September 21, 2014
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Information is Power

What exactly does your insurance company know about you?

Think of all the ways businesses attempt to catch your eye.

They advertise, promote, and cross-promote. They use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Name recognition means everything. And then there’s the antithesis — the Medical Information Bureau. If there’s a marketing department at MIB, it must be less busy than the Maytag repairman.

MIB is a privately run corporation established in 1902 by, and for the benefit of, insurance companies. MIB quietly goes about its job of collecting data on us — credit history, medical history, even our eating, smoking, and recreational habits, and our driving records. The information becomes available to insurance companies when we apply for life, health, disability, or long-term care insurance. This is not necessarily bad; MIB contends its primary purpose is to “alert underwriters to errors, omissions, or misrepresentations made on insurance applications,” thus keeping our rates lower than they would be otherwise. But does MIB really need to know that you’re a 5’5”, 137-pound, 48-year-old female who rides a Harley, quit smoking in 2008, has $17,000 in credit card debt, and had your appendix removed in 2010? If you have applied for life, health, disability, or long-term care insurance in the past seven years, that kind of information is likely in their hands.

“Let’s face it, people are not always truthful when completing insurance applications, and the MIB allows for a checking mechanism,” says Steven B. Theising, CLU, ChFC, a partner at Insurance & Business Planning Inc. in Evansville. “I have heard once or twice from other agents that information they received back from the MIB was incorrect, but in my 33 years in the business, the information has been remarkably accurate. The MIB does serve a purpose: to make sure people don’t make misstatements on their insurance applications to acquire coverage and then file claims based on those false statements.”

You are the only one who can be sure that MIB’s file on you is correct. If the female Harley enthusiast described above sold her bike last year and now drives a Ford Fusion, her insurance premiums might drop considerably. Is she positive that MIB is aware? Fortunately, the government requires MIB to provide all consumers with a free annual report, but only if we ask. You can get yours by calling MIB at 866-692-6901 or going to the organization’s website at If for no other reason, it’s good to find out just how much the insurance world knows about you.


An Engaging Experience

The Diamond Galleria by Rogers brings new names in luxury to the Tri-State
Once complete, the 6,500-square-foot Diamond Galleria by Rogers is scheduled to have a soft opening on Oct. 13.

It’s not just about the sparkle. When The Diamond Galleria by Rogers has its grand opening at the corner of Vogel and Burkhardt roads on Nov. 7, the building that managing partners Tyna Wheat and Sharon Sartore envisioned about two years ago will be full of substance, too.

There will be the Sylvie Collection, one of the few ring lines designed by a woman for a woman. There also will be the Le Vian® line, famous for its exclusive Chocolate Diamonds®. Rounding out the bridal section at the new, 6,500-square-foot structure will be popular brands like AJaffe, True Romance, Romance Collection, Love Story, The Promise Collection, and Harout R., among others. The store also will include jewelry by fashion-forward companies like Doves, Alex & Ani, Honora Pearls, Hershey’s Kiss, Juno Lucina, Sirena, and Chamilia.

It’s all part of a luxury-end, new business model for Rogers, which has been in business for 79 years.

“Making you happy is everything to us.”

That’s the business philosophy of Wheat and Sartore, who both were born, raised, and live here locally. After all, for many couples, buying an engagement ring isn’t an easy choice. It may take many visits to many stores, before a soon-to-be bride selects her ring.

With a collection of more than 10,000 loose stones, customers will be able to choose the shape, color, and clarity of their stone to create their perfect piece of jewelry. In the Custom Design Studio, customers can design personalized rings to mount their diamond into a wide selection of designer brands. Their selection is viewable on a computer screen that offers close-up views of the ring.

“No matter what they are looking for, we are going to have it, and they won’t have to wait to see it,” Wheat says.

Wheat and Sartore are friends who have worked on every detail of the store’s design, from the four islands containing display cases, to a circular perimeter of showcases with sit-down bridal cases and display units on the wall. “One of them is the Le Vian® Chocolate Boutique™, which no one else has,” says Sartore. There also will be freshly baked cookies and specialty drinks in another area of the store.

“It’s all about the customer experience,” Wheat says. “We’ve been planning this store for years. We want it to be a warm, inviting, relaxing environment.”

