Rigmarole, Circumlocution, and Periphrasis
I have had ample opportunity since our last issue to read and reread a letter to the editor in the April 16 issue of the Evansville Courier & Press. Mr. Jim Brumbeloe of Tulsa, Oklahoma, writes about the “poor taste that exemplifies the pervasive attitude in the Evansville population.” He goes on to state, “rudeness, derogatory remarks, and obscene gestures and verbiage are commonplace.”
Well, I am about half-educated and a half-wit and felt the need to look up the word “verbiage” in the dictionary. A synonym of verbiage is “long-windedness,” which I’m very well acquainted with. Maybe you are, too.
He goes on to insult our drivers, clerks, customers in stores and in banks, and our fair city to some length with not very pleasant overtones.
Mr. Brumbeloe continues to let us know he now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and, in Tulsa, by God, “the folks are the most polite and courteous he has ever encountered.” Evansville could learn by taking Tulsa’s example, Mr. Brumbeloe states with great verbiage. Now I have nothing against Tulsa; I’m sure it is a fine place but there also are many reasons people love living here.
Well Mr. Brumbeloe, as a native, I have pleasant exchanges with clerks, bank tellers, and strangers on the street on a daily basis. People here always will let other drivers out in traffic in no time flat. Car trouble? There are so many good Samaritans. People here are kind, courteous, and considerate of others. This is a giving and caring community. A person’s perspective or attitude lies in the eye of the beholder. There is an old expression that I enjoy: “If everyone else has a problem, the problem is you.” And you can bet I cleaned that up for publication.
Tuesday, May 24 was a remarkable day for two much loved, admired, and respected teachers at Holy Rosary School. It marked the retirement and end of an era for Mrs. Bonnie Ambrose and Mr. Charles “Charlie” Voight, who have taught eighth grade for 50 and 47 years, respectively. They are comedians, friends, counselors, and most importantly, caring educators to the thousands of kids who have passed through their classrooms. They truly are a dynamic duo. Their kind does not come along very often. On behalf of parents, all the students, and myself who you have impacted along the way, I am extending a special thank you. You chose a very noble profession and served it well.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker
For Newt Crenshaw, vice president of oncology at Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, helping people has been the passion driving his career.
The Newburgh, Indiana, native and Castle High School graduate studied economics and mathematics at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, before he was hired in at Eli Lilly. It was his work as an intern for the pharmaceutical giant, he says, that opened the door to start his 31-year career with Lilly, where he’s served in various roles.
“I knew I wanted to go into business,” says Crenshaw. “The good thing about sales is you are able to understand your customers and what their needs are. I think that’s very important.”
During his years at Eli Lilly, Crenshaw has filled a variety of roles for the company, including running two of Lilly’s largest business units in the U.S. and serving five years as the president and general manager for Eli Lilly’s Japan operations.
“Probably the most unique and memorable experience (at Eli Lilly was) spending five years in Japan … and where I had responsibility for all of our sales marketing, medical, manufacturing, and our research and development,” he says. “That was quite an interesting cross-culture experience as well as business experience.”
Now, Crenshaw and his wife Susan are planning to start a new venture. In April he accepted the position of president with Young Life, a Christian ministry that reaches out to middle and high school, and college-aged students in the U.S. and more than 100 countries around the world. It’s an organization Crenshaw has been familiar with since his youth.
“I’ve been involved with Young Life for longer than I’ve been with Lilly,” he says. “As I graduated Castle High School in the summer of 1981, my mom and dad began to explore getting Young Life started in Newburgh.”
The Crenshaw family has a “real heritage and legacy” with the ministry, he adds. Following the work of his parents, Crenshaw and his wife have served as volunteer leaders, were the founding committee chairs for Young Life in Zionsville, Indiana, and started a Young Life ministry in the Kansai region of Japan during their time living there.
“I’m excited about serving the Young Life staff as the leader of the organization, as they are out there caring for kids and loving them by sharing the gospel. That for me is a real high calling,” says Crenshaw.
For more information about local Young Life ministries in the Tri-State, visit younglife.org.
