Every year, Clemson University's Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership celebrates two alumni entrepreneurs who are inducted into the Spiro Hall of Fame. The Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership presented the awards at the Madren Center BellSouth Auditorium to an audience of over 125 students, faculty and business leaders.
Stan Clifford, President, DecoArt, Inc., Clemson, Accounting 1973
Stan Clifford is the president of DecoArt, Inc., which is a manufacturer of acrylic paints and specialty finishes for artists. Its products are sold in chain, independent, and international stores. Mr. Clifford started his career in cost accounting and held various financial positions with Tonka Toys Corporation. DecoArt was launched as a division of Ceramichrome using paint formulations the company possessed. It now has an extensive product line consisting of 22 product families and 2,150 SKUs that are labeled in nine languages. He has been a board member for the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) for six years. Mr. Clifford has served on the Clemson Spiro Institute Board of Advisors for three years. He has an MBA from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is married to Marita, a Clemson graduate, and has three children.
Tom Merritt, Founder, Co-CEO, Clemson, Education 1990
Tom Merritt accepts this year’s award with his partner, Mike Pereyo. They co-founded Oobe in the early 1990s, which designs and manufactures gender specific uniforms for leading business companies, such as Chick fil-A. Tom is a native of Upstate South Carolina and attended Clemson University where he earned a Masters of Education in Counseling. Initially an English teacher and football coach with Greer High School, Tom then became a Guidance Counselor and coach at Easley High School before co-founding OOBE. Tom and his wife Allyison helped plant Grace Church in Greenville, where he currently serves as an Elder. Tom served on the 2010 Greenville Chamber Board of Directors, and sits on its Foundation Board. Tom also co-founded The ACE Network and serves as its Director.
Stefan Lalos, Founder and CEO Majestic Holding
Clemson University engineering graduate, 1989
Stefan Lalos was the co-founder and CEO of ITSolutions (now Acentia), a provider of information technology services to federal, state, and local government agencies. ITSolutions was recognized in 2006 by “Inc. Magazine” as the nation’s 29th fastest growing private company (2nd in the technology sector), and by the Washington Business Journal as the 5th fastest growing company in the metro-DC area.
Lalos received a B.S. in Engineering from Clemson University, and an M.B.A. from Cornell University. He began his professional career at Andersen Consulting in Washington DC. Lalos founded IT Solutions in 2002, whose mission was to offer integrative and innovative technical solutions to Government agencies. He was CEO for 7 years before he decided to sell the company.
Lalos has received The Smart CEO award from Washington Business Journal and was a finalist for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. He is the founder and current CEO of Majestic Holding Company which currently consists of iTalent, HealthCare Career Solution Aquarium One, The Majestic Bar&Grille in Bethesda, MD and Majestic Financing Corporation.
Keith Luedeman, Co-founder and CEO goodmortgage.com
Clemson University mathematical and computer science graduate, 1987
Keith Luedeman is co-founder and CEO of goodmortgage.com. Keith founded his internet company in 1999 after discovering an incredible market
opportunity in internet mortgage. He has built a lending leader whose presence is felt throughout the industry. In 2011 he was awarded NCTA Tech Exec of the Year, and goodmortage.com was in Mortgage Technology Magazine’s Top 25 Tech Savvy Lenders.
After graduating from Clemson University in 1987 with a and combined major of Mathematical Science and Computer Science, Luedeman spent 7 years working for IBM in a variety of Technical and Sales positions. At IBM he gained the experience of starting the IBM Consulting Services Groups in the Carolinas. His experiences also include being Director of Software Marketing, a 7 billion dollar Hardware, Software & Services firm.
By focusing on growing wisely, spending wisely and hiring wisely, Luedeman has built a thriving business with goodmortgage.com. Even when the industry was in decline, goodmortgage.com sustained growth and continues to grow. Recently the company was named a finalist for the Online Lender of the Year Industry Award to be presented in October.
