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How do you define entrepreneur? For some, an entrepreneur is one who is able to turn an idea into a booming product or company. In another scenario, an entrepreneur can be defined as one who is able to transform a failing company by bringing innovative solutions to the table. On the other hand, an entrepreneur might be one who can take the reins of wildly successful organization and grow it even more. No matter how you define the word, an entrepreneur is someone who dreams big and works hard through thick and thin to see that dream come to fruition.
In the following pages, we celebrate entrepreneurs who embody all that the word means. They built lasting companies from the ground up. They experienced explosive growth when many were skeptical. They implemented new and disruptive ideas to reenergize stagnant companies. They are truly what it means to be an entrepreneur. Join us as we celebrate the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Utah Region finalists.
T. Ryan Gibbons, Jason Langston, and Al Manbeian [Not Pictured]
Managing Partners, GPS Capital Markets, Inc.
GPS Capital Markets’ co-founders T. Ryan Gibbons, Jason Langston and Al Manbeian left lucrative careers to follow their dreams of launching GPS Capital, a foreign exchange (FX) firm. In their early days, they wrote on a whiteboard, “failure is not an option.” To this day, they follow that mantra in everything they do.
Despite launching in the midst of the economic downturn, GPS has been able to grow its revenue 210 percent during the past five years and has built one of the largest corporate FX trading floors in the country at its South Jordan headquarters. Since the company was founded, it has grown from 6 employees to more than 80, and has structured billions of dollars in FX transactions for its clients. In addition, GPS has become the exclusive FX partner of BDO, a top five accounting firm.
What sets the company apart is its focus on personalized service and customizable software applications. Its flagship product, FXpert, allows clients to view and combine information pertaining to their global operations. The software contains a user interface that is easy to navigate, a global payment module, foreign currency exposure management module, and an analytics tool that reduces risks and cuts costs.
Robert Gardiner, CEO, Eric Huefner, President [Not Pictured], and Blake Walker, Chief Investment Officer
Grandeur Peak Global Advisors
Childhood friends Robert Gardiner and Eric Huefner followed a similar path into the investment industry, and together dreamed of one day launching their own firm. In 2008, Gardiner and Huefner, along with Blake Walker, turned their dream into reality when they founded the Wasatch Global Opportunities Fund, which would become the basis for Grandeur Peak Global Advisors, an asset manager and mutual fund company.
“We’re specialty managers that focus on global small and micro-cap companies,” explains Gardiner. “We’re not investing in Apple, but in the newly public companies and the smaller ones.”
Launched in 2011, Grandeur Peak Global Advisors has an international reach with analysts that specialize in specific industries around the world. The company’s goal is to understand every micro to mid-cap stock in the global investment realm and to ultimately become the best long-term investment for individuals investing in small and micro-cap stocks.
Beyond day-to-day operations, Grandeur Peak Global Advisors is committed to giving back to the international communities they work with. Last year the entire firm, including spouses, travelled to Guatemala on a service mission with Choice Humanitarian. “It was a remarkable experience for us individually and as a firm,” says Gardiner. “We will do more of this.”
President, Total Joint Orthopedics
Total Joint Orthopedics was founded with the goal of providing affordable, quality knee and hip implants. “Our founders began to formulate ideas about new implants for joint replacement—excellent design, top-of-the-line materials, streamlined instrumentation, reduced inventory, and a way to give back,” says CEO Erin Hofmann.
Today, the Salt Lake-based company is providing knee and hip implants to hospitals and surgeons around the United States. Since releasing its first product in 2009, the company has nearly doubled its sales each year and anticipates the same growth in 2015 with plans to expand its portfolio of available products.
“Our instrumentation is streamlined and easy to use for reproducible results. It also reduces sterilization and storage costs for hospitals,” says Hofmann. “It’s not typical for a hospital administrator to applaud their vendors instead of cursing them, but time and time again we are stopped in hospital hallways and asked when we will be able to convert more surgeons to our product.”