Give a police officer a horse and instead of walking nervously by, crowds flock to steal a glimpse and a pet. The phenomenon is one Evansville Police Department Officer Tyrone Wood noticed four years ago at a NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tennessee.
A lifelong equestrian, Wood has led the movement to bring mounted police officers back to Evansville. In 1927, the police department enlisted the help of horses to patrol the streets of the River City, but discontinued the program in 1935 for patrol cars.
Currently, the EPD has two authorities on horseback including Wood and Jeff Vantlin, who both completed their training certification at the Southern Police Institute, Richmond, Virginia. Their horses can be spotted patrolling festivals, neighborhoods, and crowded events such as concerts, basketball and hockey games, and races this year.
One officer on horseback is equivalent to 10 officers on foot, says Wood.
“We obviously have a height advantage,” says Wood, who has worked at the EPD since 2006. “We can see things that an officer in a car can’t. Everyone likes horses and we hope to use that to maintain a better relationship with the community. If there are problem areas that we need an increased police presence, we can go to an area on horse and people will notice that we are here.”
The equestrian program is funded with donations through the Evansville Police Department Foundation and the officers purchase and own their horses. Wood bought his horse, a 10-year-old palomino Warmblood mare, which stands at 17.1 hands high, from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana.
About three days a week, Wood boards and works with his horse at Carmen Hurley’s Night Sun Stables in Evansville desensitizing her to potential situations on the job. The Shawneetown, Illinois, native will honk horns, turn on sirens and lights, clap, yell, ride a bicycle, push a stroller, pop balloons, and more.
“We do so much to prepare the horses to make sure they are as safe as possible,” he says.
The mounted police patrol is in addition to Wood and Vantlin’s regular shifts. Wood says he hopes to break down any barrier between the community and the police department through the connection of horses.
“We aren’t just policemen in uniforms; we are husbands and wives and we have kids and this is our community, too,” says Wood. “We want to see less crime. We want you to feel safe.”
For more information about the Evansville Police Department’s mounted officers, call 812-568-9422 or search for their Facebook page using EPD Horse Detail.
Best in the Midwest
Indiana ranks as the best state for business in the Midwest and the fifth best in the nation, an improvement from last year’s placing at sixth.
“People look at Indiana and our city through a different lens than they did five years ago,” says Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.
He points to both international and local companies as the source of Evansville’s contribution to the state’s business landscape. Not only did the city attract China-based Haier Group’s first North American research and development facility in 2015, but Evansville also produces its own success.
Paul Saunders, owner of eLuxurySupply, started with a dream, says Winnecke. As a result of countless hours of hard work and determination, Saunders now operates one of the Internet’s most trusted and successful specialty linen providers.
“Evansville is a great place for entrepreneurship,” says Winnecke, “and this sort of entrepreneurial spirit really helps the entire state.”
Chief Executive magazine released the 12th annual ranking as a representation of more than 500 surveyed CEOs.
Surveys revealed that the deciding factors for those CEOs are friendly tax and regulatory climates, quality workforces, and strong living environments, which depend on low cost of living, solid education structure, and positive public attitude toward business.
For more information, visit chiefexecutive.net/2016-best-and-worst-states-for-business.
As a female working in the manufacturing industry, Janette Hostettler admits early in her career at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana in Princeton, Indiana, she struggled with anxiety over what her team members would think about what she had to say.
“I was my worst enemy and I would worry about what to say at the meeting and what people would think of me,” says Hostettler, who serves as the general manager of Paint, Plastics, and Plant Engineering at Toyota. “Then someone would say what I was thinking and I missed my opportunity.”
Hostettler says she learned to acknowledge and use her strengths and quickly she climbed the ladder from a team member in the quality engineering group in 2000 to her current position where she is responsible for 1,000 team members, managers, engineers, leaders, and more. The 46-year-old recently was honored as one of 130 women around the nation who work in manufacturing at the 2016 STEP Ahead Awards in Washington, D.C.
Women make up about 47 percent of the labor force, but only 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce.
