Working in the competitive industry of commercial real estate, Jack Rogers was looking for a way to stand out. While others would take the opportunity to simply revamp their logo or webpage in hopes of turning a few heads, Rogers, the owner of Jack Rogers Realtor, Inc., went a few steps further.
The Bosse High School and Indiana University alumnus noticed a 1985 “757” Camaro for sale on eBay. The record-holding racecar, which was previously owned by GM engineer Tom Doll and crewed by Jim Fox and Steven Christophersen, would be Rogers’ way of emerging from the crowd.
“In about 1995, I became acutely aware of how many commercial realtors there are today,” says Rogers, who at 72 continues to pilot his racecar at parts of the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats known as the Bonneville Speedway in Northwestern Utah, in other parts of the country, and internationally. “I started thinking about how to distinguish myself from some of the others, so eventually, I hit upon the idea that some of the same skills you need in the real estate business are the same you need in the racing business. I’m not the first person to do this — Joe Gibbs, who coached the Washington Redskins, had his own team in NASCAR. In my case, I had to devise a way to keep my name in front of the public.”
And Jack Rogers’ racing team has done just that for the Evansville native. The “757” Camaro broke its first world land speed record of 225.366 mph in Utah with Rogers as the owner and driver (the car’s previous owners hold five land speed records with the vehicle). Today, Jack Rogers’ team holds nine land speed records at Bonneville and has been featured in local newspapers and national magazines. Rogers describes racing at Bonneville “like racing on the moon. It’s so flat that you can see the curvature of the Earth.”
“If we do the things excellently, we will continue to get recognition. If we ever stop doing them excellently, we will lose that recognition and we won’t do it anymore,” says Rogers. “It is the excellence that brings us the recognition and in turn, gets our name out in front of people.” Confidentiality agreements in commercial real estate often make Jack Rogers Realtor, Inc.’s work invisible to the public.
“A lot of the work that this company does is visible,” he says. “That’s the work we do for our own account, but there’s that portion of the work that is done for other people and our name usually never sees the light of day and that’s by design … A lot of things we have worked on have a confidentiality agreement and as a result of that, it is very difficult for us to tell people about what we do. That’s why we formed an entity that promoted our name in the racing business.”
Rogers’ road racing cars compete at La Carerra Panamericana in Mexico, at Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and at Targa Newfoundland in Canada, an event that Jack recently won. Rogers, who shares videos of his past races, can recall the speed of the car at any moment of the event by the sound of the engine. When asked about the danger aspect of the sport, Rogers replies nonchalantly while watching a replay of the race in Mexico, “It can be, it can be. Most of these roads have guardrails and some of them don’t … I have been through Vietnam. After that, nothing is terrifying.”
Cars always have been of interest to Rogers, who in the racing world is considered a “gentleman driver” with his primary source of income unrelated to professional driving. Rogers says none of the events he enters have prize money associated with them. He dismisses the idea of defining the motor vehicles as his passion. “It is a part of a business plan,” he reaffirms. “It is something that is enjoyable and a lot of work. I’ve always been interested in people who did well racing cars.”
Before leaving Indiana University, Rogers worked at the Indiana Daily Student. On Nov. 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot, he was in Ernie Pyle Hall gathered around a Teletype when it stopped and rang 12 times, which signifies the death of a president. “The whole room was in shock — almost everyone was crying. I will never forget the feeling of desolation and grief,” recalls Rogers.
Rogers’ career first began with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio, and he later took a job with Boeing in Seattle. In 1968, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent a year in Vietnam after basic training at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington. Rogers was injured in combat and received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He later returned home to Evansville where he spent a “nonproductive year doing nothing” until his father John persuaded him to join the real estate business. Rogers’ family history also has ties to the original Roca Bar in Evansville, which was a creation of his father and Earl Carter in 1943. Together, the first two initials of their last names make Roca.
Rogers worked in residential real estate for four years with Chick Shively until he started developing a real interest in the commercial side of the business. Emge Realty (now F.C. Tucker Emge Realtors), which was founded in 1946 by Norman Emge, asked Rogers to do some work in the commercial department. In 1978, Rogers joined with Greg Kempf, and together, the two made headlines as they developed Downtown Evansville and the current Fifth Third Building.
