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Honoring the 2022 Class of Outstanding Business Leaders

April 26, 2022

Gala held at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn

Northwood University celebrated this year’s class of Outstanding Business Leaders and the Richard DeVos Young Entrepreneur Award winner during a weekend that included a gala at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

“The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is a perfect venue to celebrate these industry leaders, as this historical museum celebrates American ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation,” stated Northwood President Kent MacDonald. “Like those innovative business leaders who hae come before us, we honored this weekend contemporary business leaders who have also contributed to the free-enterprise system Northwood University holds so dear.”

The Outstanding Business Leader award celebrates men and women from across the world who have made a difference in their business and community.

The 2022 Class of honorees includes:

  • Jim Fitterling, Chairman and CEO, Dow

  • Michael LaFontaine Sr., President, LaFontaine Automotive Group

  • Bill Long, President and CEO, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA)

  • Ben Manthei, Founder and Board Member, Redi-Rock International

  • Lisa McClain, U.S. Congresswoman representing Michigan’s 10th District

  • Andra Rush, CEO, Dakkota Systems

  • Angela Steele, Publicis Groupe

In addition, Manik Thapar, owner of Eco Wise Waste Management in Uttar Pradesh, India, was honored with the Richard M. DeVos Young Entrepreneur Award.


Northwood University annually recognizes a select group of business professionals for their achievements, support and exemplary leadership of the communities in which they live and work. These individuals serve as role models for Northwood University students as they share their experiences and obstacles they have encountered, in addition to how they overcame them while on the road to success.

In the four decades since the program began, more than 300 business leaders from more than 30 states and several countries, have been recognized. These honorees represent a vast, diverse, group of people from dozens of industries and fields of business expertise.

The Outstanding Business Leader Awards are presented by the Northwood University Board of Trustees. Each awardee is selected based on personal achievements which typify the unique philosophy of Northwood University. Criteria used in the selection of awardees include a contribution to the philosophy of private enterprise, support of the integration of business and the arts, contribution to education, economic innovation, creative marketing ideas, community involvement, religious leadership, philanthropic contributions, as well as business success. All honorees past and present serve as role models for Northwood University students.

Northwood University bestows the tremendous honor of the Outstanding Business Leader Award over a multi-day celebration ending with a formal gala event where the members receive an engraved crystal recognizing their honor. Proceeds from the event support the Outstanding Business Leaders Endowed Scholarship Fund at Northwood University. This year’s event raised $300,000.

“Northwood is incredibly grateful to all of this year’s sponsors and attendees who helped make such a significant contribution to the Outstanding Business Leaders Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship fund has supported Northwood University students throughout the history of the program, and the growth of the fund means more students will have access to America’s Free Enterprise University,” stated Justin Marshall, vice president of advancement and business development at Northwood University.

This year’s sponsors included:

  • President’s Level: Ford

  • Trustee’s Level: Daniel and Pamela DeVos Foundation; Dow; and Roger Penske

  • Officer’s Level: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance; Carol and David Williams; Jennifer Panning/Artisan Tile

  • Director’s Level: The Patricia and David Kepler Foundation; Huntington; JM Family Enterprises; Go To Transport Inc.; LaFontaine Automotive Group; and Rob and Nancy Baidas

  • Executive Level: AASA; Corporate Valuation Consulting; Dakkota Integrated Systems; Carlyle Fraser Employees Benefit Fund; B.N. Bahadur; MEMA; Mid Michigan Materials; Schupan.

  • Shareholder’s Level: Epicor; Cox Automotive; Redi-Rock Integrated Wall Solutions; Lambert Althaver; Jennifer (Griffin) ’83 and Graham D. Williams; East Penn; Capital Insurance Group; and Bourke Services LLC.

  • Ambassador’s Level: Auto Care Association; Mr. and Mrs. Jim Fabiano Sr.; Chris Pruitt; Mr. and Mrs. James Mestdagh; Signature Dealer Group; and Rick Case.

  • Innovator’s Level: Dr. Marjorie Hohman; Gold Eagle; and Dr. Christine Tenaglia.

Northwood currently is accepting nominations for the 2023 Class of Outstanding Business Leaders. To make a nomination, please visit the OBL nomination form.

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