May 24, 2016
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“When Good Enough ... Ain’t”

Evansville has a municipal self-esteem complex. We’ve written about the low image the city seems to have of itself many times. Indeed, the inaugural magazine of Tucker Publishing Group was founded to help battle this complex. We asked, “Why not Evansville?” Often we are under the mistaken impression that “passable” is good enough, while complaining that “up in Indy” they don’t do without.

Our feature cover story by Staff Writer Trista Lutgring on Lloyd Pool and our community’s lack of a decent facility begins on page 28, and underscores this line of thought. I realize that we are unable to build everything we are desirous to have as a community and we must remain fiscally responsible. What “grinds my gears” (thanks Peter Griffin) is that a facility in such a poor state of repair is still deemed “good enough” by some community officials. Really? Lloyd is unable to even host USA Swimming meets due to conditions.

By coincidence, during production of this feature, an Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick brief touted that in South Bend, Indiana, an upcoming three-day meet (standard length) was estimated to pump $608,000 into local community coffers. My most immediate concern, though, is as Lloyd Pool limps along mechanically (it is), where do six high school teams, the Greater Evansville Aquatic Team, and the community’s swimmers go if if the pool goes down? Nowhere is the short answer.

As we point out in the story, many new pools throughout the state are being built and are up and are operating. How were they funded? Based on the multiple meetings with different community leaders, no one has attempted to determine if we can get it done here. As Dr. Andy Tharp states in the story, we can either be proactive regarding moving forward or left with no workable solution.

Frankly I am tired of going to Boonville, Lynnville, Huntingburg, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, and Jasper, Indiana, to swim in their far superior facilities. Or is a dilapidated, aging, over-crowded, and dirty facility good enough for Evansville? 

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd A. Tucker
Publisher

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High Flying

Evansville Regional Airport has changed significantly since 2012

Evansville Regional Airport is preparing to welcome a new airline to the team this summer. Along with Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and US Airways (American Airlines and US Airways are in the process of a merger), United Airlines will offer its services to Evansville’s fliers. With three daily flights to Chicago, United begins service on June 4 in Evansville.

“The addition of United gives us more flights on a daily basis to Chicago, which is one of our major hubs,” says Greg Wathen, president and CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. “Also it opens up access to other local carriers. It opens up more avenues for air travel.”

Evansville Business previously visited with Wathen in the April/May 2012 issue when he emphasized the importance of Evansville Regional Airport after a report from Garner Economics that assessed the state of the region.

“If you were to remove commercial air service from Evansville tomorrow, how would it impact the marketplace?” says Wathen. “Companies would have to go to Louisville or Nashville, and, if companies would be going that far of a distance, at some point they would think why are we in Evansville? Keeping an airport here enables us to attract and retain new investment.”

Since 2012, the regional airport has undergone positive changes like the addition of jet bridges, allowing passengers to move from the terminal gate to the airplane without having to step foot outside, an increase in air service with the addition of US Airways’ daily flights to Charlotte, North Carolina, and the shift of the main 1.5-mile runway from U.S. Highway 41 toward the northeast.

“We have to continue seeing the value of the airport,“ says Wathen. “We contribute to the airport because we think it’s important, and we want to maintain this service.”

For more information about Evansville Regional Airport, call 812-421-4401 or visit flyevv.com.

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Courthouse Creatives

Designers collaborate and remodel space in historic courthouse
Nick Basham, Matt Wagner, Rachel Wambach, and Kennedy Rose all work independently and collaboratively in the Old Courthouse.

When Evansville freelance graphic designers Matt Wagner, Rachel Wambach, and Aaron Tanner went looking for an office space in August 2011, they wanted something to make their own.

What they found was an empty room surrounded by windows on the third floor of the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, 201 N.W. Fourth St., Ste. 301, with floors covered in glued-down carpet, sun-bleached walls, and aged ceiling fans — and it was perfect.

“I remembered thinking how cool it was,” says Wagner, owner of Matt Wagner Design, who previously worked in the courthouse for four years early in his career. “I stopped by on my own and looked up here and walked in and peered through the glass and said, ‘Holy cow, this is available?’”

