​Juel Lugo quit her job in the middle of the recession to start (with a partner) her own business, but it wasn’t an impulsive move. The “40 Under Forty” honorees (her partner is also in Class of 2016) had an exhaustive business plan and marketing plan for their small business, LILT, a graphic design firm specializing in large format signage and related materials. And they say things have been going well since the 2010 start.

“Being a small business owner … and becoming a mother … was the hardest thing that I’ve had to do,” Lugo said. Actually, both of the firm’s partners were pregnant simultaneously. “I found that pregnancy induced insomnia was fantastic for creative work.” She would do the most challenging design work in the middle of the night and more established projects during the day.

“Does this sound sane? Maybe not,” she added, “but I’ve found that freeing yourself from stereotypical thoughts on when and how you should do creative work are key to remaining creative.”

Passionate about her community, Juel Lugo and LILT make a point to remain a part of their business community and engage deeply in the work of local nonprofit agencies. Impressively qualified as a “40 Under Forty” honoree.

John Hoffman is a self-described analytical data geek — he’s also a member of Class of 2016 “40 Under Forty.” 

As manager of customer service operations for Tacoma Public Utilities, there are ample opportunities to exercise his “numbers focus” and his nominator/supervisor says the positive results are obvious in improving the agency’s overall customer experience. Reducing the average wait time for call-in customers by 76 percent by implementing his ideas is but one example.

“While I enjoy working with people and helping customers, being able to dive deep into the numbers of our business is my idea of a good time,” Hoffman wrote. He feeds his people appetite as a volunteer high school basketball coach and by engaging with LuteLink, the alumni network of Pacific Lutheran University, where he earned an MBA degree.

Described by his teams and friends as someone who is competitive and welcomes change, John Hoffman can now add a new descriptor – “40 Under Forty” honoree for 2016.

You can meet Juel and John, plus 38 other remarkable members of the 2016 class of 40 honorees at their celebration on Wednesday, August 17, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets and more information are at this link.