Dave Patterson had only one job before he started working for FLANDERS, a North Side motor repair shop co-owned by his father, Roy Patterson. In high school, Patterson stacked field tile for his uncle’s concrete manufacturing company — enough to keep the soon-to-be engineering student at the University of Evansville busy. Originally intending to study mechanical engineering, Patterson was persuaded to go electrical. “I never regretted it,” says Patterson, who transitioned from graduation to a low-runged engineering position at FLANDERS stripping armatures. Despite being raised in the family business, Patterson worked from the bottom like anyone else.
In 1974, Patterson and Jim Havens, the son of Roy’s business partner Bud Havens, purchased stock in FLANDERS and became co-owners. Patterson and Havens continued to build upon the 1947-founded company’s core business of motor repair, which was highly emphasized by the original owner, Frank Flanders, and also by Roy and Bud. The two sons, however, introduced new specialties. Armed with an education in electrical engineering, Patterson became more involved in controls and drives — the electronic brains inside of motors.
Recent years have seen Patterson, along with his three sons, make a deliberate effort to rebrand the company name — an effort initiated by FLANDERS’ development of new motor manufacturing in the 1990s. Mike Fuerstenau, a marketing consultant out of Milwaukee, was brought in last year and hired as the marketing director to assess the FLANDERS brand and come up with an aggressive marketing plan within the Evansville community.
Recognizing the size and potential of the company, Fuerstenau teamed up with AXIOM, a local advertising and communications company, to get the job done. Highlighting the growth and new services, the company shortened its name to reflect its broad scope from FLANDERS Electric to FLANDERS, and has hired more than 150 new employees at its Evansville location in the last two years. About 100 more jobs remain available.
Even for those who travel up and down U.S. Highway 41 regularly, FLANDERS isn’t easily noticeable. A somewhat haphazard gathering of buildings off the highway, the company stands among other warehouses and plants on Baumgart Road. A closer look reveals two massive plants totaling approximately 500,000 square feet — about half of FLANDERS’ global footprint.
The north plant is home to FLANDERS’ new manufacturing operations and serves as the hub for electrical motor assembly. Another FLANDERS facility on Maryland Street (the original 1947 location) manufactures smaller electrical motors, such as swimming pool pumps. The north plant, however, deals with much larger equipment — drives, controls, and motors ranging from 500 to 7,000 horsepower.
From shaping copper wiring, piecing together the coils, and pressing insulation to constructing main fields, everything having to do with AC and DC motor manufacturing begins in the north plant. The brains (the motor) are designed and constructed in the “panel shop,” a sectioned-off workstation in the north plant that has become one of the most important components in FLANDERS’ industry. “Our core competency is service and repair, and we’ve developed in the last 15 years motor manufacturing expertise,” Fuerstenau says. “The area that we’re really looking to grow and develop is in drives, controls, automation, and advanced technologies.”
Job: Retiring principal and executive director of Signature School
Her Story: After more than 10 years as principal of Downtown’s Signature School, Vicki Snyder is ready to pass on the reigns. Retiring at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the 2011 Rotary Civic Award winner is ready to enjoy some downtime after a tough, yet rewarding battle in creating Indiana’s first public charter high school.
Her Resume: Graduating with both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Evansville, Snyder took her first teaching job at Reitz High School. She taught history for 26 years at Reitz before coming to Signature in 1999, when it still was a part-time program with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.
Her Perspective: “It’s been hard — a lot of tears and a lot of exhaustion — but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.”
On her responsibilities at Signature: We included the title executive director/principal because the job really went beyond what a principal does on a day-to-day basis. I work on developing and maintaining the budget and managing operations of the school. I work with teachers in developing our curriculum, I hire teachers, and I have a lot of community activities that I’m involved in.