As the president of the Diamond Galleria by Rogers, Wheat specializes in the merchandising and marketing efforts of the business. Sartore, the CEO, manages the financial and operational aspects. Wheat and Sartore were invited, in 2008, to join the Leading Jewelers Guild, an alliance of independent jewelers. Wheat serves on the Buying Committee, which merchandises for the entire group of 45 jewelers across the nation and assists members with marketing ideas. Sartore has been asked to assist the Leading Jewelers membership by considering different financial companies to provide financing to customers.

In all, the new jewelry store will employ more than 25 people. Managing the store is Bethany Lutch, who has experience managing another jewelry store in Iowa. A jewelry repair center inside the facility will staff three full-time jewelers. A Sparkle Bar will offer cleaning and polishing services using the latest technology. Local resident Lance Embrey will be the Design Studio manager and master craftsman. He has worked with Rogers for more than 10 years and had worked in the jewelry industry in Indianapolis.

Sartore and Wheat want their clients to have a choice of jewelry that is stylish, cutting-edge, and very meticulously made and designed. And that’s what they will have with lines from companies like Sylvie and Le Vian®, for instance.

“(Wheat and Sartore) were introduced to us through another of our authorized retail partners, and I met them both in Las Vegas in June at the 2013 JCK,” Sylvie Levine says, referring to the leading jewelry event in North America that is open to all jewelry professionals. “It felt like we knew each other forever, and I could immediately tell that we had the same commitment and passion toward jewelry and our customers.”

Sylvie creates customizable engagement ring designs using conflict-free diamonds. “Every woman who wears a Sylvie ring is an individual, with her own personality and unique sense of style,” she says. “That is why the Sylvie Collection is known for flexibility, and every ring can be customized to fit her style and taste, allowing it to become a personal symbol of her passion.”

Meanwhile, a representative for Le Vian® says the Chocolate Boutique™ at the Diamond Galleria by Rogers will become the destination place for Chocolate Diamonds®. These natural diamonds are predominantly found in the Argyle Mine in Australia.

“It’s all about the emotional appeal because the Chocolate Boutique™ looks like real chocolate bars,” the representative says. “It’s all about infusing a taste and a flavor that appeals to many women.”

In the end, the new store that will have a soft opening on Oct. 13 wants to offer stunning jewelry for all precious moments.

“We don’t just want to sell people engagement rings,” Wheat says. “We want to be part of their life.”

“You don’t get that just anywhere,” Sartore adds.

The Diamond Galleria by Rogers grand opening on Nov. 7 will include vendors from New York and Los Angeles. The grand opening will benefit one local charity in some way, though the store intends to be very charitable overall.

In fact, Wheat and Sartore have created their own collection of merchandise called Journey of Hope, which is inspired by the cancer ribbon. “We had several employees who were recently diagnosed with cancer, and this inspired this collection,” Wheat says. “I worked with several designers in New York to create pieces that would allow us to help fight this disease. Proceeds from the sales of this product will go to cancer research.”

The Diamond Galleria by Rogers will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

The new store was designed by Artco Group of Miami, Fla. Carl Conner of Conner Architecture was the Architect of Record. Jennifer Scales-Stewart from Y Factor Studio was the interior designer.

“The great people that have worked with us and for us — and for a lot of them that’s been 10 years-plus — have just been invaluable in this whole process and contribute greatly to the success of this venture,” Sartore says.

For more information about the Diamond Galleria by Rogers, call 812-477-1388. The website is in the process of being created.


Naturally Good

Real Purity is now headquartered in Evansville
Karen Prain Easterling and her husband, Dr. Rich Easterling, now run Real Purity with Rich’s son, Rich.

Skincare matters. Just ask any woman trying to maintain a clear, healthy complexion during a humid summer or a bitterly cold winter. That’s why Therese Lasswell feels fortunate to have met Virginia Easterling in 1981. Lasswell was in her mid-20s at the time, and she was impressed by a work acquaintance’s beautiful complexion and flawless makeup.

“She told me that she bought her skin care products from a business called J. Rich Cosmetology,” Lasswell says. “I was thrilled because the business was in the same city (Ypsilanti, Mich.) that I lived in. I called the business and made an appointment for a consultation with Virginia.”

It was the first of many meetings with the licensed cosmetologist, certified nutritional consultant, and aroma therapist who would later go on to found Real Purity with the assistance of her daughter-in-law. But Lasswell didn’t know that in 1981. She had just called Easterling, who also was a registered nurse, licensed esthetician (a person who specializes in skin care and makeup artistry), and trichologist (a person who specializes in hair and scalp care), for guidance on make-up products.

