Aiming for the Green
Back in 2000, when Evansville Living spoke with Victoria National Golf Club owner Terry Friedman, he was very clear about his vision for the world-class facility. He wasn’t in it to make a profit.
“If you’re in this for anything other than love, you wouldn’t do this,” Friedman said at the time. “If you’re in it to make money, or break even, you wouldn’t do this.”
But Friedman died unexpectedly in 2004, and his family soon found that Victoria National was becoming too much of a financial burden. So they did two things: sold the club to Victoria Partners LLC and looked to develop the rest of the land they owned near the course.
While Victoria National is still very much what Friedman envisioned, it also is more. The club has made changes to bring in more revenue. And if all goes as planned, a new development — built with sustainability as its goal — will soon spring up nearby.
While the two entities are mostly separate, they both revolve around the idea Friedman had nearly three decades ago: that Southern Indiana deserves something special.
Staying on Course
Victoria National looks toward a sustainable future
When Victoria Partners LLC bought Victoria National Golf Club in 2010, the goal was to make sure the Newburgh, Indiana, club would have a financial roadmap for the future. According to General Manager Steve Munch, that’s exactly what is happening.
The course, which opened in 1998, was the dream of industrialist Terry Friedman. Designed by Tom Fazio, it navigates its way through 418 acres of the former Victoria strip mine. The result is nothing short of breathtaking, especially for golf enthusiasts. Golf Digest rated Victoria National as the 47th best golf course in the U.S. in 2013.
When Friedman died in 2004, his family took the reigns at Victoria National. But they had trouble making the club profitable, and sold the course and adjacent land to a group of private investors.
“It kind of started a reset for the club,” says Munch. “The vision of the club is to stabilize club operations, and in order to do that we’ve focused on a couple of things. We’ve enhanced the overall programming, rather than just being about golf. And the other piece that was important was the growth of our cottage program.”
Prior to 2010, Victoria National had two cottages, each with four bedrooms. Now, there are 24 bedrooms with 32 beds on the property. That allows the national members — those from outside the Tri-State — to have a place to stay as well as the opportunity to host small group business. Local cottage members have utilized the cottages for recruiting, board meetings, client outings, and entertainment.
Victoria hasn’t had a problem attracting national and local club members. Right now, it has about 260 golf members, and is nearly at local capacity. The new programming — themed events and expanded dining options — help bring in those who want only a social membership. The club now has about 100 social members, up from only 40 three years ago and also nearing capacity.
“That has allowed us to do more events because we have more of a population who wants to do club-related events,” says Munch. “Victoria has had net membership growth each year over the last three years, for both golf and social members.”
When Friedman set out to build Victoria National, he wanted to attract big time tournaments. For the last three years, the club has hosted the United Leasing Championship on the Web.com Tour. The event is organized by the Evansville Sports Corp. In 2015 and 2016, it also will host the men’s Big 10 Conference Championship.
“Tournament golf has been important to us, as we’ve hosted the United Leasing Championship for the last three years,” says Munch. “The Evansville Sports Corp. is the Host Organization and United Companies the Title Sponsor. Clearly, having Victoria National located within the community provides the venue necessary to host events of this magnitude.”
The Big 10 Championship will be played April 24-26, 2015. That will bring in 14 five-man teams, one for each conference school. It also will be televised by the Big 10 Network, which will reach nearly every market where Victoria National has national members.
The United Leasing Championship will move to April 27 to May 3, 2015. It had previously been held in June. That will set up 10 consecutive days of tournament golf. Munch hopes the earlier dates will resonate with the golf community and create additional spectator interest as spring golf begins.
Hosting the large events has helped Victoria National reinvest in the club. More than $6 million has been spent since Victoria Partners took over. Some of that has gone for new course equipment, while much of it has gone to clubhouse improvements and on-site lodging expansion. The club will purchase a new fleet of golf carts in 2015, as well as take on other initiatives.
“There is a continued reinvestment, to ensure that we’re keeping a great golf course and a great club relevant,” says Munch. “That’s not always the case right now. In this economy, there are a lot of clubs not reinvesting in their assets. But we’ve continued to reinvest, and we’re looking to do more of that.”
