About the Award
The Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award was created in 1984 through an endowment fund established by Mr. Vanden Brul in conjunction with RIT's Saunders College of Business. The award is presented annually to an individual or business that has improved the economic life of Greater Rochester or whose innovation management skills have changed the course of an existing business. The award recipient is selected by a committee of area civic and business leaders and RIT faculty. Saunders College is excited that the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Award symbolizes the links that join RIT and the Rochester Business community.
About Herbert W. Vanden Brul
Following his military service and earning a juris doctor degree from St. John’s School of Law, Rochester native Herbert W. Vanden Brul returned to his hometown in 1951 to begin his new career practicing law.
An entrepreneurial visionary in Rochester, Mr. Vanden Brul co-founded several business ventures in the region. One of his most successful, RF Communications, Inc., has since become a division of Harris Corporation. Another, the Culver Management Corporation, acquired nearly one million square feet of local industrial space to become the home of many small start-up companies who have improved the local economic climate.
Until his death in 2003, Mr. Vanden Brul continued to pursue his business interests. He served on the boards of Ormec Systems, Inc., and the Genesee Valley Trust Company, Inc., and was active in the cultural and educational life of the Rochester community. Mr. Vanden Brul and his wife Joan, who passed away in 2007, had a long association with RIT and were active members of the Nathaniel Rochester Society. Their two sons attended RIT.
Herbert W. Vanden Brul Award Recipients
September 8, 2021, Mark Davitt
Mark Davitt, CEO of ConServe was named the 2021 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipients. Davitt founded ConServe in 1985, where he has served as president and CEO for more than 30 years. ConServe, or Continental Service Group Inc., provides accounts receivable management and collection services specializing in customized recovery solutions for their clients.
In addition to the 2021 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipient, the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial Award was established in 2019, and this award is intended to recognize outstanding RIT undergraduate or graduate student(s) who have demonstrated the potential to become successful entrepreneurs.
The 2021 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial Award first-place winner is Nikolas Kelly '21 (supply chain management).
Congratulations to Ben Garvey '21 (game design and entrepreneurship) and Hunaina Abid '21 (mechatronics engineering technology), our second and third place award winners, as we recognize them for this Student Entrepreneurial Award.
June 10, 2020, Sue Butler and Tracy Till*
Sue Butler and Tracy Till, Co-founders of Butler/Till, were named the 2020 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipients. Sue Butler and Tracy Till are the first joint female Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipients in the award’s 35+ year history. No two women business owners have sewn together their individual marketing talents so seamlessly to create in 1998—in a living room, with three employees—a nationally respected agency that today boasts more than 170 employees and $180M in annual billings. Despite having worldwide recognition, the accolades most meaningful to Sue and Tracy were those that reflected their deep commitment to their hometown; Rochester, NY.
In addition to the 2020 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipients, the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial Award was established last year and this award is intended to recognize outstanding RIT undergraduate or graduate student(s) who have demonstrated the potential to become successful entrepreneurs.
Hansel Leal, a RIT undergraduate student studying Computing & Information Technologies, was named the 2020 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial Award recipient. Second place was awarded to Elise King, a recent graduate of Mechanical Engineering at Kate Gleason College of Engineering. And third place went to Andrea Gonzalez Esteche, a recent graduate of the MFA Industrial Design program.
*Due to this year’s recognition event being canceled, 2020 awardees will be recognized during next year’s event.
June 5, 2019, Michael Mandina & Richard Plympton
Michael Mandina, President of Optimax, and Richard Plympton, CEO of Optimax, were named the 2019 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipients. Mandina and Plympton have successfully managed the development of Optimax, a precision optics manufacturer in Ontario, NY, and serve as an inspiration for other entrepreneurs in the Greater Rochester Community.
In addition to the 2019 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipients, the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial Award was established this year. This award is intended to recognize outstanding RIT undergraduate or graduate student(s) who have demonstrated the potential to become successful entrepreneurs.
Brandon Hudson, an RIT undergraduate student in the School of Individualized Study: Computer Science and Web & Mobile Computing, was named the 2019 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial Award recipient. Tying for second place were RIT graduate students Nathan DeMario, MS Mechanical Engineering: Thermodynamics & Fluid Mechanics, and Eva Skovli, MS Professional Studies: Digital Marketing and Communications.
June 6, 2018, John "Dutch" Summers
John "Dutch" Summers, CEO of Jasco/Graywood Companies, was named the 2018 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipient.
Dutch epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community that built and sustains Greater Rochester. As a young man, Dutch was the third employee in a small tool and die business started by his father. That company over the years grew to include more than 50 businesses in 13 states and 9 countries.
He continues to be actively involved in the business, while sharing his financial success, considerable business knowledge, and wide ranging interests with a variety of community and philanthropic projects.
June 28, 2017, Giovanni "John" LiDestri
Giovanni "John" LiDestri, owner and CEO of LiDestri Food and Drink, was named the 2017 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award recipient.
In 2002, John LiDestri bought Cantisano Foods and changed the name to LiDestri Food and Drink. At that point, they were making spaghetti sauce and salsa and he decided to reinvent themselves. Today, they have expanded into the beverage and spirits industry, with brands such as Bai, an antioxidant infusion drink brand.
His commitment to LiDestri Food and Drink's employees and the Rochester community, while also delivering high quality products is the reason why he is honored with such an award.
April 21, 2016, Thomas Bonadio
Thomas Bonadio, founder and chief executive of The Bonadio Group, was awarded the 2016 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award.
As an active member in the Rochester community and visionary in the accounting industry, Thomas Bonadio encompasses all traits that Herbert W. Vanden Brul set out to recognize.
April 21, 2015, John Smith
Saunders College is excited that the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Award symbolizes the links that join RIT and the Rochester Business community. The 2015 Vanden Brul Award Honoree was John Smith, Chairman and CEO at Brite Computers.
|2014||Ron Ricotta and Mike Nuccitteli||Century Mold|
|2013||Robert Morgan||Morgan Management|
|2012||Ernest Del Monte||Del Monte Corp.|
|2011||Doug and Jim Brush||Sentry Group|
|2010||Bill Pollock||Optimation Technology Inc.|
|2009||Kitty VanBortel||VanBortel Subaru & VanBortel Ford|
|2008||Jim Hammer||Hammer Packaging|
|2007||Dick Kaplan||Pictometry International|
|2006||Arunas Chesonis||Paetec Communications|
|2005||E. Philip Saunders||
|2004||Wayne LeChase||LeChae Construction Services LLC|
|2003||Joe Lobozzo||JML Optical|
|2002||Larry & Dennis Kessler||Kessler Group|
|2001||Richard Sands||Constellation Brands|
|1999||Norman and Nelson Leenhouts||
Home Properties of NY, Inc.
|1998||Dilip Vellodi||The Sutherland Group, LTD.|
|1996||Michael Hone & Jay Eastman||PSC. Inc|
|1995||Valerie Mannix||Mercury Print Productions, Inc.|
|1994||Charles and Burton August||Monro Muffler Brake, Inc.|
|1993||Richard Aab||ACC Corp.|
|1992||Bal Dixit||Newtex Industries|
|1991||Robert Wegman||Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.|
|1990||Klaus and Brigitte Gueldenpfennig||Redcom Laboratories Inc.|
|1987||Tom Golisano||Paychex, Inc.|
|1986||Max Farash||The Farash Corporation|
|1985||Robert Hurlbut||Vari-Care Inc.|
|1984||Herman Affel, Jr. and Jeffery Tai||Computer Consoles Inc.|