“After I got to know her better and understood how gifted she was, I started to schedule routine facials and purchase other skin care products,” Lasswell says. “(Virginia’s) knowledge of vitamins, herbs, nutrition, and alternative medicine led me to follow her recommendation for a healthier lifestyle. In 1986, when Virginia launched Real Purity, I began using the full product line — skin care, hair care, makeup, and deodorant.”

Now 56 and still living in Ypsilanti, Lasswell has no regrets. While her skincare needs have changed over the years, she continues to use Real Purity products because they are natural, organic, and “the results are amazing.”

Virginia’s daughter-in-law, Karen Prain Easterling, worked with Virginia at her skin care clinic in Ypsilanti when Virginia was starting Real Purity. When Virginia Easterling died in 1995, Karen Easterling took over the company with her husband, Rich Easterling, a naturopathic doctor who has a Ph.D. in nutritional science. Now headquartered in Evansville, the family owned company that is in its fourth generation produces all natural and organic skincare, cosmetics, hair care, and body care products in two labs in California and Michigan.

Rich and Karen Easterling moved to Evansville because Rich’s son, Rich, and grandsons, Zachary (who now works at the company and is the fourth generation of the family business) and Joshua, who is a senior at North Posey High School, live here.

“We wanted to be closer to family, and we wanted them to be able to learn the business so they could take it over,” Karen Easterling says.

The 5720 Vogel Road, Suite B, location between Burkhardt and N. Green River roads serves as the company’s global shipping point. Yet local customers are welcome to ask for samples of lipstick, lip gloss, blush, eye shadow, toothpaste, shampoo, and more. Most of the company’s sales, however, are done online and by phone.

Lasswell, for instance, usually places phone orders every three months. She’s been using Real Purity products for 27 years and, while new products have been added and formulas have been changed, “the quality has always been great.”

The company refuses to test products on animals. Real Purity says its products are created with naturally occurring, high-quality components. Its products are “wild crafted, as opposed to using chemicals manufactured in a lab.”

“This means herbs and plants that have been pulled from the ground or harvested from the ground without actually being planted by someone,” Karen Easterling says.

The company also uses botanical, plant, and earth pigments as opposed to artificial colors and dyes. And all products are made in the United States.
The company’s philosophy is based on Virginia’s concerns about chemicals and their long-term, negative impact on the body and the Earth, Karen Easterling, who also is a licensed cosmetologist, says.

“She was a teacher,” Karen Easterling says. “She loved to teach about the skin and hair. She got tired of using chemicals on clients. She loved herbs and essential oils. She would make up specific masks to match her clients’ needs.”

Virginia Easterling also had famous clients, like comedienne Phyllis Diller. She worked on models. In the 1970s, she tested products for Redken, the upscale hair care company.

Medical doctors noted Virginia Easterling’s talents, too. Patients from the University of Michigan Hospital (now the University of Michigan Health System) who had skin and scalp problems were referred to the J. Rich Cosmetology Clinic, which closed when Virginia passed away.

“She was intelligent, passionate about her life’s work, and compassionate,” Lasswell says of Virginia. “She was a teacher, a confidant, and trustworthy. She was a friend to many of her clients, and I am sure that she made each one of us feel like we were her best friend.”

“Mom was a deep thinker who was many years ahead of her time,” says Virginia’s son, Dr. Rich Easterling. “She would be very encouraged as to where we are now as to people’s awareness today as far as what people use to put on and in their body.”

For more information about Real Purity, call 812-473-0800 or visit


Sharon Walker

JOB: President/Founder of Long View Group LLC, President of Board of Trustees, Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science

HOMETOWN: Flint, Mich.

HER RESUME: Walker has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA, both from the University of Michigan. She spent 35 years in the corporate world, working in finance; strategy; and mergers and acquisitions. In 1996, she moved from Chicago to Evansville to join Bristol Myers Squibb-Mead Johnson, where she was Vice President of Strategy & Development and previously Controller. She retired from Mead Johnson in 2008. In addition to being president of the museum board, she is a board member of the University of Evansville Theatre Society and Deaconess Health System Inc.