“Greg was probably the best influence on me that I have ever had,” says Rogers. “I have had a lot of great partners, but he was the guy who has influenced me the most.”
The pair worked together for five years until Rogers began operating his own real estate agency of Jack Rogers Realtor, Inc. Also during that time, Rogers married his wife Nona in 1979, which he says, “I couldn’t have done any of this without her.” The two have one son John who is involved in management at Tri-State Athletic Club and does real estate work for his father. John graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of Evansville and currently is pursuing a master’s in business administration from Indiana University.
Today, Rogers continues to make significant impacts in the commercial real estate business as he is redeveloping the former Sterling Brewery site, located near the Fulton Avenue – Lloyd Expressway intersection. The facility once housed one of the most dominant brewers in Evansville. The brewery went through several owners before closing in 1997, the same year Rogers purchased the site. The four-story, 100,000-square-foot building project called Sterling Square will transform into condominiums on the top floor and the other two floors will be rebuilt into offices over the next year.
“In 1997 when we purchased the site, it looked like a strategic piece of real estate, sitting at a major intersection,” says Rogers. But because of road construction on Fulton and the Lloyd Expressway interchange, his plans were delayed.
“It took a long time to evolve,” says Rogers. “It wouldn’t have been appropriate for us to take the project forward until everything was in place with the roads. We are now in the process of changing the property from an industrial use into a commercial development.”
Jack Rogers Realtor, Inc., located at 400 E. Sycamore St., recently was involved in completing the expansion of Berry Plastics facility at the airport from 600,000 square feet to more than 1 million square feet. There are several properties on the East Side of Evansville and near Newburgh, Indiana’s Walmart that Rogers is working with prospects for the future of building on the sites.
“Evansville has been a really great place and that’s the reason I have never relocated,” says Rogers. “Some of the people I have met here are people who are at the top of their professions, and in most cases, they could be at the top in any city they choose to live in and they could make a lot more money in other places, but the fact that they stay here is the same reason I am here. I have a lot of rich history with the people here. The whole experience has been very enjoyable.
“That’s the thing that keeps you really going — being able to see these things that you’re involved with come to life.”
For more information about Jack Rogers Realtor, Inc., call 812-422-5656 or visit jackrogersrealtor.com.
"Good Question, Son"
Recently, my son Jackson, 13, and I had the opportunity to spend several hours in the car together traveling to and from a basketball tournament. I dared to engage him in conversation during what must have been a very brief texting lull, or more likely, in a no service area between cities. He announced to me that he thought he would probably go to Indiana University, which he truly loves. The announcement was followed by “I will take over your job, Popster … You can work for me.”
My reply was that of course I wouldn’t do that to him, said only partially in jest. I am after all fond of saying that if I did not love my job, I would hate it. This is a tough business that never shuts off and never closes, but one that I am fortunate enough to still love. His next question to me was, “What do you like best about the magazine business?” Of course, it is always easiest to rattle off what you like the least but this particular question caused me to pause and think for a moment (Note to self: Do this more often).
My response? I enjoy bringing good positive energy to the community through our stories. These stories, which center on the best our community offers, are everywhere. We just happen to be able to uncover them. I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with people from every walk of life, who if not in this business, our paths probably would not have crossed. I have hand-delivered a new magazine to people at their front door who are getting the first 15 minutes of fame they have ever received. Many times they give me in return a tearful “thank you so much.”
I have heard many times how our publications were instrumental to someone moving here or a potential company taking a second look at our area. I often hear about how we impacted a charitable organization’s gala or fundraiser by our participation. I am probably the most proud of how many times I have heard our publications help change our community’s perception of where we live and work. I often hear readers mention that they send the magazine to friends and relatives unfamiliar with the area and say “this is where I live.”
So thanks for the question, son. If this ends up being your calling, I will be damn proud.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker
Whose Site Is It?
The Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana helps to secure new investments and jobs in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties, and that means the organization needs to look its best. The coalition hired South Central Digital to recently revamp the redesign of its website.
