employees
  • Organizational structure
  • Personal leadership

As An Entrepreneur, I Was A Gunslinger

Scott shares how driving professional management throughout his organization improved his quality of life both professionally and personally. "As business owners, we knew why we're here, but how do you instill this passion throughout the company?" he says. "How do you get the person at the front desk fired up to come in every morning? Aileron helped us define how and why we do what we do."

Tony Schroeder
President
Choice One Engineering Corp
Aileron Helped Me
  • Focus
  • Continuous improvement
  • Connect to peers
  • Setting vision
  • Personal and employee satisfaction
  • Culture
  • Work/life balance

Independent Wealth Is Not Just Measured In Money

How comfortable would you be handing over your company to your managers and walking out the door for two months? No phone calls, no emails, no nothing. Before Aileron and professional management, Tony would have laughed at the idea, too. But, after instituting Aileron's simplified and proven approach that's exactly what he did.

Joe Kelley
President
Gates That Open, Inc.
Aileron Helped Me
  • Changing the company culture
  • Developing people
  • Firing employees
  • Hiring the right people
  • Personal leadership
  • Running the business

Professional Management Transformed My Company

When Joe Kelley came home to his wife after his first day as president of Gates That Open (GTO) he said, "I don't know if I am good enough to do this." With the support of Aileron and many mentors over a five-year period Joe transformed the company and has gone from losing money to making money – to the tune of a 400-percent turnaround.

Christopher Che
President
Hooven-Dayton, Corp.
Aileron Helped Me
  • Managing exponential growth
  • Organization, structure, and systems
  • Change management
  • Developing senior leadership
  • Team mission, vision, and core values
  • Personal leadership

Our Company Had Doubled In Size

Although doubling in size from $10 million to $20 million was good, Christopher knew having the structures in place to make timely changes to manage that growth was critical. Now he is more focused, confident, and conscious of himself as a leader and he believes more than ever that investing in people is key to being successful.

Andy Wolfe
President
Arronco Comfort Air
Aileron Helped Me
  • Creating a strategic vision
  • Operational planning
  • Employees becoming focused on future plans
  • Alignment of operations

My Employees Are Happier

After spending endless nights awake thinking about the state of his business, Andy decided there must be a better way. Now, with the entire company focused on achieving his vision, there is clarity and excitement. With a projected growth of 30% for the year, Andrew can sleep better at night maintaining the ever-elusive work/life balance.

Mark and Peg Grunkemeyer
Owners
Buckeye Ecocare
Aileron Helped Me
  • Succession planning
  • Aligning personal and organization vision
  • Creating a financial roadmap
  • Family business transition
  • Creating an outside board
  • Organizational structure
  • Empowering people
  • Hiring the right people

Nothing Is More Important Than Family

For the first twenty years of owning and operating a business, Mark and Peg were worried about paying off debt, making the business work, and putting people and systems in place. Since working with Aileron and their Board of Advisors, they have created a personal roadmap to ensure that their business and financials never interfere with the interaction between themselves or their children.

Steve and Vareena Swihart
President and Executive V.P.
Swihart Industries
Aileron Helped Me
  • Getting connected to peers
  • Strategic planning
  • Aligning personal and business vision
  • Outside board of advisors
  • Succession planning
  • Work/life balance
  • Operational stability
  • Empowering employees

We Had No Clue Where We Were Financially

At the age of 17, Steve borrowed $1500 from his sister to buy his first machine and started his own business. After years of feeling extremely overwhelmed and alone, Steve has stopped working those 80-hour weeks and pulling all-nighters. By putting systems in place and empowering the right people, Steve and Vareena have aligned their family life vision with their business vision through the help of Aileron and professional management.

Rob Moyer
CEO
Rexarc International, Inc.
Aileron Helped Me
  • Discover inefficiencies
  • Managing company growth
  • Creating an outside board
  • Pursuing personal dreams

We Went From Paying For Growth To Getting Paid For Growth

Rob Moyer’s goal has been to take his family business from a $3.5 million-a-year enterprise to $100 million. His board of directors was all for it. But they suggested he first hire a president to run the company while he worked on his bachelor’s degree. Since working with Aileron and setting up a board, the business has gone from losing money to breaking even to making money – to the tune of a 600-percent turnaround.

