November 24, 2014
Overcast
  • 46.4 °F
  • Overcast
Comment

Whose Right is it Anyway?

The truth behind copyright laws within social media

It’s easy to post a photo to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. After all, millions of people do it every day. But not many people know that, by doing so, they could be granting those companies permission to use those images for free and in any way those sites see fit. Even if you personally delete or remove photos from Facebook or Twitter, for instance, those companies still have access to your photos. And it is possible for Facebook and Twitter to license and make money off of those images. It all depends on the Terms of Service, the little-read fine print that people agree to when they sign up.

Although social media sites have the ability to gain rights to our personal images, the opposite is true for individuals, according to Andrew Ozete, an attorney and partner at Bamberger, Foreman, Oswald, and Hahn LLP. If you were to copy and paste an image that does not belong to you from the Internet and post it on your Facebook page, for instance, you would be breaking copyright law for that image.

Ozete says some people take images they don’t pay for from Google or other search engines because it may be easy to do, and they are unaware that they may be breaking the law by not paying for those images.

The federal Copyright Act enacted by Congress automatically covers any creative “work” that has been created and fixed in a tangible medium on or after Jan. 1, 1978. This describes literature, music, photos, architectural works — anything with a modicum of creativity that is written or recorded so others may perceive it. If you or your business are infringing on copyrighted materials, the general statutory damages awarded by the court range anywhere from $750 to $30,000 per work. But if the copyright infringement is considered willful, one can be charged up to $150,000 per work.

Ozete advises businesses to refrain from using images that do not belong to them. “It is important to note that if a business is using these copyrighted materials commercially or in commerce, they will be more likely to draw a complaint,” Ozete says. Businesses should only use images and materials that they own or have obtained the rights to. That generally means the business will need to create the images and materials itself, commission the production of the same in a written work-for-hire agreement, or obtain stock materials under appropriate license from a stock photography company.

Comment

On a Budget

Reducing debt requires discipline

ReDonna Thompson’s profession creates a quandary: some of her best clients are the ones who go away and never come back.

Thompson lives in Louisville but is the division manager of the Evansville office of Apprisen, a non-profit credit counseling service whose agency is certified through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Her clients are often married, employed, and making an average income. Yet they still struggle with debt.

“More often, Murphy’s Law has taken place in their life,” Thompson says. “They’ve encountered significant out-of-pocket expenses for medical or other expenses they were not prepared for. A large segment of our clients are dealing with student loan debt. Young people get that first job, and they underestimate their loan payments in relation to their income.”

Thompson says it would help many of her clients if they undertook just one project: preparing a family budget. Planning becomes much smoother when they see how much money is coming in and where it’s all going.

“Be disciplined, and be committed,” Thompson says. “Those are the top two things we stress. This is your life you’re dealing with. This is the real deal. You have to be committed to the process. Having a good budgeting foundation — keeping up with income and expenses — is a great foundation for people.”

Federal Reserve Board numbers in three areas show the challenges facing American families. For the 50 percent of homes that carry credit card balances, the average debt is now $15,000. Average student loan debt is up to $31,000. The median home mortgage is $146,000, and although a reasonable mortgage is acceptable for most people during their working years, many have less equity in their homes now than they did prior to the 2008-09 recession. Throw in unexpected hospital bills, car and truck payments, and second mortgages, and the tab often exceeds $200,000. So is there any solution to breaking out of debt? Thompson thinks there might be.

“I see a better trend in terms of school systems getting on board with financial literacy,” Thompson says. “Schools are beginning to understand the value it creates for students. The schools work hard to prepare young people to graduate and find work, but that doesn’t do much good if they can’t manage the money they are earning. That’s one reason we try to reach high school students and freshmen in college. The earlier you catch them, the better decisions they make.”

Comment

A True Vision

Image Eye Care offers boutique eyewear on East Side
Dr. Emily Ryan models an example of top-of-the-line eyewear.

Dr. Emily Ryan is framing the business she founded in 2011 on the premise that clients can see well and look great in their glasses. Image Eye Care, a medical practice and optical boutique, offers eyewear lines exclusive to the Tri-State and a few that are exclusive to Indiana.

“Patients say they are so happy they found us,” says Samantha Robinson, office administrator. Previously, many customers traveled to Chicago, New York, and other larger cities to purchase eyewear. “I am thrilled to provide a unique niche business right here in Evansville,” Ryan says.

Ryan decided at the age of 15 that she wanted to be an optometrist. “I have worked in the field of optometry and opthalmology since the age of 16, it’s truly all I know … and I still love it,” Ryan, a native of Petersburg, Ind., says. The 35-year-old began practicing in the Tri-State area in 2004 after graduating with honors from the Indiana University School of Optometry.

Image Eye Care, 5600 E. Virginia St., is a modern and trendy boutique offering the full scope of optometric care. Ryan provides services such as comprehensive eye exams, contact lens evaluations, and treatment of ocular diseases. The medical practice also is accepting new patients, is a VSP provider, and accepts other insurance plans.

“I love that at Image Eye Care I can combine optometry and my love of fashion,” Ryan says. “I truly enjoy the entire process of what I do.” Ryan’s passion for fashion inspired her to bring this eye care experience to her patients. “We are in a time where glasses have become fashion statements rather than a nuisance, and that is great for patients,” Robinson, 29, says. She has worked with Ryan since Image Eye Care opened and both have seen eyeglasses evolve into a type of accessory. Ryan finds customers are more excited to try on glasses than they have been in the past. Some customers purchase non-prescription frames solely for their looks. “If you have glasses you love, they make you feel better and even younger,” Ryan says.

