News

CEO-September 15th

It was a very active week! Students voted on our leadership team, met with the Rotary Club, and had lunch with the CEO Board! We also hosted two speakers and visited two businesses.

CEO Guest Speakers


The Leaders Emerge

Students spent today presenting their petitions for officer placements. The elected positions included CEO, COO, and CFO. The results were close, but the positions are as follows: Gabe Fulton-CEO, Madelynne Boldrey-COO, and Chase Lemke-CFO. Congratulations to our officer team! 


Brain Writing

David Blecha

David Blecha started our Tuesday with an explanation of Evapco and a bit of their history. With 600 employees and 22 manufacturing locations, Evapco is a world wide player in the industry. He spent time helping students 'brain write' about options for their class business and gave some helpful hints about their personal businesses. It was a very productive visit and energized students for what is coming up!

Brain writing is a process similar to brainstorming, but where more voices can be heard while avoiding all the students being led in one direction. Students came up with 139 different options for the class business, duplicates nonwithstanding. For eight minutes of time, that was incredible! Students will break those down into their top five, do SWOT analysis on them and go from there. The brain writing was a crucial portion of preparation!

We are thankful to David Blecha for his yearly participation in the CEO program, both as a presenter and a mentor. He expounded on many sensible perceptions regarding the individual businesses, encouraging students to find their passion and make it sustainable. His last comment was probably the strongest, "Let your word be truth". Integrity in business does not go unnoticed.


The Process of the Broom

Newton Broom and Brush Factory

Ben Franklin is credited with introducing broom corn to this country around 1790. Eisenhower used a corn broom in 1956 to match his "Clean Sweep" campaign. The corn broom is still popular for decorating as well as practical use.

Becky Shamhart, an employee of the Brush and Broom Factory in Newton, IL, led our tour on Wednesday. She started working there while in the NCHS Co-Op class many years ago! Copies of their quality control sheet and count sheets for the employees were available for students to look through while she went over the different products they sell as wholesale. Becky explained how the effect of the imports from overseas affected their production levels and how that led them to sell niche products that are superior in quality. The Soft Sweep and Switch Broom (comination ice pick and broom used on railroads) are two of their most popular items.They also sell corn brooms, but those take more time to make due to their labor intensive design. With each machine, there was a container for recylables. "We don't want to put anything into the landfill," she explained. 

After our tour, Don Leventhal (owner) presented to the class about how technology has changed the way that factories do business. For his type of business, the development of plastic has revolutionized the types of products available, speed of assembly, and wear and tear of items. His family was the first to offer the flagged plastic broom in the United States. We appreciate the tour and the time he spent sharing his family's legacy story. A broom will never look the same!


Over 900 MILLION Options

Julie Hill

Ginger Ale's fuels patrons from all over with their over 900 million drink combinations! Located in Olney, IL, this drive-thru snack shop is seeing much success. Owners and operators, Michael and Julie Hill, explain their accomplishment by saying, "Our employees make the difference! We have the best crew in Richland County." Every month, those same employees donate their tips to a local individual, family or not for profit. Ginger Ale's even goes so far as to offer holiday singing telegrams with their drink deliveries!

Julie spoke with the students on seven lessons of being an entrepreneur. She included such points as, "Demonstrate ongoing passion" and "Constantly learn about new products” as well as informing them of the commitment and hustle necessary on a daily basis. She discussed creating the workplace culture, giving examples of how she celebrated successes with her staff. Julie encouraged students to be well rounded while surrounding themselves with those whose strengths are their weaknesses.

At the end of our time with her, Julie had students develop their own drink combinations from her extensive list of options. They had three minutes to develop the ‘recipe’ and name it. But the most exciting portion was when she brought out the Marshmallow Tea, Sweet Tea, Lemonade and Blue Lemonade for them to sample! Now we know where she gets all of her energy!


A Unique, Artistic Experience

Crooked Creek Antler Art/Perfect Paws and Claws

Eric Carr, President of Crooked Creek Antlers, Inc, spoke with students on Friday during our tour of his facility. Students were also able to tour Perfect Paws and Claws, a division of Crooked Creek. From the conversation, it was obvious that Eric's journey as an entrepreneur was one filled with adapting and modifying to adjust to the economy. When one market crashes, you adapt and find a way to succeed anyway. He listed out the important people an entrepreneur needs to have to be successful: Good banker/investor, accountant, great insurance agent, and a lawyer. Also mentioned was the cost of upkeep for an internet presence and the importance of staying current.

Currently, Crooked Creek Antlers, Inc. hosts seven websites and offers over 50 different products. There is something for everyone, from bullet jewelry and flashlights to large chandeliers! Eric ships his beautiful sculptures internationally, but most of us could simply walk down the street to see his creations. If you have not taken time to stop in, you are missing out! 

While you take that quick walk to Crooked Creek, stop in at Perfect Paws and Claws. This adorable, pet-friendly store packs a lot into a little space! Their products are all eco-friendly and specifically chosen with the safety and health of man's best friend in mind! Their dog chews are available in the store or can be shipped as a wholesale item. Their antler dog chew business has grown from 25 to over 2000 retail locations! The dog chews are a perfect example of adapting and finding a new niche for unused extras, as well as being an all-natural solution for your dog's dental health. One student mentioned, "I'm not a dog person, but after visiting (Perfect Paws and Claws), I want one!" 

Thank you, Eric Carr, for sharing your unique craft with those in Jasper County and for hosting our CEO class! 


Share this news article

Jasper County CEO Calendar


Add this calendar to your iPhone
Print Calendar

Latest News


News Archive


Get Involved in CEO

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.

When we are not touring local businesses, we need a place to host the class. During that time, the 0 CEO students and their Facilitator would meet at your site where they would also have guest speakers and guests from the community attend. Hosting requires a facility with internet access and adequately accommodates up to 5 people.

We are looking for people to share real-life stories about the concepts of running a business, from strategic thinking, product development to marketing, and cash flow management. Also, sharing your personal successes and failures are what recent classes have enjoyed the most.


If you are interested in participating in any of the above programs, use our contact form to send us a message


Jasper County CEO Business Investors

Jasper County CEO Calendar