If It's To Be, It's Up To ME


Shirts Galore & More

Shirts Galore & More

On Tuesday, the CEO class visited Shirts Galore & More to meet with owner Ryan Wisnasky and learn about the T-Shirt industry. Ryan has been a graphic designer for 15 years and bought Shirts Galore & More in August, 2016. Ryan stressed the importance of branding and reputation and taught the class the difference between vector files and raterized files. He talked about the importance of a logo and the color and font options. Ryan sharedhis different methods of printing and his different machines and talked about the maintenance of his equipment. Ryan's message was to treat everyone like you want to be treated. If you mess up, fess up. The students received instruction on how to screen print, and learned the process of creating screeens and the effort it takes to screen print T-Shirts.

Thank you, Ryan and Allen, for spending your morning with CEO and allowing students hands-on learning.


CEO Empowerment Day provided by The Nicol Foundation

Elvis, Kevin Nicol, Donnie Wilson, Olympians, Plus More

On Wednesday, the CEO class met at the Collinsville Convention Center hosted by the Nicol Foundation for the third annual CEO Empowerment Day. All attendees received their own copy of Mr. Nicol’s financial book, and learned about his business fundamentals of “Faith-Based American Exceptionalism.” The class learned communication skills from Bob Schulz, who taught them that there is always a way to have a conversation with someone. He encouraged students to find something unique about each person they meet. The ability to engage people in conversation will change your life.

Students listened to CEO’s roots from the Midland Institute’s Donnie Wilson, who said “CEO is a shortcut to success” and talked about the emphasis on CEO Connect with CEO alumni. Entertainment was provided by a professional Elvis impersonator, Steve Davis, who taught students how word of mouth goes far. He said, "if it's to be, it's up to me." He gave the class valuable insight into show business and money decisions early in his career. Students listened and learned from many local speakers and Olympic athletes, who related business to the Olympics because they both take determination, commitment, training and a plan B.  When given the message to "Dream BIG" by Pete Visintin, students were grouped with other CEO students and talked about a process and business to produce 50,000 T-shirts. 

Thank you to all the guest speakers, Kevin Nicol and The Nicol Foundation for providing Granite City CEO students this opportunity and being an investor in CEO. Thank you for organizing and providing a special day for CEO.


icon Mechanical & Engineering LLC

Jeff Smith and Steve Faust

The CEO class visited icon Mechanical & Engineering LLC on Thursday and learned about the construction industry from Jeff Smith, CFO, and Steve Faust, Business Development/Diversity Coordinator. Students heard that safety is their number one concern and icon has an excellent safety rating, which helps sell their services. They have received many safety awards and have been recognized in the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the fatest growing companies.

When touring the facility, students watched how using computer software and the process of pre-engineering the components, allows the operation to be a plug and play experience at the project site. Students learned that icon Mechanical has had projects in 42 states and has worked on 4 out of the 9 LEED certified buildings, including the largest one in North America. icon Mechanical partners with other companies such as Monsanto, Nissan, universities, hospitals, etc. icon also taught the class how they collaborate with the owner, engineers, architects, and subcontractors to make sure everyone is satisfied.

CEO students appreciate Jeff, Steve and icon Mechanical for your hospitality and time in sharing information about the construction industry. CEO thanks you for being an investor in CEO.


Simulating Life Decisions

1st MidAmerica Credit Union

To close out the eventful week, the CEO class went to 1st MidAmerica Credit Union in Bethalto on Friday, and received a fun presentation from Alicia Lignoul and the 1st MidAmerica Credit Union staff on money management and priorities. The students got paired up with a spouse, had a job and a family and had to learn to manage money and make life decisions in Mad City Money. The class had to pay for food, entertainment, child care, transportation, and housing. Then the couples were given financial surprises and emergencies. It gave insight to the students as what they have to look forward to as being an adult. The credit union also explained the difference between a credit union and a bank.

Thank you, Alicia and the staff of 1st MidAmerica Credit Union, for providing CEO students with this real world learning experience. We appreciate you becoming an investor in CEO. Thank you.


Student Journal Highlights for this week

On Monday the CEO class stayed at the library and discussed what we were planning to do for our own businesses. Mrs. Greenwald talked to us individually about what we wanted to do. We also went over the plan for our class badges and went over the expenses they would be.

Tuesday was our visit to Shirts Galore & More. There we learned how exactly shirts were made along with the process of actual paint being placed on them. We learned about screen printing. When you are branding your company, you always want to make sure you have a good font along with great colors.

Wednesday, the class met at the Convention Center in Collinsville. There we learned about the secret of making money as Kevin Nicol had said. There were so many speakers there who taught us so much from never giving up on your dream, to how you should always be working. The most memorable part of this experience was definitely Elvis and all of the Olympians. Elvis taught us that even if people are against you that you should always follow your dreams. His stories really touched our CEO class. This by far was the best experience I have had in CEO this year.