Victoria National also is indirectly and directly involved in generating significant revenue for charities. The United Leasing Championship, through the Evansville Sports Corp. and the Old National “Golf Gives Back” program, has generated over $350,000 to local charities since the inception of the event in 2012. Victoria National also allows each of its golf members to donate one foursome of golf at no charge each year to the charity of their choice. The club provides annually 120 certificates or more, which collectively generate a minimum of $125,000 for local and national charities.
Munch says Victoria National plays a large role in the local economy, with 400 hotel rooms reserved just for the Big 10 Championship.
“The Big 10 Championship will create an economic impact for the local community,” he says. “Aside from the teams, friends and relatives will travel to Newburgh to watch their favorite player. These guests will also stay in hotels and frequent local restaurants, etc. Victoria National is proud to be an anchor in the community which helps drive business within our community.”
Plans for the future include making a bid with the USGA for the 2020 U.S. Senior Open, as well as further clubhouse expansion with a covered deck for exterior dining.
“The capital changes and the programming changes that have been made at this club has created a real energy here that is really good,” says Munch. “It is very positive for the club, for the membership, and for the community.”
For more information about Victoria National Golf Club, visit victorianational.com.
When your livelihood is based upon current events in Evansville, you had better pay attention. One of the many ways to stay aware of happenings is that at Tucker Publishing Group, we maintain some pretty extensive calendars. We highlight events in our two primary magazines, Evansville Living and Evansville Business, and inside two of our annual publications, Social Datebook and Evansville City View. Of course, we list events online throughout the year and include weekend happenings in our Thursday e-newsletter, “E Living.”
So when I hear negative comments about Evansville being “boring” or that “there’s nothing going on here,” I find that to be totally without merit. Case in point would be the weekend of Sept. 26-28. So much was going on that the most ambitious person could not have much more than sampled from a wide array of events. In no particular order and not all inclusive were:
• cMoe’s 8th Birthday Celebration
• Brew Ha Ha at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science
• Susan G. Komen Evansville Race for the Cure
• Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra Opening Night
• Wildfire & Wine at Mesker Park Zoo& Botanic Garden
• 12th Annual Funk in the City Festival at Haynie’s Corner
• The Burdette BBQ, Bands & Brew Festival
• RiverCity Faithfest, which is an outdoor Christian music festival
So next time you hear there is “nothing going on in Evansville,” know better.
Speaking of Susan G. Komen, being a proud sponsor, we were one of many local companies to have tent space in the expo area at Eastland Mall this year. I “volunteered” my 13- and 16-year-old boys to help hand out magazines. They, of course, thanked me for getting them up at 6 a.m. on a Sunday to work. Funny thing happened, not only were they glad to have helped, but proudly wore their volunteer T-shirts the rest of the day. And if you can watch the hundreds marching proudly in the survivor parade without feeling strongly moved, then you might just want to check your pulse.
Speaking of being moved, I helped serve at the Vanderburgh Community Foundation Spirit of Giving luncheon Sept. 25. Glenwood Leadership Academy might have a 97 percent poverty rate among its students and turned over 100 percent of its teaching staff over the last three years, but you can feel the energy level and momentum under the leadership of principal Tamara Skinner, who was featured in the September/October issue of Evansville Living. If you are in a position to help ensure positive outcomes for kids who need it the most, then please do what you can to help.
On the subject of those who have made a difference in education, what a pleasure it was to spend time with Bob Koch for the “Back Talk” story. He has affected many lives by helping provide positive outcomes; it was a pleasure to work with Bob and his family on this story. I am pretty sure the “man on a mission” phrase might have been inspired by Bob.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker
Bring New Light
When Evansville native Stacy Stevens became the third owner of the well-known Main Street structure known as the Curtis Building, she planned to change its name. But when the time came, she says it just wasn’t right.
“I thought about calling it the Landmark Center,” says Stevens, whose renovation plans were featured in “From Pasco to Landmark” in the December/January 2013 issue of Evansville Business. “But I changed my mind, because after two years, I can’t stop calling it the Curtis Building. Everyone calls it the Curtis Building.”
