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October 14th-15th, 2008

Billion Dollar Company CEO Roundtable

Event Presenters

  • James Asplund
    Chief Scientist, Strengths-Based Development, Gallup

    James W. Asplund is Chief Scientist, Strengths-Based Development and Principal, Performance Impact Consulting for Gallup. He is coauthor of the book Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter. Since joining Gallup in 1999, Asplund has worked with clients in the retail, financial services, manufacturing, utility, and healthcare industries. His consulting expertise includes strategic research and consulting on how developing employees’ strengths will maximize their potential and how employee engagement and customer engagement interact to drive organizational performance. As Chief Scientist, Strengths-Based Development, Asplund leads Gallup’s worldwide research on the science of strengths. These efforts include measuring the effectiveness of individual approaches to building strengths, research and development on the organizational benefits of strengths development, and examining the linkages between strengths development and employee and customer engagement, individual well-being, and organizational performance outcomes.As a founder and director of Gallup’s Performance Impact Consulting practice, Asplund pioneered research to develop Gallup’s HumanSigma approach, which improves organizational performance by managing the employee-customer encounter. He was the primary architect of the HumanSigma measurement system and is the principal consultant for many of Gallup’s best-documented longitudinal case studies of the financial benefits of HumanSigma.Prior to joining Gallup, Asplund spent a decade as a lobbyist and policy expert at the Minnesota Legislature, representing a diverse set of clients in the areas of taxation, education funding, utilities, land use, and economic development. Asplund earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Grinnell College in Iowa and his master’s degree in public policy with emphasis in mathematical demography from the University of Minnesota.

  • Dick Gochnauer
    President and Chief Executive Officer, United Stationers Inc.

    Dick Gochnauer is President and Chief Executive Officer of United Stationers Inc., North America’s largest broad line wholesaler-distributor of office and business products. With sales of $4.5 billion and headquartered in Deerfield, IL, the company offers some 46,000 brand-name items from more than 550 manufacturers, as well as its own private-brand merchandise line.

  • Dr. George P. Nassos
    Director - Masters of Science in Environmental Management and Sustainability Program, Illinois Institute of Technology

    George P. Nassos is an Industry Associate Professor and Director of the M.S. in Environmental Management and Sustainability program at the Stuart School of Business, Illinois Institute of Technology. He is also Director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, a center founded at Stuart to be a resource for projects directed toward achieving sustainability in Chicago’s economic community. Prior to joining IIT-Stuart, Dr. Nassos spent 16 years in the chemical industry with International Minerals & Chemical Corp, which included being the Managing Director of IMC’s Dutch and German subsidiaries over a four-year period. He then spent the next 16 years in the environmental industry working for the Chemical Waste Management subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc. His last position with Waste Management was General Manager of the Fiber Fuels Division of the Cemtech LP subsidiary, and was responsible for developing a business for the production of a solid fuel from renewable resources (such as non-recyclable fibers and plastic film), which was used as a coal substitute.His primary focus now is developing and teaching sustainable strategies for companies to create a competitive advantage without negatively impacting the environment. As Director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, he leads numerous research projects; organizes conferences, seminars and short courses; and help found the Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance. Dr. Nassos has also conducted short courses on sustainable strategies internationally. His research activities include developing small wind turbine technology and other renewable energy technologies.In addition to these environmental activities, Dr. Nassos in on the board of the Lake Michigan States Section of the Air & Waste Management Association, on the board of American Quality Schools, a nonprofit organization operating charter schools, and is president of the Orthodox Christian Alumni Association at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is also a member of the Energy, Environment and Economics subcommittee of the Archdiocesan Advisory Committee for Science and Technology, an advisory committee to the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America. For the past four years, he has been writing a column for a monthly newspaper titled “A Sustainable Environment: Our Obligation to Protect God’s Gift”.Dr. Nassos has earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois, an M.S. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University all in Chemical Engineering, and an MBA from Northwestern.

