New Castle | Henry County
SPECIAL REPORT: CHAMBER’S
2015 ANNUAL MEETING
Chamber Magazine Spring 2015
diner America’s Got Talent Star Tony Hoard
50 strong COVER STORY:
Citizen of the Year:
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Your Chamber of Commerce is working to ‘seize the moment’ When Rowdy Roddy Piper playfully grabbed New Castle Mayor Greg York and put him in a headlock, it brought applause and laughter from the big EXECUTIVE crowd that attended our annual DIRECTOR meeting. Yet, there was great symbolism in that moment. Your New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce is not sitting back and waiting for good things to happen. Many people behind the scenes are endeavoring to seize the moment and hold tightly the new opportunities in front of us. This is especially evident inside Missy Modesitt some of our committees. Here is an update on their efforts:
Community Involvement Committee
Church Street Gym – where New Castle’s own Ray Pavy out-shot Kokomo’s Jimmy Rayl 51-49 in one of the greatest individual basketball performances ever – was an appropriate setting for The Get Involved Fair. The event, held on May 5, matched organizations that needed volunteers with community members who wanted to get involved. Since the event was held on Cinco de Mayo, it was flavored with a Mexican theme. A grant from Indiana Humanities assisted with the costs involved. The committee also is reaching out to full-service restaurants or businesses that might need assistance in
New Castle | Henry County
Chamber Magazine Volume 5, Issue 1
PUBLISHER Missy Modesitt, Executive Director, New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce email@example.com DESIGN AND EDITORIAL DIRECTION The JMetzger Group Juli Metzger | firstname.lastname@example.org John Metzger | email@example.com www.thejmetzgergroup.com 765.744.4303 CONTRIBUTORS Writing: Darrel Radford Photography: Kurt Hostetler, Eddie Metzger, Dave Nantz To advertise, contact The JMetzger Group: 765.744.4303 | firstname.lastname@example.org For subscription information, contact Missy Modesitt at 765.529.5210. 4 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Fall 2013
increasing their applicant pools. The goal is to help them hire and keep good employees. A third project focuses on marketing efforts to attract two important age groups – the mid-20s to late-30s age range and grandparents. Perhaps you could help us connect with the younger crowd through a blog written for this age group. Watch for the web address when the blog site is live. Those interested in contributing may email or call me here at the Chamber.
Member Benefits Committee
This group, which meets every other month, is focused on offering great member benefits along with meaningful training and seminar opportunities.
The May 25 Memorial Day Parade and Festival plans are under way. Registration for the parade and vendors are both available online at www.nchcchamber.com. Meanwhile, the theme for this year’s Chamber Cash Bonanza recently was selected, but like so many of Rowdy Roddy Piper’s foes, that information also is in a headlock. More on that Saturday, Sept. 12 event at Montgomery’s Steakhouse is coming soon. The Chamber wishes to thank Mr. Piper for his passionate words at our banquet and congratulate Citizen of the Year Jeff Ray along with Magna, our business of the year. You can read all about them in this issue. Missy Modesitt is Executive Director of the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber Magazine: The voice of New Castle-Henry County Chamber businesses. It is a product of the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and The JMetzger Group. These materials are the sole and exclusive property of the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and The JMetzger Group, and may not be used without written consent. Copyright 2015: The New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and The JMetzger Group.