Stevens, the broker/owner of Landmark Realty & Development, purchased the 75,900-square-foot building, which was constructed in 1908 as a wholesale grocery warehouse for Parsons & Scoville Co. (commonly referred to as Pasco), in September 2012. The building received its name from its second owner, Ed Curtis, an entrepreneurial St. Louis-based businessman and owner of several Evansville properties, in 1995, becoming office spaces for businesses such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), insurance companies, attorneys, and even an apartment.
In August, the Curtis Building celebrated its new sign in place of the old neon sign. The new sign, created by Custom Sign & Engineering, Inc. in Newburgh, Indiana, took around two months and is LED, which is much brighter, more energy efficient, and more visible. Stevens has improved the building’s landscaping, carpets, and painted the exterior.
The Curtis Building is currently looking for more tenants to occupy the office spaces, which also can house a fitness or athletic studio on the first floor. With more tenants Stevens says she will be able to make more renovations such as improving the parking lot and finish the carpeting.
“I’m proud to be Downtown,” says Stevens. “I love this old building. The people and tenants here love it, too. We are maintaining it and keeping it up and we hope everyone Downtown does the same thing.”
For more information about the Curtis Building, call 812-474-9814 or visit landmarkrealtyinc.com.
“My customers want a Thanksgiving turkey, fresh-dressed never frozen, that dresses out 17 to 21 pounds and you can’t find that anywhere else,” says Dennis Uebelhack, who has owned the Uebelhack Turkey Farm in Mount Vernon, Indiana, since 1979. “Most of the big processors are going to have 10 to 13 pounds for a hen … you’ve got to fill a niche.”
Uebelhack Turkey Farm provides its customers with a Thanksgiving turkey they can’t find elsewhere. The farm was started in 1940 by Dennis’ parents and he purchased it 39 years later. He and his wife Diana process about 1,600 turkeys that roam on a 3-acre patch on their 50 acres and sell out each year well ahead of Thanksgiving dinners.
The Uebelhacks meet a truck in Illinois in mid-July, which ships from Zeeland, Michigan, full of 1, 600 Nicholas turkeys, a white feathered breed of turkey, about six hours old. The turkeys, all hens, will stay inside for about four weeks under heat lamps. At six weeks, they are moved to the range. Dennis is helped by Katheryn Carr, plant manager, who has worked for the Uebelhacks for 15 years.
Each morning Dennis checks on the turkeys first thing. Dennis works as a process operator at SABIC Innovative Plastic full time and plans his vacation time around the busy November season of processing the birds.
As the turkeys age, the work decreases, and the equipment changes.
“There are four different sizes of feeders and three different sizes of water feeders,” says Dennis. “The 12 water fountains get dumped every day of the week, then two days a week, they get disinfected. These eight feeders hold 4,000 pounds and they have to be filled every seven days. I have to come out here and dig any wet feed out of the trough. Wet feed molds and mold kills turkeys.”
Dennis also makes his own feed from corn grown on the farm and made of all vegetable protein with no animal byproducts. While the turkeys are shipped at 19 weeks to be processed in Harrison, Ohio, the Uebelhacks receive the turkeys back and grade them, where they evaluate their quality. From there, the turkeys either go to the bagging line or deboning line. The unblemished turkeys will be bagged, while the others will go to be deboned. The Uebelhacks also sell ready-to-eat deli products year-round at Rivertown Butcher Shop in Newburgh, Indiana, Old Fashioned Butcher Shoppe on Stringtown Road, J.L. Hirsch Supermarket in Poseyville, Indiana, McKim’s IGA in Mount Vernon, and at the farm, located at 3200 Nation Road in Mount Vernon.
The majority of turkeys are spoken for while they are still walking around at the Mount Vernon farm. Dennis encourages customers to place orders well before Thanksgiving by calling the farm or the store they wish to pick it up from.
For more information on Uebelhack Turkey Farm, call 812-838-5215 or visit its Facebook page.
It sits mostly vacant now, but for nearly 70 years, it was one of Evansville’s most important industrial sites. The Bucyrus-Erie plant on Evansville’s West Side made steam shovels that dug the Panama Canal, bulldozer blades that were used in war, and draglines that dug up Southern Indiana’s coal.