She takes this into consideration when helping her customers choose their frames. “When a patient leaves our office, I am concerned about three things — that they are thrilled with their vision, glasses, and contacts, that they received amazing customer service, and that they love how they look in their new glasses.” Robinson is an optician and assists all patients in selecting their glasses or contact lenses. “While helping a patient choose a frame that looks great on them and fits their personality is an important role of mine, it is also a top priority for me to make sure that the ‘fit’ is right,” Robinson says. “It’s a great experience to see a patient’s eyes light up when they’ve found the right frame,” Robinson says. “If they are happy, we are happy.”

Image Eye Care customizes frames and lenses for the patients’ specific lifestyles. Eyeglasses can be made to fit the needs of a student who is in the classroom, an office worker who spends time in front of a computer screen, or a golfer who spends a lot of time on the green. A product known as the Intouch lens is fit for individuals who work closely with smart phones, tablets, and other devices. “My staff knows what to look for so that customers will be thrilled aesthetically and the frame will be comfortable after hours of wear,” Ryan says. 

Image Eye Care offers exclusive, top-of-the-line eyewear brands. “It’s refreshing when people walk into our doors and they feel like they are walking into a jewelry store,” Ryan says. Small, independent companies such as Theo, Anne et Valentin, Masunaga, and Barton Perreira are known for their craftsmanship. CHANEL is one of the boutique’s most prestigious lines. “Image Eye Care is very particular in choosing frames that are hand-crafted by small companies that pay the utmost attention to quality and detail,” Ryan says. “Many of our frames come directly from Italy, France, Berlin, and Japan.”

Ryan is passionate about locally owned and operated businesses, looking to offer discounts for their employees. “Your vision is so important in all areas of your life,” Ryan says. “I would hate for anyone to sacrifice quality because of cost. While we are a boutique optical business, we have a range in price points and pride ourselves in having a selection of quality frames, starting at $150 and up,” Ryan says.

With over two years of great success and service, Ryan says Image Eye Care seeks to remain up to date with eye care in larger cities across the country. “I love to be a part of growing the Evansville business community,” she says.

For more information about Image Eye Care, call 812-477-6243 or visit imageeyepc.com.

Comment

Back to Basics

Franchisee Jeff Kelsey has grown Penn Station in the Tri-State with good food and great service
Kendra and Jeff Kelsey, franchise owners, run eight – soon, nine – Penn Station restaurants in the area.

Jeff Kelsey is the franchisee owner of eight Penn Station East Coast Subs restaurants: three in Evansville, one in Newburgh, Ind., one each in Henderson, Elizabethtown, Ky., Radcliff, Ky., and in Owensboro, Ky. Another restaurant also is being built in Owensboro, Ky. The Olney, Ill., native employs 100 people who sell about 200-300 sandwiches per day per store every day except Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Yet Kelsey still doesn’t consider himself to be the most important person in his franchise.

That designation, he says, goes to the customer who is greeted warmly at the service counter before placing an order for a grilled sandwich that is then prepared just several feet away. Maybe that customer orders the crispy hand-cut fries that are layered with the perfect amount of salt. He or she could select a hand-squeezed lemonade, or that customer could interact with the manager and employees.

“Whether we are selling coffee, tea, sandwiches, or burgers, we have to realize that the most important thing is the customer,” Kelsey, 40 and a resident of Evansville, says. “No job is ever just about you. It’s about your people and your customers.” That’s how this franchise has been structured, he says. Based on that philosophy, Kelsey has learned the food and franchise success will take care of itself.

Kelsey and his wife, Kendra, live in Evansville with their two children, 6-year-old Amelia, and 4-year-old William. Kelsey began working in food service when he was 16, starting in fast food and continuing onto fine dining and bar and grill management. He was a consultant for Sysco, a global leader in food service, before becoming a Penn Station franchisee. He also earned an associate’s degree in biomedical electronics from Vincennes University in 1994. When first approached by a business associate about opening a Penn Station franchise, Kelsey was skeptical but interested. He was sold once he tried the food and then became familiar with the company’s process. “There is very little waste, and everything is made fresh to order twice a day,” Kelsey says.

This was a very important part of his initial decision to become a Penn Station franchisee in 2006, when there were three Penn Station locations in the Tri-State. Kelsey says the franchise’s culture to value people and customers has been vital to the growth and expansion of the business over the past seven years. This culture is emphasized to employees from the very start, often during the interview process. General and assistant managers, for instance, may ask new hires who are the most important people in the company, or who is responsible for the paychecks? Kelsey states it sometimes takes some thinking, but employees will eventually answer: the customers. Then, it all clicks. Kelsey encourages all employees to create a welcoming and friendly environment for every customer who walks through the doors. He hopes people will want to eat at Penn Station not only because they enjoy the food, but because they genuinely enjoy the experience and want to visit there. Whether it’s the newest employee or the general manager who worked his or her way up through the ranks, seeing these people develop and learn how to be successful at each individual store is one of Kelsey’s priorities.

“My job satisfaction is based on the relationships I develop, not only with the customers, but with the people who run our stores,” Kelsey says, adding that he hopes his employees will recognize customers by name, striving to know them on a personal level. He adds the stores’ general managers are important to the company’s success.

