Meet the Hatchlings
This year's Hatchlings represent several colleges within the University, from freshmen to a graduate student. Their business ideas focus on everything from outdoor sporting, wearable health devices for children, recreation and entertainment innovation, creative storytelling to promote literacy, online apparel that supports women in ministry and a speech app.
These finalists were selected from more than 100 applicants. On April 11, they will pitch their business ideas to real investors in a live-audience extravaganza at The Hatch. The event will be held on the campus of Bowling Green State University and is free and open to the public.
Michael Johnston, freshman
College of Arts and Sciences
Major: Biology and Computer Science
Michael Johnston, of Elida, Ohio, and graduate of Wapakoneta Senior High, is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences studying biology and computer science. He is a senator on Undergraduate Student Government, an ambassador for the Honors College, a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity and a swim coach for the Ft. Meigs Stingrays Swim Team.
Michael’s Business idea, Sleep-E-Screen, is an electronic device holder suitable for tablets, smartphones and e-readers. Sleep-E-Screen adheres to a bedside wall and swings out for easy, comfortable and hands-free device viewing. When finished viewing the electronic device, Sleep-E-Screen returns flush with the wall and stores the device safely and securely.
Hatch Fact: Michael has a passion for swimming and has enjoyed coaching at various YMCAs as well as volunteering with Special Olympics swimming.
Gary Dible '97
Gary Dible owns Biggby Coffee franchises in Bowling Green and Maumee. Prior to this venture, he held positions of product manager, engineering manager and supply chain manager for the D.S. Brown Company, an Ohio-based bridge component manufacturer in North Baltimore, Ohio. He is actively involved in his communities both personally and professionally, and understands the key to success is giving back. Dible holds a bachelor's degree in construction management technology from Bowling Green State University.
Bruce Fisher ‘68
Bruce Fisher is a highly regarded leader in the swimming pool industry. He joined the Hayward Pool Products Division of Hayward Industries in 1991 and held a variety of leadership roles for the company, including vice president international prior to retirement.
During his tenure, Fisher led Haywards global expansion through a series of strategic acquisitions and internal growth initiatives. He successfully spearheaded the expansion of Hayward's product line, brand, sales organization and marketing department. He is also credited with introducing Totally Hayward, an industry-leading dealer relationship marketing program.
Prior to joining Hayward, Fisher was a product manager, vice president of distributor sales, vice president of marketing of the residential division and vice president and general manager of the Decorative Lighting Division of Lightolier, a division of Genlyte, now owned by Phillips Lighting. He was also general manager and COO of The Light Store, a start-up retailer/wholesaler of lighting products and ceiling fans located in Texas and Colorado, which grew from one location to 17 under his leadership.
Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 1968 and has served as an executive-in-residence for the College of Business.
Paul J. Hooker '75
In 1977, just two years after graduating from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Paul J. Hooker purchased the New York City based luxury household linen importer, SFERRA, from the last of two family members who started the firm in 1891, Enrico and Albert Sferra.
Hooker recognized the need to maintain the company's identity and encourage growth within the luxury market. With that in mind, he took SFERRA from a one-room office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to a 35,000-square-foot distribution facility in Edison, New Jersey, plus a beautiful showroom just off of Madison Square Park in New York City. In the process, he grew annual sales from $250,000 when he bought the business in 1977 to over $30 million in 2011.
Hooker's tireless focus to develop new business and his attention to details have established SFERRA's leadership position in the luxury linens industry and galvanized the company's emergence into the new global economy. Today SFERRA presents the most comprehensive range of luxury home textiles for the bed, bath and table worldwide.
Hooker umpires varsity high school baseball and was the varsity baseball coach at Red Bank Catholic High School from 1974-2000. In 1990, Hooker, along with his wife, founded a not-for-profit sports program for children with disabilities, named RallyCap Sports. Today, RallyCap Sports assists over 150 families with programs in basketball, soccer, Little League softball, golf, flag football and tennis. Hooker plans to take RallyCap Sports national, making his volunteer run program available to children with special needs nationwide. He worked with BGSU student Luke Sims to launch RallyCap Sports at Bowling Green State University.
Sophia Jarrell '16, '18
Sophia Jarrell earned both a bachelor’s degree in 2016 and master’s degree in 2018 in violin performance from BGSU.
