Manufacturing Day at SWIC, Business Visits and CEO Chili Fundraiser

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Invent It

Mike Dixon, Owner Dixon Heating & Cooling

Granite City CEO met at Dixon Heating and Cooling for the first business visit of the week. Mike Dixon described what it means to have an entrepreneurial spirit and encouraged all students to catch it. He wanted the students to take every opportunity that presents itself. At the beginning of class he said “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Mike grew up, in his own words, a “hillbilly.” He graduated from Granite City High School in1969 to go straight to the workforce, joining Granite City Steel. He left that job because of the working conditions. As an 18 year old he did not want to be working in a factory, breathing in chemicals and dust.  He explained to the students how easy it was to get a job in the 70s and how different the economy is today. After almost 20 years working in the General Motors Company, he was laid off and forced to find another career. He found himself having to doing something new.

“He who hath a trade, hath an estate,” Benjamin Franklin said those words, and they are now used at many technical colleges for students to live by. The motto helped Mike realize he needed to go back to school and he received his heating and air conditioning degree from Ranken. He knew that he wanted to do big things, and he created the opportunities to do so. Even after building his heating and cooling business Mike continued to explore new things, one of them being a sheep farm. His wife came up with the word “entremanure” because not only is he living up to the definition of an entrepreneur, but he would come home from working in his business smelling like cow manure.

At the end of the period Mr. Dixon asked the CEO class the most important question, “Why are you in business?” and this is the million dollar question for the young entrepreneurs of this program. You must have a passion behind what you decide to do in life, that is what separates a career from work. Mike's current venture is writing a book about the General Motors plant. 

Thank you Mike Dixon for sharing your interesting background and sharing your entrepreneurial spirit.

written by Brian Bauman

Jerry's Cafeteria Chili Sale at Warrior Football October 20

On Wednesday students met at the Six Mile Library for the last time as their host business. After their brainstorming session last week, the students discussed ways for creating ideas that promote CEO in the community and how to turn these ideas into objects. Granite City CEO will be selling Jerry's Cafeteria chili at the last home Warriors football game of the year on Friday. 

Students pursued the idea and got approval with Principal Mr. Daren DePew and the Band Parents Association, who sell concessions at the football games. Come show your support for the program by getting a warm bowl of chili to enjoy while watching the Warriors go up against the O'fallon Panthers.

Kool Beanz

Victoria Arguelles, Owner, Kool Beanz

Established in 2014, Kool Beanz is a coffee house and cafe located in downtown Granite City. The owner of Kool Beanz, Victoria Arguelles, encouraged CEO students to think big, using their passion to drive their business, and that the business should represent them as a person. Before opening her brick and mortar location, Victoria spent 10 years networking her product, and building a list of customers in the Granite City area. She could have opened years before, but location is key so she waited for her current building. She stressed the importance of looking at your business from a customer's eye. She started open mic night on Thursday evenings because a customer suggested it and it has been very popular.

Victoria encouraged students to surround themselves with people who will tell you "no" and when growing a business, be sure growth is supported by income. Victoria is a big supporter of Granite City and she is on the YMCA and United Way boards and belongs to several networking groups. She also told students, “There is a difference between working in your business and working on your business.”

Thank you Victoria Arguelles for sharing your story and your business perspective with CEO students.

Manufacturing Day at Southwestern Illinois College, Granite City Campus

Learning about Industrial Technology

Many organizations, businesses and students in the Midwest came together at the Sam Wolf campus of Southwestern Illinois College for Manufacturing Day on Friday. Granite City CEO was invited to tour the campus and see how entrepreneurship relates to every field. Certified machinists can make $80,000 a year and there will be more than 3 million industrial technology jobs open in the next decade. Skilled workers in the industrial field will be in high demand.

Students walked through the industrial technology labs, looking at the high-tech equipment and learning from the instructors. Travis Niklich, an industrial maintenance machinist instructor, talked about hydrolics and how much industrial equipment uses hydrolics. His hydraulics class is mostly theory with about 25% application.

Further in the tour the class was introduced to Lou Marino, the industrial technology instructor. He is more than a teacher, he owns multiple apartment buildings and has considered himself an entrepreneur his whole life. He left the students with one piece of important advice, i.e. “If you help enough people get what they want in life, then you will get what you want out of life.”

Students listened to speeches about opportunities, the future and the demand for manufacturing jobs by Brad Sparks, Dean of Technical Education Southwestern Illinois College, Georgia Costello, President Southwestern Illinois College, and Jay Hoffman, Illinois Representative, 113th District. 

Thank you, Brad Sparks and the staff of Southwestern Illinois College, for Manufacturing Day. 

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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.

When we are not touring local businesses, we need a place to host the class. During that time, the 14 CEO students and their Facilitator would meet at your site where they would also have guest speakers and guests from the community attend. Hosting requires a facility with internet access and adequately accommodates up to 19 people.

We are looking for people to share real-life stories about the concepts of running a business, from strategic thinking, product development to marketing, and cash flow management. Also, sharing your personal successes and failures are what recent classes have enjoyed the most.

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