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August 8, 2016

Mainebiz Women to Watch alumni: Checking in on past winners

2009 file Photo / David A. Rodgers
2009 file Photo / David A. Rodgers
Jean Hoffman, class of 2009
2010 file Photo / Tim Greenway
Susan MacKay, class of 2010
2011 file Photo / Tim Greenway
Danielle Ripich, class of 2011
2012 file Photo / Tim Greenway
Melissa Smith, class of 2012
2013 file Photo / Amber Waterman
Shannon Kinney, class of 2013
2014 file Photo / Tim Greenway
Margo Walsh, class of 2014
2015 file Photo / William Trevaskis
Gena Canning, class of 2015

1. Jean Hoffman, class of 2009

The founder and former president of Putney Inc., which sells generic drugs for pets, saw her Portland company sold to Dechra Holdings US Inc. of Overland Park, Kan., for $200 million. Putney's net revenue was $49.6 million in 2015, and it had 63 employees as of November. Hoffman told Mainebiz that she would leave when the sale was completed on April 22. Following the sale of the company, Hoffman gave $14,000 to every Putney employee who had worked at the company for at least six months, or an estimated $840,000 to about 60 employees. She has set up a foundation to help other people build companies. Putney was founded in 2006. Hoffman raised more than $60 million in capital for Putney in her career at the company. She also was a Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year in 2012 and the company was a runner-up for the Mainebiz 2015 Fastest Growing Company award.

2. Susan MacKay, class of 2010

When we first interviewed MacKay in 2010, she was founder and president of Zeomatrix, an Orono-based company that was making ceramic-based filtration products. It is now a separate company with a different product and is not run by MacKay. She founded a second company, Cerahelix Inc., in 2011, and that company is focused on ceramic water filters. Cerahelix was a semifinalist in the Season 1 Greenlight Maine Competition that ended recently. It also was the only Maine venture deal in the second quarter of 2015, having raised $200,000 from the Maine Venture Fund and Portland and Bangor angel investors. It also sold $575,000 of a $1 million equity fundraise listed in a February SEC filing.

3. Danielle Ripich, class of 2011

Since assuming the presidency of the University of New England in July 2006, she has overseen the launch of the school's College of Pharmacy, the College of Dental Medicine and the Oral Health Center, seven new buildings including a Center for Biomedical Research, as well as a campus in Tangier, Morocco. She also expanded the school into online courses. Student ranks have swelled 70% to more than 10,000 under her watch, and she increased the university's operating surplus by $127 million. She also was named a 2016 Mainebiz Nonprofit Business Leader of the Year. Ripich plans to step down from her post at the private university on June 30, 2017.

4. Melissa Smith, class of 2012

When we first met Smith, she was president of the Americas at what was then called Wright Express, now WEX Inc., a South Portland corporate payment solutions company. She was named president of the company in May 2013, after having been with the company since 1997. The Maine Women's Fund honored her as its 2015 business leader. The company ended the 2015 calendar year with $854.6 million in revenue, up 5% from the prior year. In July, WEX completed its acquisition of competitor Electronic Funds Source of Nashville, Tenn., a deal that included $1.1 billion in cash plus 4.0 million shares of common stock.

5. Shannon Kinney, class of 2013

The founder of Dream Local Digital, a Rockland-based digital marketing agency, had her company named Small Business of the Year for 2013 by the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce.

6. Margo Walsh, class of 2014

The founder and president of MaineWorks LLC, the Portland-based temporary labor staffing company, in March won a U.S. Small Business Administration annual Small Business Person of the Year award for Maine. "Passion and commitment are what make successful small businesses and Margo has shown both with MaineWorks," Marilyn Geroux, SBA district director for Maine, said when the award was announced.

7. Gena Canning, class of 2015

The managing partner at Pine State Trading Co., a family-owned company based in Gardiner, saw her company sell its convenience store division to Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc., of South San Francisco, Calif., in April for an undisclosed price. Reuters reported that the deal is worth about $112 million. Canning, along with co-owner and CEO Nick Alberding, relocated to newly leased office space in Libby Hill Business Park in Gardiner, while Core-Mark is operating out of Pine State's nearby Market Street Business Park.

Read more

Mainebiz's 2016 Women to Watch

Women to Watch: Andrea Cianchette Maker finds common ground in policymaking at Pierce Atwood

Women to Watch: Lindsay Skilling adds flavor to iconic family brand at Gifford's

Women to Watch: Deanna Sherman brings her lifelong passion for learning to Dead River Co.

Women to Watch: Debra Taylor's balanced approach to wellness takes center stage at Sweetser

2016 Business Leaders of the Year

Women to Watch: Gena Canning, Pine State Trading Co.

Women to watch: Margo Walsh, MaineWorks

Orono incubator amasses innovative companies

Woman to watch: Shannon Kinney, Dream Local Digital

VIDEO: Women to Watch: Melissa Smith on how to motivate a team

Driving performance | Melissa Smith, Wright Express Corp.

Business Leader of the Year: Jean Hoffman, Putney Inc.

A matter of degrees | Danielle Ripich, University of New England

Pet cause | Science and Technology: Jean Hoffman, President, Putney Inc.

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