Foods For AthletesUsed by many serious and professional athletes, Foods for Athletes – BlackMP contains the minerals their bodies need for daily replenishment. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

As the saying goes, “Never judge a book by its cover,” because you might miss out on something amazing and that is just the case with Foods for Athletes – BlackMP. BlackMP Living Water is black water because it is enhanced with USDA certified organic humic and fulvic minerals, SBO probiotics and electrolytes. Co-founders Darren Long and his son, D.J., says the color puts some people off at first because it is not what water should look like, but it’s the most refreshing water we have ever had and the benefits are being called dramatic.

“Humic and fluvic acids are full of trace minerals that we don’t even understand,” Long notes. “We met with scientists and asked them how the product was doing all of this and curing these different diseases. They called it a miracle product, but it’s not the product it’s your body. When you put the right stuff in your body it starts functioning right. Scientists are calling it the missing link or the mother of all molecules.”

Long is a former NFL and USFL tight end as well as a three-time All-American. In 1982, he led the NCAA with the most receptions by a tight end and was second overall in most receptions in a single season. He is a national speaker for athletic programs, corporations and small businesses, as well as the host of “Foods for Athletes,” a health and wellness radio show that airs worldwide. Long also co-hosts the BlackMP Living Water podcast.

Busy BeaverBusy Beaver’s CEO aims to re-energize the company with a new strategic plan. By Kat Zeman

After more than 50 years in business, Busy Beaver was one of the few surviving home improvement retailers in a market dominated by giants like Home Depot and Lowe’s. But even by its own reckoning, Busy Beaver had become “the forgotten brand.”

In 2013, Joe Kallen, an executive with an extensive background in retail and real estate development, purchased a majority of the company’s shares and became its president and CEO. Since then, his objective has been to recapture the relevance of the Busy Beaver brand as “your neighborhood home improvement center, priced and assorted to meet the needs of the value conscious do-it-yourselfers as well as the professional remodeler,” Kallen says.

Pittsburg-based Busy Beaver operates 18 home improvement stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and employs more than 350 people. For the past four years, Kallen has been working to re-energize the company brand through the implementation of a new strategic plan that focuses on three pillars: engage, enhance and expand.

PharmacaPharmaca is focused on growth and escalating the customer experience. By Alan Dorich

When customers come to a Pharmaca store, they can be confident in the products it sells. “The people at the home office and those managing our stores have a passion for making sure we’re putting the best thing on the shelf,” President and CEO Richard Willis declares. “That’s what sets Pharmaca apart.”

Based in Boulder, Colo., the company’s locations sell both pharmaceutical medicines and alternative and wellness products. Founder Barry Perzow started Pharmaca 17 years ago, after traveling in Europe.

“He had the idea of combining a pharmacy with a retail store that would also sell alternative and wellness medicines,” Willis explains. Perzow bought a pharmacy in Boulder and followed it up by constructing the company’s first full-service location.

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Beacon BridgeBeacon & Bridge Market serves its communities and state by selling products from local suppliers. By Tim O’Connor

In a state known as the center of the auto industry, where American-made is a way of life for millions of blue collar workers, Beacon & Bridge Market replicates that homegrown pride on an even more local scale. The chain of convenience store gas stations purchases products from Michigan suppliers and manufactures whenever possible, keeping its spending in-state and helping fellow Michigan businesses grow.

“We pride ourselves on being a Michigan company,” Vice President Scott Nelson says. “We’re trying to carry as many Michigan-made products as possible.”

Benzer PharmacyBenzer Pharmacy’s new CFO introduced processes and technologies to improve operations and support accelerated growth. By Tim O’Connor

On the march to 200 stores, Benzer Pharmacy is creating a cohesive brand known for expert service from dedicated pharmacists. Going forward, the collection of independent retail pharmacies will all use the Benzer name, the same technology and standard processes. “We want to get the philosophy across the whole company,” CFO Bob Shatanoff says. “It’s one Benzer.”

Where large competitors try to be all-in-one retailers that sell groceries and greeting cards alongside prescription drugs, Benzer sets itself apart as a pure pharmacy dedicated to personal service. When customers enter the building, they are greeted by a pharmacist who knows their history and will take the time to answer any questions they have. “We don’t have a lot of brick and mortar,” Shatanoff explains. “We don’t want a 10,000-square-foot store. We want a 2,500-square-foot pharmacy with a pharmacist.” 

MonopriceAs the No. 1 3D printer brand in the world, Monoprice aims to capture more customers globally. By Bianca Herron

Monoprice was founded in 2002 with one goal in mind: to sell premium products at an affordable price. Founder Seong Hong found success by eliminating layers of markup within the supply chain and selling products in a direct-to-consumer model via a website: He continued to grow the company, emphasizing cables, adapters and wall mounts as its core business.

In 2013, Hong sold Monoprice to Blucora Inc., a provider of technology-enabled financial solutions to consumers, small businesses and tax professionals. Around that time, the retail environment was being dramatically altered by increased competition from notable brands - including Amazon, Walmart, and eBay – that were creating or expanding online marketplaces.

This ultimately made it easy for small and overseas businesses to sell affordable products directly to consumers. Simultaneously, there was a rise in white-label manufacturing by large brands including the introduction of AmazonBasics by Amazon.

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