“Excellence In Innovation Awards” Recipients Announced

Pictured L-R: Adam Unger, Heidi Hale, Mike Rhodes, Brian Shrieve, Brooke Shrieve, Steve Smith and J Chapman. Photo by: Kyle EvansPictured L-R: Adam Unger, Heidi Hale, Mike Rhodes, Brian Shrieve, Brooke Shrieve, Steve Smith and J Chapman. Photo by: Kyle Evans

By: The Innovation Connector—

Muncie, Indiana—The Innovation Connector’s 4th Annual Excellence in Innovation Awards were held on November 14, 2018 at a celebration event at the Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie.

The evening’s events lead up to the introduction of the 5 finalists from the Innovation Connector’s Big Idea Pitch Competition. Each of the 5 finalists pitched live, in front of the audience. Additional awards given included the Young Innovators award and the Excellence in Mentorship award. (Results below.)

Award recipients represented retail, product design, journalism, e-commerce, service, manufacturing and software development business sectors. According to Ted Baker, executive director of the Innovation Connector, “Innovation happens in nearly every part of our lives. With specific and planned innovations to their business models, product lines and processes, each of our award recipients have changed to meet the needs of their customers and clientele. They truly are examples of what ‘can be done’—not what ‘cannot be done.'”

Prior to each award, every recipient was introduced with a short bio and a brief highlight video produced by Deftly Creative in Muncie. (See video below.)

The keynote speaker for the event was Don Wettrick who is the Innovation Coordinator at Noblesville High School. He has lectured across the USA, Europe, South America and Africa on topics such as social media use, collaboration and work environments that enable and encourage innovation.

The 2018 Excellence in Innovation Awards, Excellence in Mentorship Award, Young Innovator Award, and Winner of the Big Pitch Competition Award
Recipients were as follows:

Heidi & Sean Hale, Heidi J. Hale Designs—Excellence In Innovation Award

Heidi Hale is pictured with Richard Christ receiving her award. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Heidi Hale is pictured with presenter Richard Christ receiving her award. Photo by: Kyle Evans (Not pictured: Sean Hale)

What started as a hobby of making gifts for family quickly turned into a full time business for Heidi Hale. Heidi has sold thousands of her unique jewelry designs all over the world. Her pieces have been spotted on celebrities such as Eva Longoria and Hilary Duff. Every piece of jewelry by Heidi J Hale Designs is designed and handcrafted by skilled metalsmith and local artisans in downtown Muncie. Christmastime is a busy one for Heidi and her staff— as of a few days ago the company had over 3,800 items to ship by Christmas. The local business has become a global success with a respected brand name.

Adam Unger, Accutech Systems—Excellence In Innovation Award

Adam Unger is pictured with Dan Ridenour. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Adam Unger is pictured with presenter Dan Ridenour. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Accutech Systems serves over 250 clients in the wealth management industry. The company currently employs 75 full-time employees, adding 20 new team members in 2018 alone. The company is projected to double in size over the next 5 years.  Adam started at Accutech on the Inside Sales Team in 1999 before becoming Director of Marketing. He then moved on to Chief Operating Officer. In 2012, he became President of the company. Accutech takes the bureaucracy out of doing business and brings trust back into the equation.

Mike Rhodes & Woof Boom Radio, The Muncie Journal—Excellence In Innovation Award

Mike Rhodes and J Chapman. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Mike Rhodes and J Chapman. Photo by: Kyle Evans

MuncieJournal.com is the primary news source for communicating positive news in the areas of economic development, education and quality of life in Muncie and Delaware County. Even though MuncieJournal.com only publishes stories about Muncie and Delaware County, viewership is continually growing and at a very rapid rate—up 30% last year. The Top cities with the most consistent viewing activity include: Muncie, Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Chicago, Yorktown, Louisville, Fort Wayne and New York City. Since its launch on July 1, 2015, MuncieJournal.com has published over 2,400 positive articles about Muncie and Delaware County, many of which were submitted by a partner, user, or local non-profit organization. The content on MuncieJournal.com is FREE to view by anyone.