While studying violin performance and entrepreneurship at BGSU, Jarrell launched the Black Swamp Fine Arts School in Bowling Green, OH, fulfilling a longtime goal to open a school where families would receive excellent instruction in all areas of the fine arts. In its first year, the school welcomed more than 100 students. Now in its third year, the school continues to flourish with its mission of encouraging the creation of beautiful souls through the instruction of dance, music and art.
In addition to serving as the school director at the Black Swamp Fine Arts School and teaching violin and ballet, Jarrell has also served as the music director for the Radiant TV network, presented an original children’s ballet with an up-and-coming composer and developed a music game through The Hatch at BGSU.
Jarrell is passionate about educating other artists and young entrepreneurs about succeeding in business. In 2018, she was invited to present on the topic at the National String Teachers Association in Georgia. Recently, Jarrell was nominated as a candidate for Toledo’s 20 under 40. She is thrilled to give back to The Hatch program through mentoring a 2019 Hatchling.
Ed Leedom ‘89
Ed Leedom is the senior vice president of Harbor Fund Distributors. He received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University in 1989 and a CFP® designation from the College for Financial Planning in Denver, CO. Leedom began his career with Harbor Capital Advisors and later rejoined Harbor Capital Advisors, Inc. As a senior vice president, he is responsible for developing and maintaining new and existing institutional client relationships in the Midwest region.
Christian Piazza '15, '16
Christian joined Wilcox Financial and Wilcox Sports Management as a financial advisor in August 2016 after graduating from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) with both a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. Since becoming an advisor with Wilcox Financial, the former BGSU offensive lineman serves clients in more than 15 states working closely with families, businesses and sports management clients to grow and protect their wealth throughout life’s journey.
Christian credits the full-athletic scholarship he was awarded as the beginning steps of a sturdy foundation for “paying it forward” and giving back to the next generation, while on campus as a BGSU Athletic Department’s Development Office intern and College Of Business (CoB) Student Ambassador. He now is a part of the CoB Young Alumni Board and Falcon Club along with serving as an EPIC Toledo Vice Chair and ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital Board Member in his community.
He is very excited to be a small part in the Hatch this year by serving as a mentor for Aubri Reiniche and is proud to have been a Hatch attendee every year since its inception!
Jeffery Swartz, M.D., ‘77
Dr. Jeffery Swartz, M.D., is the medical director of Falcon Health Center and provides integrative primary and family care. Swartz has more than 37 years of experience in health care and provides personal, professional collaborative care encouraging better health care for his patients. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 1977 and his medical degree at the Medical College of Ohio.
Bob Venzel '76, '78
Bob Venzel graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration specializing in marketing from Bowling Green State University in 1976 and an MBA from BGSU in 1978. In 1991, he became the co-owner of Venzel Communications, Inc., an advertising and public relations agency, based in Perrysburg, Ohio. The company’s work encompasses a variety of non-profit and for-profit clients in a cross-section of industries including: business, manufacturing, education, health care and municipalities.
J. Douglas Miller
Nico Cottone '92
Nico Cottone, a resident of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, is the owner/CEO of SurfTech Inc. and Euclid Refinishing Company. His background and experiences range from start-ups to ‘big 5’ management consulting. A serial entrepreneur, he has focused the last 15 years of his career on start-ups and turnarounds. Nico graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1992 with an accounting degree.
Michelle Drerup '00
Dr. Michelle Drerup is director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Bowling Green State University in 2000 and completed a doctorate in clinical psychology at Indiana State University in 2005.
She focuses on the treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders, as well as other health conditions linked to disturbed sleep. Dr. Drerup is a licensed psychologist and board certified in behavioral sleep medicine. She is involved in teaching, research and clinical services at the Cleveland Clinic. She serves on the Practice Committee of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine and as a senior representative for the Women's Professional Staff Association at the Cleveland Clinic.
One of her most recent ventures has been development of Go! to Sleep, a six-week, web-based program to help people improve their sleep.
Michelle is married to her Falcon Flame, Matthew Yourkvitch and are the first married investors to participate in The Hatch!
George Heath ‘87
George Heath is a retired group president at Sherwin-Williams in Cleveland, where he drove the growth of its industrial businesses from $1.6 billion to over $3 billion in five years, closing seven acquisitions and leading 7,000 employees in more than 50 countries.