The future of the former Bucyrus-Erie site is in doubt as it awaits a new owner. Sugar Steel, which had occupied part of two buildings of the plant, moved operations to the former Whirlpool site on U.S. Highway 41 earlier this year.
Mel Gillenwater owned the property from 1987 until 2005. Bucyrus-Erie shut down operations in 1981, and the company that tried to take over the plant folded soon after. The property was put up for auction, and there was only one bid, from Gillenwater.
Gillenwater revitalized the property with repaired electrical systems, roofs, sprinklers, and more. He brought in a wide variety of industrial tenants, including a variety of steel companies. There still are two tenants on the property.
“When I bought it, it was all open,” he says. “We put in all the walls. It was 100 percent occupied when we had it. But to build something like this today would be cost-prohibitive. It’s an enormous facility. The cost to bring it back up to be usable, it would be very expensive. And it is tough for a facility this size to stay in business.”
The first Bucyrus-Erie plant in Evansville opened in 1914, where it began building steam shovels. Some of the first shovels to come out of the plant helped complete the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914. During the first and second world wars, the Evansville plant produced equipment to be used overseas.
Following the wars, the Evansville Bucyrus-Erie plant began making larger draglines, used mostly for mining. The machines would throw out a large bucket, which would then be dragged along the ground to remove the overburden on top of mineral deposits. The bigger machines could take up three or four rail cars.
Dave Rexing, a member of the Southern Indiana Antique & Machinery Club, has collected several pieces of Bucyrus-Erie memorabilia. He says Bucyrus-Erie played a big role in Evansville’s history.
“The people who worked there, they loved that place,” says Rexing. “They built a lot of construction material here. When they shut down the Evansville plant, Bucyrus just totally stopped building that equipment. They kept their Milwaukee plant going, which built a lot of the big draglines and shovels.”
On Aug. 28, 1981, Bucyrus-Erie announced it was selling its Evansville plant to Continental Emsco, a division of LTV Corp. Continental Emsco operated for only two years before shutting down operations.
“Hydraulic machines were on the market, and they were a lot easier to operate than the Bucyrus machines, which were friction-driven,” says Rexing. “They had pulleys, clutches, and cables, and they were slow. They built everything really well, to the point where it was almost over-engineered. They just did not get with the times quickly enough.”
The building is in the process of being sold, though the purchaser’s name has not been made public. Gillenwater, who is not involved in that sale, says he does not know what the purchaser intends to do with the property.
The Cesco-Kuebler family started Evansville Rug Cleaning in the 1920s. The family’s homestead was right next door to the existing building that stands today at 2122 N. Willow Road, and operated the business until they retired and sold it to Benny and Jeff Day.
“I happened to be in a position with my father (Benny), who owned Dyna-Kleen Services, to be considered for carrying on their reputation,” says Jeff, who marked 40 years in the carpet business this year. “Ironically, we were able to buy it from the Kuebler family back in the late 80s, and at that time, Evansville Rug Cleaning became a subsidiary of Dyna-Kleen Services.”
When Evansville Rug Cleaning was purchased, some of the business’s employees were inherited by the Days. “The most important of which was Mr. Harold Kuebler, who was the son of the founder,” says Jeff. “He was in his late 70s, and worked with us until a week before he passed.”
“We do a lot of the things the way he used to do them,” says Kevin, Jeff’s son who has been with the business full time for eight and half years. “Technology has changed, and the industry has changed, but being with Harold and having him show us how they did things that’s where a lot of our knowledge comes from.”
The generations of Days credit the key to their success to an automated rug cleaner made by the MOR Company in 1940. Called wringers, the unique — the closest other one is in St. Louis — and large machine lifts rugs off the floor and feeds them through to be cleaned, scrubbed, rinsed, and rolled, ready to be dried.
Evansville Rug Cleaning discarded most of the automated parts of the ringer and does more of the process by hand now, such as cleaning fringe, rinsing with a high-volume jet, and cleaning both sides of the rug as opposed to just the surface.