“This award means I have an obligation to give back to the other women and encourage them to face their fears so we can turn things around,” says Hostettler, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Purdue University.
Hostettler credits shadowing her father, who worked as an anesthesiologist in Cleveland after emigrating from the Philippines to the U.S. with her mother and five daughters at the time, with what ignited her passion to be a leader in manufacturing. She began her career as a chemist at Red Spot Paint and Varnish Co. in Evansville.
Hostettler has raised three children with her husband Robert while working at Toyota. She says the Japan-based company allows her to balance work and home life and has daycare facilities and lactation stations as well.
Toyota is celebrating its 20th anniversary since breaking ground on its production facility in May 1996 in Princeton. The company has invested $4.3 billion into its Princeton operations and created more than 5,300 Indiana jobs.
“Going through the economic downturn you could hear a pin drop in the factory,” says Hostettler. “We went through the tsunami and some winter storms and had come up with creative ways to keep things running. Toyota has the capacity and capabilities to get through anything.”
For more information about Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, call 812-387-2266 or visit tourtoyotaindiana.com.
Investing in the Future
When Robert E. Griffin gave $5 million to the University of Southern Indiana in 2014, he firmly declared the money wasn’t a donation — it was an investment.
The former president and CEO of Escalade Sports grew up in East St. Louis, Missouri, and learned the value of education early as he went on to receive a bachelor’s of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, and a master’s of business administration degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. After graduation in 1960, Griffin placed an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal announcing he was seeking employment. Evansville native Robert Orr, who later would be elected Governor of Indiana, answered his request and the two would become partners transforming Escalade, founded in Evansville in 1927 as Indian Archery and Toy Co.
As Griffin became rooted in Evansville, he met with then-University of Southern Indiana President Dr. David Rice who shared with him research backing up the claim that the Southern Indiana population was not well educated for the workforce.
When Dr. Rice joined USI in 1967, student enrollment was 922. Twenty-seven years later at his retirement, the university enrolled 7,443 students. Griffin’s admiration forUSI presidents continued with Dr. H. Ray Hoops, who fought to add academic programs such as an undergraduate degree in engineering, and Dr. Linda Bennett, who established the school’s first strategic plan. Enrollment at USI is nearly 11,000 today.
“I wanted to thank them for upgrading the quality of education in this part of the state,” says Griffin, who received an honorary doctoral degree from USI in 2003. “This was not a donation — this was an investment that will carry on into the future with the expectation that the university will continue to elevate and educate great students who will stay in Indiana and stay in this area and contribute to the quality of life. Education enables people to make better decisions. There’s not enough money to remedy bad decisions. Education can help solve that and prevent those decisions.”
The Griffin Center
On the west side of Reflection Lake looking toward the Liberal Arts Center on USI’s campus, Griffin’s investment in the university has taken a physical manifestation. The Griffin Center is a 14,000-square-foot meeting and conference space named in honor of the Robert E. Griffin family, whose leadership gift to Campaign USI: Elevating Excellence provided the funding for construction. In addition to this contribution, Griffin, his wife Judy, and their family have supported the USI Presidential Scholarship program since its inception in 1987. They endowed the Dr. John and Grace Helfrich Eisterhold Scholarship at USI in honor of Judy’s parents, and led a fund drive to establish the Robert D. and Mary Kay Orr Business Scholarship.
“The Griffin Center is a vision fulfilled,” said USI President Linda L. M. Bennett. “What has come to fruition is beyond our expectation. Due to the exceptional generosity of the Robert E. Griffin family, the Griffin Center will serve the university for generations not yet born.”
The building will house meetings for trustees, the USI Foundation, off-site corporations, student government, department workshops, weddings, and more. The center’s largest venue is the Great Hall, with space to accommodate more than 130 guests. Other available venues include a private study with a fireplace for small committee meetings, an atrium lobby, and multipurpose meeting spaces that can be configured depending on the group size and needs. The handicap accessible center is equipped with a full catering kitchen and kitchenette and can expand by using its outdoor space if needed.
