Tucker Publishing Group collaborated with Dr. Marie Bussing, assistant professor of economics at the University of Southern Indiana College of Business, to give 30 students in her Economics 631 Money and Banking, an upper level class of juniors and seniors, an opportunity to be published in Evansville Business. Students were asked to write about a topic they thought would be of interest to others in the field of banking. Kelsey Elpers, who recently graduated from USI, was selected for her profile on Larry May at Keller Schroeder.
A CFO asks his CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people, and they leave the company?” The CEO answers, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” When I heard this quote, I instantly thought of Larry May, president of Keller Schroeder.
Keller Schroeder is an employee-owned company (via an ESOP, or Employee Stock Ownership Plan) in the Evansville area that provides physical infrastructure such as software and networks, applications for software, and technical staffing upon contract. The team-oriented company has 85 employees.
Being a president or CEO of a company can be a challenging task, since most employees see that person as the person who orders them around from day to day. However, employees at Keller Schroeder seem to think quite differently. May is a well-respected person in the community, and treats his employees as if they are all equally important. May does not even have his own private office; he has a cube, like most other employees at Keller Schroeder. He jokes that he has an “open-door” policy, even though he has no door.
“Company culture is always an important success factor in business,” says May. “But in our business, the only competitive edge we can offer is our people. So what we are most proud of is the way our people care for each other and make this a great place to work. When people are cared for in the right way, it gets passed through to our customers being cared for in the right way.”
One employee, who has only been at Keller Schroeder for a month, says she is already anxious to help others because of the amount of teamwork within the company. Keller Schroeder promotes career advancement, which is why the company invests so much in its employees. There are three qualities that Keller Schroeder encourages in employees: personal growth, spiritual growth, and professional growth.
A unique benefit for employees is that the Keller Schroeder is an ESOP, with the employees owning 60 percent of the company. This allows Keller Schroeder to retain employees for a longer period of time than many companies. This also helps clients, since Keller Schroeder employees have considerable skills and experience. The ESOP also allows Keller Schroeder to minimize the high cost and negative impact of turnover, recruitment, and training of new staff members, which contributes to client retention.
Transparency between employees and their managers is an important part of Keller Schroeder’s culture, as all staff members are encouraged to give both positive and constructively critical feedback on a regular basis.
Quoting an old Wheaties breakfast cereal tag line, May says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
May serves as both president and CFO, and has other account management responsibilities. His role includes leadership within the company, financial oversight, and marketing and client relationship work. May also is involved with the IT Alliance at the University of Southern Indiana College of Business, which is a group of industry leaders who collaborate and help maintain an up-to-date curriculum and provide student internships. Keller Schroeder also sponsors a scholarship at the Romain College of Business. Also, several Keller Schroeder employees frequently speak in classes at the University of Southern Indiana and serve as adjunct faculty at other area educational institutions.
May sees the industry growing exponentially. New technologies are being developed constantly, and with experienced, loyal employees who have a stake in the company’s ownership, Keller Schroeder is poised to take full advantage of new opportunities.
“No one doubts the IT industry is growing, but it is evolving and changing faster than it is growing,” says May. “If we are to remain competitive, we will have to diversify our revenues in new ways. That requires more than a few ideas from top management. We depend on an engaged workforce that thinks like owners — what we call an ‘ownership culture’ — to ensure that we remain viable and relevant in our marketplace.”
For more information about Keller Schroeder, call 812-474-6825 or visit kellerschroeder.com.
Job: Partner at Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel & Shoulders and Indiana University trustee
Resume: Patrick Shoulders holds two degrees from Indiana University. He received his bachelor’s degree in English in 1975 and his law degree in 1978, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Shoulders is a partner at Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel & Shoulders in Evansville and has been an IU trustee since 2002. Dedicated to Evansville, Shoulders has been involved in numerous volunteer projects, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., and other organizations throughout the Tri-State.
Family: Wife, Lisa; a daughter and son-in-law in Newburgh, Indiana, and a son and his partner in New York City, and three granddaughters.
