Medallion for Entrepreneurship Recipients - 2009
Chairman, Southwest Business Corporation
Nominated by: Sam Houston State University
Charlie Amato co-founded Southwest Business Corporation (SWBC) with lifelong friend Gary Dudley in 1976. In his more than 30 years in business, Amato has been recognized in the community and financial services industry for his creative, relationship-building approach and commitment to delivering quality service.
Amato has been vital to growing the company from a two-person operation to a corporation that now consists of 1,200 employees and more than $1 billion per year in premiums and loans. SWBC provides a wide range of insurance, mortgage and investment services to financial institutions, businesses and families. The company has been able to sustain its growth by continuously adding new products and services and gaining and retaining clients.
In his 25 years as Chairman of SWBC, Amato has been recognized for his entrepreneurialism and business success. In 2006, he was inducted into the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame and in Sam Houston State University’s College of Business Hall of Honor. In 2004 The San Antonio Business Journal also named him “One of the Most Influential San Antonians,” and in 1992 he was recognized as the South Texas Entrepreneur of the Year in the financial services category.
Amato has been very active in the community as a participant in numerous corporate leadership activities and charities throughout his lifetime. He is the Chairman of the Lone Star Capital Bank advisory board and past Chairman of the Board of the Christus Santa Rosa Health Care Corporation. He has served as a board member of the University of the Incarnate Word, the University of Texas-San Antonio College of Business Advisory Council and the UTSA Development Board, the Alamo Bowl, the San Antonio Spurs Foundation, the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, where he served as chairman in 2000, and the United Way.
Prior to establishing SWBC, Amato worked at Bay City Bank & Trust and attended Sam Houston State University where he graduated with a bachelor of business administration degree in 1970.
Kenneth R. Bartee
Former CEO, McDonald Bradley, Inc.
Nominated by: James Madison University
Kenneth R. Bartee is the former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonald Bradley Inc., (MBI) a company that provides information sharing and IT solutions to the defense, intelligence, homeland security and civilian agency markets.
Under Bartee’s leadership, MBI significantly increased its revenue and earned recognition as a leading technology service provider to the government and one of the fastest growing companies in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2005, McDonald Bradley was named the small business Government Contractor of the Year.
Bartee joined MBI in 1994 as Vice President of Finance and Administration and assumed the role of Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer in 2001. He helped build and implement the firm’s strategic plan and directed all technical and business developments. He was also successful in managing several acquisitions that grew MBI’s competencies and client base.
In 2007, MBI was acquired and became a subsidiary of ManTech, a technologies and solutions provider for mission-critical national security programs in the intelligence and defense markets. For companies in the government contracting industry, such as MBI, mergers and acquisitions are common. Bartee knew that a sale of MBI was inevitable, so prior to the acquisition, he successfully restructured the company so that it was in the best position to sell.
Before joining MBI, Bartee held several executive positions in the information technology services sector at companies such as Computer Sciences Corporation, Innovative Systems Solutions and General Electric. His experience has earned professional recognition as a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and as a finalist for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Government Contractor Small Business Executive of the Year.
Bartee is a 1983 graduate of James Madison University and holds a BBA in Information Systems. He also holds a master’s degree from the University of Colorado and CPA Certification in the state of Virginia. He is a past recipient of James Madison University’s Faculty Award for Teaching Innovation and the former Chairman of the school’s Executive Advisory Council.
Chairman & CEO, Heartland Payment Systems
Nominated by: Seton Hall University
With a commitment to maintaining high moral and ethical standards, Robert Carr founded Heartland Payment Systems (HPS) in 1997. A leading credit and debit card processing company providing payment solutions for 150,000 small and mid-sized organizations nationwide, HPS maintains that same level of integrity.
As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Carr is responsible for the strategic guidance and growth of HPS. Under his direction, HPS has increased its workforce from 25 to 2,900 employees and its client locations from 2,500 to 250,000. The company has also risen to become no. 5 in the nation and no. 9 in the world in the payments industry with a bankcard volume portfolio of more than $80 billion.
Carr also helped guide the development of The Merchant Bill of Rights, a public advocacy initiative that launched in 2006 to educate merchants about fair credit and debit card processing practices. HPS is recognized as its founding supporter and today, The Merchant Bill of Rights is formally endorsed by 150 state trade organizations, merchants and business partners.