David Fisher, Eric Lundgren, Brad Haber
President, V.P., COO
ThreeWitt Enterprises, Inc.
Aileron Helped Me
  • Validated processes and systems
  • Strategic planning
  • Creating an outside board
  • Succession planning
  • Focus on future direction
  • Personal confidence

We Went From A Shotgun Approach To A Laser Beam

David Fisher, President, Eric Lundgren, V.P. and Brad Haber, COO of a company that owns a string of Dayton-area restaurants, is firmly convinced Aileron is the best kept business secret in America. They believe Aileron is part of what sets Dayton apart, especially in tough economic times. They see Aileron as a piece of the picture that can make Dayton a place young entrepreneurs can look to and learn.

Wes Gipe
President
Agil IT
Aileron Helped Me
  • Define vision
  • Focus on future direction
  • Customer segmentation and analysis
  • Culture
  • Empower people to make decisions
  • Efficient processes

At The End Of The Day, My Family Was Getting The Last 5% Of Me

The IT firm Wes Gipe launched at the age of 19 was undergoing extraordinary growth. But it was coming through brute force. His people were beat down, and so was he. A year after discovering Aileron, he knew the relationship was working when he noticed his people were whistling on their way to work – and on their way home, even after 12-hour days.

Tessie Ganzsarto
President
Alternate Solutions HomeCare
Aileron Helped Me
  • Manage growth
  • Change management
  • Hiring the right people
  • Delegating to others
  • People development
  • Letting people go who weren't a culture fit

Our Growth Hit Us Like A Ton Of Bricks

After her first Aileron experience, Tessie Ganzsarto realized she needed to manage their business professionally, as opposed to letting sheer growth do it for her. These days, she and her husband, David, get calls from Aileron asking if they will help other entrepreneurs coming up. They get excited when the calls come. They’re grateful to be in a position to help.

Todd Kelchner
CEO
Kelchner, Inc.
Aileron Helped Me
  • Managing growth
  • Articulating and sharing company vision with employees
  • Creating an outside board
  • Strategic planning
  • Connecting with peers

I Could Never Get Over The Hump Of Solid, Profitable Growth

Meet Todd Kelchner. After becoming CEO of Kelchner, Inc. - a company his father started in 1948 - Todd realized he had a vision for the company and that vision was to become a leader in the excavating market. "Using Aileron's Professional Management System, we went from 65 employees to 205. As the heavy construction industry grew by less than 5% over the past five years, Kelchner Inc. has grown by 95%." Todd credits the support of Aileron as a driver for his success.

Dan Detmer
Owner
Nelson Comfort
Aileron Helped Me

Blend two established businesses and cultures Become more efficient and productive Focus on future growth Decision-making ability Personal accountability Strategic planning Creating an outside board of advisors

Dan Learned To Work More Efficiently

As a business owner, Dan faced a variety of issues-growing his business, blending two cultures together, putting a board of directors in place, and more. With Aileron’s help, Dan learned to work more efficiently, get input from others when making big decisions, and take risks to keep his company moving in the right direction.

Case Studies

Wes Gipe
President
Agil IT

Strategy

Now, Strategy Is My Work

Jack Stull
President
Jcrane, Inc.

Leadership

I Was Feeling Overwhelmed by Growth

Dan Detmer
Owner
Nelson Comfort

Strategy

Staying Focused on Long-Term Vision

Tessie Ganzsarto
President
Alternate Solutions HomeCare

Business Structure

We Knew We Needed to Change but We Didn't Know How

David Fisher, Eric Lundgren, Brad Haber
President, V.P., COO
ThreeWitt Enterprises, Inc.

Business Structure

Creating That Next Generation of Great Entrepreneurs

Rob Moyer
CEO
Rexarc International, Inc.

Leadership

I Took My Company From Paying for Growth to Getting Paid for Growth

Letters of Appreciation

We Achieved our American Dream

Dear Clay,

How do you thank someone for changing their lives? Because of your entrepreneurial education classes that we took, we were able to sell our business for millions of dollars, instead of being out of business and working at jobs.

In case you didn't know, we sold our company, Horizon Payroll Services Inc., on March 30, 2007. The best part of the sale is that Horizon will stay in Dayton, and continue to grow and benefit the Dayton community after we eventually leave the business.

