Feature – THINC! Innovation awards announced

Posted on Jun 1, 2014 :: Features
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Insight Publications launched the first ever Insight Innovation Awards at   its third annual THINC! event in May.

Winners by category were: People – Holy Family Memorial, Manitowoc; Process – Breakthrough Fuel, Green Bay; Product – The Solberg Company, Green Bay; and Planet – MEGTEC, De Pere. St. Norbert College received a special award, Integrating Innovation.

“Seeing the depth and breadth of innovative practices and associated business results across our region was very reassuring and exciting,” one of our judges said. “All the applicants should be proud of their work and the winners that represent the ‘best of the best’ should be especially pleased in being recognized as leading the region in innovation.”

Holy Family Memorial

Holy Family Memorial Hospital won the award for “People.” From left  are Scott McMeans, CEO Mark Herzog and Mary Maurer.

Holy Family Memorial Hospital won the award for “People.” From left are Scott McMeans, CEO Mark Herzog and Mary Maurer.

Twelve years ago, Holy Family Memorial made a commitment to radical change when the health-care organization launched an initiative to move from a “sick care” to a “wellness” focus, emphasizing patient safety, quality and cost containment. The changes they made resulted not only in measurable, positive patient outcomes and employee job satisfaction, but also saved an average of more than $4.3 million annually.

The organization has recently begun to help other entities in its community start their own journey toward Lean, including the city of Manitowoc.

Judges were impressed by the depth in which this organization engaged its 1,200 employees with incremental improvement and “Blue Ocean Strategy” as they embraced an internal mantra of “Inspired Caring.”

Breakthrough Fuel

Breakthrough Fuel won the award for “Process.” From left are Bill Lee, Jennifer VanderZanden, Doug Mueller, Hannah Lehman, CEO Craig Dickman, Heather Mueller, Mark Thomson, Kelly Williams and Mark Mullins.

Breakthrough Fuel won the award for “Process.” From left are Bill Lee, Jennifer VanderZanden, Doug Mueller, Hannah Lehman, CEO Craig Dickman, Heather Mueller, Mark Thomson, Kelly Williams and Mark Mullins.

Breakthrough Fuel was founded on a single innovative idea: How to leverage technology and information to help shippers reduce their energy cost, consumption and emissions.

Based in Green Bay, the company, which employs 43 people, has made innovation a core part of its business with a commitment to release a new, innovative solution to the market every 14 months. Each year, it invests nearly 10 percent of its revenue and time into innovative projects, research and development.

Breakthrough Fuel created a business model that allows its clients (large shipping organizations) to align reimbursement for fuel to the actual cost that is paid for that fuel by their transportation partners. It has been awarded two patents and has others pending for the technology that enables it to serve its clients. In a nutshell, it eliminates the distortion created by traditional fuel surcharge programs, and with its technology helps its clients reduce the cost, consumption and emissions in their supply chain. The resulting transparency has created stronger partnerships, reduced waste and led to new fact-based approaches to problem solving.

The Solberg Company

The Solberg Company won  the award for “Product.” From left  are Jerry Borowski, CEO Dave Pelton  and Mitch Hubert.

The Solberg Company won the award for “Product.” From left are Jerry Borowski, CEO Dave Pelton and Mitch Hubert.

The Solberg Company is recognized globally for its environmentally-friendly firefighting foam concentrates and foam suppression systems hardware. Its products are used in industries ranging from aerospace and aviation to petrochemical and utilities.

One year ago, Solberg introduced a product it developed called RE-HEALING Foam, a high-performance, environmentally-friendly foam concentrate. Prior to its launch, the last significant innovation in firefighting foam was in the 1960s, when synthetic-based foam concentrates replaced foams based on animal proteins; these synthetic products have since proven harmful to the environment and are under an EPA 2015 Stewardship Program to change their chemical compositions. The Solberg Company has already achieved full 2015 EPA compliance – something its competitors have not yet claimed.

As a privately-held company and stand-alone division of Amerex Corporation, Solberg employs 34 globally, including 14 in Green Bay.

MEGTEC Systems

 MEGTEC won the award for “Planet.” From left are Justin Brown, Jeff Quass, CEO Mohit Uberoi, Mary Van Vonderen and CFO Greg Linn.

MEGTEC won the award for “Planet.” From left are Justin Brown, Jeff Quass, CEO Mohit Uberoi, Mary Van Vonderen and CFO Greg Linn.

A global manufacturer of environmental solutions and engineered products, MEGTEC Systems employs 600 people worldwide, including about half in De Pere.

Although the company got its start in the paper and printing markets more than 45 years ago, it has transformed into a sustainability-focused company providing capital equipment solutions for air pollution abatement, sustainable industrial processes and end products linked to clean technologies. MEGTEC used its core competencies in drying and air pollution control to expand its market focus and develop innovative solutions for air pollution control equipment and machinery. The company now produces lithium-ion battery electrode materials for electric cars, wind and solar energy storage, membranes for water purification, and other advanced materials.

St. Norbert College

St. Norbert College won  a special award for “Integrating Innovation.” From left are  Drew Van Fossen, Raechelle Clemmons,  Ruth Johnson, President Tom Kunkel, Bridget O’Connor and Dottie Stepien.

St. Norbert College won a special award for “Integrating Innovation.” From left are Drew Van Fossen, Raechelle Clemmons, Ruth Johnson, President Tom Kunkel, Bridget O’Connor and Dottie Stepien.

Contest judges created a special  award to recognize the organization-wide commitment St. Norbert College has made to folding big ideas into everything it does: Integrating Innovation.

In 2013, St. Norbert President Tom Kunkel invited a member of his cabinet to take on the challenge of creating a team to further foster an innovative culture at the college and identify strategic opportunities. “The Big Ideas Group” was charged with soliciting forward-thinking ideas. Everyone – from students and faculty to alumni, trustees and Norbertines – was asked to submit ideas. In less than 90 days, 250 ideas flooded in. From these, five clusters of innovation were chosen; the best will be incorporated into the Strategic Plan for the college.

Insight Innovation Award winners were selected from a pool of 43 nominees. In addition to our winners, finalists were: Appleton Group, LLC, Appleton; Aver Informatics, Inc., Green Bay; Bay Tek Games, Pulaski; EDCi (Electroline Data Communications Inc.), Appleton; Menasha Corporation, Neenah; Omni Resources, Inc., Appleton; Orion Energy Systems, Manitowoc; Paper Transport, Inc., Green Bay; Séura, Green Bay; and Xensr, Green Bay.