“Hopefully this will inspire good decisions,” says Griffin, who has served as chairman of the USI Foundation Board of Directors and as a member of the Romain College of Business Board of Advisors. “You don’t have the pandemonium or chaos. You can park in a beautiful setting. You can come in and quickly feel at ease and get your mind cleared so you can think.”
Hafer designed the center under the leadership of associate architect Jack Faber. Site work began in December 2014 and construction broke ground in May 2015. A ribbon cutting was celebrated on May 6.
A Vision Realized
Take a right turn from Bent Twig Lane onto Griffin Way and follow Reflection Lake to a thick wooded area. As the road curves, a surprise awaits. After his decision to underwrite the project, Griffin walked USI and declared the best view of the campus was from the west side of the lake. After learning it was possible to build from a structural standpoint, Jack Faber and the team at Hafer began the planning process in 2014.
“The university was great about giving the Hafer team enough time and not rushing it,” says Faber. “It allowed us to create something that lived up to the gift and honor what the vision was for the building.”
“What we heard was Bob (Griffin) wanted to show how forward thinking the university is, how beautiful the campus is, and how to inspire someone to want to be a part of that vision, and see the campus and university grow,” says Faber.
Because there was no preconceived idea of what the building would look like and only a preconceived function, Faber says he enjoyed the creative freedom to design a timeless structure.
“Bob had such a strong vision and if you knew Mr. Griffin, he is a man of broad vision,” says David Bower, president of the USI Foundation. “Jack ran with the ball that he was tossed. It was a beautiful collaboration. Bob set the tone and didn’t micromanage. He said, ‘Jack can do this.’”
The Hafer team created a beautiful two-level structure using glass, stone, and white highly insulated concrete that blurs the lines between interior and exterior space. The materials were specifically selected because they are not associated with any particular style or age. Stone is used to tie the building to the landscape and diminish the mass of the structure. The color white was chosen to reinforce the contrast between nature and architecture, making the colors of the leaves, grass, and lake appear more pronounced and colorful, and allow the structure to be a canvas for artwork. On the west façade of the center is a commissioned sculpture titled Bent Twig by John McNaughton, USI professor emeritus of art, and Joan Kempf deJong, USI associate professor of art and assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Inside the building are pieces of Carder Steuben art glass that were donated to the University Art Collection by Alan and Susan Shovers and an oil portrait of Robert Griffin by Indiana artist Mark Dillman.
“The idea is that when you are in the building, you forget about the building,” says Faber. “It is all about the view of the campus. A lot of architects want you to notice the building, but everything subconsciously and consciously should refer you back to USI.”
The rooms are open and move fluidly from one to the other. Silver metal window frames are used to create the focal element across the lake toward the university’s skyline. The creative design eliminates the view of the parking lot and reveals only the treetops. A handicap accessible sidewalk winds through the woods and connects with the center.
Hafer also had to consider the neighborhood behind the Griffin Center separated by a thin tree line.
“When you are up on the main floor it looks like a single story building so in the wintertime when they look at the building, it doesn’t seem like this huge campus building. It is a nice quiet building. We had to work with Bob, the university had a conversation with the neighborhood, we had to listen and accommodate everyone. The more we talked, the more we were able to tweak it and develop it,” says Faber.
Empire Contractors Vice President/Project Manager Jason M. Martin and Project Superintendent Dan Odom served as the general contractors for the Griffin Center.
“The contractor Empire did an amazing job and it lives up to what the expectations were,” says Faber.
Success Breeds Success
“This facility is a sign of our maturing as an institution,” says Bower, who has been at the university for 22 years. “We are in the planning stages now for the Fuquay Welcome Center, we have another generous donor. The Physical Activities Center (PAC) renovation will be life changing. There is so much changing internally as well — we are growing as an institution. Part of what Dr. Bennett’s plan was when she became president was to elevate the entire academy and that’s happening; there’s more degree programs, more programs online. It’s an exciting time. It’s generating enthusiasm. Success breeds success.”
