William Jews honored as master entrepreneur He and 11 others to compete for U.S. business awards

Awards

June 25, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

William L. Jews, president and chief executive of CareFirst Inc. in Owings Mills, was named master entrepreneur last night and one of 12 chosen to represent the local business community in a national competition.

Winners in the ninth annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards were selected for innovation, financial performance and commitment to their business and community, said Dave Jones, the partner in charge of entrepreneurial services in the Baltimore office of Ernst & Young, the event's main sponsor.

Jews was honored for engineering the combination of the Maryland and District of Columbia Blue Cross plans to create CareFirst Inc., which covers nearly 2.3 million people and is the region's largest health insurer.

A chief executive officer before he was 30, Jews took over Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland in 1993, when it was near bankruptcy and embarrassed by a congressional probe into its free-spending management. By rebuilding the company's reserves and cutting costs, Jews positioned it for the deal with the D.C. plan that shored up its place in Baltimore.

Jews, the judges said in the award citation, turned a failing Blue Cross plan into one of the best in the country.

The other honorees were chosen in industries such as business services, communications and technology, health and wellness, and real estate. They were announced at a banquet at the Hyatt Regency.

"This year's crop of winners is a good represention of the success Maryland is having in attracting entrepreneurial companies," Jones said. "The winners are from good technology companies and very good service businesses.

"You don't need to be inventor of new technology to have a very exciting business," he said.

Nine judges whittled the 60 nominations to 26 finalists before narrowing the field to 12 winners, Jones said. The winners are in the running for Ernst & Young's national competition, which will take place in Palm Springs, Calif., in November.

In addition to Jews, the Maryland's winners are:

Business Services Entrepreneur: James Loughlin Dunbar Sr., chief executive officer and chairman of Dunbar Armored Inc. in Hunt Valley. Founded in 1956, the company is the largest independent armored carrier in the nation, with more than 700 trucks, 3,000 employees and 65 branches.

Communications and Technology Entrepreneur: Jeong H. Kim, chief executive officer and chairman of Yurie Systems Inc. in Landover. Founded in 1992, the company developed patented equipment to improve the quality of communications over nonfiber-optic phone lines. Lucent Technologies Inc. acquired Yurie for $1 billion in May.

Health and Wellness Entrepreneur: Elaine and Roger Ralph, president and vice president of Four Sports Inc., which operates Bel Air Athletic Club in Bel Air. Founded in 1979, it has been ranked among the top five health and fitness clubs in the United States.

Health and Wellness Entrepreneur: James H. Miller, president and chief executive officer of Meridian Medical Technologies Inc. in Columbia. He merged two companies into a profitable one that manufactures home health care devices.

Real Estate Entrepreneur: J. P. Blase Cooke, president and owner of the Harkins Group in Silver Spring. Cooke started as a laborer for the construction company in 1968 and worked his way up to owner in 1993. The company was recently named one of the largest designing and building contractors in the nation.

Retail and Consumer Products Entrepreneur: Mike Wolf, president of MTH Electric Trains in Columbia. Founded in 1980, the company is competing with Lionel Trains to become the largest manufacturer of electric toy trains.

Turnaround Entrepreneur: Carl Peter Smith, president and chief executive officer of Schmidt Baking Co. Inc. in Baltimore. Under his leadership, the awards judges said, the company has reclaimed its position as the leading baker in the Baltimore-Washington market.

Emerging Entrepreneur: Scott A. Thompson, Darren Seward and Anthony J. Bonacuse, co-founders of HR Tech Corp. in Columbia. More than 200 companies in the mid-Atlantic area have HR Tech handle their human resource functions.

Other sponsors of the local awards are the Baltimore Sun Co., Piper & Marbury LLP, First Union Bank-Va/Md/DC and Sprint Corp.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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