Newsletter for March 18th, 2016

EJ Water Gila Plant

The EJ Water facility in Gila has certainly changed since its inception in 1993. We will first start off by saying what a privilege it is to have a plentiful, clean water source at a low cost. If you have ever traveled to a third world country, this ranks as #1 on your list for living in an area like we have the opportunity to. Jasper CEO traveled to the Gila plant along with Bill Teichmiller and Dean Swingler from EJ. We discovered not only how lucky we are to have a quality water source but we also learned about the water issues facing southern Illinois, how EJ Water got its start, and the different water sources available from this area. As you can see from the pictures this is a state of the art facility that offers a quality product to its members!

EJ Water - The Story Behind it All.

Tuesday found us in Dieterich for a joint class session with Effingham CEO as we learned more about the EJ Water Corporation in general and how they are structured as a management team and the different departments within. EJ shared with us their philosophies of management, teamwork, and their values. It is incredible to hear the story of this small utility company that has progressed to a well known water source on a national level.

FrameWork Photography, Springfield, IL

We have the incredible opportunity this morning to meet with a 2014 Sangamon County CEO Alum, Nick Smith and his business partner Andrew Gochenour. These two gentlemen started Framework Photography their four years ago during their junior year in high school and have grown the company to one of the better know, cutting edge photographers in the Springfield area. The business partners shared with the class their business start up experience, their meager beginnings and how with a couple twists of fate they have grown to a fully functional studio that takes high quality images for businesses and individuals. While stressing the importance of professional presence, the importance of networking and surrounding yourself with a good support system both personally and professionally they encouraged Jasper CEO’s to take a leap of faith, to believe in themselves and follow their passion. It was a wonderful morning that allowed our students to hear from like aged peers about the realities of start up businesses and that offered them the encouragement to push on.

Brent Emmerich -

Our Thursday found us back at our homesite, Jasper County Chamber of Commerce, with guest speaker, Brent Emmerich from Ewebdzine. Brent started our day with a candle trick activity to discuss problem solving and to discuss as individuals what drives us. He then discussed his web design business with us as well as the different types of websites available to businesses for advertizing purposes. This also came along with his recommendations for CEO students on their start up businesses on a budget including ecommerce websites and order fulfillment efficiency using technology. 

Newton Masonic Lodge 216

Hosting our visit to the Newton Masonic lodge today included Ralph Portlock, Daniel Alzate, and Greg Sidwell. We were warmly welcomed and given a brief history of the Newton Mason’s followed by a video on Freemasonry and the fabric of America. After a tour of the memorabilia collected throughout the years we toured the meeting room and learned more about the signs and symbols of the Masons. It was a very informative day with an overall message of the importance of getting involved in community no matter what the organization in an attempt to continue doing good for our fellow mankind. It was a great day with a wonderful group of gentlemen!

Hankins Sporting Goods

Wednesday morning found us visiting Hankins Sporting Goods and CJ’s Performance in Newton with owner, Chris Hankins. Although his store front only opened in 2013 Chris has been doing both car accessory and sporting good sales since 2003. We had great questions and discussions today on topics including profit margins and pricing, competitors, looking for the next idea to grow your business, suppliers and the importance of store front locations. We really appreciate all of the business men and women that take time from their busy schedules to meet with us and share their business experience! ...and one last note, if you are leaving on a fishing trip and didn’t get to Hankins in time, they have a live bait and tackle vending machine to serve all your local bait and tackle needs after hours. Check it out in the picture included here!

Sievers in Newton

Sievers Produce in Newton, owned by Donna Finn, hosted Jasper CEO Thursday morning as we learned more about the history and acquisition of the long standing family business. Donna worked for previous owner Joe Sievers before purchasing the business five years age. Donna says, “I love my job. I’ve loved all my jobs. If you work hard and have a good boss, you’ll love your job!” We also discussed the importance of business mentors, product pricing and discounting theory, overhead, customer service and the necessity of approaching prospective clients. We had a great morning learning more about this local business!

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The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the Jasper County CEO program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

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