Kelsey says he works closely with his general managers and encourages them to take ownership of their restaurants and full responsibility for their successes. His general managers benefit from a shared profit bonus system, meaning they earn an additional incentive for helping their store do well. “Don’t thank me, thank yourself,” Kelsey says he is frequently telling his general managers. Kelsey says that although he put the system in place, his managers earned the money and success for their specific store location. As long as his employees are doing their job and are being successful, Kelsey knows everything else will fall into place.

This is all in addition to the sandwich shop’s wide selection of fresh foods and breads. “Genuine freshness is the uniqueness we have to offer,” Kelsey says. All meats, cheeses, and vegetables in sandwich orders are hand sliced, grilled, assembled, and cooked to order right in front of the customers. Kelsey says customers are enthusiastic about eating Penn Station sandwiches. “If you are in denial of it, you haven’t tried it,” says Kelsey.

“We utilize this ‘display’ cooking with national name brand quality ingredients so the guest knows we’re using some of the best products available,” says Craig Dunaway, president of Penn Station Inc. Kelsey is an elected representative on the Penn Station Franchise Advisory Council, which allows him to bring ideas from the field for discussion and debate while focusing on the core values to enhance this guest experience. “Jeff believes in the great products we serve and is a true ambassador to the system,” Dunaway says.

Kendra is the marketing director for the eight — soon to be nine — Penn Station restaurants. She coordinates, manifests, and creates all advertisements and works will all media outlets in accordance with Penn Station Inc. “She’s the creative mind behind what we do,” Kelsey says. Greg Hardt, the franchise accountant, is the third member of this team. Kelsey says he, Kendra, and Greg provide the perfect balance between the operations, accounting, and marketing aspects of the franchise.

Kelsey never dreamed he would own nine restaurants overall, but the time and effort displayed over the years has proved him worthy of the ownership. Penn Station’s new catering program, available to all customers, is a large focus for future growth. “The hardest thing to understand in restaurants is there is a lot more that goes into it than people realize,” he says. It all comes down to the employees and team members he has on board. “The more successfully I can teach the people we have on our team, the more that they buy into what we are doing and buy into the culture, realizing the customer is the most important thing,” he says. “There is no more rewarding feeling than to provide that enjoyment to customers.” With these values in mind, guests will continue to invest in Penn Station, and Kelsey hopes to give them all they are expecting and more.

For more information about Penn Station or to place a catering order, visit psevansville.com.

Comment

Sole Support

Ultimate Fit knows the meaning of good footwear
Jim Nolan, and co-owners Cindy and Curt Jones, sell shoes, clothing, and equipment for fitness enthusiasts at Ultimate Fit.

“Basically when you look at a shoe,” says Curt Jones, 52, twirling an old pair of red and white Asics sneakers, “it generally has a wear pattern like a car, like on a tire. If a car tire is out of alignment, it will wear more on one side.” He points to the edge of the shoe’s sole to prove his point.

Curt notices these things. As the co-owner, with his wife, Cindy, of Ultimate Fit, a one-stop-shop selling shoes, clothing, and athletic equipment for athletic enthusiasts at 1308 S. Green River Road, Curt is used to picking up well-worn running shoes, turning them around, and examining them closely. He’s looking, he’ll tell you, not just at the brand name, but also at the way his customers have made the most of their shoes.

Does the customer standing beside him overpronate, he’ll wonder, looking at the shoe’s sole? Does she underpronate? These terms describe the inward roll of the foot after the foot hits the ground. Overpronators roll their foot inward more than the ideal 15 percent, while underpronators roll their foot inward below that 15 percent. Each problem causes additional foot stress and can lead to injuries for those who run and walk quite a bit. That’s one reason why Curt is so focused on finding the right shoes for his customers and in making sure they don’t run or walk in shoes that are well past their prime.

“It’s huge, really,” he says, of the importance of having shoes that provide adequate support. “Most of the time when it is overlooked is when people are younger, because your feet aren’t giving you any trouble. It’s whenever it starts to be a problem, that you think, maybe I should have had better shoes, or should have better shoes. And the big thing is going to be the cushioning and arch support, and the comfort, the wrap-around support, and overall comfort.”

Curt was in his early 30s when he began to study these topics. He came to running through his son, Cory, who took part in field days in grade school. Some of those events involved running. “My enthusiasm for him doing that kind of built enthusiasm for this,” Curt says.

Now, Curt and Cindy run Ultimate Fit, which shares a building with Dan’s Competition. Longtime Evansville residents may recognize the location as the former Gilles Cycling and Fitness, then owned by Scott Gilles. At the time, Curt was a manager at Gilles, and he often heard a fellow employee complain about lost sales because the store didn’t have certain shoes customers were looking for.

“The potential I could see here was huge,” Jones says, leaning back in his chair, against a wall of shoeboxes. “And when Scott Gilles was originally going to look for somebody to buy this, I thought … ‘Man, I should talk to him about this.’” Curt and Cindy later purchased the small store from Gilles in 2010.

Today, Ultimate Fit carries seven specialty brand shoes, alongside workout clothing, gear, and equipment. Its main customers are long- and short-distance runners and walkers, and no pair of shoes are less than $30. The store offers specialized slow motion video gait analysis. Customers walk at a fast pace on a treadmill while their gait is recorded by video. “Then we can show them and say, ‘Here is what is going on, here is what you’re doing. Here is why you need a shoe with stability,’” Curt says.

