Jeff Cronn, Todd Johnston and Roger Mills go back together - way back. Together, the three attended Bryant Elementary School, Waluga Junior High and Lakeridge High School. They crossed paths in classes, on basketball courts and around town.
And now, they're crossing paths again. All three were recently named to the Portland Business Journal's Forty Under 40 list, which recognizes young men and women who have made a professional impact in the Portland area. Criteria for selection, according to the publication, is professional accomplishment, community involvement and professional recognition.
Johnston, President and CEO of Selectron Technologies, Inc., was caught off guard when he made the list.
'I was quite surprised,' he says. 'When I was told about the nomination, I didn't think much about it, as the number of professionals that are active in their community is quite impressive.'
Once he got used to his name being on the list, he saw his former classmates listed as well.
'I was curious to see who I would recognize on the list,' Johnston says. 'To see two individuals from the same class at Lakeridge was not what I expected. Understanding their individual success, though, I am not surprised.'
Mills, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, had a similar reaction.
'They are both extremely talented and I wasn't surprised,' Mills says about his longtime colleagues. 'I think it's fantastic and speaks volumes for the quality of education in Lake Oswego public schools. Go Bryant Beavers!'
'I am proud to have made the list,' Cronn, a partner at Tonkon Torp LLP, says. 'I am committed to making a positive difference in Portland and it feels good that others think I am having some success in doing so.'
Cronn is also incredibly proud of his Lake Oswego roots.
'I've heard a lot of 'it must be the water' from others. In a sense, it seems ironic that three of us all the way back to the same grade school would be recognized, but I'm not at all surprised Todd and Roger have done such good things here. We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn and grow in a very supportive community with great schools. We live in or close to Lake Oswego, but I know that Lake Oswego produces leaders who now live in communities across the country,' Cronn says.
'It is a special place to grow up,' Mills says of Lake Oswego. He has fond memories of going to Oswego Lake, water skiing and watching the Fourth of July fireworks.
'I have very good memories of Lake Oswego,' Cronn says. Many of the teachers who taught him, from elementary school through high school, made an impression. He thinks the 1987 Lakeridge High School graduating class shared a particular closeness.
'I felt the goodwill of the group this past summer at our 20th high school reunion at the Multnomah Athletic Club,' Cronn says. 'It was genuinely good to see many, many people there and to pick up good conversations quickly.'
Cronn remains close, now residing in John's Landing with his wife Leah and their children Madeleine, 5, and Caleb, 2. He still enjoys the Lake Theater, Noah's, George Rogers Park, Tryon Creek State Park, the Willamette Shore Trolley, Lakewood Festival of the Arts and the Lake Run.
For Mills, 'the apple did not fall far from the tree.' He, his wife Amy, and their children Amber, 8, Hayden, 6, and Dillon, 4, currently reside in Lake Oswego.
Johnston also stays close to his roots. He and his wife Stefanie moved back to Lake Oswego in 1999, along with their two children, who now attend Bryant Elementary.
'There was always talk of business at family functions,' Johnston says about knowing he wanted to venture into business at an early age. Many of his family members, he says, are past or present business owners.
Cronn was also motivated from an early age.
'I've wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember,' he says. 'I've had a long-time interest in problem solving and advocacy. I very much enjoy the opportunity to solve problems for my clients and for the community in connection with my public service work.'
For Mills, he knew what company he wanted to work for but didn't realize how far he would advance.
'In college, I was living in Philadelphia and starting a career with Pricewaterhouse was a means of getting back to Portland. I didn't know at that time that I would eventually stay to partner,' Mills says.
When Mills was 33 (all men are now 38 or 39), he was one of the youngest professionals ever to be named to partnership for PricewatershouseCoopers.
For Cronn, his professional pride stems from a variety of projects.
'I am proud of my current service as chair of the business department at Tonkon Torp, my role as lead deal counsel for Nike in its recent transactions involving Starter and Nike Bauer Hockey, and the role I have played in the founding and growth of Marathon Education Partners, a nonprofit organization that offers life-changing hope to low-income children by increasing higher education access and awareness,' he says.
Johnston is proud of the success he's created and growth he continues to see at Selectron.
All three men serve as first-class examples of homegrown success stories.
Kristen Forbes is a freelance writer. To view her blog, visit www.krissymick.blogspot.com .
Also included on the prestigious Forty Under 40 list is Lake Oswego's Anne Marie Flora, vice president and professional banking manager at Bank of the Cascades. She lists the Rotary Club of Portland as her charitable cause and says in the Portland Business Journal that she was inspired to get into the field by her grandfather, who worked as a banker for 50 years.