Before joining Sherwin-Williams, Heath led the marketing efforts at PPG Industries, a paint manufacturer in Pittsburgh,as well as at Axeda, a venture-funded software startup in Boston, and at Thermovation Engineering, a boot-strapped industrial equipment startup in Cleveland. During Heath’s tenure, Thermovation grew more than 1,900 percent and was frequently recognized as one of Northeast Ohio’s fastest-growing companies.
Heath is actively involved in higher education, teaching economics and entrepreneurship and serving in an advisory role for business programs. Heath earned his bachelor’s in fine arts from Bowling Green State University in 1987 and received his MBA from Miami University.
Earle Malm '71
Malm began his career with RCA where he held senior executive positions in sales, marketing and general management. He was responsible for revitalizing RCA’s consumer services business, expanding RCA’s commercial television business and leading the development of new business ventures into communications and services businesses.
Prior to joining ValueClick, Malm embarked in the investment industry with GT Capital Management, Inc. Initially he was responsible for developing GT Capital’s Institutional Business and later he assumed responsibilities as Chief Operating Officer for the GT Global Mutual Funds.
After successfully completing the ValueClick IPO, Malm returned to the investment industry as President and CEO of HighMark Capital Management, Inc., a wholly-owned registered investment advisory firm of Union Bank located in San Francisco. During his tenure, Malm was chairman of HighMark’s Board of Directors, president of HighMark Funds and a trustee of the HighMark Funds Board. In addition, he was a member of HighMark’s Investment Policy Committee and a member of Union Bank’s Fiduciary Management Committee.
Since retiring from an active senior executive role in 2012, Malm has been devoting his time to entrepreneurial, consulting and advisory activities through NVMLI, Inc., his private investment company. He serves as a member of the Service Marketing Institute Business Advisory Board for the College of Business Administration at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). He was one of five inaugural alumni investors in BGSU’s entrepreneurial program, “The Hatch”.
Malm earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1971 from Bowling Green State University. In 2008, he was honored as one of BGSU’S Accomplished Graduates from the College of Business. He has been named to Who’s Who in Finance and Industry.
Mark C. West '90
Mark C. West is an executive with more than 25 years of experience in developing and implementing high-performing procurement and supply chain organizations. His proven leadership capabilities came through experience in key roles with multibillion-dollar companies, specializing in the re-engineering of procurement organizations due to mergers, acquisitions or historical underperformance.
West joined SharedClarity LLC in 2011 after serving as vice president of supply chain management for UnitedHealthcare since late 2009. He is responsible for the launch of SharedClarity, focused on improving the quality and cost of medical supplies industry-wide. SharedClarity became operational in early 2013.
From 2005 to 2009, West was executive director of supply chain management for the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare System. His re-engineering efforts challenged industry-wide health care purchasing practices, yielding bottom-line cost savings nine times historical levels. He also implemented state-of-the-art technologies to improve materials management processes, highlighted by the deployment of a new 230,000-square-foot service center.
West was also the founder and president of Purchasing Partners Incorporated, a purchasing services company dedicated to helping companies reduce their cost of acquiring goods and services. His experience also includes serving as the vice president of corporate purchasing for US Airways and corporate director of operations support for Honeywell International.
He received a Masters in Business Administration in Marketing from Cleveland State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management from Bowling Green State University. He is also Green Belt certified in Six-Sigma and sits on the Board of Managers for SharedClarity LLC.
Matthew P. Yourkvitch '99
Matthew P. Yourkvitch, Esq. received his B.A. degree in Psychology from Bowling Green State University in 1999 and his Juris Doctorate from Cleveland Marshall College of Law.
He is a founding partner of Moore Yourkvitch & Dibo, a boutique law firm in downtown Cleveland that provides a range of legal services, including business counseling, formation, contract drafting, venture capital financing, and real estate acquisition and development.
He is passionate about the redevelopment of Cleveland and works with various community development corporations on real estate acquisition and redevelopment, tax credit financing, and small business advising. Since 2011, his law firm has been a funder and legal service provider at the Incubator at MAGNET, working with product-focused technology start-up companies in Northeast Ohio.
He has served as an adjunct professor of law at C-M Law, in the Urban Development and Transactional Law Clinic. He is a frequent speaker on community development lawyering and Nuisance Abatement Actions under O.R.C. Section 3767.41. He serves on the Board of Directors of Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation, a non-profit that serves the neighborhood surrounding the Cleveland Clinic.
Matthew is married to his Falcon Flame, Dr. Michelle Drerup-Yourkvitch and are the first married investors to participate in The Hatch!