Beta Gamma Sigma presents 2016 Business Achievement Medallion for Entrepreneurship awards to seven r


Each year, Beta Gamma Sigma presents outstanding business leaders with two prestigious awards: the Business Achievement Award and the Medallion of Entrepreneurship. This year, four candidates took home a Medallion, and three claimed the Business Achievement Award. 

The Medallion for Entrepreneurship is awarded to noteworthy business people who combine innovative business achievement with service to humanity. The Medallion was established to recognize those individuals and firms who contribute significantly to the vitality and strength of the economy, as well as society.

The Business Achievement Award honors people for significant success in business through the traditional corporate route. This success may be demonstrated over a career or by a singular achievement that has advanced the field of business and contributed to a community and to humankind.

Help us congratulate this year's recipients:

Medallion for Entrepreneurship: Jeffrey Aronin
Chairman, CEO, Marathon Pharmaceuticals
Nominated by: Northern Illinois University

Jeffrey Aronin has served in leadership roles for numerous pharma companies for more than a quarter century. He is currently Chairman and Chief Executive Of cer of Marathon Pharmaceuticals, a company that develops, manufactures and commercializes treatments for rare diseases.

Aronin also serves as Chairman and CEO of Paragon Pharmaceutical Capital, an active global development and biopharma investment rm that helps establish and manage companies in the life sciences sector.

Last year, Aronin worked with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to establish MATTER, a new health technology start-up center aimed at spurring economic development and entrepreneurship. After just one year, MATTER has more than doubled its number of initial start-ups to 117 companies working in health IT, medical device, diagnostics, and biopharma technology.

Aronin has been recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business and Ernst & Young for his entrepreneurial work. In 2005, he was inducted into the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

Aronin’s philanthropic efforts have earned him recognition as well The Brain Research Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, and American Porphyria Foundation have all awarded Aronin for his patient advocacy and research support. Beta Gamma Sigma joins these organizations in honoring a visionary leader and humanitarian.

Medallion for Entrepreneurship: Sam Covelli
Owner, CEO, Covelli Enterprises
Nominated by: Youngstown State University

Sam Covelli gives back—a lot. The owner and CEO of Covelli Enterprises (the single largest franchisee of Panera and O’Charley’s Restaurants) has a long history of giving back to his Warren, Ohio community.

In December of 2014, Covelli became the largest local contributor to Toys for Tots...for the 25th year in a row. To a child in need, it was like getting a million bucks.

And Covelli has given millions: through the annual “Panerathon” benefitting the Breast Care Center at a local hospital, and through a $10 million donation to the Ohio State Athletics Department. Covelli also supports the Salvation Army, the Disabled American Veterans, the Animal Welfare League, the American Heart Association, Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley, and Second Harvest Food Bank.

He also donates bread. In 2014, more than $23 million in unsold Panera products found their way to local food banks and hunger relief agencies.

For his commitment to the community, Covelli has been recognized by the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Greater Cleveland. As a business person, he has garnered awards from Ernst & Young, the YSU Alumni Association, and the City of Youngstown, OH. He has also received proclamations from US and state senators, US congress people, and the mayors of several Ohio cities.

Add Beta Gamma Sigma to the list. We honor Mr. Covelli with the Medallion for Entrepreneurship. Through his generosity, this restauranteur is teaching others to serve.

Medallion for Entrepreneurship: Eric Major
President, CEO, Co-Founder, K2M
Nominated by: James Madison University

Eric Major is the President, CEO, and Co-Founder of K2M Inc., a fast-growing global medical device company focused on innovative surgical solutions for complex spinal pathologies. The company holds hundreds of patents and has its eye on hundreds more, as surgeons look for new minimally-invasive techniques for treatment of spinal conditions.

Prior to his current role, Major served as President and Chief Executive Officer of American OsteoMedix Corporation (AOM), a minimally-invasive spinal device company, which he co-founded. After the sale of AOM, Major served as President of the Minimally Invasive Division for Interpore Cross International. Over the course of two decades, Major has served in sales and strategic and product development capacities with various spinal companies including Acromed Spine Inc. (now a Johnson & Johnson company) and Synthes Spine Inc.

Major was the 2010 recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Emerging Technologies in the greater Washington, DC, area. He is a member of the AdvaMed CEO Advisory Council and is active in the local community, serving on the Loudon Small Business Development Center Board of Directors, as well as the Board of Trustees for Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation Inc., a local historic preservation organization

Beta Gamma Sigma is proud to recognize Mr. Major for his tenure in the spinal treatment industry and his ability to compete globally for business in this rapidly growing field.