Icon Mechanical is the business we met at on Thursday. Icon Mechanical started in 1995 as a super tiny business and now has expanded worldwide. Icon helped build the largest LEED platinum building in the world. Their bonding capacity exceeds over $120,000,000. Jeff Smith and Steve Faust showed us how they run their business and how they place pipes down. Icon Mechanical is a really updated business with very high tech computers showing them what to do. Steve Faust explained to us that everything they do revolves around steam. Steam was the most important topic he explained to us.

On Friday the CEO class took a shuttle to the 1st Mid America Credit Union in Bethalto. Alicia Lignoul gave us an activity to do that helped us learn about how the real world works. Money is one of the most important things in the world as she explained. Without money how would we be able to live? Alicia taught us just how important it is to spend your money wisely. This was a really good experience for me and I can honestly say I am not ready to grow up!

Autumn Reynolds

Autumn Reynolds
Sunday, September 24, 2017Learn More About Autumn

On Monday, we spent our time finishing our letters to the businesses that have visited us and that we have visited. Mrs. Greenwald talked to us about our business ideas and our grades in the class.

On Tuesday September 19th we went to Shirts Galore and More to learn about the importance of proper business representation and the importance of logo design and color, and also to make some interesting Granite City Warrior Tshirts. On arrival we met Ryan Wisnasky; he took us to the next room to show us the importance of color and font on a logo. He showed us two side by side pictures that had the same text but one was all pretty looking and the other had blood dripping down on it. It showed me the importance of font because you are saying the same thing but they both have very different meanings. The next thing he showed us was the difference between raster files and vector files. He showed us his logo zoomed in 200x on a raster file and it was so pixelated you could barely tell it was his logo but then he showed us a vector file of the same image and it was sharp as a needle even after being zoomed in so far. He stressed the importance of not using a business card logo to put on banners and posters because it is so pixelated and unprofessional looking. After showing us his equipment he uses to embroider, we went to the back room where all the “magic” happens. We got to make Warrior Tshirts and take a picture with them.

On Wednesday we took a field trip to the Collinsville Convention Center for The Nicol Foundation CEO Empowerment Day, a day dedicated to having businesses talk to many of the CEO classes of Illinois. Kevin Nicol, the CEO and President of Nicol Financial Services, and The Nicol Foundation, set up a day of fun learning and opportunity for the students of CEO. Mr. Nicol started the presentation telling us about himself and his beliefs. I love how Mr. Nicol believes in faith based American exceptionalism. I love how he loves God and his country just as much and probably more than I do. He introduced his staff gave us the big meaning of the day. He said “did you know I know the secret to making money?” He asked if we would want our name on a parking spot at the school or work, he said why put your name on one spot when you can buy the whole lot.” He was teaching us to think big. After Mr. Nicol spoke we had an Elvis impersonator give Elvis's story and sang some songs. We later learned Elvis was Steve Davis, where we learned his business story. “He talked about how in college, his mother despised him and thought he was a lazy bum with no job. It wasn't until one winter when he went home for Christmas after being humiliated he asked his dad what a 1099 was. His dad asked him “how many do you have?” And when he replied "412," his mom started yelling. His dad told her to be quiet because he realized he was making more money than they were. After Steve Davis gave his story we got to mix and mingle with other CEO students and that's where I think I learned the most was from other CEO students. We ate and had some Olympians speak to us. Derrick Crass was a weightlifter in the Olympics and on his Olympic debut had an extreme injury that affects him to this day. We also had John Carenza, Lou Vitucci, and Jim Campbell “soup” speak to us about their careers and how they ended and what they gained from their experiences.

On Thursday we took a visit to icon Mechanical where we learned the importance of safety in the workplace, and what a company that is on the forefront of technology looks like in their industry. icon Mechanical is a company with the credentials of a 50-60 year old company at the age of 22. They take huge pride in their .68 safety rating. Their safety rating is very important to their success because if their rating goes over a 1 they could lose all their clients. They have shown what a relatively new company can do in 22 years. icon Mechanical has revolutionized their industry. They pre build everything in the shop so it doesn't have to be built on the work site and once the pieces enter the site they are put together like puzzle pieces. It's genius and it saves money, time, and reduces the chance of a problem.

On Friday we arrived at the school at 7:00 so we could be at First Mid-America Credit Union in Bethalto, IL by 7:30 so we could do an interesting activity. On arrival we met with all the staff of the credit union. The activity we did was called Mad City, it is a life simulator where you have to budget and chose your choices wisely. You had to buy a car, a house, pay off outstanding debt, care for a child and more. It opened my eyes and reinforced my belief in buying everything with cash.

Jacob Roderick

Jacob Roderick
Sunday, September 24, 2017Learn More About Jacob

This week was interesting as well as eventful. Monday I met with Mrs. Greenwald to tell her ideas for my business. To be completely honest, I still don’t know yet. I want to make something that doesn’t exist already. I would like for my business to be unique. Being a trainer is what I really want to do and possibly own a supplement company. These may not be accomplishable considering I haven’t been to college yet. Getting exposed to different businesses has also helped open my mind for the amount of things that consumers want and need.

