Meet Our Speakers


RON AMELN is a nationally-recognized entrepreneur, author, publisher and business coach.  Ron is the owner and president of SBM, publisher of St. Louis Small Business Monthly (a how-to magazine for owners of small and mid-sized businesses) and the host of the St. Louis Business Expo & Business Growth Workshop.  Ameln began his career as a business journalist and since 1992, has written thousands of articles on small-business topics and hundreds of profiles of successful entrepreneurs throughout the country.

VICKI LAPLANT has 35 years of HVAC and plumbing industry experience working with all sizes of contractors and learning the best practices, systems and ideas from the very best. Vicki writes a bi-monthly column for Contracting Business magazine. She received the Tom McCart Consultant of the Year award in 2013 and she and her husband, John, are co-recipients of the distinguished Servant Leader award from Service Roundtable. After 20 years of owning a consulting and training company specifically focused on the contracting industry, Vicki joined Service Roundtable in 2016 as a business coach and trainer. The ideas and tools from her training seminars are practical and easily applied in the real world of contracting.

MIKE MATHENY played for four different teams during his thirteen years in the major leagues: the Milwaukee Brewers from 1994 to 1998, the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999, and the St. Louis Cardinals from 2000 to 2004. While playing for the Cardinals, Matheny won three Gold Glove Awards (2000, 2003, 2004) and again for his first season with the Giants in 2005, while also winning the prestigious Willie Mac award for his leadership and character. Considered one of the great defensive players in the Major Leagues over the last several years of his career, he was one of only three other catchers to play 100 games without a single error. His nickname, used by fans and broadcasters alike, was “The Toughest Man Alive”, after taking a 96 mph fastball in the face and he played the next day. Mike Matheny’s career ended after a series of concussions that would not allow him to return. His style of hard-nosed play, that earned him the respect of his teammates, was ultimately the reason that his baseball career ended. Matheny returned to the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a rookie manager after the team won the 2011 World Series under Tony LaRussa. Mike was greeted with an incredible first season as a manager, taking the young team under his new leadership all the way to the brink of the 2012 World Series.