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Donald Welge of Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. wins ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award

From the St. Louis Business Journal: Four St. Louis-area business owners were recognized June 15 as EY Entrepreneurs of the Year.

The honorees include Allan Connolly of Aclara, Dan Geraty of Clearent, Donald Welge of Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., and Bruce Holland of Holland Construction Services.

Three of the honorees oversee three of the largest privately-owned companies in St. Louis.

Geraty founded Clearent, a credit card processor, about a decade ago and has grown it into one of St. Louis’ fastest-growing companies, with 2016 revenue of more than $202 million.

Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. reported 2016 revenue of $700 million. And Holland Construction Services finished 2016 with revenue of $178.5 million.

Aclara Technologies, the local supplier of smart infrastructure technologies, is poised to appear on the list next year as a string of acquisitions has helped the company grow revenue to more than $500 million.

The winners were selected from a group of 22 finalists in the Midwest. The Central Midwest program includes companies across Kansas and Missouri. This year’s finalists lead companies that generated nearly $2 billion in combined revenue and employed more than 8,000 in 2016.

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year national program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall National Award winner, will be announced at an event in Palm Springs, California, on Nov. 18. Sponsors in the Central Midwest region include PNC, Lathrop & Gage and Common Ground Public Relations.

At the event, David Lockton, chairman of the Lockton Cos., was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his entrepreneurial leadership, achievements and vision demonstrated through the success of Kansas City-based Lockton Cos. — the largest privately held independent insurance broker in the world.

Brian Feldt covers technology, venture capital, startups, real estate and sports business.