HER STORY: Walker knew after retiring she didn’t “want to sit on the bench.” She worked for a year developing Long View Group LLC, a finance and strategy group for individuals and corporations. And she made the decision to stay in Evansville. Walker cites having wonderful friends, a good professional base, strong ties to Memorial Baptist Church, and moving her mother to Evansville four years ago as to why Evansville is home. “For all those reasons, I decided to recommit to the area.” Walker also wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the community and got involved lecturing at the University of Southern Indiana and became president of the museum board in June.

HER PERSPECTIVE: “I love learning. I think the ability to learn is one of the distinguishing gifts humans have. What I have tried to do is have as many experiences as possible in life. At the end of the day, I want my time here to have mattered and to have made a difference.

On new projects at the museum:
Probably the most visible thing everyone is anticipating is the Koch Immersive Theatre, which is replacing the current planetarium and is being built early next year. The immersive theater uses five separate digital video projectors to project over the new 40-foot dome. The curvature of the dome provides the “immersive” experience. In addition, the Toyota Interactive Museum Experience will provide wireless Internet that will enable smart phone access to videos in which the museum’s docents, curators, and visiting artists discuss an exhibit being viewed. The $30,000 grant will fund the purchase of 15 hand-held devices for school children and visitors to borrow.

On her interest in art:
My corporate experience and core disciplines have been quantitative, but I also have shared a love for the arts since I was at least in elementary school. I love music. I played the violin as a kid.

On increasing children’s participation:
Part of the focus for me for several years has been how to make art attractive to young people today. How do we bridge that gap? It is important for children to be exposed to the arts. I think technology is the enabler for whatever we’re trying to do today.

On increasing interest in the arts:
A lot of times, people view the arts as an upper class phenomena, so they don’t always feel comfortable participating. We have to get people through the doors to show them that we can deliver on something that is appealing so they want to return and bring their friends. It’s basic marketing. I do have a passion for the arts, but that can’t be the only thing. That’s not enough, especially today.

On why she likes Evansville:
I like the people. People have been very nice and open and I would dare say, for me, Evansville is easy.

On what music she listens to in the car:
I have to say I like love songs. And they’re usually all male artists singing them to me.

For more information about Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science, call 812-425-2406 or visit

Issue CoverEvansvill Business October / November 2013 Issue Cover

Derrick Stewart

CEO, YMCA of Southwestern Indiana

Derrick Stewart has come a long way from his first job at the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana: teaching computer lessons to kids at age 17. Now 31, Stewart is one of the youngest CEOs — and the first African-American one — ever to lead the local organization in its 150-year history. The Evansville native, who attended Evansville Christian School and Bosse High School, graduated from Indiana University in 1999 with a business/finance degree. After a stint at a Chicago consulting firm, he returned home and began to ascend the ranks at the YMCA, beginning as a community outreach program director. Most recently, he worked as chief operating officer; he was promoted to CEO to succeed the retiring Ron Edele. Among Stewart’s main goals for the organization: continuing the YMCA’s Christian mission and expanding its existing programs that build stronger children, families, and communities.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? What was your first paid job?
As a kid, I loved to watch the television show Matlock, so of course, I always dreamed of being an attorney. In high school, I did an internship in the prosecutor’s office and decided that attorneys have to read way too much. My first job was at Little Caesars pizza. It only took being assigned to take pizzas out of the oven and cut them on a busy Friday night to realize that I definitely needed to go to college.

Tell us a little about your family.
My wife, Chotsani, and I have been married for seven and a half years, and interestingly, we met at the YMCA. We have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter named Cheyenne. More than anything, we enjoy spending time together as a family and keeping life as simple as possible.

You started your career at a Chicago consulting firm and returned home to work for the YMCA. How do the corporate and nonprofit worlds overlap?
The two worlds are more similar than they are different. Success is just measured in different ways. In corporate America, success is often measured in terms of profit; in the nonprofit sector, success is measured in terms of impact. But the operating principles required to achieve success in both sectors are largely the same. The biggest lesson I learned is that success — in both types of organizations — begins with a clear and compelling mission.

What is the first major change you hope to accomplish as CEO?
My focus is not so much on changing, but instead on positioning the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana to continue to respond to the ever-changing needs of our community … That requires that we proactively assess the needs of our community and remain on the cutting edge of identifying and implementing programs that meet those emerging needs.

What do you believe to be the most urgent community needs that the YMCA can address?
Youth and adult obesity. For the first time in our history, the life expectancy of today’s children is shorter than that of their parents. Despite the certain advances in medicine and technology, our children are still expected to live shorter lives. We must take better care of ourselves and teach our children the importance of making a lifelong commitment to wellness.

