As CEO of Madison, Wis.-based Great Wolf Resorts, Schaefer leads a national waterpark powerhouse known for attracting top talent, tourism dollars and Wall Street interest.

Established in 1997 in the resort town of Wisconsin Dells, Great Wolf went on to build a recognizable national brand with waterparks that cost an estimated $120 million and up to construct, according to company documents. Those facilities, and family-friendly programs that accompany them, are irresistible to parents seeking a memorable vacation close to home.

Investors also like its approach: Great Wolf now is owned by Apollo Global Management, a New York-based institutional investment firm that acquired Great Wolf in 2012 in a bidding war.