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August 10, 2015

Women to Watch, Class of 2009: Where are they now?

2009 file Photo / Joe Phelan Kris Doody, CEO of Cary Medical Center.
2009 file Photo / David A. Rodgers Jean Hoffman, president and CEO of Putney Inc.
2009 file Photo / David A. Rodgers Kathie Leonard, president and CEO of Auburn Manufacturing Inc.
2009 file Photo / David A. Rodgers Ruth Libby, executive director of Ruth's Reusable Resources.
2009 file Photo / David A. Rodgers Wendy Newmeyer, president of Maine Balsam Fir Products
2009 file Photo / David A. Rodgers Beth Sturtevant, president of CCB Inc.

The Mainebiz Women to Watch awards originated in early 2009 when the editorial staff hung all the covers of the previous year's issues on a wall and saw a lot of male faces. They thought it was time to start a forum to acknowledge talented women.

The inaugural group of six winners spanned the manufacturing, construction, health care, science and technology, nonprofit and women-owned business sectors. Their common traits included smarts, tenacity and vision to overcome obstacles and reap the rewards of leading well-managed enterprises.

As we introduce you to this year's top women executives, we also caught up with our 2009 winners. In telling us what they are doing now, they show why they are still Women to Watch.

Kris Doody

As CEO at Caribou-based Cary Medical Center, Kris Doody has focused on growing a rural hospital and working with veterans.

Cary has two new satellite clinics in Washburn and Fort Fairfield that have helped it grow market share. It also opened a Women's Imaging Center, the most advanced Breast Center in Northern Maine, and it will soon open the new Jefferson Cary Cancer Center.

The hospital also has received a $1 million grant to help build and grow the Maine Rural Health Innovation Network, a collaboration of 10 Maine hospitals representing nearly one-third of Maine's population. It also has established an LLC with five of those hospitals with a goal of developing “best practices” for managing chronic illness and sharing cost-saving ideas.

Along the way, Doody and the hospital have won numerous awards. They include The Joint Commission Top Performer on Key Quality Measures 2012-13, Gold Award 2013-14 Maine Tobacco Free Hospitals Network, Case in Point Case Management Award 2013, Governors Award for Environmental Excellence for the Safe Sharps Disposal Program and the New England Environmental Merit Award.

The hospital also won the Avatar Exceeding Patient Expectations award for nine years in a row and the Best Overall Performer distinction for four years in a row.

“Only three other hospitals of the 600 surveyed by Avatar across the nation have achieved this level of recognition,” Doody says.

Cary also was named among America's Best Hospitals for Obstetrics Women's Choice Award and among America's Best Breast Centers. Quorum Health Resources gave Cary the Best Overall Quality Award for the second year in a row.

“Our quality was also recognized with the Best Performer for Communication with Nurses, Responsiveness of hospital staff and Pain Management scoring above the top 10% of hospitals in the nation,” she says. HealthGrades also named Cary among the top 10% of hospitals nationally in patient experience.

Doody was a 20-20 Award Recipient from the Maine Health Management Coalition.

She says the work that is most personal to her is for veterans in Aroostook, as her late father served for 39 years with the Maine National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.

“We had great success with outpatient care and long-term care,” she says, and “in 2011 we were selected as one of only five sites in the nation to pilot a new VA program, Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home).” She says Cary was the most successful of the five sites, and when the program was threatened with ending in 2014, she testified before Congress. The program was extended, but she continues to fight for a permanent extension.

Her advice to young women entering the workforce now: “Reach for the top, don't be intimidated and lead with ethics and fairness. Your reputation is everything.”

Jean Hoffman

Jean Hoffman, president and CEO of Putney Inc., a Portland-based developer of affordable generic pet medicine, has been growing revenues and raising funds to expand.

It raised $6.7 million in a Series B funding in 2009, plus two additional equity rounds and several debt rounds of capital since then for a total of more than $60 million raised to date. Hoffman also has grown revenues at a greater than 30% compounded annual growth rate.

“So we are a larger, better funded company,” she says.

In 2013, Putney ranked No. 2,043 in the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies in America, No. 290 in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 and was named the No. 10 Best Medium Place to Work in Maine 2013. Fortune magazine also named Putney the 10th Best Small/Medium Workplace.

The company also moved into larger quarters in downtown Portland to double its space for its employees, which have grown more than seven-fold to more than 60 employees.

Hoffman was named the New England Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 in the Life Sciences category in recognition of her success in building Putney into the largest generics company in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry. In 2012 Hoffman was named a Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year. Putney was Portland's 2013 Business of the Year.

Hoffman is currently a member of the Board of Advisors of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and a member of the Dean's Advisory Council for the University of New England's School of Pharmacy.

“Putney's biggest challenges in the next five years are recruiting great people to join our team and gaining unrestricted access to veterinary customers,” Hoffman says. “Some branded pharmaceutical companies have contractually prohibited the largest veterinary distribution companies in the country from distributing generics of their brand-name drugs. The intent of these agreements is to prevent generic competition in the marketplace.”

