April 16, 2008

Business college honors nine leaders at banquet

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The College of Business and Administration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale honored nine business leaders during an April 11 awards banquet at the Student Center. The college recognized the Executive of the Year, Southern Illinois Business Leader of the Year and seven new members of its Hall of Fame.

The 2008 Executive of the Year is Ace Hardware President and CEO Ray A. Griffith. Based in Oak Brook, Ace is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the hardware industry with 4,600 stores in all 50 states and 60 countries.

In 2006, under Griffith's leadership, Ace had its best sales year since 1998, with wholesale sales up 6.5 percent to $3.9 billion and a record bottom line exceeding $94 million. Ace's stores, all owned by independent dealers, racked up almost $12 billion in retail sales, outperforming mega-retailers Home Depot and Lowe's in same-store sales growth, four of the last five years.

Griffith and his wife Cindy have two children, Kyle and Brooke. A native of Wayne County, Griffith received a marketing degree from SIUC in 1975.

The 2008 Southern Illinois Business Leader of the Year is Trace B. Brown, president and owner of Charlie B. Brown & Associates, Hotel Builders of America. The company is a nationwide real estate and hotel development and construction firm based in Southern Illinois.

Born and raised in Carbondale, Brown received his bachelor's degree in accounting from SIUC in 1984. He is a certified general real estate appraiser and has done appraisal and feasibility studies across the United States and Canada. Brown currently co-owns the Carbondale Holiday Inn, Houlihan's, Candlewood Suites in Memphis and has two additional hotels planned for construction in the region.

Brown and his wife Heidi have three children, Skyler, Adrianne and Chancellor.

The newest members of the College of Business and Administration Hall of Fame are Sean T. Boston, John Chen, Elizabeth F. Kepuraitis, Richard W. Klassen, Susie Wittry Rashid, Robert J. Siracusano and John J. Urbancic.

Boston is division vice president for procurement at Sears Holding Management Corp. in Hoffman Estates. He is a 1992 marketing graduate of SIUC and an MBA graduate of University of Detroit. During his time at SIUC, Boston was a member of the basketball team that clinched the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. He was also selected for the MVC All Academic Team.

Boston and his wife Karyn have a daughter, Alexandria, and three sons, Max, Devin and Jordan.

Chen is the founder, partner and managing director of Foster Partners Southeast Asia, a leading executive search firm in Asia. Foster Partners caters to multinational companies in a broad spectrum of industries, ranging from the small niche manufacturing firms to Fortune 500 companies. Chen graduated from SIUC in 1985 with a marketing degree. He is married to Candy Lim.

Kepuraitis is president of F&B Manufacturing Co. in Phoenix. With annual sales of $17 million, the company is a premier manufacturer of formed metal products for the aerospace and semi-conductor industries. A certified public accountant, Kepuraitis received a degree in accounting from SIUC in 1981. She also completed various management programs at Dartmouth University's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration.

Klassen is chief marketing and sales officer of Delta Dental of Missouri in St. Louis, a provider of dental benefits for 1,300 companies in Missouri and South Carolina including more than 500,000 primary subscribers. Klassen is a dual degree graduate of SIUC, completing the Flight School in 1972 and earning management and marketing degrees in 1975.

Klassen is a member of the Dean's External Advisory Board, the Department of Marketing External Advisory Board and the Saluki Expo Committee. He and his wife Nan have a daughter, Emily, and a son, Will, who is an SIUC graduate with a degree in cinematography.

Rashid is chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of Chicago-based Element 79, a leading advertising agency with more than 200 employees, working with such high-profile companies as Pepsi, Con Agra and Bank of Montreal. Rashid earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from SIUC in 1987 and an MBA from University of Chicago in 1998. While at Southern, she was a member of the Saluki women's swim team, achieving All-American status. In 2001, she was elected into the Saluki Hall of Fame.

Last year, Rashid received the College of Business Alumni Achievement Award and delivered the commencement address. She is a member of the School of Accountancy Board of Advisors and is married to Jeff Rashid.

Siracusano is a senior financial adviser and owner of a private branch of Wachovia Securities Financial Network with offices in Naperville and New York. He graduated from SIUC in 1995 with a degree in marketing. While at SIU, he was one of the world's top divers on the 1- and 3-meter boards, and holds school points records in both events. He was a member of the U.S. National team for springboard and platform diving through 1996 and he earned 12 All-American NCAA titles. Siracusano was inducted into the Saluki Hall of Fame in 2004.

In 2005, Siracusano received the College of Business and Administration Alumni Achievement Award and delivered the commencement address. He is a member of the Dean's External Advisory Board and vice chair of the Department of Marketing External Advisory Board. Siracusano and his wife Andrea have two children, Francesca and Gabriel.

Urbancic is the retired vice president of administration for Material Service Corp., a Chicago-based subsidiary of General Dynamics. Under Urbancic's leadership, Material Service Corp. became a $100 million company and the Midwest's leading producer of ready mix concrete, sand, gravel, crushed stone and concrete pipe.

Urbancic earned a bachelor's degree in management from SIUC in 1965 and a certificate in advanced management from The University of Chicago Human Resources Center in 1979. Urbancic has a daughter, Kathy Hahn, who is an SIUC alumna, son Bill, and granddaughters Marisa and Emily Hahn.