The three designers first came together to work out of Wagner’s home in 2010. They would work individually on projects and often collaborate together as well. “We didn’t know if this was temporary, but once we were working together for about a year, we were like, ‘OK, this is how this is going to be,’” he says.

But the designers lacked a functional office. The renovation took two weeks as the group rented equipment on their own dime and sanded and refinished the floors, reconditioned all the wood, and painted.

“Having a space that we can feel creative in is important,” says Wambach. “We are representing what we do in here.”

Four years later, the office is home to three designers, a developer, and two interns. Tanner of Melodic Virtue left in March and Nick Basham with Nick Basham Design and Kennedy Rose with Smarter Games joined in his place. They serve clients such as Tin Man Brewing Co., Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, Welborn Baptist Foundation, and more.

They’ve given the space “two layers of vintage,” says Wagner. “There’s the original feel of the building and the feel of when advertising was in its heyday during the ‘Mad Men’ era.”

Because it is an open floor plan with no dividers or cubicles, Wagner says chemistry is important. They share the expenses such as rent and the cost of equipment.

“This is stuff that none of us would be able to do on our own,” says Wagner. “The group is more powerful than the individuals.”

Currently, the entire third floor is being renovated after the first two floors were renovated over the past two years.

“It’s the sweetest inconvenience,” says Wagner of the construction noise. “It is such an iconic building in Evansville and it needs to be treated as such.”

For more information about the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, visit vanderburghgov.org.

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Barefoot Design

Local shop owner fulfills promise by purchasing The Secret Garden
Beth Martin, owner of The Barefoot Cottage in Newburgh, Indiana, is now the owner of The Secret Garden building.

Nineteen years ago, Beth Martin, owner of The Barefoot Cottage, stood inside The Secret Garden store in Newburgh, Indiana. Looking around the shop, which sold garden accessories and home furnishings, inspired Martin. She stood upon the steps in the store and declared one day she would have a business just like it.

At the beginning of February, Martin made that statement a reality as she completed the purchase of the building at 101 State St. It allows her to move her store, which specializes in home accessories and furnishings, from 7766 Fruitwood Lane in Newburgh to three miles away in the Historic District location.

The process began when Barbara Ulrich, the former owner of The Secret Garden, approached Martin about purchasing the building during last year’s holiday season. Martin says she wasn’t thinking of moving, but it was a strong financial time and buying the building would be another step in the right direction for her business.

“The ultimate goal is to own your own building. It makes sense from the business standpoint. These opportunities only present themselves very rarely,” says Martin. She points out owning the building is much safer than renting. It allows her as a business owner to invest in her future.

The move also allows her to expand on what Barefoot currently offers. Now Martin has around 3,000 square feet. The new building increases her space by 2,000 square feet. A portion of the upstairs will house Annie Sloan® decorative chalk paint classes and the upstairs patio terrace will be used during the warm months. She also will offer more customization options.

“In fact, we’re going to partner with another store owner in Atlanta and we’re looking at having our own furniture manufactured which is really exciting,” says Martin.

Currently Martin is liquidating the inventory from The Secret Garden. After a final sale in May, she says the store will close while some structural work is completed on the building. Her goal is to relocate and reopen Barefoot by late summer.

For more information about The Barefoot Cottage, call 812-401-3383 or visit its Facebook page.

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Local Voice

Larry Bucshon talks about representing Indiana’s Eighth District
Congressman Bucshon speaks at Gov. Pence’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 announcement at St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville.

Newburgh, Indiana, resident Larry Bucshon was first elected to Congress in 2010. He will be up for re-election in 2016. When not in Washington, D.C., he tours his district, which covers 18 counties and a portion of one county of Southwestern Indiana. During his tenure, he has been successful in getting multiple pieces of legislation signed into law addressing issues such as employment for veterans, prescription drug shortages, and critical funding for roads and bridges.

Evansville Business talked  with Congressman Bucshon for insight on current legislation and what it’s like to be a U.S. State Representative.