You’ve said your only regret about your new job is that your grandmother, community activist Jeanette Benton, isn’t around to see you lead the YMCA. What does her legacy of service mean to you?
My grandmother served for many years as a commissioner on the board of the Evansville Housing Authority. Having lived in the old Lincoln Gardens, she brought to that position a unique perspective on the challenges that many public housing residents face … Her legacy of service always reminds me that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. At her funeral (last August), I told the audience that I have never seen a person who had so little, by the world’s standards, give so much.


Name of the Game

Tropicana Evansville’s rebranding puts the popular casino in the win
Tropicana Evansville remains a popular entertainment destination. Over $19 million in improvements have been made since 2010.

Remember Casino Aztar? The management of Tropicana Entertainment Inc. politely requests that you expunge that name from your memory.

The Casino Aztar brand, ingrained into the public consciousness for 17 years by company management, the City of Evansville, and the state of Indiana, was officially tossed overboard in June. Forget the radio, television, newspaper, magazine, billboard, Facebook, and direct mail advertising of the past. Remember the new name for the gambling establishment on Evansville’s riverfront: Tropicana Evansville.

“For some of our long-term employees, including myself, it’s been hard changing the habit of referring to us as Casino Aztar,” admits Director of Marketing Stacey McNeill. “But most people around here simply refer to us as ‘The Boat.’ That may be the harder habit to break.”

Casino Aztar became Indiana’s first riverboat casino when it opened in 1995 and quickly turned into Evansville’s No. 1 tourist attraction. It has stayed that way ever since. The name remained the same until late this spring, even though the casino has been owned by Tropicana for the past three years. Much to the relief of public officials in Evansville, Tropicana stepped in with new management in 2010 after previous owner Columbia Sussex Corp. filed for bankruptcy.

Now comes the opportunity to leverage the Tropicana name to produce more revenue for Tropicana and the local economy. A key concept of the rebranding is this: management will not lose sleep if people in southwest Indiana continue to call the place ‘Casino Aztar’ or ‘The Boat.’ The real goal is to attract more customers from other areas, and the middle of Tropicana’s bull’s-eye sits squarely over Tennessee and Kentucky. Management will lose sleep if those people don’t show up. After all, with the casino and related property investments estimated at $230 million and a new bar/restaurant and nightclub set to open soon, this is no small venture for Tropicana. They’ve already made $19 million in improvements since taking over in 2010. From the local community’s point of view, the casino is counted on to produce a huge amount of income every year. An impact study showed that its first 15 years of existence generated $200 million for the City of Evansville and another $60 million for Vanderburgh County in taxes and lease payments, and $320 million for the state. That doesn’t include millions more in tourism dollars or about $400,000 annually that the casino donates to local schools and non-profits.

“About 38 percent of our customers come from the Evansville MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area),” McNeill points out. That means nearly two-thirds are non-local. “We need to reach them. I probably spend the most time and effort, and marketing dollars, toward southwest Kentucky and Tennessee. Those are the markets where we have the most opportunity for growth since there’s not another casino in that market sitting there already. We expect double-digit growth from those MSAs within a year.”

One rival is Harrah’s Metropolis, located at the very bottom of Illinois, across the Ohio River from Paducah, Ky. Harrah’s advertises heavily in the Nashville area and South Central Kentucky, regions where Tropicana Evansville is now doubling its advertising dollars. Tropicana Evansville’s general manager is 44-year-old Ward Shaw who, in addition to being a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and chief navigation officer on the USS Roanoke, is a former Harrah’s employee. He worked for Harrah’s in St. Louis, Las Vegas, Kansas City, and Lake Charles, La., and also served as a gaming industry consultant. Shaw was hired by Tropicana to lead the Evansville operation in 2010. If anyone should know the competition, it’s Shaw.

“Our facility, with both the improvements we’ve made and the customer service that we provide is, frankly, just better than them,” Shaw says in comparing Evansville to Metropolis. “Some customers who left here with a bad experience when Columbia Sussex was in control didn’t even know we made a management change three years ago. The name change helps them know that this is a different destination and a different company, and it certainly has a better brand recognition as well.”

“Even if you aren’t into gaming that much, you can still come to our property and have a lot of fun,” adds McNeill. “We have a beautiful community, a great riverfront, two wonderful hotels, eight restaurants. We have live entertainment in at least two venues seven nights a week. Metropolis has a single hotel, and a small diner and a steak house as dining options. They don’t have regular entertainment venues, they don’t have a variety of lounges and nightclubs. They have a casino floor. So when you go to Metropolis, you’re going there to game.”

