September/October 2012 –
Indiana Companies to Watch
operating officer for medical device manufacturer Catheter
Research, she is known for being in her office before the
factory opens at 6 a.m. – and she shows her employees that
dedication each day.
“I think if you’re the leader of the company, if you are
ever completely satisfied with where you are, comfortable with
where you are, then the only direction you have to go is down,
because you have to be the person who is demonstrating that
we can always do better,” she acknowledges.
“I’m never satisfied. And if you asked them (employees),
they would say that too: ‘Oh, what does she want now? What
are we going to do today?’ So, that’s just a challenge. Raise the
bar all the time.”
Adds Wolfe, “The
innovation, it doesn’t stay
stagnant. It doesn’t matter
what business we are in.
There are constantly things
changing, and you can either
be reactive or proactive. You
can figure it out because your
competitor did it, or you can
be the first to figure it out.”
Part of that innovation is
utilizing available technology.
“I keep my tablet there
(on the bedside) and although
I write on the tablet, I send
e-mails at weird hours. But,
you know, if it’s pertinent, I want to get it out there,” he grants.
As Conner’s business has “advanced technologies” in the
name, he knows he’s got to be on top of emerging processes
“There is always something to learn. It is changing every
day. And I take classes – I take a couple of classes each semester,
in the summer, in the fall, just to stay up on it. I mean, there is
new software coming out,” he offers. “You definitely have to stay
on track with technology or you will fall behind in today’s world.”
Firing on all cylinders
Having a supportive business environment and culture –
from the workforce all the way to state policymakers – is also
Cook counts on building her workforce around the “Hoosier
“There’s a real desire, I think, with just the general population
that wants to work hard and the sincerity of the Midwest and
Indiana … I feel that when I am interviewing and looking for
people; that’s a strength,” she says.
A “business friendly” and forward-thinking government is
what Conner sees as an advantage.
“I’m a born and raised Hoosier. I love Indiana. But as far
as business goes, we have a great central government. Mitch
Daniels has done wonders to the economy. We’ve had the
Super Bowl. We are building a new hospital. We built Lucas
Oil Stadium. There’s always something going on construction-
wise in Indiana. It’s like we’re always moving forward and we
are never looking back,” he describes.
Location wasn’t a consideration for Nolan. He started his
business where he lives, as most do, and has benefitted from it
time and time again. Assistance from the Indiana Small Business
Development Center (ISBDC) enabled him to get a major cash
flow issue resolved.
“(An ISBDC representative) helped me get my numbers
together and look at historically, yes, we are growing, and to
get my numbers in a format where
a banker would understand,” he
remembers. “And that way I didn’t
have to tell a banker my hopes and
dreams. I could show the bank that
we were going to make money and
we are going to pay this back.”
Similarly for Wolfe, working
with a banking partner, the local
government and a new venture
capital organization kept his business
from struggling at times. The city of
Anderson stepped in and provided a
loan when Wolfe Diversified
Industries was formed to allow the
company to bridge its financing gap.
Another piece is the financial
assistance and consulting the company
receives from Elevate Ventures, a
public-private partnership within the
Indiana Economic Development Corporation that supports
entrepreneurs (read more about Elevate Ventures on page 76).
While the state business climate is important, influences
beyond Indiana’s borders make an impact as well. The Affordable
Care Act (ACA) and its medical device tax is the biggest
concern for Cook.
“The other big threat is everyone going offshore because
they are threatened by that plan
(the ACA) or taxes or just the
economy of ruining medical device
costs,” she explains. “We have to
just be the very best that we can be
here in the United States and also
“The innovation, it
doesn’t stay stagnant.
It doesn’t matter what
business we are in.
There are constantly
things changing, and
you can either be reactive or proactive.
You can figure it out because your
competitor did it, or you can be the
first to figure it out.”
Wolfe Diversified Industries
“When you’re coaching
somebody’s kid and
they see you’re a real
true genuine person or
you’re just a really nice guy, who else
are they going to ask to do their
electrical work for them or to sell
them a new phone system? We’ve
gotten so many businesses like that.”