On what being Indiana University trustee means to him:
The trustee position was kind of a natural evolution from the beginning to reconnect with IU about 35 years ago with a local alumni club. I was involved with the Evansville chapter of the IU Alumni Association. From there I was asked to join the College of Arts and Science Alumni Advisory Board, I became the national chair of the whole Alumni Association in 2000. A spot opened on the board of trustees — it was a governor appointee position that opened up — so I thought that it seems to be the next natural step. When I went on the board in 2002, Myles Brand was president of IU, that’s how far back I go. I’m now the senior member of the board in terms of longevity. So I guess I would tell you if you love your university, it’s a wonderful view from there. Indiana University was so important in my life. It’s been an opportunity to give something back to my alma mater that I love. I’ve been able to use it I think to benefit Evansville.
On seeing the evolution, expansion, and growth of Indiana University School of Medicine - Evansville:
It was a wonderful coincidence that at a time when Indiana University, which is the state’s only public medical school and the second largest medical school in the U.S. with eight regional medical centers, decided to expand medical education. We had a new dean who came in very motivated. And working together with him, being part of the ground floor, and there have been a lot of people in this town who helped make that vision reality, but I was able to steer it through the inside channels at IU. With new leadership, ambition, vision, it was just wonderful seeing all that develop and doing my part to make sure that it happened
On his parents’ influence on his education:
My dad went to Central High School; my mother went to F.J. Reitz. My mother graduated in June, they got married right out of high school in July, so we’re first generation college kids, my brothers and I. My parents are firm believers of the American dream and that is, every generation will have it better than we did and that education is key. Here are two high school graduates (Shoulders’ parents) who absolutely pounded into their boys that hard work and higher education is the ticket. So they have three sons, two lawyers and an architect. That was just really an ethic in our house. They (Shoulders’ parents) didn’t have it (a higher education), but by God their boys were going to.
On vision for Evansville:
I always believed Evansville could be the best at what it put its mind to. I want it to be a vibrant, viable, great city that gave me all the opportunities and joy I have had out of life. Now it is available for my daughter and her family. Potentially it will be there for my granddaughters if they choose.
I think that politics on a national level has become broken. It seems to be all about reelection and not much else. I am proud that we’re still able to get things done at a local level. I think the ideological divide of national politics is not the focal point of local government. I hope that continues. Locally it ought to be about retail, service, excellent fire and police, and economic development. I think we understand that locally. When this Indiana University School of Medicine - Evansville idea began to get legs, I had a very small group in this town. They worked hard. It was about Evansville. It wasn’t about who’s going to get credit, who’s going to get reelected, and who’s going to get rich. It was about Evansville and Downtown. That is the way progress is made. I think that is the spirit I am seeing now over these last 10 years in this town.
Point of Sale
Retail, simply put, is the sale of goods and services to the end user. It can be as large as a chain department store that sells a wide variety of items, or as small as a one-person operation with a limited set of products.
While most economic development news is centered on commercial and industrial development, retail plays a vital role in the Tri-State’s economy. In Vanderburgh County alone, 12,301 people are employed in retail (according to statsamerica.org) – making the sector the second largest employer in the county. (Health care leads Vanderburgh County, with manufacturing third, after retail.) In Indiana, there are 312,508 people working in retail.
Beyond those numbers, retail is a vital part of a community. Without it, areas of a city can suffer, which is why Evansville is working hard to bring more retail to Downtown. In this feature story, we take a look at the current state of retail in Evansville, profile some of those who have made it a career, and look at what the future might hold.
Location, Location, Location
Evansville’s retail assets evolve By Nathan Blackford
Until the Baby Boom era, Evansville’s main retail district was Downtown. Stores like Schear’s, Salms, Sears, and the Economy Store drew in shoppers from across the city. But starting in the early 1960s with the opening of Washington Square Mall, retail stores began to migrate outward from the city core.
While retail in areas like Green River Road to the east and Pearl Drive on the city’s West Side has boomed, Downtown retail has diminished. Now, officials are hoping to bring more retail back to the area. Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce, says retail business plays a key role in quality of life for Tri-State residents.
Evansville officials have put a great deal of effort into reviving the city’s Downtown, with the Ford Center and planned construction of a new convention hotel and Indiana University Medical School Evansville. But Gillenwater says the area won’t ever be vibrant without new retail locations. She’d especially like to see local, unique shops.
“We have seen a great deal of retail expansion on the East Side, and I think we’re beginning to see expansion on the North Side,” says Gillenwater. “I think we’ll have opportunities in the five cultural districts, like Franklin Street and Downtown. We have great assets Downtown, but let’s keep building and see Downtown as an opportunity for retail.”
Sean Ferguson, Eastland Mall’s marketing manager, agrees. He says a vibrant town will draw more people to Evansville, thereby helping all retailers.