She says Putney has developed a network of smaller, regional distributors and a direct sales team to give veterinarians access to Putney's generics.

She advises young women entering the work force to prepare to work hard, figure out what they are excited about and where their skills would make a difference. “Don't expect any special treatment because of your gender,” she notes. “Consider making your own rules and building the work place you believe in as an entrepreneur rather than thinking about joining a large company.”

Kathie Leonard

Three years ago, Mechanic Falls-based Auburn Manufacturing Inc. doubled the size of its Auburn facility as part of its strategic plan to add new processes and work more efficiently, says Kathie Leonard, president and CEO.

The company now occupies a total of 100,000 square feet at sites in Auburn and Mechanic Falls.

“The extra space and the added equipment have helped us to develop some new products and improve our quality,” she says.

Employee numbers are still hovering around 50 people due to a slower-than-anticipated global economic recovery.

“Finding ways to stay ahead of imported products made in non-market economies (i.e., China) is key to our success,” she says of the challenges the company faces over the next five years. “That means we need to continue to develop new products to maintain our edge as experts in heat-resistant textiles.”

In January of this year, Leonard was chosen to accompany U.S. Sen. Angus King to President Obama's State of the Union Address.

“It was a huge honor to attend and to represent small Maine manufacturers — not to mention woman-owned [ones],” she says.

Leonard says the work environment for women has been changing gradually, but sustainably.

“Women are good at running things and everybody knows it,” she says, advising young women now entering the work force to stay open to opportunity, even when it seems like an unlikely fit.

“Manufacturing has been very, very good to me, but it wasn't my career plan,” she says.

Ruth Libby

Ruth's Reusable Resources, also known as 3R's, has placed more than 21,000 computers in Maine and New Hampshire schools, filled more than 30,000 backpacks and given them to needy students, as well as given more than $5 million in new furniture to schools in those two states, says Executive Director Ruth Libby.

Over its 21 years in operation, 3Rs has placed more than $56 million worth of new and slightly used supplies, computers, furniture, books and other surplus items businesses have donated into needy schools, she says. Based in Portland, 3R's is part of a Nation Network of Free stores under the Kids In Need Foundation.

“It's been a big challenge for me to get the general public, foundations and businesses to fully understand the magnitude of what 3R's does without coming to the store,” she says.

In addition to its store for teachers, she says the nonprofit has opened a store for the general public that is stocked with all types of items. It also recently started an online book-selling section on Amazon. It regularly gives away more than 36,000 books a year to teachers and still has 100,000 to recycle.

Libby is currently searching for the sponsorships and building so 3R's can open a satellite store in Bangor and possibly New Hampshire.

“There is [so] much stuff out there. No child should have to go to school without the basic supplies,” she says.

Libby continues to speak around the state to spread the word about the teacher store and how important it is for businesses and others who donate to not through away supplies.

In 2011 she and her nonprofit won the Maine Children's Alliance Giraffe Award and in 2015 the eCheivment Award from etown Radio.

Wendy Newmeyer

When we profiled Wendy Newmeyer, president of West Paris-based Maine Balsam Fir Products, in 2009, her company had, over 26 years for 5,200 clients, made more than 2 million balsam pillows, draft stoppers and neck rolls.

One major change since then is that she's gotten on the “motor coach” trail, opening her business to 40 to 50 people at a time from various places around the country. “We give them a tour and have a 'make a bag' deal which gets them hands-on,” she says. “This is an authentic, experiential way to market ourselves. It has been good extra revenue as well as fun.”

The company was recognized by the Maine Troop Greeters at Bangor International Airport for its donations of thousands of balsam pillows to be given to troops going overseas. “We know giving the scent of Maine to them has helped them,” she says, noting that her father, Louis Horvath, is a veteran who is dedicated to that work.

She says the biggest challenge over the next five years is the prospect of retirement. She is 60 and would like to keep working, but her husband, 66, wants to retire. They have no children.

“Thus, the eventual sale of my very unique company may be challenging,” she adds. “I am on a five-year plan at this point. After that, we'll see.”

Beth Sturtevant

Beth Sturtevant, president of Westbrook-based commercial contractor CCB Inc., says she has focused on growing the company's profit line.

“Employees and revenues have mostly gone up throughout the past six years, however we still haven't quite reached our employee levels of pre-2009-10,” she says.

However, she adds, “Our growth out of the state of Maine has risen over the past six years.”

She is seeing more and more women in the construction industry.

“I think it's finally dawned on the industry that women are half the population and need to be viewed as viable employees and not just as management and accounting, but hands-on crafts people, she says. “Construction is still a great career and pays very well.”

She advises young women entering the work force to “work hard, have a great attitude and align yourself with someone you can learn/mentor from.”

Read more

Women to Watch 2015

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Auburn Manufacturing scores victory with duty on Chinese textiles

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