Like many Mainers, my eyebrows shot straight up when I heard the news of Sen. Olympia Snowe's decision not to run for re-election. For as long as I've lived in Maine, she has been a voice of compromise and common sense in Washington, qualities sorely lacking in that city. It saddens me that the bickering and partisanship in Congress have reached a level where even a veteran, respected politician throws up her hands in frustration and bows out of the fray. Score one for the ideologues.
Fortunately — at least for my frame of mind — her announcement was soon followed by discussions here of our 2012 Business Leaders of the Year. Collectively, they embrace a fearlessness that leads to bold action, propelling them to reach goals that would have cowed lesser executives. We're really impressed.
If you turn to page 22, you'll see the first of our profiles, written by Senior Writer Randy Billings, that introduces you to David Stone, CEO of CashStar, a trendsetter in the world of online retail gift cards. In the last year, David has attracted clients such as Best Buy, The Home Depot and Gap, and $28 million in venture capital. Bucking pressure to move his company to the Silicon Valley or Cambridge where top programmers and engineers are plentiful, he prefers to recruit staff to Maine, offering them the chance to work for a pioneering company in a beautiful place. It's a formula that, since 2008, has grown his company to 75 employees, earning him our 2012 Large Company Business Leader of the Year title.
Randy also introduces readers to Michael Tarpinian, CEO of Opportunity Alliance, a new nonprofit borne of a merger between Youth Alternatives Ingraham and PROP, People's Regional Opportunity Program. The nonprofit employs more than 400 people who deliver services as varied as crisis intervention, home heating assistance and Head Start throughout Cumberland County. Mike oversees a $36 million budget and, through careful attention to blending cultures and improving client services, has trimmed administrative costs by 19%. We're proud to select him as our 2012 Nonprofit Business Leader of the Year.
My profile is not an introduction, since loyal Mainebiz readers will recognize Jean Hoffman, president and CEO of Putney Inc., makers of generic pet medications. Jean graced the cover of our last issue where we explored Portland's rising prominence in the pet pharmaceutical industry, and she was a 2009 Mainebiz Woman to Watch. (Can we call 'em or what? Our 2010 Small Company Business Leader of the Year was Michael Cote of Look's Gourmet Food, named last week by the SBA as its Maine Small Business Person of the Year.) Jean is our Small Company Business Leader of the Year, recognized for the tremendous growth Putney has had, as well as Jean's success in securing $21 million in venture capital. She's on a hiring binge, so who knows how long she'll keep the "small company" moniker.
You can find out just how impressive these leaders are by 1) reading their profiles, 2) checking out their videos on our website and 3) joining us May 1 at a reception honoring our Business Leaders of the Year at the Portland Club. Details are at mainebiz.biz/BLOY.