Tuesday we met at Shirts Galore & More. This business visit was interesting to me because I once tried starting my own T-shirt business. Now, I know why it failed, I was clueless about all of the equipment as well as the time it takes to have a successful T-shirt business. Printing my own T-shirt while I was there was very cool. I had no clue how many T-shirts they can print in one day.

Wednesday was a long day. I learned a lot from everyone who spoke to us. When I first arrived, I thought it was going to be very boring. This was not the case, I ended up having a good time and was exposed to knowledge that I can take throughout life. When I first saw Steve Davis I thought he was joking. This guy was very serious and ended up being an extremely intelligent and interesting man. I learned from him and the Olympic alumni that making money comes easy as long as you do what you like and work hard at it day in and day out. “If it is meant to be, it is up to me.” This means if you want something to happen then you must work at it and not rely on anyone to do it for you.

Thursday we met at Icon Mechanical. This is an outstanding business, they have accomplished so much as a company in the past twenty-two years. I had no idea the planning and work Icon does. I was very interested in the way engineers plan the work on projects. From the computer work to the job itself all amazed me. I would love to work for this company in the future.

Friday we visited 1st Mid America Credit Union. First, I’d like to thank them for being a sponsor and buying us CEO polos. My biggest take-away from this visit is being an adult is expensive. Learning how to manage money is extremely important. “First pay yourself before you pay others.” This is for a rainy day you have money to fall back on, to help you get out of debt or whatever the case may be. This week was a good week and thank you to all who invited us to your business.

Adam  Marmion

Adam Marmion
Sunday, September 24, 2017Learn More About Adam

This was a very busy week, we had business visits every day except Monday. I guess I got what I wanted, more business visits. This week was pretty awesome though, we had some very fun business visits. All in all it was a good week, even though I was late most days.

On Monday, we stayed at the library and talked about ideas for our business with Mrs. Greenwald. Luckily, I didn’t have to because of time and where my last name falls in order. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do for my business, what I first thought was a good idea I’m now realizing may not be. Computers with powerful hardware only apply to a small audience and buying computer parts is expensive.

Tuesday, we went to shirts galore and more. This day was pretty nice because it is super close to my house so I was able to leave later and stop by Mcdonald’s and still be early. Another nice thing is that we got to make our own shirts, and mine didn’t turn out bad. We learned about vector files (.ai) vs. normal files (.jpeg, .png) in business logos and why it’s important. Vector files don’t get pixelated on larger images or when you zoom in, making them better for business. We learned how important your brand is to your business, a good logo = good advertisement. We also learned about how important it is to build a good reputation for your business. “If you mess up, fess up.”

Wednesday was a blessing of a day, I got to get out of school for a whole day. Also, the CEO empowerment day was really cool. We had a really good Elvis impersonator for entertainment, Steve Davis. We got to meet olympic athletes, and got a good lunch. It was a super informative day, we learned a lot, how olympic athletes learn the same values as business owners have to, determination. Also, we learned on the art of communicating, we learned how there are ways to have a conversation with anyone, and a picture was placed in our mind to remember, A fence with a house with kids and pets playing inside it, with a book on the roof with an arm reaching out of it holding a plane with a tool and a piece of sports equipment for wings. I know that sounds pretty bizarre, but the way Mr. Schulz explained it made it all make sense.

Thursday, we went to Icon Mechanical, and I was super late this day. I missed out on a lot, which goes to show how much a day of CEO is worth. Nonetheless, I did make it there to learn a little bit about Icon Mechanical, they made 4 out of the 9 LEED buildings made, and built the largest one in North America. They do projects with Monsanto, Nissan, Colleges, and Hospitals. This makes them a super successful business. They told us how they try to pre-build everything, and how they map it all out on computers. Their pre-engineering strategy makes the whole operation kind of a plug and play experience.

Friday, we went to 1stMidAmerica Credit Union. I was late for the shuttle this day and had to drive myself, but I didn’t miss out on anything, because I was only like 5 minutes late and they hadn’t started on anything besides breakfast. I feel like I was late but not late at the same time. I really enjoyed the business visit though, it was a load of fun, and they had breakfast and COFFEE. I swear, coffee is mankind’s gift to this planet, and I have no clue what I would do without it. Anyhow, what we did was a Mad City Money exercise. We partnered up with someone and had a family and jobs, and had to buy food, transportation, entertainment, and care for a 4 year old. Needless to say, I’m a bad adult and can’t manage money and went into somewhere like $600 in the negative. Despite my massive failure in money management, I had a ton of fun with the Mad City Money, and would love to do it again. I would gladly, without regret go 90 in a 60 to make it there again.

To sum up the week, I can only say one thing, wow. This was by far the best most eventful week of CEO and I loved it. I don't know how another week can top it but I’m hopeful.

Scott Schank

Scott Schank
Sunday, September 24, 2017Learn More About Scott


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The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the Granite City CEO program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

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