Bower and Faber hope Griffin’s investment will inspire others to make the commitment, which will help keep talented students in Evansville long after they have graduated.
“Once people come in and see what Bob has invested, they are going to want to invest,” says Faber. “And once they have invested, that money will be used to help with facilities, which is going to draw faculty and students, and those students graduate and develop businesses and they turn around and invest in the university that invested in them. As they do that, the skyline of the university changes. This really starts a momentum that never stops.”
For more information about the Griffin Center and the University of Southern Indiana, call 812-465-7149, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit usi.edu.
Before Heritage Federal Credit Union was officially chartered in 1965, a few Alcoa Warrick Operations employees collected dollar bills from their coworkers on the plant floor and stored the assets in the trunk of a car. Little did they know their work would be remembered on a wall in a brand-new headquarters lobby more than 50 years later.
A transparent wave carries visitors through those 51 years of vision, commitment, and innovation as they step into the branch of HFCU at 8266 Bell Oaks Drive, which replaced the old Bell Oaks branch in January 2015.
Photographs, historic logos, and blocks of red and blue stand out from the sepia wallpaper composed of archived documents and newspaper articles. One of the first photos is of that first car, with its trunk open.
“It really did take the blood, sweat, and tears of just a few men who had a vision of creating a financial solution for the workers,” says President and CEO Ruth Jenkins. “To be here 50 years later is a pretty impressive feat.”
In the earliest days, only Alcoa employees, members of the United Steelworkers Local 104, belonged to the Warrick Employees Federal Credit Union, a far cry from its membership charter today. The renamed HFCU, with seven offices between Warrick and Vanderburgh Counties, serves about 51,000 members from four counties as a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative, which offers savings, investment opportunities, loans, and more.
“Some of our members still come in and point out, ‘Oh gosh, that was me in the truck,’ or, ‘I know that person. They’re in my family,’” says Chief Marketing and Member Service Officer Steven Bugg. “So it’s still a living, breathing history wall."
In the middle of it all is a large screen, which will, upon completion, display a video detailing the legacy of the credit union.
“We also implemented technology to let people know that we are up-to-date,” says Bugg, “even though we’re 51 years young.”
The wall can be updated, as well, to incorporate new branches and faces — new history.
“We want to make sure,” says Bugg, “just as our forefathers did, that the credit union is around for many generations in the future.”
When members and employees pass through the lobby, the wall stands before them as a reminder, a review, and a testament.
“The pride was there then,” says Jenkins, pointing to the photo of the car where it all began, “and decades later, the pride is still here today.”
For more information about Heritage Federal Credit Union, call 812-253-6928 or visit hfcu.info.
For the first time in 15 years, Evansville has a Downtown Master Plan.
Its predecessors include proposals from 1927, 1984, 1995, and 2001, the last of which Evansville Business examined in the August/September 2002 feature “Master Success.”
Over a decade ago, people weren’t talking about the Multi-Institutional Academic Health Science Education and Research Facility, a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, and the Ford Center. In those days, conversation circled around a baseball stadium and minor league team, bringing the old canal back to life, and a Civic Center Plaza.
While details have changed, core community values remain. As the 2016 plan delineates, Evansville’s residents aspire to activate Main Street and the riverfront, cultivate innovation in a “NoCo Makers District,” connect spaces with modernized transportation options, and develop a strong residential neighborhood.
After conducting studies in the community, the City and its strategic planning partners, Progressive Urban Management Associates, Rundell Ernstberger Associates, and Hafer PSC say Evansville is primed for change to ignite.
“Every vibrant city has a strong urban core,” says Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, “and I’m very satisfied that the plan reflects what the participants want.”
The 124-page plan publication is just that — a visual and verbal representation of public interest.
The first in a series of maps focuses on the placement of eye-catching gateways into Downtown and prospective bicycle and pedestrian improvements, like veins throughout the district. The maps ultimately converge into one, layered with the probable locations of entertainment and manufacturing progress.
After the maps are renderings of completely reinvented riverfront and parks spaces and descriptions of the roads to a better Downtown.
