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BAC Success Stories:
Pinnacle & On the Road to Success Award Winners

Each year, BAC recognizes clients who have made significant progress as entrepreneurs with its Pinnacle and On the Road to Success awards. The award winners and other clients represent the impact of BAC’s counseling and mentoring activity on Northeast Ohio’s economy. Through 2021, the efforts of BAC volunteers have resulted in:

  • More than $100 million in additional annual revenues

  • More than 1400 new jobs created

  • Served more than 10,000 clients

  • Over 120,000 BAC volunteer hours

  • Value of hours donated by BAC members in 2020 alone exceeded $750,000

2023 Pinnacle Award Winner
Turbo Trusser

Owners: Brian Halasinski & Kirk Hyust

Kirk Hyust and Brian Halasinski are familiar clients to BAC, having worked with the BAC counselors previously with a different product and business.  After tinkering, reworking, rethinking, and going through the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial and invention processes, they developed the Turbo Trusser, a simple kitchen gadget that quickly trusses a turkey or chicken without cumbersome string and with better cooking results.  The team has been meeting as a Mentoring Client with BAC, and was recently featured on Shark Tank.  With the help of BAC, they are working to ensure their business structure, financial records, partnership opportunities, and strategies are aligned for continued future growth.

Turbo_Trusser BAC Award Winner Success
shark tank BAC Award Winner Success
2023 On the Road to Success Award Winner
Odd Dog Coffee

Owner: Michael Hancock

Michael Hancock created Odd Dog Coffee as a specialty roaster offering a reimagined flavored coffee. At the core of his coffee program is a high-quality roast, profiled to create a solid bean upon which to innovate, using unexpected ingredients like cacao nibs, cayenne pepper, and chunks of cinnamon sticks. The customer experiences a balanced bean and a little spice combined into a uniquely delicious cup of coffee you can drink every day. Odd Dog Coffee came to BAC counselors for an accessible accountability partner in order to effectively scale the business.

Odd Dog Coffee BAC Award Winner Success
2022 Pinnacle Award Winner
Oberlin Food Hub

Executive DIrector: Dave Sokoll

The Oberlin Food Hub is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting local farmers and increasing public access to local and healthy foods in Northeast Ohio. Led by Executive Director Dave Sokoll, they are aggregators and distributors of local food sourcing from nearly 100 farms, orchards, food entrepreneurs and manufacturers in our region. They focus their efforts on K-12 public schools, institutions like colleges and hospitals, grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, large processors of produce and more. They work to educate our customers on the importance of sourcing locally while they tell the story of the many hands who cultivated and created this food.

Sololl_OFH BAC Award Winner Success
2022 On the Road to Success Award Winner

Founders: Jeff Leahy and Bryan Thomas

Jeff Leahy and Bryan Thomas started the BlazeBite platform to give restaurants, stadiums and other venues the ability to provide an all-digital dining experience for their customers. With BlazeBite, a venue’s customers can view their entire menu, order their food and beverages and pay for it all from their phones. It’s designed to be affordable and easy to set up!

BlazeBite BAC Award Winner Success
BAC Award Winner Success
2022 On the Road to Success Award Winner
Empowering Epilepsy

Founder and Executive Director: Leigh Goldie

Empowering Epilepsy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was founded by people with epilepsy for people with epilepsy in 2014. The organization’s goal is to create a caring community that allows people with epilepsy and their families to find active ways to manage their seizures and take charge of their lives. They also work to better educate the Northeast Ohio community on the needs of people with epilepsy and their loved ones. They love to shine a spotlight on what people with epilepsy CAN do and share ways in which individuals who want to help can empower them. In March 2022, they held the grand opening of their new Empowering Epilepsy headquarters in Beachwood. The facility will host more than 80 events and educational programming each year, offer in-person support groups, and provide volunteer opportunities.

Empowering-Epilepsy BAC Award Winner Success
Empowering Epilepsy BAC Award Winner Success
2022 On the Road to Success Award Winner
Leaf on the Wind Leather Company

Founder: Thair Henry Afaneh

Thair Henry Afaneh started Leaf on the Wind Leather Company after spending 13 years working for someone else. He wanted to pursue his lifelong interest in crafting items out of leather. Unlike the items he often found that appeared to be made to be disposable,  he focuses on producing high quality items that can be passed on to future generations. His customers love the handmade and dyed bespoke leather belts, bags, holsters, wallets, passport wallets, checkbook, purses, handbags and more. They are made to the exact customer specifications from the finest materials, including the rivets, snaps, stitching, hooks, clasps, etc. His workshop is located in the Cleveland area where he was born and has lived the majority of his life.

