Thomas H. Highley, president and CEO of molding and specialty millwork supplier The Empire Co., was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Western Michigan in the Business/Consumer Services category. Professional services firm Ernst & Young LLP's Entrepreneur of the Year honors 350 “outstanding entrepreneurs who inspire others with their vision, leadership, and achievement” in regional, national, and international award programs covering 100 cities and 35 countries.

Highley has served as president and CEO of The Empire Co. since 1991 when the Zeeland, Mich.–based company had one location and 85 employees. Today, the distributor has 325 employees and operates four distribution centers.