“We feel strongly that Downtown needs to be more vibrant and more successful,” says Ferguson. “Everybody will benefit from that eventually. The core needs to be strengthened for the East Side to be stronger, for the West Side to be stronger. We feel really confident that the medical school location (Downtown) was the best place for the city. The effect on retail will be huge.”
While local officials continue to push for the revival of retail Downtown, developers are simultaneously planning for growth elsewhere. Areas like University Parkway to the west and the planned Promenade development to the east could be the next big retail areas for the Evansville area.
“Location is a big issue for retailers,” says Gillenwater. “They have to think about what the anchor retailer or anchor asset in the area will be. Or are they looking to be an anchor? And what is the market for that kind of business.”
Retail has boomed on the West Side in places like the Creekside Stores and Pearl Drive. Similarly, it has expanded to the east around the Evansville Pavilion, Lakeside Commons to the north, and has popped up in strip malls along Burkhardt Road and recent developments have brought more stores to N. Green River Road, all the way to Lynch Road.
To the west, the University Parkway corridor has attracted attention but no development so far, while to the east the Promenade will get its first retail store later this year.
The Promenade is a project of Hirsch-Martin Development, LLC. Managing member Steve Martin, also the CEO of the Martin Group of Companies, says it has taken years to get the Promenade ready for tenants.
Martin points out that the nearby Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores are among the top selling stores in the country. That, he says, means development to the north is inevitable.
“We had a market study done, and it told us that this is the spot,” says Martin. “It is a natural evolution. The reason that it’s evolving is Interstate 164. It is easy access. Retailers are always interested in being in the right spot. And there is no doubt in our minds that this is the right spot.”
A new Academy Sports and Outdoor store is currently under construction at the Promenade’s southwest corner. A second retail site, just to the north, could start construction later this year.
“We are in the planning stages right now for an 80,000- to 100,000-square-foot shopping center north of Academy,” says Martin. “And then we’ll start later this summer on The Havens (apartments).”
The Promenade is designed to be unlike other retail locations in the Tri-State. Martin says it will also include housing, offices, and an entertainment district centered around a man-made lake. It is designed to be easy to walk through and will have stops for public transportation.
“We think it will be very, very successful,” says Martin. “There is no place like this in Evansville. It is just the idea of being able to walk down the street and window shop a little bit. And there are a lot of things that can be done around that lakefront.”
As the push to the east and west continues, Martin acknowledges that some of the Promenade’s tenants could simply be businesses that abandon other locations in Evansville to move someplace new.
“We’d like a good mix of national brands and local shops that want to be a part of it,” says Martin. “Every retailer has things they are looking for. What we’ve identified is a lot of brands that are not here. We are trying to bring in new things to Evansville. But there will be some moving around. There always is. Retailers go through cycles.”
Ferguson agrees, noting that stores move in and out of Eastland Mall all the time. Ferguson says it’s hard to know which businesses will be successful in the Evansville market. Eastland Mall, therefore, works not only to keep a wide variety of stores as well as bring in retailers that have never had a store in the Tri-State in the past.
Eastland Mall, which opened in 1981, annually brings in 10 million visitors. The mall regularly brings in customers from 25 counties. That, says Ferguson, helps other retailers all over Evansville.
While most economic development groups focus on industrial and commercial businesses, local officials acknowledge that retail plays a major role in the local economy.
Ferguson says the Evansville retail market tends to be fairly middle-of the-road, without a lot of spikes or drops that other cities see. He says Eastland Mall weathered the recent recession fairly well.
“We did not have near the number of issues that others did,” he says. “We have the typical: stores leaving, stores coming in. You’ll see spaces open up, but that’s an opportunity to get new tenants in. And we’re always 95 to 100 percent full.”
Eastland Mall officials have, in recent months, been very visible in their support of community projects like the medical school, new baseball/softball complex, and more. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure returns to Eastland Mall in September, as well.
“Everybody benefits from stuff like that,” says Ferguson. “We’d be silly not to be supportive of key economic development things like that. We feel like we’ll benefit from that over time.”
Gillenwater says retailers have different needs, depending on the size of the store, items offered, whether they are part of national chains, and more. The chamber more often deals with local owners.