As time progressed, the business started to phase some practices out and focus more on in-home carpet cleaning with truck mounted cleaning equipment, as well as free pickup and delivery of rugs and furniture.
“We’re one of the few companies around that will go and pick up your furniture at home, bring it to our facility, clean it, and then return it, either to that location or if you’re moving to a new location,” says Jeff.
That convenience factor and competitive pricing has built the business a loyal customer clientele, some of which will ship rugs to be cleaned from all over the country.
“We clean a range of $15 car mats and in the same hour, a $100,000 Kashan — something very high-end,” says Jeff.
Pieces of equipment located at the shop are used to clean furniture in ways that couldn’t be utilized at a customer’s home. An air compressor is used to blow particles out of the furniture or from underneath it, skirted furniture can be steamed and pressed, and microfiber or velvet furniture can be brushed to feel soft again after cleaning.
“We’re also blessed to have technicians that have been here a long time that are experienced in a sense that there’s probably nothing they haven’t seen in their time here with us,” says Jeff. “We have one technician that still to this day is a daily figure in our on location cleaning that’s been here for 23 years. We really boast the fact that we have experience on our staff.”
Evansville Rug Cleaning will be replacing the roofs on its buildings after this spring’s storm damage and are leaving room to physically expand at some point in the future.
“Old school is a term that a lot of people use loosely, but years before we got into the business, they were still sending out their trucks to pick up furniture and bringing it back here, and cleaning it and then returning it to the customer,” says Jeff. “We love it when people call us old-school, because we truly are.”
For more information about Evansville Rug Cleaning, call 812-423-5415 or visit evansvillerugcleaning.com.
Working in the tourism industry, there is no shortage of fun for Bob Warren.
Proof of his prolific career decorates his office at the Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he’s worked as executive director since 2011. Warren started working in tourism in 1987 and was the director of tourism in his native city of Galveston, Texas. He also worked as the president/CEO of the Panama City Beach Florida Convention and Visitors Bureau, and came to Evansville from visitgalena.org, an organization focused on marketing the city of Galena, Illinois.
In Warren’s office are mementos from his career such as a program where he judged the Miss Texas contest, which featured Eva Longoria in 1999, a shovel and hardhat from the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel groundbreaking in Evansville, a framed caricature by Doug Harmon, executive director of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, signed by all the board members and presented to him at his final meeting for the Texas Travel Industry Association, as well as many other items.
“I’ve had a very successful career in this industry,” says Warren. “I think it does put me at peace to have all the things I have experienced in my career in the office with me. It feels like home.”
Warren’s office is located in the Convention & Visitors Bureau, 401 S.E. Riverside Drive, in the Pagoda, which was designed by architect Harry Boyle of the firm Brubaker, Stern, and Boyle and built by contractor Charles Kleiderer in Sunset Park in 1912.
“It’s the coolest office I’ve ever had,” Warren says of the Pagoda, which was remodeled in 1995. The office spaces also underwent a $300,000 remodel in October 2012, which lasted around eight months.
The lower level holds the administrative offices, a conference room, and a reception area with oriental red lighting hanging from the ceiling, a river stone wallpaper, and grey, white, and red accents to highlight the Pagoda and the Ohio Riverfront. On the first floor is the visitor information area with staff to answer questions, exhibits, and brochures.
Warren has two years left on his contract and says he plans to retire and most likely relocate to Florida with his wife Vickie of 30 years in May.
“What’s going to occur here over the next 10 to 15 years is exciting,” says Warren. “With the Indiana University medical (education and research partnership expansion) and convention center hotel, you’re going to see more activity, a more robust Downtown. I won’t be here to see it, but I see continued growth just with what we have on the table right now.”
For more information about the Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 812-421-2200 or see visitevansville.com.
Joshua Nunn has been unlocking car doors and changing tires on the side of the road for more than five years. So at the beginning of 2013, he created his own roadside assistance business — Red’s Roadside Assistance.
Nunn works as the owner and sole operator at Red’s Roadside Assistance located at 1751 Hicks Drive. The business offers 24/7 emergency services including flat tire services, fuel delivery, jump starts, battery replacement, and more. Red’s services trucks, cars, and motorcycles; most services costing around $30.