One shoe in particular, the Hoka One One, is marketed toward all types of runners but is an especially good fit for ultra runners. “We have nurses in these, people who stand on their feet all day,” he says. “We have the half-marathon people, the full marathon people, the ultra marathon people, shorter distance people. It is just really broad. And it is just exploding, because people put them on and the wow factor is there because of the cushioning.”

The Hoka One One is described as having maximal cushioning, softer density, and greater rebounding foam than standard running shoes. But most people will likely notice the extra thickness of its soles and how it has a “rolling rocker design to promote consistent rhythm in the runner’s foot strike,” the company’s website says. The shoe costs $170 and has about the same mileage as most other running shoes.

Ultimate Fit also sells lightweight, minimalist shoes. The debate continues on the merits of minimalist running wear. Runners who are used to running in shoes that offer more sole and ankle support and are interested in trying minimalist shoes are advised to transition to minimalist footwear slowly. Running in minimalist shoes can strengthen the feet and ankles but also requires a different running gait. “There was a doctor here recently who looked at our wall and picked up a minimalist shoe and said, ‘Oh yes, just keep selling these. This is what gives me business.’”

“I think for the right runner, somebody who is young, somebody who (has a neutral pronation), and is an efficient runner, maybe,” Curt says. “But not every day. There is a big debate on it one way or another. Being older, probably, I fall to the side of give me more protection.”

“We don’t just sell you the shoe,” he says, looking toward his blue sneakers. “We can give you an idea of what to do, how to use it, and we’ve done that for some time. We are a specialty store, and part of what comes out of buying at a specialty store is the customer service. I personally don’t think there is any place in Evansville, in any industry that you could go to, and get better service.”

For more information about Ultimate Fit, call 812-431-0201 or visit ultimatefit.biz.

Comment

Tim Flesch

Tim Flesch, retiring president and CEO of St. Mary’s, cites St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing as a success story.

Job: President & CEO of St. Mary’s

Hometown: Covington, Ky.

Family: Wife, Kay; a daughter and son-in-law in Evansville, a daughter and son-in-law in Effingham, Ill., and a son and daughter-in-law in Indianapolis; and five grandchildren.

His Resume: Tim Flesch, 62, joined St. Mary’s in 1999 as Executive Vice President and CFO before later being appointed President and CEO in May 2005. He has worked to advance the health ministries of St. Mary’s Health Services, St. Mary’s Care Partners, and St. Mary’s Medical Group. Before coming to St. Mary’s, he worked with Daughters of Charity National Health System; was a Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance for Baptist Health Care System in Nashville; and was a Senior Manager with KPMG Peat Marwick accounting firm’s healthcare division in both Nashville and Chicago. He earned an accounting degree from Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky., before receiving his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind. He retires from St. Mary’s on Jan. 10.

Immediate plans after retirement: A long drive through Yellowstone and parts of Canada to Alaska, followed by visits to Washington and South Dakota.

What has it meant to you to work in Catholic healthcare and what will your legacy be?
I’ve been in Catholic healthcare for 22 years. There is something about healthcare and Catholic healthcare that is special to me. If I’m remembered for anything, I would really want to be remembered as someone who believed in Catholic healthcare, who gave people the range and the freedom to do the job they are called to do — that we were fair and equitable in those arrangements, that we tried to listen to associates, to physicians, to the community. I believe that is the core of who we are and core to taking care of people; to listen to them. I hope people will look back and say, “Yes, that is a time we were listened to.”

What endeavors are you most proud of?
We are a Level II Pediatric and Adult Trauma Center; that is very large. Certainly, the Center for Advanced Medicine, and the Epworth Center (St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing). The five-year journey to Magnet Status designation (the highest recognition for quality in a hospital’s nursing program) is significant. The growth of our physician network. We started with just a handful physicians when I came into this role and we now have 150 employed physicians. Of course, we’ve had very good financial performance over the past few years. We’ve done a lot of remodeling in the hospital.

Is Evansville a healthy community?
We still have a higher rate than we should of smoking. We have a high rate of diabetes. We are heavier than we should be. We can be a healthier community, and I’m encouraged by the people who are focused on that. We have significant leaders who are trying to create opportunities for exercise and for outdoor space both in Evansville and Newburgh, Ind. In Newburgh, I see people there (on the trail) in the morning when I come in at 6:30 and when I go home at 8 at night, there are people on that riverfront walking. I think we will see an increasing focus on that self-accountability. We have excellent healthcare systems in Evansville. We’re very well served. And I think we’ll be even better served in the future given the growth of the IU medical school and the possibility of expanding medical education in Evansville.

On his replacement, Keith Jewell:
I think Keith is coming in with a lot of great experience in healthcare, and from a very well-run healthcare organization, Franciscan St. Francis Health in Indianapolis. He is bringing a lot of good experiences in performance improvement and continuous improvement that will be a blessing for St. Mary’s and very much needed in our organization. I wish him all the best, and I am glad we were able to find somebody like him.

For more information about St. Mary’s, call 812-485-4000 or visit stmarys.org.

Issue CoverEvansvill Business December / January 2014 Issue Cover
Comment

On the Clock

Inspired by the book “Hidden America,” we take a look at nine workers and jobs that have a significant impact on our community but may not always be top-of-mind.
Jeanne Marie Laska will be speaking at the One Book One Community event on Oct. 29.