What are you working on that could affect Evansville’s future?
“I’ve been working to address regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that have drastic implications for our farmers and coal industry. I’ve been involved in an unprecedented effort to protect seniors’ access to quality health care by stabilizing a flawed physician payment formula in Medicare. I’m also excited about a new initiative called ‘21st Century Cures’ that will accelerate the development, discovery, and delivery of disease treatment and cures in America.”
 
What’s a typical day for you like?
“One thing I learned early on is there’s no typical day in the life of a member of Congress. If I’m in Washington, D.C., my days are filled with meetings, hearings, and votes. When I’m in the district, I spend my days traveling counties I represent attending events, meeting with constituents, and touring businesses and organizations.”
 
What do you wish you could have accomplished in your time in office and haven’t yet?
“I’ve tried to get a member of the Obama administration to tour a coal mine here in Southern Indiana. Indiana is one of the top coal-producing states and all of that coal is mined in my district. I even personally invited President Obama when he was in the area in October of last year. I still haven’t heard back.”

For more information about Congressman Larry Bucshon, call his Evansville office at 812-465-6484 or visit bucshon.house.gov.

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Never the Same

Family-owned electronic business rides wave of industry changes
President John Smith “Smitty” Taylor works with his daughter Stacey DeVault and son Tony Taylor at Hutch & Son.

In the electronics industry where nothing seems to stay the same, one family has remained steady since 1953.

Hutch & Son, an industrial electronics and components supplier at 300 N. Main St., was started by J.W. Hutch and E.R. Taylor in 1953 in Lima, Ohio. Later that same year, Taylor purchased the store and brought the headquarters to Evansville. The business was later passed to his sons John Paul, John Smith “Smitty,” and John William Taylor in the 90s. Today, Smitty, the president, is semi-retired and his son Tony Taylor and daughter Stacey DeVault are involved in the daily operations.

“We’ve been evolving as the technology has been changing,” says Smitty, who has seen the business change from the release of microwave ovens and televisions to the closure of thousands of RadioShack stores nationwide. “There have been so many changes. There is nothing in our business that is the same.”

Tony, who works as the vice president and general manager, has seen these changes firsthand since he started working for Hutch & Son sweeping the floors and talking with customers as a 12 year old in the late 1970s. The business started at 919 Vine St. and was later moved in 1969 to 300 N. Main St. in the location of a former Kroger. In December 2000, the building was destroyed in an electrical fire. They moved to a temporary location while rebuilding at 300 N. Main St. and moved back in for business in May 2002.

Hutch & Son is a member of EDGE Marketing & Procurement, a distributor-owned buying and marketing group, which purchases and follows the latest item trends, and represents the top manufacturers and suppliers in the industry with more than 200 lines. Hutch & Son offers audio, computer, and television accessories and cables, connectors, components, fans, wall mounts, and more.

While it has the newest products, it also keeps a range of older technology to meet the needs of the local factories and plants.

“Just keeping up with the latest and greatest is hard enough to do,” says Tony, “but there are so many plants in Evansville that are still supporting old machinery and don’t have the time or money to change the entire system. We keep a range of items in stock.”

Any product a customer may need, Hutch & Son has access to it, says Tony.

For more information about Hutch & Son, call 800-457-3520 or visit hutch-and-son.com.

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A City of Optimism

Nearing completion on gateway project, KEB sets next goals
KEB Executive Director Julie Welch, far right, presents Vanderburgh County CASA with a $500 check.

There is an air of optimism surrounding the Evansville community that Julie Welch says she has never before experienced.

It’s this kind of positive thinking that made it easy for Welch, who has lived in Evansville since 1992, to accept the executive director position of Keep Evansville Beautiful, 209 Main St., last October.

“I have never noticed such an optimistic viewpoint in the city,” says Welch. “We are optimistic because so many things are happening with the (Indiana University) School of Medicine, the hotel, the Ford Center, all the great things that are happening on Main Street. People just have this spring in their step. They are really looking forward to the future. We have so many organizations that are working together to improve Evansville just for the betterment of the city.”