Steve Smith, Mid-West Metal Products—Excellence In Innovation Award

Kirsten Smith and Steve Smith. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Presenter Kirsten Smith is pictured with Steve Smith. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Since he began his career with Mid-West Metal in 1975, Steve has witnessed many changes in the steel and metal industry including the emergence of foreign outsourcing and the entry of big box stores and online sales to the retail marketplace. Mid-West Metal Products is the leading provider of Pet Homes in the United States. All of their products are distinguished by innovative design and construction. Equally innovative are how their dog crates, small animal modular habitat systems, birdcages, pet enclosure furniture pet bedding and accessories fulfill very specific needs regarding pet comfort, health and well-being. Innovation continues at Mid-West Metal Products through their work in the wire and metals division, textile division, and their state-of-the-art powder coating processes.

Brooke & Brian Shrieve, Amber’s Beauty School—Excellence In Innovation Award

L-R: Brooke Shrieve, Brian Shrieve, and Dan Ridenour. Photo by: Kyle Evans

L-R: Brooke Shrieve, Brian Shrieve, and presenter Dan Ridenour. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Amber’s Beauty School has be serving the Muncie Community since 1936 as the preferred cosmetology school and destination for great salon services. The Shrieve family took sole ownership of the business in 1938 and has been operating the business ever since. In May of 2008, Brian, a third generation Shrieve, and his wife Brooke purchased the cosmetology school. The young couple decided they needed to make some significant changes to the outdated building. They built a new space with a contemporary look and included the newest technology for innovative salon training and services. They care about the long term development of their students by recommending them to apprentice-type programs after they pass their state board exams. Amber’s Beauty School graduates are sought after by high-end salons from larger cities and businesses across Indiana and the midwest.

2018 Excellence in Innovation Award Winners Highlight video below.

Excellence in Mentorship Award— Delaina Boyd

Mitch Isaacs and Delania Boyd. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Presenter Mitch Isaacs is pictured with Delania Boyd. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Delaina Boyd is the essence of a mentor. With 33 years of experience in higher education outreach and engagement, her resume reads like a rap sheet of positive influence on the people in our community and our community itself. Delania started making an impact on our community in 1990 when she began working for Ball State University as the Associate Director of the Center for Organizational Resources. Delania currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Community Engagement at Ball State. She and her team established the Office of Community Engagement—a front door for community partnerships in Muncie and Delaware County.

Young Innovator’s Award— Emily DeWitt, Yorktown High School

Rosa Selvey and Emily DeWitt. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Presenter Rosa Selvey is pictured with Emily DeWitt. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Emily is a freshman at Yorktown High School. She is the daughter of Matthew and Melissa DeWitt. As an 8th grade student, Emily was selected as the youngest of 15 students from around the world to study genetics at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. During her time at John Hopkins, she was able to work with world-renowned professors to study innovations in genetics, focusing on genetic diseases and treatments. Emily hopes to use the experiences she gains in high school and John Hopkins as she pursues a career in medicine.

Big Idea Pitch Finalists

Ashley & Ryan Hunter for “Call Light”
Esther Bryant for “Safeable”
Victoria Brewer for “Prepped”
Kyleigh Mazer for “Square One Success”
Lindsey & Andy Markelz for “Collar Keeper”

Big Idea Pitch Winner—Lindsey & Andy Markelz, “Collar Keeper”

Lindsey and Andy Markelz. Photo by: Kyle Evans

Lindsey and Andy Markelz. Photo by: Kyle Evans

The Collar Keeper is a hanger with a simple extension and clips designed to improve the process of hanging collared shirts and eliminate the need to button the top button of the shirt. Lindsey and Andy won 1st prize and $5,000 from the Innovation Connector.


You may listen to audio from the awards below as recorded by WLBC.  (1 1/2 hours.)