The awards program was created by Ernst & Young in 1986 to honor entrepreneurs whose ingenuity and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures.
This year’s honorees were selected from more than 150 nominations by a panel of independent judges. Now in its 26th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 140 cities in more than 50 countries throughout the world. Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year program, which will be announced on Nov. 17, 2012.
Feeney was named president and CEO of Safelite AutoGlass®, the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, in 2008 after dedicating 20 years at the company. Shortly after, the economy crashed. Yet he knew there was opportunity for the company to grow despite those challenging conditions. He set a high goal of doubling business within five years, which he did in 2011, reaching an all-time high of $1.1 billion in sales.
The automotive glass repair and replacement industry is highly fragmented and competitive industry with very little differentiation. Feeney’s vision to make Safelite® the natural choice involves 1) a cultural transformation to be more committed and supportive to employees, 2) developing a powerful brand famous for service and 3) creating an extra-ordinary customer experience.
Through the ongoing troubled economy, factors that affect Safelite’s business have also proved challenging: miles driven are down, new car sales are down, and the current winter weather season has not produced work – all hurting the automotive glass repair and replacement industry. Despite these issues, Safelite® had an outstanding 2011, meeting the company’s financial goals, increasing employee engagement scores, and increasing customer satisfaction rankings.
As a result, Safelite AutoGlass® is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2012. Currently Safelite has nearly 10,000 employees and has a presence in all 50 states. In addition to offering mobile service, Safelite® has approximately 466 facilities to provide windshield repair or replacement as well as side glass and back glass replacement.
Under his direction, both he and the company have received many awards this year alone, including:
- 2012 Stevie Gold Award for Sales & Customer Service (e-Commerce)
- 2012 Stevie Silver Award for Sales & Customer Service (Customer Service
Leader of the Year)
- 2012 American Business Award Bronze for Customer Service Team of the Year
- 2012 Ohio Cancer Research Associates Star Award for Philanthropy
- 2012 Smart Leader Award
“Ernst & Young has honored outstanding entrepreneurs like this year’s winners for the past 26 years,” said Rich Mitchell, Ernst & Young LLP Entrepreneur Of The Year® Program Director for South Central Ohio & Kentucky Region. “These business leaders have accomplished so much and contributed a tremendous amount to the community.”
“I thank Ernst & Young for this recognition, but the true winners are the people of Safelite® - the customer service representatives who answer our phones and the technicians who perform high-quality repairs and replacements,” Feeney said. “Together, we have taken Safelite® to a higher standard within our industry by focusing on innovation and the complete customer experience.”
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