You’re minutes in, and already the sweat is starting to pour. Yet this really isn’t as hot as it could be, Roxanne Bailey points out, in her jeans and long-sleeved blouse — it’s September, after all. You should see it in the middle of the summer, the production control manager at Flair Molded Plastics Inc. adds, as large fans blow air every which way. She’s taking time out of her busy day to give you a tour of the place she considers a second home, the company that gave her a job when she was just 17. Yet you’ve never been in a plastics factory before. You never knew how loud the factory floor could be, or how the smell of melted plastic hangs in the air. You open your eyes wide and take a long look around while Bailey is in the background, talking to a smiling employee. And now you could be thinking: This is the inside of a part of Evansville I never get to see. Or, even more to the point: I never knew anything about this.

Welcome to Evansville Business magazine’s version of “Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work,” a book by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Now a correspondent for GQ, Laskas is an investigative journalist and the director of The Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. “I didn’t just want to do a blue collar book,” she says of her collection, which also includes stories about air traffic controllers, a gun store, and the Cincinnati Bengals Ben-Gals cheerleaders. “That wasn’t the point. I was trying to find industries that were essential. Every single one of these, I had no idea. No idea.”

Laskas will be the featured speaker at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library’s One Book One Community of Southwestern Indiana presentation at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29. The free, grassroots event founded by the library will be at the Victory Theatre. Now in its 12th year, the program seeks to develop a community built around the shared experience of local residents reading and talking about the same book.

“For me doing these stories, it brought me into the community in a way that I never had been before,” Laskas says. “It feels like my life is richer now that I know that this stuff goes on.”

In this issue of Evansville Business magazine, we bring you some of the Tri-State’s own hidden jobs, nine in all. From a river barge employee, to a windshield repairman, to a cafeteria manager, to a factory worker, consider this a window into worlds many local people never get to see.

Ed Roby, Siemers Glass Co. Inc.

Ed Roby wasn’t intending to run the YMCA’s Evansville Half Marathon on no sleep at all. But that’s what happened when his company’s answering service sent him to repair the glass window at a liquor store at 1 a.m. “When I got done, it was in the morning, and it was about time to do the race,” he laughs, adding that he had done that job with another employee. “I had the fastest time I had ever run.”

Not every story the assistant manager at Siemers Glass Co. Inc. tells ends with him reaching a personal best. But there is a lot to tell about his company, which fixes or replaces all automotive glass, some residential and commercial glass, door motors, regulators, and side mirrors and offers 24-hour emergency service. That’s what had Roby, 56, out past his bedtime that night before the race. It’s also the reason he drove out to Burnt Prairie, Ill., on a Sunday afternoon to replace a windshield that was smashed by a turkey.

“That was a unique one,” he chuckles, describing how a semi-tractor trailer struck the bird. “The turkey was in the semi, on the passenger side floor board, so for a time it was the passenger of the truck. The driver stopped the truck, came over to the passenger door, opened the door, and the turkey rushed out.”

Roby, of Evansville, was able to handle that emergency windshield replacement call on his own. But some windshield replacement jobs — like on a motor home — may take four to five men, largely because of the weight and size of the glass. For comparison, he says, the windshield on a Honda Accord weighs 65 to 75 pounds.

“I was told in eighth grade that I would never go to college but I will always work with my hands because I’m good with my hands,” Roby says. “I am always good with people. That’s what I’ve been told by several different customers and that’s something that always makes me feel really good.” — by Victoria Grabner

Gary Wire, Alexander Funeral Homes

“I’ve cried at funerals, even for people I don’t know.”

Don’t be fooled by the dark suit; Gary Wire is a jovial man. But like many of us, he has seen hardship. Almost 20 years as a volunteer firefighter means he knows the rasp of a labored breath. As an EMT, he cared for injured patients, not knowing if they would live or die. These days, the 54-year-old works to comfort those who suffer, but in a different way. As the community outreach director for Alexander Funeral Homes, Wire has spent the past 24 years as part of a team helping the families of the deceased pay respect to their loved ones. And he’s learned that funerals have changed a great deal over that time.

“A lot of the services today are services of celebration,” the West Sider says, referring to the funerals of baby boomers. “Funerals years ago were full of prayers and sermons. Now, it’s more about what the person did, their hobbies. It’s more personalized.”

Wire says it’s always up to the family to decide how to handle a funeral, and there are many options. “Every day, we are trying to meet the needs of the family,” he says. A funeral doesn’t always have to involve a casket. There are traditional services, cremation, ground burials, or entombments in a mausoleum. And the tone of the service depends on the circumstances. “That knot in the throat, that squeaky voice,” he says. “When there is a family and they are grieving over the loss of their 7-year-old child, you can’t help but share in the moment.”

“One cemetery service, no one showed up,” Wire says, his voice growing quieter. “Even the guys who were on lawn mowers stopped what they were doing and came over. He was 70. We know that there must have been someone who smiled because of this gentleman.”

“I don’t take life for granted,” Wire adds. Every day that he leaves his house, he tells his wife he loves her. “God gives us 24 hours in a day. In my 24 hours, part of my day is being here at the funeral home to make that family as comfortable as possible.” — by Victoria Grabner

Lori Steinhart, Breck Logistics

Out on the highway, driving 75 miles per hour, you’ll likely notice the semi-tractor trailer that’s on its way to deliver a load to Nebraska, or St. Louis, or New York. But most people don’t know about people like Lori Steinhart. From her cubicle at Breck Logistics, she’s juggling phone calls, trying to find the most convenient and efficient route for truckers to take when transporting loads across the country.