  • John Peak
    Capital Markets Leader, GE Capital Solutions, Commercial Distribution Finance

    John E. Peak heads the Capital Markets function for GE’s Commercial Distribution Finance business, a leading provider of inventory finance and other customized financing products for manufacturers and their dealers and distributors. In his role, John creates financing solutions that enhance cash flow and drive growth for middle market and publicly traded companies.John joined GE when the company acquired Transamerica Finance Corporation in 2004. During his 24-year career at Transamerica, John held progressively more responsible positions, serving as controller, vice president of finance and CFO. He was instrumental in the design and implementation of the company’s inventory operating system, as well as its inventory finance pricing and activity-based costing models.In his various roles, John worked closely with the sales team to evaluate customers’ needs and develop innovative financial solutions for customers and financial partners. He led strategic decisions for Transamerica’s acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures, in addition to working with third parties to explore off balance sheet financing solutions. He was a member of the Transamerica Corporate Quality Counsel for nine years, serving as Chairman for the last five.John is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Illinois CPA Society, the Association of Financial Professionals, Financial Executives International, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Brunswick Acceptance Corporation Board, and the Polaris Acceptance Board. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame.Commercial Distribution Finance – a unit of GE Commercial Finance – is a leading provider of specialized financing products and services for various industries, including marine, RV, motor sports, agriculture, lawn & garden, technology, manufactured housing, electronics & appliances and industrial products. With approximately $230 billion in assets and an expertise in the mid-market segment, GE Commercial Finance provides loans, operating leases, financing programs and innovative structured capital to help customers grow. A wholly owned subsidiary of the General Electric Company, GE Commercial Finance is headquartered in Stamford, CT. GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide

  • Keith VanderVennet
    Senior Vice President - Canada, Ferguson Enterprises

    1987 Graduated Hampden Sydney College with a B.A. in Managerial Economics1987 Joined Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland as a Management Trainee (progressed through Inside and Outside Sales)1995 Promoted to Satellite Manager, Longwood, Florida1997 Promoted to Regional Sales Manager, Southeast, based in Atlanta, Georgia1998 Promoted to President & General Manager, Memphis, TN2001 Promoted to President & General Manager, Orlando, FL2003 Promoted to Director of Career Development, Newport News, VA2005 Promoted to Director of Branch Sales, Newport News, VA2006 Promoted to Vice President of Supply Chain, Newport News, VA2007 Promoted to Vice President, Canadian Integration, Newport News, VA & Burlington, ON2008 Promoted to Senior Vice President, CanadaPersonal: Married with 3 children, ages 3, 6 and 7

  • DeWight Wallace
    President, Newark Electronics

    DeWight joined the Premier Farnell family in 2005, serving as General Manager of its Ohio-based business, MCM Electronics. In recognition of his leadership abilities and business acumen, DeWight was appointed President of Newark in March 2007.Prior to heading MCM Electronics, DeWight served in a number of senior engineering, management and consulting roles for Texas Instruments, General Motors and General Electric. As VP, Marketing for GE Capital, he was part of the team that won the GE Chairman’s Award for earnings turnaround.DeWight earned his MBA from Ohio State University.

  • Richard Waterman
    Senior Advisor, International Electric Supply Co. (Former Chairman & CEO of Rexel)

    Senior Advisor and Former Executive Vice President and CEO of International Electrical Supply Corporation (IESC), the holding company of Rexel U.S. and Gexpro, is the first representative from a national chain to serve NAED as its chair exactly 30 years ago.Waterman is also the first person to lead NAED who hails from a distribution company based outside the continental United States, the first Canadian citizen to serve in the position; and the first to have served both NAED and its Canadian equivalent, the Electro-Federation of Canada (EFC), as chair. (The organization Waterman led was the Canadian Electrical Distributors Association – CEDA. During his time as chair, the CEDA was on its way to becoming the EFC, bringing together the factions of the electrical industry under one umbrella after a surge of consolidation.)All of these firsts seem fitting for the man who will lead NAED into the first year of its second century. It also seems fitting that the first leader of NAED’s second century should be familiar with consolidation: Waterman led the EFC as its market was consolidating, and is, himself, a major player in the consolidation of the North American Marketplace – first during Westburne’s acquisitive period in Canada and the United States and then with Rexel after it acquired Wesburne. In fact, part of his role as senior advisor to IESC is to provide insight into future acquisitions for Rexel.

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