Columbia Industries names Michael Novakovich as new CEO

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Columbia Industries, a mission-based organization committed to supporting and empowering individuals with disabilities and other challenges, is pleased to announce Michael Novakovich as its new CEO and President.

“Michael is a recognized community leader with a demonstrated passion for the Tri-Cities,” said Joel Ockey, Chair of Columbia Industries’ Board of Directors. “His business acumen running both non-profit and for-profit businesses, along with his penchant for innovation, team development, business building, inclusiveness, collaboration and a commitment to culture are sure to lead Columbia Industries and our subsidiaries to greater outcomes and increased community impact.”

Michael Novakovich

Michael Novakovich will begin his role as CEO July 5.

Novakovich has served as the President and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities since April 2018 and will remain in his role with Visit Tri-Cities through July 1 of this year. Prior to Visit Tri-Cities, he served on the executive team at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center and earlier in his career he helped lead his family’s Kennewick-based graphic communications business, Esprit Graphic Communications. Novakovich has taught leadership development and marketing for Heritage University. Additionally, he and his wife Shannon own a business consultancy called NovaWerx, which focuses on leadership development, human resources and strategy. They have called the Tri-Cities home for many years.

Novakovich holds an MBA from Washington State University where he also graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business administration. Additionally, he holds a graduate certificate in marketing from WSU. Michael has over 25 years of professional leadership experience with a focus on leadership development, strategy, and marketing. He has continually led teams to international, national, and regional award recognition for innovation, strategic endeavors, and marketing initiatives. Novakovich also has a proven record of increasing organizational revenue, stakeholder value and community connectivity.

Founded in 1963, Columbia Industries is a leading provider of critical services that enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities and other life barriers. In addition to providing employment services, emergency resources and life skills development services under its nonprofit structure, Columbia Industries operates four business lines that generate revenue to support its mission programs: Round Table Pizza, CI Information Management, Paradise Bottled Water and CI Express.

Columbia Industries is poised for rapid growth and strategic expansion of its mission programs and business lines over the next five years. Under Novakovich’s leadership, the organization plans to launch a housing program and significantly expand its Opportunity Kitchen food service training program. Columbia Industries will also look to make strategic investments and growth opportunities within its for-profit subsidiaries that will help fund nonprofit program expansion.

Novakovich is committed to providing a smooth transition from his role at Visit Tri-Cities. He will assume his role with CI effective July 5. Long-time Board member and former Board President Eric Van Winkle has been leading Columbia Industries as Interim CEO since December 2021.

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