On leaving the classroom for administration: When I came into Signature in ’99, I loved the teaching atmosphere. I planned to teach here until retirement. But the principal at that time (Dan Durbin) took a job outside of Indianapolis, and so he came to me and said, ‘You need to consider putting in for the principal’s job.’ I began to think about it and I decided to put in for the job and I got the appointment.
On the journey to forming a charter school: I was the principal for one year when we began to think of becoming a charter school. When we opened (August 2002), I did not anticipate the kind of resistance and animosity that we dealt with in those early days. But I don’t focus on the obstacles. We were very excited and committed to providing an academic environment that put academics as the focus.
On the aftermath of becoming a charter school: I look back on the first couple of years and I don’t know how we did it. The hours were so long and there were many nights I was here until 9:30-10 p.m. I remember going home in the evening and just falling in bed. There was a lot to it. It was like starting a business from the ground up.
On the future of Signature: I’m very proud of what the teachers and the kids have put together here. As I look back and get ready to retire, it’s in a good place. I have the utmost confidence in my successor, Jean Hitchcock, who is an academic and believes in quality and high expectations. She also will be a good disciplinarian. I don’t think there’s any magic formula to the success that we’ve had. It’s just that the teachers have worked very hard and we have tremendous support from the parents
On her future: I’m going to take a vacation in October and I’m going to really enjoy myself. I will try to wind down and get away from multitasking so that my brain can be rewired to sit down and read a book without falling asleep.
One more thing: The support and the direction of the school board has been key to our success because they’ve always supported me in day-to-day operations. They depended on me to make decisions, but then they backed me. Our Signature School Foundation board has been phenomenal in their financial support, and also their insights into running the school. It’s been a successful merger between business and education.
According to the U.S. News & World Report, Signature School is ranked the 35th best public high school in the country, the fifth best charter high school, the 49th best in math and science, and No. 1 in Indiana. Also this year, Signature ranked in the top 10 of Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s listing of the best 1,000 public high schools in the nation.
To show how stories in our April/May 2012 issue of Evansville Business fit into the broader context of world events, this edition of Link Up brings the Internet to you. No Google search required.
Winning While We Sleep
Throughout this issue of Evansville Business, we give readers a look into the heavy demands that come with being a high-ranking professional. In “All in a Day’s Work,” Vanderburgh County Chief Judge Mary Margaret Lloyd tells about her 3 a.m. wake-up calls to sign arrest warrants, and Vanderburgh County Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Hermann discusses his lack of vacation in “Back Talk.” Although it’s unlikely these busy individuals have time for catnaps, this article proves it’s possible, and beneficial.
What’s On Your Plate?
In our story “Home on the Free-Range,” local farmer Keith Cannon explains the benefits of free-range farming, and why he and his seven-member family take so much pride in their grass-fed farming business. An advocate for local, family farms in his own right, critically acclaimed bestselling writer Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, discusses his latest book, Eating Animals — a heavily researched novel on man’s eating habits — in an interview with Larry King Live. Also, check out this excerpt from the book.
When Evansville’s South Central Media was introduced to the Mondopad last year, the wall-mounted, life-size tablet — combining visual presentation and cloud-based video conferencing equipment into one unit — changed the company’s perspective on conference calls. Our story “Mondo-mania” shows how technological advances can tremendously improve business. This article sheds further light on the seemingly limitless world of technology, as scientists get closer in creating digital contact lenses.
These Are the “Good Ol’ Days”
By the time you read this I will be within days of my 50th birthday. I am not apprising you of this for well wishes (or mostly sarcastic comments), but to say that I enjoy major milestones as an opportunity to assess my personal, professional, and spiritual growth, or perhaps the lack thereof.
That said, now a half century old, I would like to present my own Top 10 list of lessons I’ve learned along the way — many through the proverbial school of hard knocks. So, in no particular order:
1. Nothing you are doing in your professional or personal life is as important as time spent with your kids. Easy to say, difficult to do. And yes, they really do grow up fast.