It was the help and guidance through the years of people like Bill Matthews and Dave Sullivan that lead to the success of our company. According to Bill and Dave, we made one of the sweetest deals that they have ever seen. Yes, I know we did the work, but we could always rely on them to help with questions and issues that came up. It was a standard joke that Dave's goal in our board meetings was to make me (Marilynne) cry. If he didn't, he was not doing his job.

When I took your first entrepreneurial class in 1998, our gross annual sales were $25,000. In 2006, our sales were at $1.1 Million and are continuing to grow. There is no adequate way for us to express our gratitude for your generosity to both us and the Dayton community. Dayton is very lucky to have someone like you there to help business owners achieve their dreams.

Now that we have achieved our American Dream, we would both be honored if there is ever any way that we could support Aileron to help small businesses.

To you, Aileron, Dave and Bill- Thank you - Thank you - Thank you!

Sincerely,

Marilynne & Alan Saliwanchik

Horizon Payroll Services, Inc.

I Was Able to Navigate in Any Market Environment

Clay, It's difficult to express the positive influence you have had on my life and career, but my wife and I are grateful for the original Iam's University and now Aileron. Originally, in the mid 90's we had a family business of 25 years and were struggling with market changes. The program helped me realize the issues and eventually get away from that business; it was a difficult time, but we made the best of it. Now, many years later and with nice follow-through from Bill Matthews, I am again receiving assistance from the program you are enabling. This time the growth is positive. And Bill has helped me in finding an advisor that will pull me into the entrepreneur role, with regular frequency, to maintain control and direction. His name is Joe Minham, and we're off to a nice start. It seems you don't receive the recognition that is due, and I just want to say Thank You! Thank you from a basic person in this big environment who is having a better life because of the program and people you brought to the market. With my deepest sincerity, Tony Cali, Agency Owner Allstate Insurance

We Built a Leadership Team to Take Us to the Next Level

Greg and I began working at P&R Specialty in 1994 after we both graduated from college. We then purchased the company in 2001 from Greg’s father’s estate. Over the years we had seen steady, consistent growth by expanding our customer base and adding different product lines. We had a good team, but it was just the two of us driving and it was consuming us; it was our entire life. But it was never an option for us to just maintain the status quo, so we decided that we had two choices: sell the company or get outside help and continue to grow the company. Many years ago, I had received information about the Center for Entrepreneurial Education, but I just kept the information in my desk. It was not the right time for us. In hindsight, we are very happy that we waited. You have to be ready and willing to receive the advice that Aileron has to offer. So in August 2009 we took that first step with Aileron. We were ready for outside advice and guidance. We did not want to sell the company. We wanted the company to continue to grow and prosper, but we also recognized that we could no longer do it alone. So, I took the information out of my desk and discovered that the Center for Entrepreneurial Education was now called Aileron and now located in a new and amazing facility. Convinced, that all we needed was some outside advice from people who had been in our shoes, we attended the Outside Boards Program. After the Boards Course, we were eager to form our board, so we met with our advisor, Bill Barkalow. One of the first things that Bill asked us is, “Do you have a Strategic Plan?” Well, no….we just need some advice and guidance. Bill informed us that in order to have a successful board, you must have a strategic plan. How can a board guide you if you do not know where you want to go? So, in January 2010 we attended the Course for Presidents. Though the course was a bit overwhelming, it did offer us an understanding of the concept of professional management and the idea that perhaps we may need more than some advice and guidance. During that same time, we met again with Bill Barkalow who facilitated a Strategic Planning session with Greg and I and one of our salesman. Through that process we determined that our most important priority was to develop a Management Team to help us run the company. We needed to implement professional management. With the help of Aileron and an outside HR consultant, we hired our first member of the Management Team in December 2010. During that same time and again with the help of Bill Barkalow, we also established our Board of Advisors and had our first meeting in November 2010. It took another ten months to identify the two additional members of our Management Team. By the end of 2011, we had our team assembled, our Board of Advisors had been in place for one year, Greg and I attended a second Course for Presidents, which was much less overwhelming and more informative the second time and sent our Management Team to attend the Course for Senior Executives. In March of this year Bill Barkalow facilitated a second Strategic Planning Session, but this time our Management Team joined us. So now all five of us, as a team, developed a strategy for future growth and are now driving the company and striving to accomplish the goals that we put in place. The transformation that has taken place in the past two and a half years, since we first stepped into Aileron, has been remarkable. Personally, we have reached a greater work-life balance. We also feel that we are more effective leaders who have learned how to empower and trust our team. From a business standpoint, the company continues to grow, the management team has easily paid for themselves and most importantly we are now poised for significant future growth. And as for Mr. Mathile’s philosophy that you can improve the community by improving, educating and developing its business leaders… Well, in August of 2009 we had 32 employees and today we have 52. So, I am pleased to say that what Aileron has given us has also improved the lives of 20 additional people and their families.