“It’s kind of a gamble,” the 42-year-old says, her desk filled with transportation orders. Behind her computer screen are maps of the United States that detail its transportation zones. “We try to get carriers to take loads as a backhaul.” This means finding a trucker to carry a load to make a drive back toward his or her home. And that’s easier now. Years ago, she would receive compiled lists of available trucks that usually would be faxed to her office in the mornings. Today, computer and online systems give her live status updates on trucks as they move across the country.

Steinhart receives 15 to 20 requests from shippers looking to move loads every day, and she’s on the phone a lot. She’s trying to meet the needs of each company she works with, but at the core, she’s building relationships. “That’s a big part of the business,” she says. Since she started her job as a transportation broker for Breck Logistics in 1994, Steinhart has worked with more than 3,000 carriers, at least 200 of which are located within 100 miles of Evansville. Many of the people she’s often talking to on the phone are people she considers to be close friends.

“I don’t think people realize how important carriers are to the community,” Steinhart says. “These carriers are what allow plastic from Berry Plastics to be made into our McDonald’s cups or metal from Audubon Metals to be transported to Honda to be used for our vehicles.” — by Theresa Scheller

Zac Savage, Henderson Chevrolet Buick GMC

“Everybody’s idea of a mechanic is of a greasy, dirty guy,” Zac Savage, an automotive service technician at Henderson Chevrolet Buick GMC, says. “I don’t like to get dirty, and people tell me I’m in the wrong field for that.”

He’s not. Progressive, technological troubleshooting has not only reshaped but also revamped the way the modern garage is run today, Savage says.

“You almost have to be an IT guy to work on cars anymore,” he says. “It used to be, you’d just need a hammer and a wrench.”

Savage graduated from F.J. Reitz High School and Ivy Tech Community College. Before he was hired in Henderson, Ky., he worked in Wal-Mart’s tire and lube department, Kelley’s Northside Chevy (now Bennett Motors), and Kenny Kent Chevrolet. He also was asked to return to Ivy Tech as an instructor. That means he’s been teaching automotive students for three or four years

“What I try to get the kids to understand is that you don’t have to get dirty,” Savage says. “You don’t have to just replace parts. It’s a lot more sophisticated than people think it is. There is a very specific strategy-based diagnosis we have to follow.”

He says vehicles that used to have three basic computers within them now have 30 or more, requiring automotive technicians to be some of the most educated individuals on the market.

Savage has more than 650 hours of training and complete mastery of GM and Automotive Service Excellence exams.

“Every day, I’ve got a new challenge,” he says. “Every car that rolls in … I’ve got a new problem to fix.” — by Jon Haslam

Doug Gray, Evansville Marine Service Inc.

If there’s one thing Doug Gray knows very well, it’s the river. He’s been working on it or near it for almost 40 years, now as the vice president of operations for Evansville Marine Service Inc. Owned by Bob and Angie Aldrich, EMS is located right on the Ohio River less than 10 minutes from Downtown Evansville. And if you weren’t looking for it, you likely wouldn’t even know it was there.

This is where Gray has worked for a little over 15 years, after time spent at a towing company in St. Louis and, later, at Owensboro Harbor Service before it was purchased by EMS. The Cloverport, Ky., resident has had multiple jobs in the river towing business, including working as a deckhand, a lead man, a mate, and a pilot. He has a license as a Master of Towing Vessels on the Western Rivers, which he has to renew every five years. Yet he knows what it’s like to carry a flashlight all night as a deckhand working 12-hour shifts for six days straight before having three days off. That’s where “you had one hand to work with and one hand to save yourself with,” he laughs.

EMS offers a variety of services, including fleeting, shipping, cleaning, and repairs, and it services local docks in the area. The harvest months of October through March are the busiest times of the year for EMS, but not every barge tow is the same. “The wind and current make our job a lot harder,” Gray says, especially when the barges are empty. Some covered barges are also hard for the pilots to see over.

GPS navigation is key on the river, but with just two crewmembers on harbor boats, so is communication. “Part of the deckhand’s duty is to talk to the pilot and give him distances, like you are 100 feet from where we are going, or 10 feet off the side of the barge,” Gray says. “When he’s out on the head of the tow, the deckhand is the pilot’s eyes and ears.”

He knows the bend in the Ohio River is the most popular place in Evansville for pleasure boating. Yet he’s not sure many people understand that bigger boats like barges can’t immediately stop. “When you are pushing 25,000 tons of cargo on the Ohio River, and you let off the throttle, it can take up to a mile to stop,” he says. “Boaters should stay as far away from a barge as possible.” — by Victoria Grabner

Donna McConnell, German American Bank 

Donna McConnell is the administrative assistant to German American Bancorp. South Region President John Lamb. That’s her official title, at least, and it means she processes invoices for payment; handles purchasing of all office supplies and equipment; is the liaison for property management; and coordinates events for summer outings, holiday open houses, and lunches and meetings throughout the year.

Yet when strangers wander into the large bank headquarters on Vogel Road and are welcomed by a large corner desk on the left, McConnell’s is the first warm smile they see. She’s often the point of information for the other businesses that are located within the German American Bank building, too. “It just brings joy to my day and hopefully any assistance I can provide makes their day a little easier,” she says.

