College of Business Inducts Four into Academy of Business

Photo of Dean Johnson and President Koubek with Academy of Business inductees
From left to right: Dean Johnson, Mary Mahaney, Brenda Ryan, Steve Hicks, President Richard Koubek
This was the first Academy of Business induction since 2019.

Michigan Tech’s Academy of Business honors outstanding leaders in business and civic affairs, as well those who have contributed significantly to the growth and development of the College of Business (COB). On October 7, 2022, in the Alumni Lounge of the Memorial Union Building, COB welcomed four new members to this esteemed group.

“If the quality of an institution is measured by the success of its stakeholders, then the College of Business is a first-rate educational institution. We are honored to induct these new members into the Academy,” says Dean Johnson, dean, Michigan Tech College of Business.

They serve as role models to our current students and demonstrate the impact of a Michigan Tech education

Dean Johnson, dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

Steve Hicks ’83, President and CEO, Longyear

Steve Hicks (left)

Steve Hicks has served as president and CEO of Longyear LLC, a 150-year-old privately held entrepreneurial asset management firm, since 1999. After earning his BS in Business Administration, Accounting, from Michigan Technological University, Hicks joined Longyear as an accountant in 1985. His first promotion to treasurer came in 1988, and he was named chief operating officer in 1994. Hicks was named CEO the same year he graduated from the University of Michigan Ross Business School Executive Program in 1999. During his career, he also served as chairman of Encore Natural Resources, vice chairman and acting chief financial officer of Minnesota Steel Industries LLC, and acting CEO of Frontier Renewable Resources LLC in Marquette.

Hicks has led significant growth of Longyear’s enterprise value without any third-party capital or cash investment by shareholders. He has been involved in more than $2 billion worth of transactions, raising capital nationally on large investor projects and purchasing companies to add to the Longyear portfolio. The portfolio currently includes JML Forestry, Able Medical Devices, Northern Hardwoods, and Forestville, a unique and diverse new residential community currently in the planning stages.

Hicks has a long association with Michigan Tech. He served on the Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2014 and served on the Michigan Tech Fund Board of Trustees as well. 

Current community affiliations include memberships of the founding executive board of InvestUP, the board of directors of Innovate Marquette SmartZone, and the board of managers of the Innovation Shore Angel Network. Hicks was also a member of the board of directors of the Michigan Strategic Fund (appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder) from 2017 to 2021. Hicks lives in Marquette with his wife, Shelly. Their daughter Ellie earned a BS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and works at Accenture in Chicago, and their son Collin studies finance at Michigan Tech, where he is a member of the Huskies varsity football team.

Mary D. Mahaney ’82, Founder and President, Veridea Group

Mary D. Mahaney is president of the Veridea Group LLC, a real estate development and hospitality management company. As co-founder of the company, she managed its growth from a small family operation to a company that has developed 80 projects valued at more than $400 million, primarily across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and in Montana. Mahaney is responsible for the company’s strategic execution and oversees all financial and operational activities of its commercial, residential, and hospitality properties.

Mary Mahaney (left)

Mahaney’s career initially started in public accounting with Ernst and Whinney (Ernst & Young) after earning her BS in Accounting from Michigan Technological University in 1982 and becoming a certified public accountant. She worked in both the audit and tax departments before moving into the private sector. Her next career moves were focused in the healthcare field, starting with Blue Cross Blue Shield in Ohio, before relocating to the greater Chicago metropolitan area to take a position as the assistant controller at a 350-bed, acute-care hospital.

In 1991, Mahaney accepted a position at Marquette General Hospital, bringing her back to the Upper Peninsula. At the same time, she and her husband launched what today is the Veridea Group, starting with the construction and opening of the Upper Peninsula’s first Blockbuster Video store. Veridea’s success led to another career shift into real estate development and operations. Today, Veridea includes both commercial and residential properties, as well as a portfolio of leading hotels in the UP and Montana.

A native of Bessemer, Michigan, Mahaney serves as a member of the Michigan Tech College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and is a member of the Northern Michigan University College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. She has also held various positions with several local schools and community organizations.

Mahaney and her husband have two adult children and currently reside in Marquette.

James J. Martell ’76, CEO, Chair, Director, Investor, Board Member

James J. Martell has spent his entire career in transportation, logistics, and aviation. He began his career loading trailers part-time for UPS while earning a BS in Industrial Engineering and Business Administration from Michigan Technological University in 1976. He worked his way up to management before moving to FedEx, being their first expat to open offices in Canada. Martell went on from FedEx to running his own companies as CEO and sometimes chair.

Jim Martell was unable to travel for the induction ceremony.

Upon selling Smartmail to DHL in 2004, Martell now serves as chair for logistic providers and Protrans International, and is executive chair of both Ameriflight and He is both an owner and a current board member for Transforce Staffing, Quality Distribution, and Baxter Inventory Systems.

Martell served for 10 years as CEO, chair, and—in the end—director for XPO Inc., a public company engaged in ground and air freight logistics. He also transacted the sale of Mobile Mini,, Livingston, and Transplace/TPG Capital.

Mobile Mini was a public board that he served on as lead director and chair of the Governance and Nomination Committee for 10 years before the sale/merger.

He grew further involved on the aviation front with Cirrus Aviation and Manufacturing as lead director and part owner. Martell’s professional background also includes work with OHL Logistics, UTIW, PS Logistics, BAX Global, and 3PD, where he was CEO, chair, and investor. 

He is a 2018 graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education on Board Governance program.

Currently, Martell has ownership and board leadership roles with successful transportation companies, including,,,, and He routinely advises private equity groups,,,, and

Martell brings a strong, independent voice and more than 40 years of logistics and transportation industry knowledge to future boards. He and his family are dedicated to helping others through their charitable trust, which supports underprivileged children.

Brenda Ryan ’76, President, Ryan Industries and Alliance Industries

Brenda Ryan started her career with General Motors Central Foundry Division in Saginaw, Michigan, where she served in management roles in the Metallurgy Laboratory and Product Engineering. Upon completion of graduate school, she worked at Kelsey-Hayes in Romulus, Michigan, as principal engineer and senior account manager.

Brenda Ryan (left)

Ryan earned her BS in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and her MS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Virginia.

In 1995, she started Ryan Industries Inc., located in Wixom, Michigan, to provide warehousing, contract packaging, kitting, light assembly, and distribution services to the automotive OEMs. In 2000, she launched Alliance Industries LLC in Springfield, Missouri, to remanufacture powertrain components for the OEMs. Ryan serves as president for both companies.

She was a Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Production (STEP) honoree, was honored as a National Minority Supplier Development Council success story, and was an FCA Diversity Supplier of the Year recipient. She is a member of the Torque Converter Rebuilders Association (TCRA) and the Motor and Equipment Remanufacturers Association (MERA).

A member of the Michigan Technological University Board of Control from 1979 to 1989, Ryan served on the Materials Science and Engineering Advisory Board (Emeritus), and is a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae and an inductee into the Academy of Materials Science and Engineering. She currently serves on the Michigan Technological University Board of Trustees. Ryan resides in Commerce Township, Michigan, with her husband, Mike, and their yellow Lab, Bogey.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.