I Learned to be a Leader and to Trust My People

Bill, I am not sure that my words on paper will describe what I actually feel inside about Aileron. In February 2010, I took the presidents course and the following is what happened not only to me and my business but my employees as well. To truly understand my thinking process I feel like I should share how I got to Aileron in the first place. Ten years ago, I bought Merchants Security from my father (I am now the 4th generation of a 111 year old company). I was a very energetic Marketing Major who was also very good at sales. I was able to take a company of $3.5 million in revenue and double it in six years. While I had met many people along the way who recommended Aileron to me I just didn’t see any reason to go, after all I was making a lot of money and so was the company. In the late fall of 2008, which was also the first quarter of 2009 for Merchants the phone began to ring. It continued to ring almost weekly from customers. However, instead of adding business it was the same call over and over. “Jim, we need to cut our budget due to the economy,” next thing you know our business was down 18.5%. Meanwhile, we became penalty rated by BWC and my workers comp bill went from $40,000/year to $280,000/year. As I am sure you are aware there is only one place I could take that money from in short notice and that was my salary. Long story short, my bad processes were exposed and I had hit rock bottom. This is where the president’s course came in, February 2010 I dipped $2000 more into my credit line (which was less than one week’s payroll away from being maxed out) and signed up for the class with Dave Sullivan and David Ganzsarto. As I listened for two days about what an owner should do I began to really think about how different I could be. Besides asking Dave Sullivan why I should stop selling because I was the best salesman I learned much more. I learned that I needed to get out of the trenches and set the company vision. Through a couple of meetings with my strategic partner, Bill Barkalow, I was able to write a mission and vision statement with meaning for the first time ever. We added my core values and a new employee handbook. We then retrained all 350 security officers on the company’s mission, vision, and core values. This time the message came directly from me. Then in June of 2010, we wrote out our Strategic Plan which included three action items. At the time none of us thought the three action plans we wanted to tackle could happen. Not only did we accomplish all three plans but we knocked them out of the park. During this same period of time myself and my two right hand people read the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team as recommended by Bill. Since we are in the Security Officer industry it was my opinion that our product is people and culture so that became my number one priority. We spent many hours fighting, crying, and hugging out our issues but we took down giant walls we didn’t even see in front of us. Last year, I joined Aileron to give my team a place to work outside of the trenches and remind us of how far we have come. We meet on a regular basis discussing strategy and new heights that we want to reach. For the first time in Merchants history we have a new division called Blueprint Backgrounds an online pre-employment screening and mobile BCI and FBI fingerprinting. We have three other development ideas already on paper ready to go. Merchants has since written over 75 internal processes and set up a new employee performance system (including rewards!). We have turned over more than 15 of our vendors and will continue to make our operation better. We are now the only OPATA equivalent trained security company in the area and for all we can tell in the state of Ohio right now. Most important I am learning how to be a leader and how to trust my people. I am sending one of my employees back to college (she started this quarter) and I am holding everyone accountable for their goals. I have already signed for the June 19th class for outside boards and look forward to taking that. While this only gives a tip of the iceberg for what I am working on I cannot tell you how many people I have told about Aileron. I think the world of the people who work at Aileron and thank God every day for the changes in my life. For the first time, I feel like I have control of my business instead of it controlling me. I am able to take vacations without worry; in fact, I took four last year for the first time ever. I have three children (11, 9, and 6). I have spent more time with them this last year than ever. My wife is so inspired that she has decided to start her own business and I hope to have her taking your courses soon.