Welch has worked in nonprofits since 2004 and made the move to Keep Evansville Beautiful after former executive director Marcia Dowell left the post in late July.

“It was an opportunity to run my own organization and I really believe in this mission,” says Welch. “We are catalysts for economic development, and it is so important to have aesthetically pleasing places in your city.”

As the Evansville Airport Gateway Project culminates and the sculpture by Bob Zasadny is being fabricated in Louisville, Welch has several goals she wishes to accomplish next. She wants to continue along U.S. Highway 41 and 57 and work on clearing out dead trees and trash, do new planting, and clean up brush. Welch hopes to work on an anti-littering campaign this summer to address the problem at its source.

“So much industry when they are thinking about coming here — they fly into that airport and drive down 41,” says Welch. “It is crucial that area makes a good impression.”

Inspired by a vibrancy movement in Indianapolis, Welch wants to add painted murals in Downtown Evansville and along U.S. Highway 41. KEB is working with the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, and, if the organization receives funding for the murals, it is a project that could be completed by the fall of this year. She also is working to get approvals from the Indiana Department of Transportation for welcome signs on five entryways into the city. KEB also recently redesigned its website and revamped its social media accounts.

On April 18, KEB will hold its first-ever gala with the proceeds helping pay for operating expenses. The Path to Beauty Gala will be held at 5 p.m. at Tropicana Evansville. Tickets are $100.

For more information about Keep Evansville Beautiful, call 812-425-4461 or visit keepevansvillebeautiful.org.

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Savings to the Next Degree

Nest Thermostat is the future of temperature control
The Nest Thermostat

Long winters and hot summers can prompt concern about utility bills and the money left in our wallets. Nest Labs discovered a way to incorporate both savings and temperature comfort in the world’s first learning thermostat — and Vectren has backed this up with research.

Adapting to changes and programming itself based on a schedule, the Nest Thermostat learns an owner’s heating and cooling habits. Within the first week of installing the Nest Thermostat, it remembers your temperature routine, whether toasty in the afternoon or cool before heading to bed.

The Nest Thermostat also has an Auto-Away feature, sensing when a person leaves the house and automatically lowering the temperature.

The intuitive thermostat comes with an app, enabling the Nest to be adjusted from anywhere with your phone. The app also allows users to check the temperature, change settings, and put the Nest in and out of Away mode.

When energy is being used efficiently, the Nest Leaf will appear, indicating smart energy-saving behavior. In February, Vectren concluded research assessing the energy savings of the intuitive thermostat and found homes with a Nest Thermostat had an average natural gas savings of 69 therms per year, equal to 12.5 percent of the heating use.

“There is extremely limited data on new thermostats and the technology that goes into them, which is why we conducted this research,” says Natalie Hedde, director of corporate communications at Vectren.

For more information about the Nest Thermostat, visit nest.com.

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Finding the Solution

Vicki Hubiak turns basement business into multi-million dollar company
Vicki Hubiak, president and owner of HR Solutions, Inc., took her business from her basement to a $10 million company.

It was 1994, and Vicki Hubiak faced a career crisis. For 15 years she had been climbing the ladder at Peabody Energy, all the way to employee relations manager of the Midwest Division, before the age of 40. In 1990, however, Congress had passed an amendment to the Clean Air Act to significantly reduce acid rain within five years. By 1994, the amendment had taken its toll on the coal industry, and Hubiak was spending much of her time handing out pink slips to employees. The work became, in her words, “overwhelming” and “depressing.”

Hubiak resigned from the only employer she had known since attending the University of Evansville, set up a desktop computer in the walk-out basement of her Henderson, Kentucky, home, and went to work as a human resources consultant and certified resume writer. Despite her departure, Hubiak was respected so much by her former bosses that she signed Peabody as one of her first clients.