Leaf-on-the-Wind-Leather-Company BAC Award Winner Success
Leaf-on-the-Wind-Leather-Company BAC Award Winner Success

2019 - 2021 Award Winners

2021 On the Road to Success Award Winner
The Gifted Tree  Founder: Doug Bell 

In 2013 Doug and Laura Bell started planting trees – “In memory of” and “In celebration of” – on a large historic estate in County Carlow, Ireland.   From this humble beginning, The Gifted Tree has expanded their operations to include locations in over 30 locations in 23 countries on 6 continents, helping to restore national forests destroyed by fire or disease, or reforesting tree-depleted communities ravaged by the effects of climate change.  Not only have they expanded the tree canopy around the world as a legacy for future generations, but they saw this as an opportunity to help individuals connect on a more personal level.  They have developed an array of innovative, thoughtful and memorable presentation options that help express and create a magical moment, leaving a lasting and timeless impression.

The Gifted Tree BAC Award Winner Success
2020 On the Road to Success Award Winner
Central Kitchen  Founders:  Eric Diamond and Gordon Priemer

The Central Kitchen was founded with the mission of providing craft food entrepreneurs with education, licensing and facilities that assure success from start-up through scale-up in order to create sustainable businesses. Under one roof, food-focused entrepreneurs have access to shared prep and cooking facilities, dry, cold and frozen storage space, and a professional incubator program to guide them every step of the way. Thanks to the kitchen’s classes and leased incubator space, the following successful businesses have been spawned: Randy’s Pickles, Cleveland Kraut, Chill Pop Shop, Saucisson and Cleveland Bagel.

Central-Kitchen BAC Award Winner Success
2020 On the Road to Success Award Winner
Restorative Fitness  Founder: Andrew Walters

Founder and president Andrew Walters is passionate about helping the 50+ restore their areas of weakness and enjoy their active lifestyles. He believes that his clients should continue to strive for a healthy body and mind so they can be resilient for as long as they can. Using muscle activation techniques (MAT) as an integral part of the exercise process, he assesses, prepares and improves each individual’s muscular system’s capabilities to meet the demands of various forms of vital exercise. Restorative Fitness has shown steady growth since its founding.

Restorative Fitness BAC Award Winner Success
2020 On the Road to Success Award Winner
Skyplex Management  Founder: Kevin Vinicky

Skyplex Management is a full-service accounting and bookkeeping firm offering a comprehensive range of services including monthly financial statements, bank reconciliation, payroll services, accounts receivable and accounts payable to small businesses and contractors. Skyplex Management is a QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisor that allows clients the time to focus on running their business while trusting us to provide accurate, timely business analytics.

Skyplex BAC Award Winner Success
2019 On the Pinnacle Award Winner
Agora Foods International, Inc., and Astoria Café & Market, LLC  Founders: Steve and Elaine Daniels and George and Inger Kantzios

Agora Foods International, an importer and distributor of fine Mediterranean foods, relocated to a warehouse in the Gordon Square neighborhood in 2013. They transformed some of the space into a high-end imported foods market and café, the Astoria Café & Market, which opened three years later.

Astoria Café & Market was named to Cleveland Magazine’s Cleveland’s 25 Best Restaurants of 2019,’s 100 Best Restaurants in Cleveland 2019, and Scene Magazine’s 2018 Best New Restaurant.

agora BAC Award Winner Success
astoria-cafe-market BAC Award Winner Success
2019 On the Road to Success Award Winner
Outside the Lines Creative Group, LLC  Founder: Denise Reynolds

Denise Reynolds founded Outside the Lines Creative Group LLC in 2012 to help companies communicate by using cartoons. She began working with BAC in 2013 and we have seen the business change from a freelance operation to a full-fledged company that offers a variety of innovative and fun cartoon and video services for employee benefit programs, wellness and human resource messages. It recently began offering cartoon packages for local government called Muni-Toons®. 

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