As a founder and high-ranking executive at both Signet Enterprises and the Brennan, Manna & Diamond, Anthony Manna knows that business travel is all part of the job. But he probably didn’t expect how a recent flight would impact him and shape the course of how his companies would mark their anniversaries.
In October 2014, Manna and Signet CEO Kenneth Krismanth were traveling from Cleveland to the East Coast and had taken their seats on the plane when a group of veterans with the nonprofit organization Honor Flight Cleveland boarded. One of the organizers asked that folks in the front make way for the former military members, who were on their way to Washington, D.C., to tour the World War II and Korean War memorials. When two men at the front of the plane didn’t budge, an Honor Flight organizer, who also is an ex-Marine, bellowed an order for them to get “their butts out of those front seats for ‘his’ veterans,” Manna said in an email.
“It was priceless,” he said.
That experience – and watching the vets being applauded as they walked through the airport — moved Manna and his colleagues so deeply that they wanted to help the organization.
“Seeing people, both old and young applaud these men like they were rock stars (and they’re better than rock stars!) was truly emotional,” Manna said.
Traveling at their own expense, Manna, Krismanth, Signet president and chief operating officer Mark Corr and Signet Equity Partners president Erik Matuszak served as chaperones to veterans on a June Honor Flight trip to Washington.
“It was one of the incredible experiences of my life,” Manna said in a statement. “What a privilege to be in the company of these men.”
And Manna decided to turn Signet’s and BMD’s anniversary celebrations into a way to help Honor Flight. Among the management, employees and guests at the companies’ June 11th joint anniversary party in downtown Akron, more than $20,000 was donated to Honor Flight Cleveland, which offers a safe and free trip that allows veterans, many who are in their 80s and 90s, to visit memorials honoring their service.
Several veterans and Honor Flight organizers attended the celebration event, where Honor Flight Cleveland president Joe Benedict talked about the companies’ involvement.
“It’s unusual for a company whose partners were told to get out of their seats that it ended up like this,” he said.
And four more employees of Signet are signed up as chaperones on a September Honor flight.
The investment and development firm is headquartered in Akron, where it employs 22 people. The company also has offices in Jacksonville, Fla., and Shanghai, China, and has a total of about 500 employees working out of all other offices under Signet’s umbrella, according to the firm.
BMD, a pro-business law firm, employs 40 attorneys and 40 staff members at its Akron office. The firm also has offices in Jacksonville and Bonita Springs, Fla., and Columbus.
Signet has seen recent success from its wellness arm, Integrated Wellness Partners, which has wellness center projects that have more than $145 million in total investments.