Twenty years later, as HR Solutions celebrates this milestone anniversary, the woman who took a leap of faith in becoming an entrepreneur has turned a business in her basement into a $10 million company. She is president and owner of HR Solutions, Inc. in Evansville, which serves businesses and individuals with five core services: staffing, executive recruiting, outplacement, executive coaching, and training. Hubiak and her staff of 15, including her son, Nicholas, recently purchased and moved into the former Umbach & Associates building on St. Joseph Avenue near the intersection of the Lloyd Expressway after outgrowing their longtime location across the street. The new building is named the HR Solutions Business Complex and has 18,000 square feet. It also is an income property for her business.

“I never thought it would be to the level it is today,” Hubiak says with a shake of her head and a smile. “One thing I learned early on is that when you go above and beyond, and exceed expectations, you connect with people. I love working with our team. We’re ever-changing and growing and learning every day.”

HR Solutions provides temporary, temp-to-hire, and contract employees for many diverse clients ranging in numbers of one to more than 170. More than 100 of these positions are at $18 an hour or more. It’s the job of HR Solutions to advertise for these positions, then review applicants to find the best qualified candidates.

Detailed testing sessions, reference checking, background checks, and in-depth interviews by Hubiak’s staff whittle down the list, and clients interview the finalists. Many of their candidates tell them they have never been through such an in-depth hiring process and that the process has a lifelong benefit to them, while providing HR Solutions clients with a highly pre-qualified talent pool and excellent job skills match.

“All of our clients feel we are an integral part of their business,” says Hubiak, about the relationships she and her team have built with their clients. “High-quality staffing and recruiting is what we do for all clients. Whether they need one employee or 100, our process of pre-qualification is the same. What we do works, because we are able to give our clients the cream of the crop of candidates. Most of our employees reach the point of being fully trained and are ready to become an employee of the client. By this time, the company can see that the employee is performing at a high level, is a good cultural fit and that they have a good, solid work ethic. They’re high quality.” 

There are many clients who Hubiak has worked with since the day she started her company in the basement of her home. Hubiak has instilled in her staff a strong desire and commitment to building relationships with clients. These clients range from large manufacturing companies to small family-owned businesses, and include industries such as health care, engineering, pharmaceutical, energy, and finance. This spring, Hubiak is heading the search for a new CEO for a major health care provider. Clients like this and others have turned Hubiak’s home business into a multi-million dollar operation, but individual successes please her the most. 

“I just hope we continue to make a difference with people,” Hubiak says about her company’s future. “We’ve helped people who simply don’t understand why they cannot get a job. By listening, and coaching them, giving feedback, and helping them improve their computer skills, we can guide them. We fully prepare people for an interview, not only to speak about their skills and experience, but by making sure they understand the expectations and the culture of the company where they’re interviewing.” 

As a businesswoman, she is recognized in the community as a driving force for giving back both through her service on nonprofit boards and committees, and monetarily. Over the years, Hubiak and many others on her staff have put in time and resources to help local nonprofits, notably the Women’s Fund of Vanderburgh County, SCORE, YWCA, Boys & Girls Club of Evansville, United Caring Shelters, Aurora, Girl Scouts, Ronald McDonald House, Evansville Rescue Mission, American Red Cross, and Tri-State Food Bank.

Hubiak especially is proud that her company is able to serve as an H-1B sponsor for Tianlin Xu, a Purdue University graduate from China whom HR Solutions recently placed in a chemistry lab analyst position at a local manufacturing company. Hubiak and staff members BethAnn Langlois and Amanda Smith are working with an attorney through the American Staffing Association to assure that Xu can stay in the U.S. through what is called H-1B status, which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign citizens in specialty occupations for three to six years.

“Tianlin sent BethAnn a big bouquet of flowers; she was so happy,” Hubiak says of Xu. “This employee has made a big commitment through her education and training, and I’m so glad we were able to do this. This process can be complicated and companies will sometimes shy away from the financial burden and the legal process. This was a milestone for us in being able to sponsor her. Our company grows from meeting people, and learning, and listening, and helping others. We exceed expectations and give back. I believe in that. I have a passion for that.”

For more information about HR Solutions, call 812-476-3180 or visit hrsolutions-inc.com.