“National brands have a lot of marketing dollars lined out,” says Gillenwater. “Whereas with local independents, they rely on the community to get the word out. That can be marketing and advertising, or partnership opportunities. We have national brands who are members (of the chamber), but our penetration is higher with the independents.”
The future of retail, both in Evansville and nationally, isn’t completely clear. But Martin points out it will almost certainly have an increased online presence.
“Retail is changing. The brick and mortar retailer has to change,” says Martin. “The Internet now makes up about 10 percent of retail activity. Technology is changing fast. So who knows where retail will be five years from now.”
Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
Don’t get too excited by the title of this column. I know some of you were probably ready to help me pack, load up, and ready to chip in for gas for the U-Haul. Unfortunately for you, I am only retiring from coaching youth sports. For me, frankly, this is a really big deal — a huge part of my life, and a big part of who I am.
I first started coaching coach-pitch in Newburgh, Indiana, for my brother (miss you buddy) Brandon’s team in 1982. That season was remarkable, primarily because there was a pint-sized kid running all over the field grabbing every ball and making good accurate throws to first base (where no one could catch it). When I would pitch underhand, while others struggled mightily, this kid was hitting rockets all over the diamond. That youngster was Jamey Carroll, who played 12 seasons in the major league (he was released from the Washington Nationals earlier this year). I doubt if he is giving me any of the credit. His older brother Jason and father Larry taught him well. Brother Wes said it was the constant playing in the neighborhood and practicing with his older brothers’ team for two years. As coach of the University of Evansville baseball team, I will take his word for it, when he calls it “learning awareness.”
Another fun coaching stretch was returning to Newburgh Elementary School (Go Wildcats!) and helping as an assistant basketball coach for then fourth graders. The coach was a sixth grade teacher and was just getting his feet wet officiating CBA Basketball across the country. Watching him progress in his career was fun and in 1988, Ted Bernhardt began a nearly 20-year NBA officiating career. Many will associate him with the infamous Dennis Rodman head-butting incident. While fun to remember these two, the best memories will be the hundreds of kids who I have had the opportunity to meet along the way.
Coaching kids is the perfect opportunity to teach children life lessons through sports and even remind yourself of a few things along the way. I have seen kids, parents, officials, and myself at their best and worst of times, and met outstanding young men of great character.
With my youngest son turning 13 this summer, it is now time. My oldest son, Max, is spending his summer helping to manage the baseball grounds and concessions. In my opinion, there just isn’t any better family atmosphere than a Little League park or grade school gym. I am more than ready for the view from the bleachers with a bag of popcorn and still silently saying “get back on defense” or “watch the ball all the way in.” I honestly don’t know that I will ever be able to do anything as impactful as hanging out with a bunch of good kids and I know I will miss saying “c’mon boneheads, let’s get some runs.” But … it is now time.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker
Full Speed Ahead
When we last visited with Nix Welding Service in the December/January 2013 issue of Evansville Business, the Poseyville, Indiana, company was busy with all kinds of projects, and was preparing to start up its own painting and powder coating operation.
A year and a half later, the system is up and running, giving the 112-year-old family business control of the entire fabricating process. Matthew Nix, the fifth-generation president, says things are going well.
“It has been a great asset to the rest of our business offerings,” says Nix. “We are doing liquid painting and refurbishing, which services our agriculture and construction customers. We also do the powder coating to a lot of the parts we fabricate. We’ll also powder coat for other customers as well.”
Nix Welding Service offers a variety of welding and machine repairs. The business started mostly with farm equipment, but has grown to include everything from portable mine buildings to yachts.
In the past, the fabricated machine pieces had to be sent out to be painted or powder coated, creating a delay. Since almost anything created out of metal requires some sort of coating, it made sense to do the process in-house.
“We are able to control the quality and turnaround time ourselves,” says Nix. “We can be accountable for that, and if there are any issues, we can address those and take care of it.”
Nix Welding has grown its space in the past six years, increasing from 4,800 total square feet to more than 24,000 at its Poseyville location. It is involved with constructing custom aluminum workboats — for a company in the environmental cleanup industry — which range in length from 26 to 34 feet.
Nix also has made a different kind of addition this year — a son. Two-month-old Charlie already has his own Nix Welding uniform and, perhaps, could someday become the sixth generation of the Nix clan to join the family business.
For more information about Nix Welding Service, visit nixwelding.com.