“Our No. 1 priority was what would be most beneficial for these site selectors,” says Shelby George, a consultant at South Central Digital. “Who are the end users taking a look at the website? What was working and what needed to be changed?”
How It Works:
The website puts user friendliness first. The site is easy to navigate with clear tabs and mobile responsiveness, rendering easily to any device. With the ability to add new information to the site’s records, users will find the data center to be highly interactive. The data center also is full of statistics about the Tri-State area, maps of the different counties, and success stories from local companies.
The site features an area news page that is updated frequently. Various pieces of news are posted to keep visitors in the know. “The area news keeps everyone visiting and keeps everyone updated on what’s going on in all surrounding counties,” says George.
Site Designed and Maintained By:
South Central Digital
Prime Real Estate
Location, location, location — it’s an age-old business lesson and one the insurance agency of Torian, Hofmann, Dillow & Flittner learned firsthand in their move to Division Street in 2001.
The agency, which was started in 1923 by the Torian family, spent its early years in Downtown Evansville, including nearly 20 years at 800 Sunset Ave. The hard to find location was the original Igleheart home and the former Evansville Day School. It was positioned on a dead-end street with no need for a receptionist as they only saw one or two visitors a day.
“We were trying to comfortably work in what used to be a home,” says Robert Dillow, who joined the firm in 1979 and became partners with Greg Hofmann when Paul Torian retired in 1989. “It was very beautiful but wasn’t conducive for office purposes. We all enjoyed the atmosphere of being in a home. When we decided we wanted to own our own property, our goal was to build a structure that looks like a home, but functions entirely as an office.”
In 1997, Dillow and Hofmann, along with partner Tony Flittner, found a hopeful location across from Vann Avenue and next to the Evansville National Guard Armory, but acquiring the land wasn’t easy. The land was owned by the University of Evansville and a land swap clause prohibited the university from using the property for anything other than educational purposes. Gov. Frank O’Bannon signed House Bill 1587 allowing the university to sell the ground. In March 2001, the agency moved into its newly built office.
Built in Georgian architecture, which is characterized by its proportion and balance, the two-story building is furnished and decorated as a home would be with workspaces hidden out of the view of the public.
“We wanted it to appear like a home,” says Dillow. “The conference rooms, bathrooms, and foyer area — we wanted to have that warm comfortable feeling as if you’re in someone’s home. There isn’t a producer in the building that meets with a client across a business desk. It puts the customer and producer on an even comfort level. As soon as you go anywhere else in the building, we have all the modern cabling, workstations, everything else to allow us to function properly.”
Torian, Hofmann, Dillow & Flittner now sits at one of the most heavily traveled sections of the Lloyd Expressway, with easy access from Vann Avenue and Division Street. The Trusted Choice® independent insurance agency employs 26 people to offer home, auto, business, life, and health insurance products through its network of top rated insurance companies.
For more information about Torian, Hofmann, Dillow & Flittner, call 812-424-5503 or visit thdfins.com.
Ten years ago, when Tresa Miller was planning to open Grateful Threads Fabric & Furnishings, she was faced with the decision of where to purchase a building for her store. Should she choose the rural, but future retail hub of Burkhardt Road or head to Downtown Evansville where retail hadn’t prospered since the glory days of Main Street?
In December 2004, Miller and her husband Brent purchased the former Earl Scheib Paint & Body at 426 Carpenter St., which had been sitting vacant for 11 years. The space needed more than a little work, but it had high ceilings, a classroom, a garage, and space to grow — and they knew it was the one.
“We thought about it, but every time we’ve gone shopping for fabric out of town we go to the warehouse districts where grown men wouldn’t go after dark,” says Miller, who opened Grateful Threads on March 1, 2005. “Think about going shopping for fabric in Nashville or St. Louis — you go to these dingy locations. We were going to be a destination location. There isn’t anyone who leaves the house, sees my shop and says, ‘I think I’ll redo my sofa.’ No way. They leave the house with an armchair cover in one hand. They leave prepared with their paint chip, their carpet sample, and paint can lid.”
Miller’s home décor fabric store celebrates its 10th anniversary in March, which makes it the oldest currently surviving retail business in Downtown Evansville. The 6,500-square-foot store sells hundreds of fabrics and trim, furnishings, and offers in-house design service and appointments in your home or office.