Those roads include detailed explanations of why the area north of Court Street is important in redefining the Evansville production landscape and why two new piers could revitalize the banks of the Ohio. They hypothetically carry readers to the goal of a diverse Downtown residential experience.
For more information about the Evansville Downtown Master Plan, call the Southwest Indiana Chamber at 812-425-8147 or visit swinchamber.com/downtown-masterplan.
In the spring of 2014 change was preparing to happen in the Downtown Evansville landscape. Plans to bring a four-year medical school to the area were well underway and it was time to find the perfect place to start construction.
It was during this period Mike O’Daniel, president and owner of D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln, formerly located at Fifth and Walnut streets, received a call from Mayor Lloyd Winnecke: What would it take for Mike to sell his lot to be demolished and make way for the Multi-Institutional Academic Health Science Education and Research Facility, Winnecke asked.
“I told him what I thought I needed for the facility. Through whatever series of behind the scene things, they came up with the idea that our facility Downtown was a reasonable price and that’s where they should locate the school,” he says.
It had not been the first time Mike had been approached about his location being used for Downtown economic development. In 2009, when talks of a Downtown arena started in Evansville, the city zeroed in on the local dealership as a prime spot for the new Ford Center. However, the plans fell through, says Mike.
“We couldn’t come to an agreement and the location wasn’t right anymore,” he says.
Seven years later, the conditions for an agreement between the city and D-Patrick proved more favorable. While the move meant big things for the city, it also meant D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln needed a new home and quickly.
D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln — which began as O’Daniel-Ranes Oldsmobile in 1934 — always has had a place in the Downtown business scene and the O’Daniel family always has had a hand in the dealership.
Joseph “Joe” E. O’Daniel partnered with George Ranes Sr. to launch O’Daniel-Ranes Oldsmobile in the 30s. As their success grew, Mike’s father D. Patrick O’Daniel decided to learn the ropes of car dealing as well, joining the family-owned Key Ford dealership, across the street from O’Daniel-Ranes, in 1964.
D. Patrick would go on to purchase his own dealership in 1971, located on Green River Road, selling and servicing Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz vehicles. As is the story with many family-owned businesses, D. Patrick would purchase Key Ford Honda in the late 70s and O’Daniel-Ranes Oldsmobile Nissan in the 80s. All would be renamed as D-Patrick dealerships.
As the company grew more and showrooms expanded, D. Patrick’s son Mike would find his way onto the team in 1987; his son-in-law Ray Farabaugh followed in 1989. In 1998, Mike and Farabaugh would purchase D-Patrick Inc. together. Today, Mike heads up the Ford/Lincoln lot and Farabaugh handles the European model and Nissan dealerships on Green River Road.
When talks about locating the Ford Center at the Downtown lot fell through in 2009, Mike and his crew worked to merge the then Lincoln/Mercury dealership with the Ford location, launching a $2 million renovation of the Downtown showroom.
Under the leadership of O’Daniel and Farabaugh, D-Patrick, Inc. has continued to expand and grow throughout the Tri-State. Along with Ford/Lincoln, O’Daniel and Farabaugh have dealerships offering Audi, BMW, and Porsche, while continuing to offer Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Volkswagen lines. In 2014, the Ford dealership in Boonville, Indiana, also was added to the ranks. The company owns used car and exclusive pre-owned dealerships as well.
After coming to an agreement with the city on the move from Downtown, Mike and his staff found themselves needing a new location. Not only was a new property sought, but a new facility was to be designed and built, and the offices and inventory moved in time for the scheduled demolition of the Downtown lot.
“Everything with this was very seat-of-your-pants,” says Mike with a laugh. “It was as well thought out and planned as it could have been.”
Originally, he had settled on building a new dealership on the far North Side of Evansville along U.S. Highway 41. However, a conversation between Mike and F.C. Tucker Emge Real Estate Agent Ken Newcomb Jr. led to a better opportunity.
After hearing of the plans to move D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln to the northern part of the city, Newcomb Jr. asked Mike what spot in the city the D-Patrick owner would truly like to place his new building.