Rebranding of Casino Aztar into Tropicana Evansville officially kicked off June 14 with a news conference and celebration that included Las Vegas-style showgirls and big fuzzy dice. The kickoff intentionally came late in the game. The real start took place soon after Tropicana took over in 2010, when detailed market research directed at current and potential customers asked: (1) Did people know who Aztar was? (2) Would they gamble more or less if it were named Tropicana? (3) How did their gaming habits overlap with Aztar’s competitors?

“When we got that market research back, it supported what we suspected — that the name ‘Tropicana’ carried far more weight both locally and non-locally in regard to a casino brand,” according to McNeill. “Casino Aztar, outside of Evansville, really never had a meaning. The research also told us we would not lose any of our customer base by changing our name, which was important. It told us we would have a stronger opportunity to grow our business, especially outside Evansville, with a name like Tropicana. So we started working on campaigns and strategies as soon as those studies came back positive because we wanted to present a plan to our corporate office to justify the rebrand.”

It didn’t take long for corporate to give the OK. More than $1 million was spent just on in-house equipment such as employee uniforms, badges, table felts, chips, dice, forms, and other gaming products. Hundreds of hours went into compliance with gambling industry regulations that must be followed to the letter. Eventually, McNeill and Andy Herbertz, the casino’s advertising and public relations manager, led the way as Tropicana brought in Oswald Communications from Evansville and Magnum Integrated Marketing from Vorhees, N.J., to help develop the advertising and marketing message.

“The rebranding process is not simple, and it’s not quick,” McNeill says. “Just one small example: I’ll bet we went through 20 to 30 different billboard concepts. They were probably ready to shoot us before we came up with something we could all be happy with.”

Only then — with the old name ready to come down and the new name ready to go up, and the myriad promotional and regulatory pieces in place — could Tropicana start thinking about a date to officially deep-six the Casino Aztar brand. Their timeline eventually took them through all of 2012, past the beginning of 2013, and finally to the June kickoff, when everything was in place. Well, almost everything.

“I saw a Casino Aztar billboard on my way into work this morning,” McNeill says on a mid-July day, shaking her head. “It’s driving me crazy.”

That billboard has since been updated with the Tropicana brand.

For more information on Tropicana Evansville, call 812-433-4000 or visit View a timeline of the casino's development in the August/September issue of Evansville Business.


What Would Aunt Bee Do?

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

Often I am at home during the noon hour for either a quick lunch and to let my dog out, or in the summer to be a short-order cook for a couple of young men who can take on extensive projects of their choosing, but seemingly can’t make a roast beef sandwich. During that time at home, if it’s 12:30 I am absolutely turning on the classic reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. If you’re a fan of the show — and frankly, if you are of my generation, who isn’t? — you, also like me, probably have a strong preference for the episodes filmed in black and white. I think the reason that the show resonates so well with so many is it harkens back to what I would construe and remember as a much simpler time. Families sat down and ate dinner together, watched their favorite television shows together, or gathered on the porch just to talk. Neighbors were more neighborly, and people, at least in the town of Mayberry — or Newburgh, where I grew up — knew one another much better. Things weren’t nearly so fast-paced.

Something that I find enormously frustrating is never having much of what I would call “down time.” When is the last time you came home from work, sat down, watched an entire episode of the local or national news, ate dinner together with your family, and no one had to be anywhere? This also seems to be an ever-increasing source of frustration and contention for my friends and peers, based on my conversations with them. The reason I am writing about this in my current publisher’s letter is partially to get the editorial staff off of my rear end to get this letter complete, but also to ask the question, “Do we do this to ourselves?”

Three months ago, one of my oldest friends told me that one of my absolute favorite bands, Steely Dan, was going to be playing at The Palace in Louisville in late July. He planned to get tickets and figured that we would like to go as well. He was right. Fast-forward to two months later: My young son, Jackson, qualified in several events to swim in the Indiana State Age Group Championships. Of course, the final day of the swim championships was also the first day for Jackson to report to Camp Ondessonk in Ozark, Ill., for his first camp experience, which elicited several phone calls regarding late camp check-in.