Before owning Grateful Threads, Miller worked as a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual for 12 years before an opportunity to purchase a fabric store sparked her interest in starting her own. The timing was flawless for Miller, because just as she was leaving the finance industry, she joined the DIY, or Do-It-Yourself phenomenon, and at the same time, the worst economic recession since the Great Depression occurred.
“The recession hit and God had us in the palm of His hand,” says Miller of Evansville. “Our tag line has been ‘Don’t buy new, redo.’ And all of a sudden, the whole DIY movement took off. The economy was tight and people saw the wisdom of recycling, redoing, repurposing; people would come in and say, ‘My sofa is really in good shape, it’s just really ugly.’ We fix ugly all day, everyday.”
For more information about Grateful Threads, call 812-402-0053 or visit gratefulthreadsfabric.com.
The Old Fashioned Way
In 1958, Jim Miller and his father Leonard Miller founded Miller’s 5 & 10 in a former movie theater on Boonville, Indiana’s courthouse square. Jim ran the store for more than five decades before passing away in the summer of 2013.
But that’s not the end of the story. Jim’s grandson, J.D. Campbell, along with J.D.’s wife, Jenny, moved from Maryland to carry on the family business. Today, the store looks much as it would have shortly after it opened with an eclectic variety of items ranging from military flags to old-fashioned washboards.
“When Jim passed away, we had a lot of discussion about what should happen to the store,” says J.D. “The store is very important to a lot of people in the community, and he was important to a lot of people in the community. We never thought about the store not being around.”
It took nearly a full year after Jim’s death for Miller’s 5 & 10 to open full time again, but it’s been operating on normal hours since July 2014.
“We decided that we still want this to be a traditional dime store,” says J.D. “This is a historic downtown area and we want to keep that flavor in the store. While at the same time, we want to stock the right products that sell well today as well as keep those hard-to-find products that we are known for.”
Some of the more unique items include hardware pieces, handkerchiefs, Boy Scout and Girl Scout items, cap guns, sports apparel, watercolors, guitars, corn hole boards, cookie cutters, puzzles, and so much more.
“We hear all the time from people who came here when they were little, and they like to come back and visit,” says Jenny. “Even if they live out of town, they just want to come here and bring back those memories.”
The concept for a dime store or variety store came from the early 20th century, when Woolworth’s experimented with a type of store that sustained itself almost solely on low-priced items. Originally, nearly all items were either a nickel or a dime, though prices increased over the years.
The shelves at Miller’s 5 & 10 look nothing like a modern department store. Many items are in glass bins, especially personal hygiene products. Items produced locally are for sale. Many of the display cases at Miller’s 5 & 10 are either original to 1958 or at least close to it. Miller’s recently opened a booth in A Potpourri of Shops at 5 W. Jennings St., in Newburgh, Indiana.
“This fall, we had all the light fixtures upgraded to be more energy efficient,” says J.D.
The Campbells say despite the fact that the store has been in business for nearly 60 years, there still are many Tri-State residents who don’t know it exists. And some longtime customers simply assumed when Jim Miller died, the store would go with him.
For more information about Miller’s 5 & 10, visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/BoovilleMillers5and10.
A New View
Evansville’s popular fine dining establishment, Cavanaugh’s, recently received a nearly $700,000 facelift. Tropicana Evansville, along with a design team from Hafer Associates, revealed the renovated Cavanaugh’s on Dec. 1, and according to Andrew Herbertz, Tropicana’s advertising and public relations manager, everything in the restaurant received a much-anticipated upgrade.
“If you had seen it before, it’s completely different now,” says Herbertz. “To provide the quality atmosphere to match Cavanaugh’s quality food and service, improvements were very necessary.”
From the wall coverings to the carpet, renovations took place on the upscale steak house starting in October and were finished just before the ribbon was cut. Tropicana knocked down walls and lifted up carpet to make way for an expanded, relaxed dining room with several more tables and improved river views. With fresh furnishings, lighting, and framed photos of historic Evansville, the interior is sure to impress anyone looking for a memorable evening, says Herbertz.