Clemson University mechanical engineering graduate, 1991
Kirk Hawkins is founder and CEO of ICON Aircraft, a startup conceived to build a new line of consumer-focused sport aircraft. Hawkins and his team developed ICON'S business model, strategy and product line to take maximum advantage of the FAA's
2004 Light Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot new regulations, which allowed those aircraft to reach a much broader market.
Before starting Icon, Hawkins flew F-16's in the U.S. Air Force, including two tours in Iraq. He also flew 757s for American Airlines. He is a graduate of Stanford Business School and has been involved in both aviation and aerospace engineering most of his life. Afterreceiving his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Clemson University, he was director of engineering at Task Industries, an aerospace contractor for Pratt & Whitney. He returned for his MS in engineering from Stanford University, specializing in manufacturing and product design.
Hawkins has been an avid sports and recreational flying enthusiast for 25 years, has built and flown numerous ultra-light and experimental aircraft and has logged nearly 1,000 skydives. Hawkins is also a seaplane instructor pilot with hundreds of hours bush flying in Alaska. He has also been a devoted member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America for more than 10 years.
Clemson University economics graduate, 1982
Jane Robelot is a nationally acclaimed television news correspondent and anchor. She was co-anchor of CBS Morning News, and later anchor of CBS This Morning. While at CBS News in New York, Robelot won two national Emmy awards for journalistic excellence, and a national Emmy nomination.
After beginning her career in radio, Robelot moved into television with WSPA-TV in Upstate, South Carolina. Her career took her to Philadelphia and on to CBS News in New York then to Atlanta. Robelot is now back in her hometown of Greenville, S.C. where she and her husband have started their own production company, Carolina Zoom Productions. Robelot is a contributing reporter for WYFF-TV in Greenville and also enjoys a variety of special projects such as co-hosting the Florida Citrus Sports parade in Orlando for the past five years. She's moderated a panel discussion for the World Bank at their Washington, D.C., headquarters, and served as emcee for various prestigious organizations.
Clemson University gave Robelot a great start in media, working for Bob Bradley and Tim Bourret in the press box for football games. Robelot is a very active alumni of Clemson, serving on the President's Advisory Board and the Board for the Center for the Visual Arts.
Clemson University political science graduate, 1977
Cubbage is co-founder of Serrus Partners, a prominent investment fund built to leverage cash in the current real estate market. During his entrepreneurial career, he has experienced the extreme highs and lows of entrepreneurial success. Cubbage has founded or co-founded New South, NuVox, Upstate Automotive, Ionosphere, Greenville Journal, E.C. Transportation and Greenville First Bank.
Among his many accolades, Cubbage
Clemson University political science graduate, 1994
Monin is chairman and CEO of Vendormate, a company that provides technology and compliance-monitoring services to assist companies in their relationships with vendors. Monin has been involved in a number of successful entrepreneurial ventures during his career. Most notably, he co-founded BroadSource, a telecommunications expense management software and solutions company.
Among his many accolades, Monin
Clemson University computer and electrical engineering graduate, 1972
Parsons is chairman of Sirius XM Radio, Inc. He founded XM Satellite Radio in the mid-1990s and served as chairman until the merger of Sirius and XM Radio last year. Sirius XM Radio is the second-largest radio company in the country, based on revenue, with more than 18.5 million subscribers. Following his graduation from Clemson, Parsons began his career as an engineer with BellSouth. He was one of the principals of Telecom USA, the nation’s fourth-largest fiber optic long distance carrier, which was acquired by MCI in 1990. Parsons went on to serve as executive vice president of MCI Communications.
Clemson University chemical engineering graduate, 1994
Haugh is executive vice president and chief information officer of Mansfield Oil Co., a nationwide provider of fuel supply, distribution logistics and delivery services. With more than $5 billion in sales in 2008, Mansfield was ranked by Forbes as the 66th largest private company in America. Previously, Haugh co-founded FuelQuest Inc., a company that provides supply chain management and tax automation solutions across the downstream energy industry with more than 750 clients including Walmart, Shell, UPS and ExxonMobil. Haugh and co-founder Rich Cilento won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Energy Technology in 2006.