2. Try to be kind to everyone, not just those in a position to help you.
3. Now is the time to do what you have always wanted to do. I got my bachelor’s degree at 34 and Master of Science in Management degree at 38. I started playing drums at 43 and have enjoyed every minute of it since. I still always am looking for new and interesting things to do.
4. If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, even a competitor or rival, then don’t say it. We all intend to do this, but don’t always follow through.
5. Take the time to mentor or help others. I have relied many times over the years on lessons learned from others, two people in particular. You know who you are; thanks, and don’t blame yourself, the advice was good.
6. I have spent the last decade heavily involved in coaching youth sports. It’s time consuming, but I would not trade the relationships with the kids and what I have learned along the way (mostly patience, but they learned to be patient with me, too).
7. If you have one or two friends you can count on for literally anything, you are fortunate. I have two lifelong friends I can depend on; very fortunate indeed.
8. Give back. Volunteer. Spend time helping non-profits, not for the recognition but because it’s the right thing to do.
9. In a community that often suffers from a municipal self-esteem problem, lead, follow, or get out of the way. But don’t sit back and complain. It’s not helpful.
10. Always remember, no matter what your age or where you are in life, these truly are the “good ol’ days.”
Thanks for reading Evansville Business and as always I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker
With a name like Right to Bear Arms, the Haubstadt, Ind., gun shop isn’t subtle with its support of the Second Amendment. Sitting just off U.S. Highway 41, the vinyl hunters-haven is identified with a front yard sign boasting large red letters that spell “GUNS,” their Second Amendment nameplate, and the store motto, “Show Your Guns.”
Knowing that not every customer understands weapon jargon, co-owner Bob Hinton keeps it simple from the start. “We greet them right away,” he says. “We put them at ease and don’t talk over their heads.” Sincere greetings, a popcorn and soda stand, and entertainment from his 18-month old granddaughter is what Hinton claims gives his store a customer service edge. “And clean bathrooms,” adds his son-in-law and co-owner Jacob Stotlar.
The shop opened in 2010, after Hinton and his wife Darlene proposed the idea of a gun store to family members. “I don’t like to keep all of my eggs in one basket,” says Hinton, who previously owned a construction business. After entertaining the idea of opening a dog kennel, the avid hunter and gun collector came up with the winning idea following a bad experience with a gun repair. “I thought, ‘there’s a market in this,’” says Hinton. “So we did it.”
“We” includes three families within the family: Bob and Darlene; Ashley, their daughter, and Jacob Stotlar; and Darlene’s brother Trent Smith and his wife, Ginny, and sons, Tucker and Wyatt. Being family-run helps ensure a family-friendly atmosphere, says Hinton, which, he adds, many stores of this genre lack. The range of products sold can seem intimidating, from archery equipment to pistols to muzzle loaders to ammunition, but at Right to Bear Arms, the customer base includes women dragging their husbands in to buy their first bow and arrows, avid shooters, and couples looking for comfort in home security. In addition to the wide array of weapons, Hinton says the plan is eventually to incorporate safety lessons as well as a shooting range. Constantly, he and his team are searching for ways to improve the customer experience. “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” Bob says. “We’re constantly looking for ways to get better.”
For more information, visit www.righttobeararms.us.
The day-to-day work that brings a construction project, such as the University of Southern Indiana’s new Applied Engineering building, to its final glory centers at the crossroads for all job-related activities: the construction trailer. At any given time, the office of Mike Porter, ARC Construction Co. project superintendent, doubles as a space for planning, meetings, and lunch.
This particular trailer, which Porter says is newer and smaller than most construction trailers (bigger jobs with more workers require the larger models), is about eight feet wide and 32 feet long, and a very short hallway divides it into roughly one-third office and two-thirds meeting room.
Between each job, Porter gathers his office supplies and the trailer is cleaned. It’s far from a “spring cleaning,” he says, pointing out tacks and staples lining the walls, where he pulled down posters from the previous job. Over the weeks and months, clutter can begin to stack up. Still, “it’s home away from home,” Porter says.