Transported from Blush Ultralounge, the baby grand piano takes center stage at the piano bar, where live music is provided nightly. The piano bar also has been expanded so more guests can now dine while listening to music.
Cavanaugh’s has introduced new menu items such as signature steaks and featured dishes. Its wine and scotch list also has grown. Sunday Brunch is new to the restaurant as well, served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And, Sunday dinner is coming back — Cavanaugh’s will serve dinner seven days a week, beginning in March. Tropicana Evansville plans to soon announce a new executive chef, too.
For more information about Tropicana Evansville, including its Trop Advantage® Club, call 1-800-342-5386 or visit tropevansville.com.
In the Spotlight
Most Tri-state residents probably hadn’t heard of Millennium Steel Service, at least not until President Barack Obama announced he would be celebrating National Manufacturing Day there last October.
Then, suddenly, the nation’s all-seeing eyes were on the relatively small, minority-owned Princeton, Indiana, steel supplier.
“They just called,” CEO Henry Jackson says of the September day he received the request from Washington, D.C. “They never told me how they chose me, but I was thrilled. I was proud, and it was a privilege.”
But however coy he might try to play it, Millennium Steel undoubtedly has a strong reputation amongst industry leaders. It has been listed in the top 15 of the best 100 minority-owned companies in the nation by Black Enterprise Magazine the last four years in a row.
Millennium Steel, now in its 14th year of operation, is a steel processor for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Inc. Millennium buys steel coils from raw-material suppliers then stores it, inspects it, cuts it, and delivers it to Toyota using the “just in time” method. As a result, Millennium makes multiple deliveries to Toyota each day, says Jackson, getting steel to the vehicle manufacturer at the exact moment they need it.
Jackson grew up in Chicago and was raised by a grandmother. His mother died when he was young and his father wasn’t around, he says.
Coming from humble beginnings, his grandmother instilled in him the value of hard work, and after graduating from high school, he immediately enrolled in college.
“But like a lot of youth, I didn’t take it seriously at first,” says Jackson of his college experience. “Then I got drafted and went to Vietnam, and I grew up real quick.”
In the U.S. Army is where Jackson got his first taste of the business world. He was in its finance corps, stationed in Saigon, and while there he earned college credit and began taking his future more seriously
When he returned to the states, he went to DePaul University and graduated with high honors. He later would earn a master’s in business administration from the University of Notre Dame as well.
He went to work for Clark Material Handling Company, a manufacturer of forklift trucks based in Lexington, Kentucky. He started as an accountant and worked his way up to CFO and, later, company vice president and president of the European operations.
He then started his own plastics company, Jackson Plastics Inc., a plastic injection molder in Nicholasville, Kentucky, a company that delivered plastics to Toyota. It was that connection that eventually led Jackson to leave plastics behind and take over a small, yet growing, steel processor in Gibson County.
Since then, Jackson has opened a second Millennium Steel Service in Texas, and combined, they generate approximately $500 million in revenue each year.
The Gibson County plant went from having just 10 employees in 1999 to now having more than 60, and today, is one of the largest minority-owned enterprise in Southwestern Indiana, says Jackson.
It’s that reputation that Jackson believes brought the nation’s first African-American president in for a visit.
During his brief speech at Millennium Steel, the backdrop for which were dozens of Millennium’s steel coils, Obama spoke to a relatively small crowd of ticket holders, elected officials, and media representatives for about an hour on the resilience of the country’s manufacturing industry, and he praised companies such as Millennium Steel for working to educate young people on the opportunities that exist within it.
Obama even credited the recent growth in the manufacturing industry for fueling the economy’s rebound and for the 236,000 jobs that were added in September 2014, the month before his visit.
Obama says manufacturing companies like Millennium Steel were the backbone of the industry because of how much Jackson had invested in it over the years, offering opportunities and training to willing workers.
Jackson took Obama on a tour of his facility prior to the speech, and the two chatted happily about everything from steel to Chicago hot spots, he says.
“I’m from Chicago; his wife, Michelle, is from Chicago,” he says. “She grew up 15 minutes from where I did, so we had a lot of things in common. We talked about spots we love in the city, concerns we share for its future, education, prisons, so many things.