“I told him at the intersection of U.S. Highway 41 and the Lloyd Expressway and he said ‘Let me go to work on that.’ He found a way to put together the property (at Walnut Street and U.S. Highway 41), which was an extremely complicated thing to do,” says Mike. “Really it was a magic act, if you ask me.”
The property had its issues, however. Before D-Patrick expressed interest in the area, the city had begun working with J-Bell Properties who owned the majority of the distressed homes along the Walnut Street corridor, says Kelley Coures, director of the Department of Metropolitan Development. The Building Commission was working to submit the properties into the city’s blight elimination program. The entire Walnut corridor from U.S. Highway 41 to Downtown was identified in a HUD study as early as 1982 as being in severe decline. The Walnut Center development came from the study in the mid-1980s. With D-Patrick wanting the location, Coures says talks simply switched from J-Bell Properties to D-Patrick, which the state allowed.
“The homes in there were distressed properties. There were 18 tenant households in that area. The city used $20,000 from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help relocate people who were being displaced from the neighborhood and then D-Patrick, after all was said and done, reimbursed the city that $20,000,” says Coures. “So essentially D-Patrick also helped pay for the relocation of people from that area so they could find better housing.”
Once the residents relocated and the homes were torn down, Mike says the property had to be remediated — correctly taking out cisterns and basements to avoid sinkholes on the properties.
“It was an extremely expensive piece of property to get ready to even build anything on,” adds Mike. “Then we had to get the thing built because we were on a time crunch.”
Construction bids were awarded to Key Construction, Alva Electric, Ritzert Mechanical Co., and K&K Excavating, who all did a fantastic job and understood the urgency of the project, says Mike. During the build, part of the new parking lot was paved and a temporary building was set up so members of the sales staff could work from the new location during the winter.
“It was an amazing feat; really they built this thing in nine months, which is pretty unbelievable,” adds Mike.
Once the building was complete, the arduous task of moving a well-established car dealership to a new location began.
“The logistics of the move were ridiculous,” says Mike. “It’s just like one of those things; you can’t imagine how it’s all really going to work out, but you put your nose to the grindstone and it works.”
“It was difficult,” agrees Peter O’Daniel, Mike’s son and sales manager at the dealership. “You don’t realize how much stuff you have to move until you actually go through it.”
Peter and the staff sorted through the years of history stored in the building; some items dated back to the 1970s. It was a task that brought back memories, says Peter. An auction was held earlier this year to sell a majority of the items no longer needed or wanted; the rest was moved to the new building. Then came the cars.
“We had what we called our Ford Big Move Blowout Sale,” says Peter. “We had great incentives to try to get the vehicles off the lot. The sale continues now.”
What was not sold was moved to the new lot. Peter adds Ford Motor Company was so excited about the new property, they provided D-Patrick with a lot of new inventory as well.
“The manufacturer is happy and we’re happy,” he adds. “I think we were kind of hidden in the old location; this is a lot more visible. And it’s exciting to be a part of something that’s new in the city.”
Home Sweet Home
The new D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln dealership location at 1100 E. Walnut St. was completed and opened for business in March. The showroom and office space totals 41,000 square feet on the first floor and an additional 5,150 square feet on its second level. It gives an “ultra-modern” feel with its 8,000-square-foot showroom, 18-foot ceilings, and full-height glass walls.
“Mike was present through the entire design process,” says J.T. Kinkel of Jack R. Kinkel and Son Architects, PC, lead designer of the project. “We went through lots of evolutions all the way up to the end.”
Kinkel and his firm have worked with D-Patrick and the O’Daniel family many times over the last 30 years. He says Mike wanted “a seamless sales and service experience for the customer, which also translates into a highly-productive building for his employees.”
“We knew that location was going to have a lot of challenges, but would be very rewarding if it could all be worked out,” says Kinkel. “It’ll probably forever change the Walnut Street area.”