McConnell is comfortable in a bank environment. She worked as the secretary to the president of Security Bank and Trust Co. in Mount Carmel, Ill., before becoming a commercial lending secretary at Citizens Bank (now Fifth Third Bank) in Evansville for eight years. After six years in the Clearwater, Fla., area, McConnell returned to Evansville in October 2000 to work as an executive assistant for the organizing office of The Bank of Evansville, which opened for business on July 2001. She continued to serve as executive assistant until the Bank of Evansville merged into German American on Jan. 1, 2011. At that time, McConnell became an administrative assistant.

While the bank transition was a challenge, she says, the staff worked cohesively and achieved what needed to be done. “It’s a great group of people to work with and for,” she says.“The fact that Bank of Evansville was founded by a group of community leaders is the neatest part.” Today, German American is a $2 billion holding company that serves 12 counties in Southern Indiana.

And how is it to work with Lamb, who oversees Vanderburgh and Warrick counties? For one thing, he’s always accessible. “While John maintains a sense of urgency, he exhibits a calm style of leadership, which is reflected in those working close with him,” McConnell adds. — by Theresa Scheller

Debbie Lehman, Cedar Hall Community School 

Debbie Lehman is used to rules. Working in a kitchen surrounded by food, where measurements mean everything, you’d have to be. Yet some rules are tougher than others. As the cafeteria manager at Cedar Hall Community School, she’s not just trying to make a tasty breakfast and lunch. She’s trying to make a tasty breakfast and lunch that also meets a complicated set of federal meal pattern and nutritional requirements. She’s preparing those meals for a customer base — students — whose numbers can shift by several dozens every day. She also has to find a way to make the small amounts of food the students didn’t eat on one day something they will definitely eat the very next.

And then there’s her other job, the one that makes her part artist and part food educator. “When you first take something new out, they kind of look at it funny,” Lehman says. “So I’ll take an apple and an orange and cut them in half — one serving has half an apple and half an orange — and they just love that. I put carrots and broccoli and maybe a cucumber slice on it, or a cherry tomato. Sometimes I think my little kids, they will pick it up because it looks nice.”

Getting students interested in eating healthy is a big part of her job. But Lehman, 45, knows not everyone comprehends or agrees with the federal requirements. “I have this menu, and this is what I have to go by,” she says. Schools are required to meet federal requirements in order to be reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Still, Lehman likes her job. She likes working with children. And she likes that, when her own three children were growing up, she was able to spend time with them on spring and summer breaks. “It’s a really good family job,” Lehman says, of the work schedule that is built around the school year. “And we even get sick days and personal days. If your kid was home sick, you got to stay home and be with your sick child.” — Victoria Grabner

Robert Shetler, Shetler Moving Co. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s 102 degrees in August or pouring rain in April. The weather is just something the movers at Shetler Moving Co. have to deal with. And some days are more intense than others, says Kris Conner, moving consultant. “Reitz Hill is a great example,” she says. “Some of the houses in that area have many steep steps, so for a mover, it is a trip up and down for each piece of furniture or stack of boxes.”

Then there are the driveways and alleyways that can’t accommodate a large moving van. “This creates long carries, or sometimes we have to do shuttles, which is loading items on a small truck and taking the small truck to the moving van, off-loading the smaller one and reloading onto the moving van,” Conner adds.

Each move is different, but in each case, the movers are more than just muscle men. They must assess inventory and decide, as they are carrying items into the van, where the item will remain secure and how it will best fit into the vehicle. For more fragile items, like glass tabletops, they have to take the time to wrap the glass in blankets so the glass isn’t damaged during the move. Communication is key. When carrying a heavy couch through a narrow doorway, the mover who is walking backwards must listen closely to the mover who is facing forwards, just so nothing is damaged in the process.

“Everybody — and I don’t care who it is — everybody has at least one or two items that are very important to them,” says Robert Shetler, the company’s owner. “It might be grandpa’s rocking chair, a cookie jar, or whatever. It could be anything.”

“There will always be people involved in handling of household goods,” he adds. “It’s always going to be a hands-on business.” — by Jon Haslam

Roxanne Bailey, Flair Molded Plastics Inc. 

Roxanne Bailey has three priorities in life: God, family, and work. She’s found each at Flair Molded Plastics Inc. “They care about people, and that’s what’s kept me here,” the 57-year-old says. This month, the mother of three will celebrate 40 years at the injection molding company that, in its early years, molded office product components for IBM typewriters. These days, the company on Lynch Road produces items like balance rings for washing machines and shelves for refrigeration products.

Bailey, who lives in Wadesville, Ind., started working at Flair as a young mother doing office work in 1973, when she was 17, before she became an operator on the factory floor at age 18. One year later, she was promoted to finishing supervisor. Since that time, she’s been production control scheduler and plant manager. She has done pretty much every job outside of maintenance and tooling.

“You have to be detail-oriented,” she says, of the 60 full-time and 20 part-time Flair employees who work three, eight-hour shifts. Those employees spend a lot of time on their feet, monitoring presses, driving forklifts, repairing and maintaining presses and other tools, and more.

“I’ve been able to grow from where I was to where I am now,” Bailey says. “They’ve always been there for me when I had to focus on family. Our environment has been created because of the people we know we have. It’s much more than plastics. There are people that you meet here, they are feeling like they are lost in life. We give them confidence and help them see in themselves. A lot of it has been encouraged from managing owners Jim Peters and Bert Brougham both.”  — by Victoria Grabner

Comment

Fresh Air of Civility

Jewelry provided by Brinker’s. Shot on location at the Evansville Country Club.