“And he is quite impressed with our facility,” says Jackson. “He talked to some of our key employees on the line, enjoyed their knowledge. All-in-all, there was good, two-way communication between him and us.”
And while that very well could have been the pinnacle of his career, Jackson continues to look forward with the driving spirit that led him to build a $500 million company. Toyota, he believes, will continue building a reputation for making good, reliable American-made cars, and he looks forward to Millennium Steel being a part of it.
As he looks back, he credits his willingness to take a risk and his family to his success.
“You have to take the risk,” he says. “That’s what I would tell people looking to get into any kind of business. You have to be able to sit back and analyze your strengths, decide where you are most likely to succeed. Then you have to put together a good plan and move forward. Stick to that plan.
“If you do that, I think you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”
For more information about Millennium Steel Service, call 812-385-1122 or visit millenniumsteelservice.com.
Finding a Home
When Lori Miller made the decision to make real estate her career, the Evansville Day School and DePauw University graduate couldn’t have imagined that three decades later, she would be working not only for herself, but Warren Buffet, the famous investor.
In 1986, Lori Miller started Prime Locations, Inc., a small independent real estate company and joined the Prudential Real Estate Network in 1989. In 2012, Miller joined her Evansville office with the Prudential Indiana group of companies throughout the state. This successful group of companies was founded by Kevin Kirkpatrick and John Dick 34 years ago. The strength, leadership, and resources from this group are second to none, says Miller.
“I was in my early 20s when I started in real estate,” says Miller, “and I decided if this was going to be my career, I wanted to have a certain professionalism and integrity about it. And, at the time, doing it under my own banner seemed like the best way to do it. It’s been a good move.”
Prudential, a part of the community since the 1980s, underwent changes that meant big opportunities for the future of real estate in Evansville. In October 2014, the company Prudential Indiana Realty announced its new affiliation with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty, the franchise owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Other companies under the Berkshire Hathaway umbrella include Geico Insurance, Dairy Queen, Benjamin Moore, and Shaw Carpet. Berkshire Hathaway is known for, among other things, being the highest-priced share on the New York Stock Exchange, trading at about $227,720. More affordable are the company’s Class B shares, at about $150; Miller’s team members each were presented with Berkshire Class B shares encased in acrylic at the announcement of the affiliation.
Located at 4111 Washington Ave., the Evansville team is excited to move forward with the powerful Berkshire Hathaway name. With a seamless and well-orchestrated transition behind them, says Miller, she and her staff are looking forward to the upcoming prospects for the company, and they intend to add to their staff of real estate agents. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty has 18 offices in Indiana, and Miller says that the partnership will be good for education, training, and name recognition.
“Nationally Berkshire Hathaway is an enormous name to carry,” says Miller. “It will open a lot of doors for us. We do a lot of relocation business with corporations moving people in and out of town. That Berkshire Hathaway name is well known, and people feel good about doing business with those that carry that name. It’s really great to be associated with that powerful name in Evansville. This company locally is on a definite growth path, and we will always have a group of professional, industrious people who work hard. People generally have a good feeling about Warren Buffett and the things he touches.”
Born and raised in Evansville, Miller involves herself in not only the real estate market but also the Evansville community. She is a part of several committees and boards associated with the Southern Indiana Association of Realtors.
“Realty is a great career, and it allows for a lot of flexibility,” says Miller. “It’s a lot of hard work. It was a great avenue for me while I was raising a family because you could schedule things around, which I needed to do with the kids. Real estate has its highs and lows, but in Indiana, it’s been a pretty fair and level market. So it’s just been a great career.”
People around the world associate Berkshire Hathaway with trust and personal relationships, and, with more than 30 years in Southern Indiana real estate, Miller says she’s pleased to carry the firm’s name.
“It is fun to hear the stories — the happy stories in the end when the family moves in or when they’re selling after they’ve been there a lot of years,” she says. “It’s a really fulfilling time to share with buyers and sellers. Our goal is not to be the biggest. We’re focused on our people.”
