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Educational Pioneer, Automotive Leaders, Among those to be Honored as OBL’s

January 15, 2014

Educational pioneer Jonathan Hage and automotive leaders Lisa Copeland, Richard Garber and J Ferron are among the group of eight business leaders who will be honored at Northwood University’s 34th Annual Outstanding Business Leader (OBL) Awards Gala at The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida on Saturday, February 1st 7:00 p.m.. Tickets are $375 per person. For high resolution photos, biographies, and individual press releases relating to all of the honorees, please visit the: Outstanding Business Leader Online Newsroom

Driven to assist students in achieving academic success, Jonathan Hage founded Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) with less than $5,000 in 1997. Now considered one of the fastest growing companies in the country with approximately 5,000 CSUSA employees educating approximately 50,000 students in 58 schools in 7 states, Hage is considered one of the nation’s leading social entrepreneurs committed to improving the educational system in the United States and beyond. With strong academic programs, Hage’s schools have created their strongest national gains in reading, writing, science and math based on state and Federal performance test scores, most with their strongest gains among low-income students. And the organization is the first management company to earn system-wide accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ AdvancED Systems division. Hage has also contributed to the physical growth of educational institutions, as he founded Red Apple Development, a construction company which has built over 1,000,000 square feet of new schools within the last 5 years.

One of the most respected faces in automotive sales, Lisa Copeland is a dedicated pioneer in the field of automotive marketing and management with over 20 years of proven success. As a member of the National Chrysler Dealer Council, she now represents the North American pulse of the Italian brand Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino which was founded in 1899 and is popularly known as FIAT. Named one of the Five Most Powerful Women in Austin by the Austin Business Journal in 2012, and recognized for her innovative marketing techniques, Copeland continually raises the bar on North American FIAT sales by developing processes and systems designed to strategically increase sales growth and revenue.

After graduating from Northwood University Michigan in 1978, Dick Garber became one of the youngest dealers in General Motors history when he was announced the third generation owner of 73-year-old Garber Buick at the young age of 25 in 1980. Currently holding the honor of being America’s oldest Buick dealership in its 107th year, Garber has grown the conglomerate now known as Garber Management Group to generate annual sales revenues of over $700 million and to employ1200 people. Ranked the 13th largest privately held Michigan company outside of Detroit, the enterprise functions in four states including Michigan, Illinois, Florida and New York. It includes 15 franchise dealerships representing 14 manufacturers, its own financial company known as Gateway Financial Solutions, and RightWay Automotive, an independent used vehicle chain which operates in over 25 sales locations in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

J Ferron’s involvement with Northwood University spans three decades beginning with his authorship of business management guides that were chosen to be used as part of its curricula. After joining the university’s Board of Trustees he played leadership roles on its strategic governance committees and was ultimately elected Chairman in 2008, a position in which he served four terms. A torch bearer for the Northwood Idea from the university’s earliest days, Ferron is a prescient author and an industry thought leader relating to innovation and new business models. A personal friend of both founders Arthur Turner and Gary Stauffer, his 30-year automotive career has led him to be directly involved with many challenging industry issues affecting manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and consumers by leading and devising global strategies and working to improve innovation practices.

Northwood University annually recognizes a select group of men and women for their business achievements and for their support and exemplary leadership of the communities in which they live and work. These individuals serve as role models for Northwood University students, all of whom are engaged in the study of business management and who aspire to successful careers. In the 34 years since the program’s founding, more than 300 business leaders from more than 30 states and several countries, representing dozens of industries and fields of business expertise, have received the Outstanding Business Leader Award.

On Friday, January, 31st. 1:30-3:00 pm, the day of the gala presentations, Northwood University students will ask questions of the OBL Class of 2014, as well as past honorees, at an afternoon forum held at Northwood University Florida. The forum provides the opportunity for honorees to share anecdotes relating to the obstacles and challenges they encountered while on their personal road to business success, as well as remedies relating to how they overcame them. For additional  information please call (561) 478-5539.

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