Tom Penaluna

Image of  Tom  Penaluna

Tom Penaluna

CBE Group

Laureate 2011

Tom Penaluna was born in Cedar Falls, IA, son of Robert & Jean Penaluna. Tom earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mankato State University in 1972, where he studied political science and history. Tom first began his professional career in politics, where he served as a legislative aide for Congressman H.R. Gross from 1973 to 1976. Tom then served Senator Charles Grassley as a district director from 1976 to 1979.

After his career in politics ended, Tom returned to the Cedar Valley and went to work for what was then known as The Credit Bureau of Waterloo-Cedar Falls. Tom purchased the company in 1985 and has been President and CEO of the business since that time. Tom has seen the company through significant expansion over the years since he took over as President. The company employed just 25 people back in 1985; that number has today grown to approximately 1,000 employees who work in offices in Cedar Falls, West Des Moines, Atlanta, Georgia and Kansas City, Kansas. In 1998, to reflect its growth and the diversity of its services, the company changed its name to The CBE Group, Inc.

In addition to their tremendous growth over the past 26 years since Tom became President, The CBE Group has received numerous awards and accolades. The CBE Group was named 2011 Business of the Year by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, named one of the Top 20 Best Companies to Work for in the Cedar Valley for the last six consecutive years, winner of The Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative Award from MassMutual, which honors businesses that faced challenges and emerged stronger, and the Elmer Award from the Medical-Dental-Hospital Bureaus of America for significant contributions to the association’s organizational activities. Tom’s vision of “Defining the Future of Debt Collection” is evident in the company’s core values, which include leadership, integrity, respect, innovation, and continuous improvement, as well as in their code of ethics and zero tolerance for complaints. It is Tom’s company mission to change the way CBE does business in a way that is unseen in other companies in his industry, which they believe will define the future of debt collection.

Tom and The CBE Group are also passionate about giving back to the community. In 2010, CBE and its employees donated an average of $6,000 a month to local charities and more than $72,000 to the local United Way drive. Tom’s current passion is funding and helping to roll out the Leader In Me program which will teach k-12 students throughout the Cedar Valley the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Additionally, Tom is personally very active in the community, currently serving as the Waterloo Industrial Development Association President, Treasurer of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance Board of Directors, and serving on the Wartburg College Leadership Council. Tom is also a past member of the Hawkeye Community College Bond Oversight Committee, the Cedar Valley Community Foundation board, Cedar Valley Hospice Board of Directors, YMCA Board of Directors, and also served as a Waterloo City Council Member from 1985-1993.

Tom currently lives in Cedar Falls with his wife Ginger. They have four grown daughters: Regan, Brooke, Alexandra, and Gabrielle.

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