Medallion for Entrepreneurship: Gail Warrior
Founder, CEO, Warrior Construction Group
Nominated by: University of Dallas

Gail Warrior is a born entrepreneur. Just a few years into her career as an accountant, she invested $1000 in construction management, a move that led to the founding of the hugely successful Warrior Group.

Warrior’s business grew up in Texas, where a need for housing on military bases prompted her to pitch the idea of permanent modular housing. From there, Warrior’s business grew to include construction and management services for universities and government. Along the way, she earned her MBA.

The Warrior Group was inducted into INC magazine’s “INC 500” in 2010 (ranking 32nd) and made the Black Enterprise list of “Top 100 Industrial Service Companies.” The company also earned a spot on the top 10 list of “Largest Woman-Owned Businesses in North Texas,” while Warrior earned another title: Ernst & Young’s "Entrepreneur of the Year."

Warrior has served on the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Business Council, the Women’s Business Council Southwest and the African American Museum of Dallas. Her philanthropic efforts include the Heart of Warrior Charitable Foundation, a STEM summer camp for 2000 underserved children, and the Warrior Small Business Academy, a three-week course in development, scheduling, cash ow analysis, marketing, and human resources.

Beta Gamma Sigma celebrates Ms. Warrior’s many accomplishments with the Medallion for Entrepreneurship Award.

Business Achievement Award: Nick Brown
President, CEO, Southwest Power Pool Inc.
Nominated by: University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Nick Brown is president and Chief Executive Officer of Southwest PowerPool, Inc, a Little Rock-based company that manages the electricgrid and wholesale power market for the Central United States.

Since his appointment in 2003, Brown has quadrupled the size and scope of SPP’s business, expanding into 14 states and launching a wholesale energytrading market.

But Brown credits the company’s corporate culture for these achievements, and that's where he puts his focus. Under Brown’s leadership, SPP employeesattend an annual leadership conference and are eligible for an eight-week leadership program through the company. Approximately 300 employees have graduated from the program since it began in 2005. 

Brown also urges employees to work collaboratively and to “live outside themselves” in an effort to raise awareness of the needs of others. He encourages employee involvement in such programs as the Little Rock Summer Cereal Drive, the SPP Annual Charity Golf Classic, and an employee contribution program for worthwhile charities.

Having sat on the board of the Heart of Arkansas United Way for 12 years, Brown is well aware of the level of need in his community. But by fostering philanthropic acts in his employees, he has expanded the business of giving t make a real difference in his community.

Business Achievement Award: James H. Speed
Board of Directors, Advisor, NC Mutual
Nominated by: North Carolina Central University

James H. Speed is immediate Past President of North Carolina Mutual, one of the oldest and largest US  insurance companies rooted in the African American community. In his years with NC Mutual, Speed was able to leverage the company's unique market position to resolve problems facing small insurance companies. His work resulted in six-fold increases in agent productivity and propelled the company into the broader middle market. 

The vision and tenacity exhibited by Speed during his years at NC Mutual were characteristic of his early days in school and in business. A North Carolina Central University graduate, Speed was accepted into the highly competitive MBA program at Atlanta University, where he was named "Student of the Year.” In the twelve years that followed, Speed assumed leadership roles with Deloitte & Touche and Hardee's, eventually serving as Senior Vice President, CFO. and Treasurer for the latter.

But North Carolina Mutual,a client of Speed's from his Deloitte days, was as tenacious as Speed himself, wooing him away from Hardee's in 2003. A year later, Speed was named President of NC Mutual, a position he would hold until his retirement in 2015. 

Speed believes that every adversity brings a seed of equal or greater benefit, an adage he has proven throughout his business life. It is the way Speed—and the companies he's worked for—have triumphed.

Business Achievement Award: Todd Teske
Chairman, President, CEO, Briggs & Stratton
Nominated by: University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

Todd Teske is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Briggs & Stratton, the world’s largest outdoor power products manufacturer with $2.1 billion in sales and more than 6,000 employees. In 2014, ExecRank recognized Teske in its “Top CEO Rankings” as one of 500 leading CEOs in the country. 

Teske joined Briggs & Stratton in 1996 as Assistant Controller. His growth in the company was steady, earning him promotions every two years for more than a decade. Since his appointment as CEO in 2010, Teske has led Briggs & Stratton into the end product market and re-emphasized the organization’s environmental responsibilities. Teske’s dedication to the environment is exemplified by his attention to the company’s Life Cycle Assessment, part of Briggs & Stratton’s Sustainability Report. 

Teske’s commitments to future generations are evidenced by his humanitarian efforts as well. He is active in the Boy Scouts of America and supports the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Teske has served as Chairman of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. He also serves on the Dean’s Business Advisory Council for the College of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.