So let me share with you a quick synopsis of those few days. Swim banquet Thursday night (with a good friend pleading laryngitis and throwing me under the bus to deliver the many thank-yous at the podium — you know who you are), followed by immediate departure for Indianapolis, which as you know is an hour ahead. We didn’t have to be at the Indiana University Natatorium until darn near 6:30 the next morning for day one of swim, and the day concluded with a drive down to Louisville to enjoy the Steely Dan show (hey, those tickets were long paid for, and the show … phenomenal), followed by two more days of aforementioned swimming. Upon leaving Indianapolis Sunday, we drove four and one-half hours to camp, making sure small fry was firmly ensconced, which was a bit “difficult” for Mom, Dad, and son, and then the two-hour return trip. All of this was surrounded by our Evansville Business deadline of the largest page count issue to date. Thanks to another friend who picked up my dog being boarded (as we were too late to pick him up) and was promptly delayed because my puppy had just rolled in poop and needed another bath.

So, at the end of the day, I’m not sure I can answer the question that my wife often poses to me, when I complain about never having a free minute, as to whether I do it to myself or if circumstances in life often dictate this type of lifestyle. After all, you want to support your kids’ endeavors, you need to work hard in your professional life, you’re supposed to take care of yourself and have some fun along the way, so what do you give up, if anything? If someone will drop me a note this weekend while you’re at your travel soccer tournament and let me know, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Meanwhile, I’m racking my brain trying to remember the episode where Aunt Bee is furiously packing Opie up for a weekend of travel sports.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. 

Todd A. Tucker


Creative Opportunity

Begley Art Source works to bring original artwork to Tri-State
Joycelyn Todisco and Chris Jackson are the two sole employees of Begley Art Source.

Two years ago, Begley Art Source and its director, Chris Jackson, seized an opportunity. After a number of years spent on the sixth floor of 915 Main St., Chris and her fellow Begley employee, Joycelyn Todisco, moved to the first floor of the Landmark Building.

With its open spaces and large, white walls, Suite 108 is an ideal fit for what Begley Art Source hopes to accomplish.

Begley is hired by companies or individuals to commission works of art or to provide original works of art. The division of the Evansville Museum Shop then matches the client with an artist or a specific work of art. Major clients include Vectren, Old National Bank, and Berry Plastics.

Because the office serves as an art gallery, the space afforded by its layout is crucial. “The character and openness of the space works to enhance the original artwork,” Jackson says.

Having previously served as a photography studio for about 15 years, the office was essentially ready for Begley from the moment it moved in; however, there was one distinct change. In the middle of the office, there now stands a partition wall to hang smaller works of art and to maximize the space the larger walls offer.

Jackson hopes Begley’s work brings awareness to all the great benefits original art has to offer. She also stresses that all proceeds benefit the Evansville Museum, educational programs, and other community endeavors of the museum.

For more information about Begley Art Source, call 812-402-2180 or visit


On The Right Track

Networking groups in Evansville
Lonny Davis, PHN Solutions Inc., presents the history of Fast Trackers to fellow members and visitors.

Networking is known to be the key to success, which is probably the reason behind the popular phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Fast Trackers BNI Networking Group is based in Evansville and is made up of business owners and professionals who come together to help each other obtain qualified referrals and more business.

“It’s like having your group of friends recommending your business every day,” says Theresa Baggett, owner of Fusion Spa & Boutique and a member of the Fast Trackers. 

During the first year of joining the group, on average, BNI members increase their business by 20 percent. Fast Trackers have members from all different areas of professions. To maintain its variety, the networking group only allows one person per professional specialty in each chapter.

“Many in our group have been together since the inception of the chapter or shortly thereafter,” says Baggett. “It’s a great group of folks who truly care about each other and anyone they would refer.”

There are several other networking groups in Evansville that encourage networking within its members. Here is a short list and description of a few:

Young Professionals Network (YPN) is a program through the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana that serves young professionals by providing opportunities for professional development, civic and community engagement, and professional networking.

Rotaract Club of Evansville provides an opportunity for young men and women to enhance the knowledge and skills that will assist them in personal development and to promote better relations between all people worldwide through a framework of friendship and service.

Multicultural Professionals Network encourages and offers multicultural professionals an opportunity to network, socialize, and create personal and professional connections. Its vision is to develop a new generation of transformative leaders reflecting the diversity of the Evansville community.

For more information on local networking groups, visit,, and The Multicultural Professionals Network Evansville has a Facebook page.