Cookies for Canines
Very few dogs can resist the allure of peanut butter. As soon as I begin to open the jar, my pup magically appears at my feet with an unbreakable trance, staring me down. In 2009, local entrepreneur Chris Thomas discovered a way to share his peanut butter with his Great Pyrenees, Bear, by whipping up healthy (and safe) cookies in his own kitchen.
When the Thomases adopted Bear from an Owensboro, Kentucky, sheep farmer in 2007, they were eager to begin raising their 10-week old puppy. After a trip to the pet store, they began feeding Bear kibble, only to find out he had never seen dog food before in his life.
“The sheep farmers fed him exactly what they ate at the dinner table: mashed potatoes, chicken, vegetables,” says Thomas. “Bear didn’t know what the dog food was when we put it in front of him because it didn’t look like the food he had eaten.”
Bear didn’t eat Milk-Bone® biscuits either. Or most of the other types of dog treats. One thing he did like were peanut butter cookies made by Chris’ wife, Jennifer. Packed with 100 calories apiece, the husband and wife team thought if they extracted the fat and sugar, the cookies would be healthier and a suitable treat for Bear. After confirming the idea with their veterinarian, who collaborated on the recipes, the Thomases began baking homemade peanut butter cookies that were a safe alternative to regular dog biscuits. The duo calls their kitchen Bears Bone Bakery.
“Our cookies are made with no preservatives or artificial coloring. We import the Tahitian vanilla bean and the Saigon cinnamon and they are all USDA grade, low-fat and low-sugar versions of the made-for-human cookies,” says Thomas. “About 80 percent of the fat and sugar has been removed. They still have the cookie flavor, which makes them delicious for people to eat, too.”
If you were around the corner of Vogel Road and Green River Road during the winter months, you’ve probably seen Thomas and Bear selling treats out of a red wagon in the Harp’s Exotic Fish & Pets parking lot on N. Green River Road. The duo also attends most area farmers markets.
“Bear does the selling. People love the treats, but most will come up to pet and play with Bear,” says Thomas. “We have to put him to work, too; after all, this is a family business.”
When the peanut butter cookie became such a hit, the Thomases incorporated other flavors in the treats: cranberry oatmeal, bacon, cheddar, and a new cookie coming soon — pumpkin ginger snap.
Bears Bone Bakery treats are sold at Tri-State Vet and Pet Supply, Twilight Bistro, Harp’s Exotic Fish & Pets, Pets 1st, Give A Dog A Bone, Vanderburgh County Humane Society, Epperson’s Veterinary Clinic, and Gabby’s Boutique in Henderson, Kentucky.
For more information about Bears Bone Bakery, visit bearsbonebakery.com.
Sometime in early 2002, a shipment was made into Michigan from Asia. The crate contained ash wood to help stabilize it. And unbeknownst to anyone at the time, the ash wood was carrying some very troublesome insects.
The Emerald Ash Borer has now invaded 22 states and Canada. It has already destroyed around 200 million ash trees, and many more are expected to be damaged and killed. The insects have invaded almost all of Indiana, though they have yet to be detected in Evansville.
But that, says TruGreen commercial manager Anthony Moffat of Evansville, is just a matter of time. And once the insect arrives, it will spread quickly.
“They found it last year in Perry County, and there is a quarantine in Dubois County,” says Moffat. “It looks like, for Vanderburgh and Warrick counties, it will be in the next 18 months. But the way this insect moves, they can’t say for sure. It could be next week, it could be next year.”
Places like Indianapolis, which already has seen the Emerald Ash Borer invasion, have lost thousands of trees. Ash trees account for about seven percent of the trees in Evansville.
“We’ve already taken some ash trees out Downtown in preparation for the pest,” says Evansville city arborist Shawn Dickerson. “We do plan to apply insecticides to some trees that are historically significant or ones that we want to try to save. But we’re waiting for it to get a little bit closer before we start doing that.”
The insects themselves are relatively small, at about a third of an inch long. Adults are a dark, metallic green color and feed on the ash canopy. The larval stage of the insect is what does the most damage, boring into the tree trunk and preventing the tree from absorbing nutrients.
“The pest will kill ash trees very similar to the way that the chestnut blight killed trees long ago,” says Dickerson. “Once the Emerald Ash Borers get into an area, they will kill every single ash tree in that area, except for the individual trees that are treated.”
While the Emerald Ash Borer adults can fly up to a half-mile on their own, they also are commonly transported by humans moving firewood or nursery stock. Dickerson says so far, there is no sign the insects have entered Evansville.