At the back of the showroom sits a 29 service-bay shop, a part of the 22,500-square-foot parts and service area of the dealership. The building incorporates LED lighting throughout to minimize energy use. The dealership’s lot lighting also is unique, says Kinkel.
“The site lighting to me is one of the most interesting parts. It raises and lowers its light level throughout the night to save energy,” he says. “We came up with a system that dims through the evening, based on retail hours and dusk and dawn, to reduce the cost.”
Other unique aspects of the building Kinkel notes are the amount of glass used in the structure, the shop side of the building constructed with brick, and the location of the showroom on the lot.
“The building is in the far back corner (of the lot),” says Kinkel. “I think that’s a unique approach for a car dealership, to put their building so far back and basically wrap it with cars.”
“That neighborhood is much safer today,” adds Coures. “I think it’s a real boom to have a major Ford dealership at one of the gateways to Downtown.
“It’s better lit, and that dealership being large like that creates jobs,” he says. “It’s an economic developing tool to have that business there at that location.”
Though the process provided interesting and challenging moments to all involved, Mike believes “all’s well that ends well.” The new dealership has given way to an important economic development Downtown and helped give a facelift to the Walnut Street corridor as well as benefiting the D-Patrick company.
“It’s really been nuts,” says Mike, “but we’re in now and we’re pretty happy.”
For more information about D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln, call 812-428-7800 or visit dpatrickford.com.
Education: Graduate of F.J. Reitz High School, Evansville, and the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in accounting
Resume: The man behind Bob’s Gym, with four multipurpose locations and CrossFit 8085 located on Evansville’s East Side. Bob’s Gym celebrated its 25th anniversary in February.
Family: Wife Stefanie, and three daughters, Morgan, 15, Madeline, 14, and Molly, 11
Originally operating out of a 5,000-square-foot pole barn built on the “cheapest land I could find,” Bob’s Gym is synonymous with Evansville fitness. When workouts ceased with the closing of Gold’s Gym Downtown, a large void was left on the West Side of Evansville. And Bob Swallows loves the side of town where he was raised. He appealed to his parents Judy and Larry “Rock” Swallows to aid him in his efforts. “I wore them down,” says Swallows. “They said ‘no’ for six months.”
A leap of faith in 2000 led him from the pole barn to constructing a West Side location of 50,000 square feet, 30,000 of which Bob’s Gym utilizes. Now there are a total of five facilities — a CrossFit affiliate and four gyms, including the East Side location’s day spa, which features “aestheticians.”
“I’m from the West Side,” says Swallows. “I’m not sure I am supposed to say that word.”
You are known for being an entrepreneur. What are you working on now?
The total picture now is helping clients find success with the gym’s food and wellness offerings. Perfectly Fresh meals launched in 2014 and now sells on average more than 1,000 meals each week. They are for sale at all Bob’s Gyms and a few select specialty retailers. Soon we will offer high protein and high fiber shakes and ice cream packed in a variety of sizes and sourced with local ingredients, such as local honey.
What is new in the multipurpose gym world?
Definitely group exercise. People want choices. The Mossa Group Power (pre-choreographed), Group Core, and Group Fight are all very popular right now. Also, Burn at the Barre Pilates. And, CrossFit also is extremely hot right now.
You are heavily invested in the Evansville region and community. Why do you like doing business here?
Evansville is a sweet spot. I love the small-town feel. We built Bob’s Gyms with locations easily accessible from anywhere in town.
When not at work where can we find you?
My three daughters are involved in ballet, cheer, swimming, and tennis. I try to always be there.
(TT: Swallows also is helping the Newburgh Sea Creatures swim club earn more concession money at meets and helps run the food and drink area with nontraditional entrepreneurial flair.)
Your business has grown tremendously since your start 25 years ago. What do you attribute the continued success of your gyms to?
I have the best staff now that I have ever had.
What is a Bob Swallows surprise for the readers?
I have danced in “The Nutcracker” and am a math nerd. I am the academic math coach for the fifth and sixth grade, and seventh and eighth grade teams at Resurrection School.
For more information about Bob’s Gym, call 812-424-2627 or visit bobsgym.com.