With any real estate business, there are peaks and dips in the market. It is important to keep up with education, training, and laws with title companies and lenders. Miller is not only an owner of her business but a leader and an educator. She wouldn’t be able to do it without a dedicated team of realtors behind her.
“We have staff here who are out every day working with buyers and sellers who need to know what’s going on and what the changes are, whether it be law or lending or title,” says Miller. “There have been a lot of changes throughout the years. If you don’t keep up, you can give someone information that isn’t accurate, and it’s very important when buying a house to have accurate information. So we’re challenged every day to keep our team of realtors totally informed, educated, and trained.”
When she isn’t busy working, Miller spends time with her husband of 29 years, Fred, and their two children Meredith and Michael.
“All of our friends and family are here and my husband is from here as well,” she says. “We’ve been really involved over the years with church and school activities when the kids were growing up. It’s been a good market. It’s a steady place to work, and people like to raise their families here. So Evansville is home.”
For more information about Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty, call 812-474-7000 or visit BHHSINEvansville.com.
Job: Treasurer of Mid-States Rubber Products Inc.
Resume: Chairman of the University of Evansville Board of Trustees, 1999 to 2002; chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Health Services; chairman of the Mayor’s Public Art Commission; recipient of the Rotary Civic Award, and the Governor’s Arts Award.
Family: Husband, Richard, two sons, Paul and Philip, and four grandchildren.A born and bred Evansville native, Rita Eykamp truly loves this city. Graduating from Mater Dei and then the University of Evansville, her name is easily recognized from the University of Evansville’s Eykamp Hall and the Eykamp Scout Center, not to mention the countless awards she, along with her husband Richard, has received for her philanthropic work. Rita has dedicated so much of her time to the causes she identifies with and feels passionately about that she has become a local icon for many women who aspire to be involved in their community. She challenges the city to live up to its full potential.
How did you get started in serving the community of Evansville?
It’s really kind of interesting. I taught for five years, and took fifth graders to the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra concerts. At that time, the Junior League of Evansville were the ushers, and I thought if I’m not teaching, it sure would be nice to be able to do what they do. After the last of my children was in nursery school, I got involved with the Evansville Philharmonic Guild, then the Junior League, and then took off from there. I had great opportunities. I’ve had a great time. It’s been fun picking out four or five different kinds of organizations that I’m passionate about and then becoming involved in every way I could.
What are you most proud of out of all your many achievements in the community?
It’s difficult to choose just one. I co-chaired the campaign for the Victory Theatre, and that’s been a real gift to the community (The Victory Theatre was opened in 1921 and was renovated in the 1990s). Then I chaired the capital campaign for the expansion of the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science and its new planetarium. That was a $15 million campaign. It took a lot of calls and convincing people that this is something we need, since we are the main cultural institution in our community. And I’ve been very proud to be the chair of the board of trustees at the University of Evansville. And I was the first female. I was a member (of the board) for 10 years.
What advice would you give to others who want to become involved?
Find your passion. Get involved in the things you’re really interested in. Then give it all you have, and don’t do too many things at once. Stick to one thing at a time because if you do a little here, a little there, you’re not going to find your passion for the things you really enjoy. You won’t be able to build toward leadership opportunities you might have had. When you stick with an organization, you can work your way up to a leadership position, which is how you really get involved and make a difference. I think the important thing about community service and women is that you do the things you enjoy doing, but you also do your homework. Board service is really important and helpful with a volunteer career. It’s fun to have a leadership role when you help mold some things going on with organizations.
What is your vision for your community?
I think (Evansville) has changed gradually, but it’s not fast enough. We can’t seem to get our act together to promote Evansville and get people from here to promote it. We’ve done enough that we have things like the Ford Center. I think the organizations that invite people from out of town to come here makes those visitors want to be a part of our city because we have a wonderful culture in all aspects — from music, to theater, to dance.
I would like to see the Evansville community grow in the next 10 years. I think the Indiana University School of Medicine (and academic health science and research center) would have a huge impact. It’s the largest opportunity Evansville has had for growth in my lifetime. That would be a great opportunity for us. As we get more and more people coming into our community, we need to advertise what we do have because I don’t think we promote ourselves enough.