Trees can be treated to protect them from the insect. The life cycle of the insects is 10 to 12 years, meaning ash trees will need multiple treatments.
Dickerson says home and business owners with ash trees will have to consider the cost of treating the trees versus the cost of removing them. Dickerson and Purdue Extension Horticultural Educator Larry Caplan both offer free tree inspections.
For more information, visit extension.entm.purdue.edu/EAB/.
Back to the Basics
The familiar saying of “you are what you eat” has become a lifestyle for Jerry and Marsha Steckler, who are the founders of Steckler Grassfed, a family-owned, pasture-based, certified organic farm in Southern Indiana.
Twenty-nine years ago, the Stecklers worked as conventional dairy farmers and kept their cattle in confinement. But in 1994, Steckler Grassfed made a commitment to a more natural way of farming that combines organic production practices with intensive rotational grazing on the 200-acre farm in Dale, Indiana.
“When our customers eat our cheese, it is like their whole body jumps and wakes up,” says Jerry. “Our body knows good food when we get ahold of it. It happens so often with people, and it all comes back to raising food in harmony with nature.”
The Stecklers have been inspired by the book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” Weston A. Price, DDS. Price and his wife traveled the world searching for the secret to health. He observed perfect dental arches, minimal tooth decay, immunity to diseases, and overall excellent health in some of the most remote areas. He later reported that when those populations were introduced to modern commercial foods, signs of degeneration quickly became evident.
“We feel like this is our mission and that we have been led by God to produce food the way He intended,” says Jerry.
Steckler Grassfed offers aged, raw-milk cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, and pepper jack from its own Dutch Belted dairy herd, pastured poultry and eggs, and 100 percent grass-fed beef and lamb. Because their cows and lambs eat a fresh salad bar everyday, the pasture raised environment results in tender, lean, and delicious beef and lamb. Removing the grain-fed alternatives, fats and calories in the meats are altered and also raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones.
Producing around 70 pounds of cheese a day, Steckler Grassfed cheese is packed with nutrition and includes a balanced blend of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, as well as digestible vitamins and minerals with a full slate of enzymes and conjugated linoleic acids.
Their broiler chickens are raised in floorless pens, which move every day for fresh air, exercise, pasture, and bugs. The farm fresh eggs are laid by hens, which are free-range. Steckler also raises Thanksgiving turkeys that the company will butcher to order every fall.
All of Steckler’s products are offered at its on-farm store, which is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, noon to 6 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment. Its cheese is also available across the Tri-State area in many retailers and winery locations.
“Because our cows are rotational grazers, the cheese we produce is literally a taste of Southern Indiana,” says Jerry.
For more information and a complete list on where to find Steckler Grassfed products, call 812-683-3098 or visit stecklergrassfed.com.
The slim, stylish appearance of Google’s newest product, Google Glass, aims to bring sci-fi technology into the everyday world. Since May 2012, the company famous for its white background search engine and Doodles has tested eyeglasses with smartphone capabilities in an invitation-only Explorer program.
“It can do anything my phone can do but it’s hands-free,” says Andrew Heil, an Evansville resident who participated in Explorer and has owned a pair since summer 2013. “I don’t have to be down here on my phone.”
When the wearer initially puts on the glasses, a sensor pad located on the side of the lightweight frame activates a small screen in front of the right eye. From there, the user can connect to Wi-Fi using a phone as a hot spot or as a data source and use the glasses just like a smartphone. Apps are available through MyGlass using Google Glassware programs, and all media taken with the Glass is automatically backed up to the user’s Google+ account, which offers different privacy settings.
Heil uses Google Hangouts at his job in IT at the Ariens Company in Evansville for interoffice chat, with messages going straight to the device’s screen. Work email and social media sites are also easily accessible with the device. Voice commands such as “OK Glass” and “Take a Picture” are currently how the technology works and the sensor pad allows the wearer to swipe and click to different screens or apps.
The device is now available for general purchase on the Google Glass website for $1,500. The frames, lenses, and accessories are all customizable.
“Is it worth it? That’s yet to be determined,” says Heil. “Everyone didn’t jump on the iPhone when it came out but it has the potential to pay off.”
The eyewear device is compatible with iPhone- and Android-based phones. The device comes with 12 gigabytes of usable memory.
For more information on Google Glass, visit google.com/glass/start.