The professional community has noted Carr’s innovative leadership over the years. He received Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award twice, both in 2004 and 2007. He has also been acknowledged as The Eastern Technology Alliance’s “Technology CEO of the Year,” and received America’s Business Awards’ “Best Executive,” an honor recognizing the efforts and achievements of performers in American business.
Prior to founding HPS, Carr started another company in 1987 – Credit Card Software Systems – a consulting business for small and mid-size businesses. And before his career in the payments industry, Carr held the roles of professor, president and director of the computer center at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill.
Carr’s entrepreneurial sights haven’t just been set on business enterprise. He is also the founder of Give Something Back Foundation, a nonprofit which funds academic scholarships for disadvantaged children, recognizes teaching excellence and provides donations to many charitable organizations.
Carr holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an honorary doctorate in humanities from Lewis University.
President, Southwest Business Corporation
Nominated by: Sam Houston State University
As co-founder and President of Southwest Business Corporation, Gary Dudley,has continued to lead the development of technology, administration and delivery systems for the company for more than 30 years. Since founding the financial services company in 1976 with longtime friend Charlie Amato, the firm has provided insurance and financial services to more than 2,000 financial institutions and businesses in all 50 states and London and Bermuda.
Much of SWBC’s longevity and success has been attributed to the company’s ability to diversify its product offerings and expand into new territories. Dudley’s leadership has helped guide that growth. In 1990, SWBC met the stringent requirements of the Lloyd´s of London Tribunal and qualified to represent this respected insurance organization. And in 1997 SWBC went global and purchased an interest in a Lloyd’s correspondent brokerage firm in London. Today, Dudley is also President of SWBC’s three subsidiaries: Employees Life Insurance Company, Financial Services Acceptance Corporation and Cotrak Insurance Services.
Throughout their business partnership, Dudley and Amato have shared all aspects of management, including financial matters, hiring decisions and company and product growth. Together, they have also fostered a family-oriented company culture that promotes innovation and encourages personal and professional development. In 2008, SWBC’s corporate office was ranked No. 8 in the San Antonio Business Journal’s listing of “Best Places to Work.”
As a successful leader and visionary, Dudley has remained as active in the community that he has prospered as he has in the development of his organization. Dudley currently serves on the board of directors for the San Antonio Spurs Foundation and is part owner of the team. He is also a board member of the San Antonio Economic Development Board and the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
Dudley received his education at Sam Houston State University and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1969. He has served on the university’s President’s Council and College of Business Administration Advisory Board. He is also a past recipient of the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Mary Lou Quinlan
Founder & CEO, Just Ask a Woman
Nominated by: Saint Joseph’s University
On a five-week sabbatical from her high-powered career as CEO at a large advertising agency, Mary Lou Quinlan came up with an idea for a company that would make her one of the nation’s leading and most sought after marketers.
In 1999, Quinlan founded Just Ask a Woman – a strategic branding consultancy that specializes in marketing “with” women. The key to the company’s success has been its unique research technique. Instead of conducting large, impersonal focus groups, Quinlan found that participants were more compelled to discuss their feelings about product brands in a high-energy, intimate, talk show-like environment. Just Ask a Woman has advised several major corporations in the consumer and retail industries, such as Kellogg’s Special K, Tums, Estee Lauder,
Wal-Mart, Bloomingdales, KFC, Johnson & Johnson and Yahoo.
Prior to the creation of Just Ask a Woman, Quinlan led a successful career in advertising. She worked at DDBNeedham Worldwide and N.W. Ayer, where she held several senior management posts, including Executive Vice President and CEO. She also spent 10 years at Avon Products where she eventually became Director of Advertising.
Today, Quinlan has been revered as one of the most accomplished women in the marketing and communications industry. The Wall Street Journal even dubbed her “the Oprah of Madison Avenue.” She has authored two bestselling books, “Just Ask a Woman, Cracking the Code of What Women Want and How They Buy” and “Time Off for Good Behavior: How Hard-Working Women Can Take a Break and Change Their Lives,” and has been featured and published in Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, More, and O magazines. She has co-starred on ABC’s primetime product competition, “American Inventor,” and is the women’s correspondent for the CBS Early Show.
The renowned consumer strategist has received some of the highest accolades in her field. In 1995, Quinlan was named Woman of the Year from Advertising Women of New York and received the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications in 1997.
Quinlan is a graduate of Saint Joseph’s University and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Fordham University. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in communications from Saint Joseph’s University where she was also a trustee. Quinlan has served on the board of the Advertising Council and the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
View a list of Past Medallion for Entrepreneurship Recipients