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Join us: April 10, 2024

Reception: 6 p.m. | Dinner: 6:45 p.m. | Program: 7:45 p.m.
Lenhart Grand Ballroom | Bowen-Thomspon Student Union
Bowling Green State University

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2024 Hall of Fame Honorees

Rodney 1 2Dr. Rodney Heiligmann '94, '96, '03

Watch Rodney's honoree video

Dr. Rodney Heiligmann is the president of LifeFormations dba LF Studios, an Ohio-based design and fabrication company specializing in animatronics and sculptural scenic elements for use in attractions, exhibits and visitor-based installations around the world. 

The company is a pioneer and leader in the field animatronics and sculptures with integrated technology, and has worked with clients in more than 25 countries. Heiligmann started working at the company in 1993, became president and partner in 2001, and purchased it from fellow BGSU alumnus Dr. Gene Poor ’73 in 2009.

During his career at LifeFormations, Heiligmann has focused on exhibit design, media production, entrepreneurship, communication theory and theme park attraction development. He has consulted with dozens of start-up companies across the world and has co-written two books with Poor – “Animatronics: A Designer's Resource Guide” in 2003 and “The Entrepreneur's Journey: From Dreaming to Doing” in 2005.

From 2003 to 2008 Heiligmann was a faculty member in the Visual Communications Department at BGSU, and from 2009-2011, he served as the executive in residence and director of BGSU’s Dallas/Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, later renamed the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. 

Heiligmann is a three-time alumnus of BGSU. He earned his bachelor’s degree in film studies in 1994, his Master of Education in learning design in 1996 and his Ph.D. in communication studies in 2003.

He currently lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Susanne, and son, Wyatt, where he continues to grow LifeFormations while supporting local charities focused on providing food to the food insecure and cancer research.

TTom Kern Hero Shot 1 1homas Kern ’68

Watch Thomas' honoree video

Thomas L. Kern is the founder/chairman and retired CEO of Style Crest Enterprises Inc. Style Crest Products Group is one of the nation’s largest manufacturers and wholesalers of building products and services to the manufactured housing industry.

Kern is also a co-owner of KF Ventures Ltd. providing builder/development services including subdivisions, condominium housing, site-built housing and other construction services including downtown redevelopment within a multi-county area of northwest Ohio.

With $12,000 in savings and a short list of investors, Kern and his partner, Eric Haas, opened Poly-Foam International and Style Crest Enterprises in Fremont, Ohio, in 1970.

In 2014, Kern was recognized for his leadership in the manufactured housing industry and inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame. He won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2000 and the following year was selected as “Industry Person of the Year” by The Journal.

Kern is a member of the foundation board of Terra State Community College and the board of trustees for the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums. He previously served on the board of directors for the Sandusky County Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Industries of Erie, Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky Counties Inc.

In 2016, Kern and his wife, Dorothy, received the Philanthropist of the Year award at the first ProMedica Philanthropy Awards celebration. The couple led a fundraising campaign in Sandusky County to bring cancer care close to home. The Kerns, who live in Fremont, Ohio, gave a generous gift to establish the Dorothy L. Kern Cancer Center in the city.

Kern earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration in 1968 from BGSU.

Vontoba Terry Smile PNG Artboard 1 2 squareVontoba Terry '03

Watch Vontoba's honoree video

Vontoba Terry is co-founder of UI Global Brands LLC, a personal care company that sells its natural Urban Hydration products to more than a dozen Fortune 500 retailers. The company donates one gallon of water for every product sold.

Terry implemented a customer-focused, data-driven approach to help UI Global Brands earn Inc. 5000 recognition as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America for three consecutive years.

In 2016, Terry was named a Trailblazer of Business by his local chamber of commerce in Texas. He currently serves on the boards of the Frisco Family YMCA and the BGSU Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and served on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County from 2016 to 2019. 

Terry launched the Go. Give. Grow. podcast based on his “Give and Grow” motto and is a member of the Texas Archery Club.

An Ohio native, Terry earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from BGSU in 2003 and a master's in economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2009. While at BGSU, Terry was treasurer of the gospel choir and president of the BGSU chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. 

Terry lives in Frisco, Texas, with his wife of 19 years, Psyche, and their three children.

About the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame

What do Golden Corral, Cheryl’s Cookies, Silk Soy Milk, and RainX windshield wiper blades have in common? BGSU alumni were the driving force in their founding.  

BGSU has been developing entrepreneurs for years and the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership is at the forefront of driving entrepreneurship.

The Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame recognizes BGSU graduates, honorary degree holders and members of the regional community who have achieved distinction for founding, leading or building a new business enterprise for five years or more. These individuals have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit that has helped to shape our economies and improved our quality of life. It is named in honor of Paul J. Hooker ’75 in recognition of his support of the center. So far, more than 50 world-class entrepreneurs have been inducted into this elite group of innovators.

2022 Hooker Hall of Fame

E-Week Events

The Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame is part of Entrepreneurship Week (E-Week) at BGSU.

Each April, the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthrost College of Business hosts entrepreneurial leaders from around the world to share their experience and expertise through presentations and other events including The Hatch, our student startup competition. There are many opportunities to engage through lunch and learns, presentations from world-renowned speakers and much more. Several E-Week events are open to the general public!

Updated: 04/11/2024 10:52AM