From coolers to cleaning supplies and appliances to file cabinets full of paperwork, the trailer has everything the crew needs to stay organized. Some days, depending on weather or responsibilities, Porter spends hours at a time in his office, though he laughs and admits he’s never had to spend the night in the trailer. And he isn’t the only one: between lunches, planning meetings, and assignments, every construction worker is sure to pass through the trailer at least once each day, leaving a muddy trail behind.
Porter works on his laptop, relying on wireless Internet connectivity, among piles of folders, cords, and miscellaneous construction equipment such as a hardhat, yet doesn’t think the trailer is all that cluttered — at least, not as cluttered as some can get. His idea of clutter is the stacks of paperwork that can pile up from job to job and pack his file cabinet, which currently overflows with folders from recent construction jobs. Covering the window to Porter’s left is a construction schedule for ARC’s current USI job. This winter’s rainy weather set the job back, and now the schedule is outdated — but Porter still puts it to good use. It may not be accurate, but it works just fine as a window blind.
The Meeting Room:
A long table that takes up most of the room is surrounded by metal folding chairs, serving as both conference room and dining hall. On sunny days the room stays relatively clean; rain, on the other hand, forces the workers to eat inside, and the trailer becomes home to stacks of boots and coolers. Against the far wall, an outlet charges a line of power tools. Porter doesn’t consider himself a messy person — “maybe borderline,” he confesses with a chuckle. “But I put work a little higher on my priority list (than cleaning).”
Until January, Evansville’s South Central Media held weekly conference meetings with a clunky tabletop projector, a 4-by-3 white screen, and a laptop cued manually by staff in the front of the room. The setup was cumbersome, recalls Jason Phillips, the office’s operations manager, since their media department teleconferences twice a week with South Central’s Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn., offices.
Then, in June 2011, at the annual Infocomm International Audiovisual Tradeshow in Orlando, Fla., they were introduced to InFocus’ latest product, the Mondopad, a life-size tablet that combines visual presentation and cloud-based video conferencing equipment into one mega unit.
Dubbed the “glorified iPad,” this upright or wall-mounted device sports a sleek, 55-inch LCD, multi-touch, high-definition screen. The Mondopad is just like a computer, Phillips says, yet its “biggest advantage” is the teleconference application, which includes a 720-pixel camera, four integrated microphones, and a voice-optimized sound bar for dialogue clarity. With the Mondopad application and the internal network password, any PC, tablet, or smartphone can wirelessly sync with the host’s live presentation. And, depending on the viewer’s connection speed, he or she can instantly enhance and control the presentation with side notes, drawings, highlights, images, etc. At the conclusion of the conference, the presenter can attach and send all materials via email with a finger tap on the Internet file.
Aside from teleconferencing features, the device also boasts Windows 7 software – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – and other office capabilities such as whiteboard drawing and writing features, and working with JPG and PDF document formats. The Mondopad highly benefits businesses with traveling sales representatives, says Phillips, though it’s useful for any company that meets regularly to discuss strategies and issues. The most useful feature, according to Phillips, is how he can annotate saved PDF files, edit and highlight installation drawings, and email or forward the instructions to his technicians within minutes. “It really is an all-in-one tool,” he says. “Plus, it’s fun.”
All in a Day’s Work
Though it’s not a morning ritual, a 3 a.m. awakening by the police isn’t necessarily atypical for Mary Margaret Lloyd. Crime never sleeps, which means the 48-year-old Vanderburgh County superior court judge often is asked to sign off on search and arrest warrants at inconvenient times. It’s just a part of the job.