As I write this it is the beginning of October, and as we move into our typical fall climate, I seem to be getting a whiff of civility in the air. I’m pretty sure that I have not encountered that rather refreshing smell here for quite some time. Has anyone else noticed that things have gotten a little nicer and more civil since Sept. 24, the day the Evansville Courier & Press began requiring a subscription to read the newspaper online and to comment?

Let me kick off this discussion by firmly stating that a community, in order to grow and thrive, needs a strong daily newspaper. Prior to the Evansville Press ceasing to publish in 1998, my wife and I subscribed to both papers and I still am, and will continue to be, a subscriber to the Evansville Courier & Press. But I am rather adamant, as are many others, that the “dark cloud,” as it was referred to by many in the community, and the incivility that was occurring in our community, were a direct reflection of people being afforded the opportunity to make any type of anonymous comment, and often under a variety of different usernames. This might seem, at the outset, to be a rather strong position for a magazine publisher to take, but I have had this conversation with people actively involved in the community as well as political leaders, and so I know I am not alone in my thought process — in fact, the people who have discussed this with me all agree.

My opinion is that we have allowed ourselves to be governed and our community mindset to be undermined by what anonymous commenters are writing — without having any idea who they are. Many of these commenters, I have come to learn, have obvious vendettas, are competitors, are on opposite sides of the political spectrum during election time, etc. Many leaders in the community, including myself, have found themselves being insulted and ridiculed over a variety of things that may or may not have an ounce of truth. In recent memory, Evansville Living constructed and marketed the Downtown Idea Home on Washington Avenue that ended up winning a national award. As soon as it was written about in the paper, the first two comments were very nice and complimentary, but by the third, we were already under attack. My point is this: If it were reported that someone just cured cancer, someone lying in anonymous wait would point out that they didn’t like the research conducted to cure it.

In a recent study published online in February in The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Americans read a fake blog post on nano-technology and were asked in survey questions how they felt about a subject. They either read insult-laden comments or civil comments. After reviewing the study, a September op-ed in the New York Times said this:

“Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself. In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments. Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology. Simply reading an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.”

The op-ed concluded that even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story, and that when trolls overwhelm the comments, it diminishes our ability to have lively intellectual debate. Isn’t that the whole gist of a comments section?

Simply put, I fail to understand the rationale that allows people to anonymously, and often erroneously, libel people and organizations. My experience has taught me that people are mighty brave when they don’t have to put their name behind posts. And for those commenters with multiple screen names and thousands of posts, I tend to doubt their intent is to make this community a better place.

I know not everyone will agree with this opinion piece, but I can guarantee you this: if you want to write a letter to this publisher, you will sign your name to it. If you felt strong enough to write thousands of posts, asserting your opinion on literally everything in the newspaper, every single day, surely your thoughts are worth roughly $10 per month (what the newspaper is currently charging for a digital subscription). But for right now, the air sure smells better over our fair city.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you; just be willing to sign your name, please.

Todd A. Tucker
Publisher

Comment

Dressed for Success

Paul’s Menswear celebrates 50 years in business
The Eickhoff family is suited for the men’s clothing business. Left to right: John, Shawn, Steve, grandson Auggie, and Brian.

It wasn’t a uniform, but it could have been. When Paul and Ruby Eickhoff started the business that eventually became Paul’s Menswear more than 50 years ago, most men wanted to buy black, charcoal, navy, or brown pants; white, blue, or cream shirts; work jeans; and suits.

Yet a lot has changed in men’s fashion since 1963. Paul’s Menswear offers a wide selection of seasonal men’s clothing from head to toe, and these days, some younger men are interested in bold bow ties and trim-styled suits with side vents. Wicking shirts in bright and neutral colors are offered at Paul’s. Those who like a more regular, relaxed, or loose fit can find those styles, too, at the store located at 2225 W. Franklin St.

Opened as Abel’s Menswear in the 1930s, Paul’s Menswear was first located in the 2100 block of W. Franklin St. Paul Eickhoff had worked for Art Abel before purchasing the business in 1963. Since then, the store has moved three times to accommodate a larger inventory. The family also wanted its own building. It’s now owned by Paul’s children Steve Eickhoff, John Eickhoff, Carol Stocker, and Joan Bauer. Steve is the president of the company, John is the vice president, Steve’s wife, Shawn, is the treasurer, and Brian Eickhoff (son of Steve and Shawn) is very involved in the business.

“He wanted to do it,” Shawn says of her husband’s decision to go into the family business in the early 1980s. Steve had worked in the store when he was in high school. “He loved working with people,” she says. “Brian works with us now, and that’s what he wanted to do when he came back from college.” Even when Brian was in college, he intended to work in the store.

“We are mostly family,” Shawn says. “Right now we have the third generation in, and we’re not sure about the fourth generation, but he’s already asking customers, ‘Can I help you?” Laughing, she’s talking about Brian’s 3-year-old son, Auggie.

The family appreciates the business’ Franklin Street legacy. “It’s a neat place to be,” Shawn says, referring to the vibrancy of the historic location. “And, it’s neat to have the activity.”

“We have a lot of loyal customers,” Shawn says. “But we are always picking up new ones.”