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Honoree Headshot

Keith Smith

President & CEO
Vonco Products

Location: Kenosha County, WI
Founded: 1955
Industry: Healthcare and Consumer Products

As a young child, Keith Smith dreamed of one day owning his own company. After college, he started the corporate ladder climb, earning the necessary degrees, experience and confidence while obtaining the resources to buy and run a successful company. In 2013, he acquired Vonco Products, a leader in the custom development of medical devices and components and the company where Smith serves as president and CEO today.

At the outset, Smith poured himself into solving problems at the company, working long hours to repair machinery, reengineering departments and hiring and nurturing teams aligned with his vision. But that commitment came with a personal price — to his marriage, relationships with his children, health and mental well-being.

Smith eventually found balance in his life, investing in simple activities and healthy routines like exercise, nutritious breakfast and plenty of sleep. “Long before he even goes to the office, he makes time for things that make him feel rooted,” Smith’s team said. “He still spends plenty of time in the business, but now he starts each day with the mindset of peace, power and flow.”

As CEO of Vonco, Smith has led two successful acquisitions. The company moved to an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in 2018, grew its workforce by over 25% and has won multiple awards for product innovation.

“Over the years, I have learned that one of the most important skills as CEO is to know how to manage energy,” Smith said. “I strive for this energy to be infectious so that I can make a positive impact on everyone inside and outside of work. If my cup is full, I can pour into others to mentor my colleagues and teach them how to expand and renew their own energy to become more resourceful, productive, satisfied and energized.”

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic and as the country ran low on personal protective equipment (PPE), Vonco repositioned itself to become a contributor in the fight against COVID-19. Vonco’s associates stepped up to meet the crisis head-on, producing and distributing life-saving PPEs. The Vonco production floor operated 24 hours per day for 13 out of 14 days to stay ahead of demand, and the company instituted several programs to reward its team members and help keep them safe from the virus.

“Smith’s contribution to Vonco can be summed up in two thoughts: entrepreneurial energy and creating value,” Smith’s team said. “Every day, Keith is energized to create value through the company’s acquisitions, partnerships and the deals they strive to close. He is equally excited by the challenge of working with his team, to help them build their own energy by identifying the three to four things that enable them, as individuals and team leaders, to create the most value for Vonco.”

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Honoree Fun fact

Keith loves to travel, though his choice of destination may not be for everyone. Recently, Keith and a group of fifteen men went into the Mayan jungle on a “blind” retreat. No itinerary. No formal destination. No luxury hotel or five-star service. Deep in the jungle, he was keenly aware of the scorpions, jaguars and poisonous bugs, snakes, trees, and plants that surrounded them. Living for a week in an open palapa, he and his travel companions learned to lean into their fear of the unknown and maintain positive energy and attitude. His Mayan adventure was more than introspection and self-exploration. It was about the need for decisive action, even in the presence of uncertainty and fear. He swam in the cenotes, dove off cliffs, rode zip lines, and canoed through the dense jungle. In the end, he learned to harness his energy by focusing not on fear, but instead on areas that are most fulfilling: creativity, inspiration, innovation, and challenge. He uses these insights every day as CEO of Vonco.

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