“From working in the industry for a few years, that’s how I came up with the assistances that I offer,” says Nunn, who named the company after the nickname given to him by his family for his red head of hair.
Going beyond the typical roadside assistance, Red’s replaces batteries for the price of the battery only, or works on minor mechanical issues right on the side of the road. Nunn’s services are recognized by major insurance companies, such as Cross Country and Allstate, for customers who carry roadside assistance insurance.
Nunn strives to be there as fast as he can, usually within 10 to 20 minutes.
“I don’t like making people wait; there’s no point,” says Nunn. “If I’m busy, that’s understandable but I want to make it affordable for the customer.”
It’s not unusual for Allen Mounts, director of Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, to lose sleep at night pondering all the things that put the quality of Evansville’s water at risk.
“We have a massive infrastructure, but most of these assets are out of sight and out of mind,” says Mounts. “I spend every opportunity I have to raise the awareness of the risks we have with our water system and the investments we will need to make for decades to protect our water quality.”
Mounts holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Indiana. He has been with the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility for two and a half years.
“I have heard people say that the water tastes better today than it did many years ago,” says Mounts. “I think Evansville water tastes great, and we do a great job of filtering and purifying it.”
Mounts is charged with implementing Renew Evansville, which will help the city meet a federal mandate to comply with the Clean Water Act. The mandate will eliminate combined sewer overflows. The project will be the largest capital improvement project in the city’s history. The city’s $540 million proposal was not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, and negotiations continue.
“The EPA has been pushing for fewer combined sewer overflows, where sewage goes into the Ohio River,” says Mounts. “The EPA has said they want zero overflows, and that is just unaffordable as far as the city is concerned.”
As director of utilities, Mounts oversees a water treatment plant, two wastewater treatment plants, and engineering and support staff. The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility serves and sells water to more than 60,000 customers in Vanderburgh, Warrick, and Gibson counties.
Mounts’ responsibilities include overseeing 1,000 miles of water lines (including 600 miles of original cast iron lines that date back more than 90 years), 800 miles of sewer lines, and numerous water towers and reservoirs.
Mounts admits last winter was particularly brutal. So far this year, the utility has had 451 water main breaks; roughly double the number for last year. The approximate cost of the repairs and the 250 million gallons of lost water from the polar vortex period was $500,000.
For more information about Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, visit ewsu.com.
Belle of the Ball
The famous Carnegie Hall, known as one of the most prominent classical and popular music venues in the world, has enlisted the help of Evansville-based Anchor Industries.
Anchor, a well-known name in the tent and awning industry, was commissioned by Carnegie Hall to construct a large rooftop tent for a special event.
Pavilion, a design firm in New York City, contacted Anchor and asked if the company would create the fabric covering for the rooftop tent. The tent was fully constructed in August for a trial run and was used again Oct. 1 during Carnegie Hall’s Annual Season Opening Night Gala, which featured the legendary Berliner Philharmoniker. It’s the first commercial tent of this size constructed on a New York City rooftop, says Anchor President Pete Mogavero.
It’s an important project for Anchor, but it’s also an opportunity to work with a new piece of innovative technology — air beam supports.
During the design process, it became clear that hoisting a tent with aluminum beams with a crane would be a financial nightmare.
“It costs $100,000 just to get a permit to operate a crane in New York City,” says Mogavero. “So we knew we’d had to do something else.”
In order to get the tent up the elevator, it would need air beams. Air beams are fabric tubes filled with about 25 pounds of air pressure, and they’re just as sturdy as a traditional tent. Air beam tents can be constructed more quickly and easily, and because they’re lightweight, they require fewer laborers to assemble it. It also can be folded flat for easy storage.
“It’s a very innovative move in this industry,” says John Fuchs, tent department sales manager at Anchor. “You get a lot of benefits from it you wouldn’t have with traditional aluminum poles.”
Federal Fabric, a military contract company in Lowell, Massachusetts, created the air beams. It’s the first time Anchor has ever worked with the company, but Anchor plans to collaborate with Federal Fabric on future projects.
For more information about Anchor Industries, call 812-867-2421 or visit anchorinc.com.