Lloyd, the daughter and sister of two former Evansville mayors, has been a judge for the past 11 years, presiding over a variety of cases, such as family, divorce, criminal, and civil. Her mornings typically consist of collection cases, such as debt collection; motion hearings, which are often used to resolve preliminary issues before a trial begins; and criminal arraignments, where the defendant is initially informed of his rights and charges. By lunchtime, Lloyd, the new chief judge of the superior court as of March 7, usually opts to dine in, just in case more warrants need a judge’s approval. The afternoons are spent “crossing out all of my criminal stuff,” she says, which includes guilty pleas, felony cases, protective orders, and criminal pre-trials, where she meets with both attorneys in a case. “It is a busy job,” she says. “That’s something I always liked about law. I can usually find something to work on.”
Finding her way to law school wasn’t a natural path for the only female judge in the county. Lloyd’s first two years of college were at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., where she changed her major as if it were each day’s outfit. “I was as much of an undecided student as you can possibly be,” she says. “I was interested in dentistry, veterinary medicine, and even chiropractic.” After transferring to the University of Evansville for her junior and senior years, Lloyd settled on radio and television communications, the major she went on to get her undergraduate degree in.
Post-graduation, however, Lloyd still hadn’t found her niche. While she was working retail, her godfather, a former magistrate judge, helped her get an internship with the Vanderburgh County circuit court. Her days then consisted of interviews with criminal defendants and typing up reports for judges. “I really loved it,” she says. “I was fascinated.” This sentiment influenced her to pursue a law degree from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and hasn’t dwindled even more than 20 years later. “My job is never the same. You always hear something you’ve never heard before,” she says. “I see situations that would shock most people.”
In 2009, when the economic crisis settled in, local nonprofit Evansville ARC, which has served physically and mentally disabled children and adults since 1954, found itself in a financial dilemma. “The fact is,” says president Deidra Conner, “we’re running a business and expenses go up. It was becoming harder and harder to manage our budget.” One of the biggest financial burdens was the cost of employee health care. “We were at a breaking point,” she says. “We had to decide what we were going to do.” To the rescue: Tri-State Community Clinics.
The medical company had barely started when Conner approached CEO Joseph Neidig about offering employee health care with an on-site medical clinic. Just like a doctor’s office, the clinics include an intake room (where blood pressure and blood tests are given), a medication room, an exam room (more than one of each depending on a company’s size and needs), and of course, physicians. Employees stay at work for their appointments. The convenience sounded promising, but what resonated with Conner was its cost-effective approach.
A visit to an on-site clinic costs the employer far less than when an employee sees his or her personal physician or a specialist, because Tri-State Community is able to pay for medications and lab work at a wholesale rate rather than retail. Typically, there are no out-of-pocket costs — no co-pays, no deductibles, no prescription bills — for employees and their dependents, although some employers can opt for a small payroll deductible. The idea is that by having a convenient and free place to get health care, employees will be more likely to monitor their health with assessments, illness and injury treatment, and disease prevention, which results in fewer emergency room visits and hospital stays. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95 percent of U.S. health care costs are for reactive purposes; only 5 percent is proactive. On-site clinics aim to flip those numbers.
In 2011, after three years of offering the clinic, ARC’s total employee health care costs were lower than they had been eight years prior. “I feel like it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made during my 10 years here,” Conner says.
Tri-State Community Clinics also offers programs and health coaching for employees, tailoring the programs to fit the needs of the company. Dr. Chad Perkins, chief medical officer with Tri-State Community, says it’s important to consider the demographics that make up a business. “We try to identify the particular risk factors they have in an employee population,” he says. “Are they particularly overweight? Are there a lot of smokers? If you’re dealing with a workforce that’s predominantly older males, there’s perhaps going to be a set of circumstances — whether it be prostate problems, hypertension, or high cholesterol.” Customized incentive programs — such as a “biggest loser” competition or a smoking cessation program — promote camaraderie among employees, ultimately creating a healthier workforce.
Since it launched in January 2010, Tri-State Community now provides clinics in five area businesses — Evansville ARC, Anchor Industries, Flanders, Elmer Buchta Trucking, and A & A Metal Products, Inc. — and several more companies are in the planning process.