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Working for Clean Water

Nature Conservancy implements new practice to help clean waterways
The Southwest Indiana Program Office is promoting a new practice to help address the excess chemicals in the waterways.

For the seventh year in a row, the Ohio River tops the charts as the most polluted body of water in the U.S., according to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission. The removal of these chemicals can be a daunting task for those such as Brad Smith, program director at the Southwest Indiana Program Office of the Nature Conservancy.

Smith says no one practice is going to solve all the problems, but he hopes small practices incorporated by the Nature Conservancy will lead to solving the larger issues. In 2009, the nonprofit conservation organization Indiana chapter began promoting a new practice to address the chemicals impacting the waterways.

Originally developed by engineers at Ohio State University, the Nature Conservancy (the largest  environmental nonprofit in the Americas in assets and revenue) is working with landowners to prevent polluted runoff from entering the area streams by using an innovative drainage ditch design called the two-stage ditch. By leveling the banks of conventional ditches to 2 to 3 feet above the bottom for a width of around 6 to 20 feet on each side, the two-stage ditch allows the water to spread and slows the velocity of water runoff.

“There is a lot of attention right now on water quality and excess nutrients in our waterways,” says Smith. “Last summer, Toledo, Ohio, had to shut down their water supply, and you had an entire city without water. There is a whole lot of attention on addressing these sources of pollution. This is a way to help identify how we can address these problems in a proactive way and not wait. This is a way for people to be proactive.”

It’s this kind of nightmarish situation that left nearly half a million people without drinking water last August in Northern Ohio that the Nature Conservancy is trying to prevent from happening in Evansville.

The two-stage ditch method mimics a more natural stream channel when compared to conventional ditches, says Smith. The ditches help slow water flow and reduces the amount of downstream flooding, which results in less harmful nutrients entering water sources. These excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus find their way into the Wabash River, which feeds into the Ohio and later the Mississippi, and then the Gulf of Mexico. Indiana’s state river, the Wabash River, is 503 miles long and flows southwest from Ohio near Fort Recovery across Northern Indiana to Southern Illinois where it drains into the Ohio River.

Both nitrogen and phosphorus are common in farmers’ fertilizers to increase crop yields or from power plant emissions. Research shows that a half-mile two-stage ditch reduces nitrogen by 53 tons per year — the weight of 17 elephants.

“Nitrogen is a big contributor for water quality problems all the way down to the Mississippi,” says Smith. “This kind of approach is trying to address that problem at its source. It comes from the Corn Belt of the Midwest. While a single two-stage ditch is not going to make a huge impact in itself, we want to promote the practice so people can incorporate clean practices.” In Toledo’s case, toxins produced by algae were found in the water supply and algae multiples from an overabundance of phosphorus.

Smith calls the practice “self-cleaning ditches,” after seeing a great improvement of aquatic life coming back to grow and live as well.

The Nature Conservancy began implementing the method in the northern part of Indiana and in the last two years, its work has brought the organization to Vanderburgh and Warrick counties. Although there are no two-stage ditches yet in Southern Indiana, one is scheduled in Posey County this spring and another is slated to be in Vanderburgh, Warrick, or Spencer counties by this summer.

“The focus has been on the Wabash River and started in the Wabash River Watershed, but in the northern part of the state. As we have grown and developed this program, we have moved down south,” says Smith.

Smith says the Nature Conservancy is looking for landowners who are interested in learning more — the problem is enough people don’t know about it yet. The Alcoa Foundation has provided the finances to help construct the two-stage ditch, which will go in the Vanderburgh, Warrick, or Spencer County area.

“One of the big hurdles for farmers is that it takes up more land,” says Smith. “The farmer will typically lose about half an acre of total land on either side of the half-mile-long ditch. That may be a bit hard for them to take.”

Smith says the ideal site is where a farmer is already losing that area because of erosion and the banks are failing. “The advantage is they get a stabilized ditch system and don’t have to worry about losing more and more land,” he says.

For more information about the Nature Conservancy’s Southwest Indiana Project, call 812-437-3092 or visit nature.org/indiana.