The JMetzger Group specializes in branded content, custom publishing and social media solutions. Learn more: www.thejmetzgergroup.com
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New Castle | Henry County
New Chamber president: ‘Optimism will be my guide’
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ALL-STAR DOG TEAM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
HOUSE FLIPPERS FAMILY FUN FEST
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR EARLY BIRD DINER
Photos: ANNUAL MEETING
6 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
s Indiana North District Lt. Governor of the Optimist Clubs, words from the Optimist Creed inspire me every day. In some ways, they are a guide in my role as your Chamber president. If you were at The New Castle-Henry County Chamber’s annual meeting, the spirit behind words in the creed spoke loud and clear. You might say our guest speaker was “gripping.” All fun and puns aside, by the time Rowdy Roddy Piper’s remarks were concluded, he had certainly made all his new Henry BOARD County friends “feel there is PRESIDENT something in them.” He could be our poster for the part of the creed that says, “Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” Our Citizen of the Year, Jeff Ray, and our business of the year, Magna Machine & Tool, also mirrored words of the creed – “to think only of the best, Ric Barr to work only for the best and to expect only the best.” Jeff’s leadership made a trail project some thought undoable into a reality. Magna’s precision work and record of success shows great things can happen in humble settings. When I think of the part in the creed that says, “to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true,” I think of the outstanding job outgoing president Kevin Brown did and how hard the Chamber’s Events Committee, Chamber Director Missy Modesitt and her husband, Mike, worked behind the scenes. The Modesitts’ efforts staged an annual meeting that proved to be inspiring, humorous and unique. When’s the last time you saw someone accept an honor via Skype? During this year’s Memorial Day Parade, we will take time to honor our military and public service workers who, true to the creed, have been “too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.” Happiness and joy are sure to be found at the Memorial Day Festival, planned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Main Street in front of Baker Park. A rock wall, Zumba, cornhole and pickle ball are just some of the activities planned. It truly is an honor for me to serve these two unique leadership positions at the same time. I believe the Chamber’s work and the Optimist Creed can go hand-inhand. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be your Chamber president and want you to know optimism will be my guide. Rick Barr is president of the Board of Directors for the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce. The creed for Optimist International can be found at: www.optimist.org
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‘Work Ready Community’ certification designed to close the skills gap
ccess to top talent and the ability to assure a future pipeline of talent is critical to the success of a region. Companies want access to highly trained, motivated people. Residents want quality education and training opportunities. The economic development corporation team is leading the effort to certify Henry County as a “Work Ready Community” through ACT. ACT is a non-profit organization that has been involved in college and career development since the 1950s. According to ACT, the program “empowers states, regions and counties with data, process and tools that drive economic growth. Participants are leveraging the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) to measure and close the skills gap — EDC DIRECTOR and building common frameworks that link, align and match their workforce development efforts.” The NCRC is obtained by taking three Work Keys assessments: Applied Math, Reading for Information and Locating Information. The assessments are given at no charge through the local Work One office. Corey Murphy Henry County’s office is located at 3011 S. 14th Street New Castle. The phone number is 765-529-3010. Work One is an important partner in this effort and they also offer skills remediation services. ACT has given Henry County specific numeric goals of NCRC holders within the emerging, current and transitioning workforce. Goals also include number of businesses that are supportive and aware of the local efforts to become Work Ready. Businesses interested in showing support can go to www. nchcedc.org and download the registration form. The EDC team is also interested in meeting businesses one-on-one to share information about the Work Keys programs. The tools are worthy of business consideration to help with workforce and human resources.
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‘The work ready program promotes a community conversation among job seekers and local businesses utilizing a common tool: National Career Readiness Certificate.’ Grede Holdings LLC is an example of a local company that has successfully utilized Work Keys testing to assist its human resource team in making a candidate l INDIVIDUALS selection. Work One, 3011 S. 14th St., The work ready New Castle program promotes a 765.529.3010 community conversation l BUSINESS among job seekers and nchcedc.org local businesses utilizing 765.521.7402 a common tool: National l PROGRAM INFORMATION Career Readiness workreadycommunities.org Certificate. We want people to obtain the certificate and businesses to be aware of the designation. This will be a long-term effort. It is not a cure-all and does not remove the responsibility of the individual to be a life-long learner and the employer to invest in on-the-job training and professional development. It is a win-win as it helps the community respond to local business needs and be ready for new business investment.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WORK READY PROGRAM:
Corey Murphy is President and CEO of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp.
Leap faith A REAL
Tony Hoard quits his day job for a doggone good reason
ony Hoard will never forget the first time he saw an Australian shepherd named Rory. It was southeast of Rushville more than a decade ago, where the dog and eight other companions were fighting fleas in a less-than-desirable environment. “Rory came around, lay right down between my feet and didn’t move as if to say, ‘I’m going home with you. I’m done with this place.’ ” From those humble beginnings, Rory’s fortunes rose, as did his new owners. Little did they know then the adventures a man, a woman and their dogs would be taking with a national television audience cheering them every step of the way. Tony Hoard and “Rockin’ Rory” captured the hearts of America during the 2009 season of the television show “America’s Got Talent.” Hoard and his dog were the first animal act to ever make the show’s top 20. ALL-STAR DOG TEAM Their time in the national spotlight in front of iconic personalities Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, David Hasselhoff and Piers Morgan ended in September 2009. But they were far from finished. Since then, the energetic little dog with the white lightning bolt on top of his head continues to electrify audiences near and far. A veritable all-star team of dogs, a roster that includes the “goofy” Electra, the high-flying Mogley and Sprocket, a dog that does back flips, joins him. “The dogs have opened a lot of doors for us,” Hoard said. The Hoards have been doing as many as 275 to 300 shows a year throughout the Midwest since their stint on “America’s Got Talent.” From Lucas Oil Stadium during halftime of an Indianapolis Colts’ football game to the sidelines of Busch Stadium in St. Louis between innings of a Cardinals’ baseball game and the United Center in Chicago where Michael Jordan once weaved his basketball magic, the Hoard dog show has taken the family to some unforgettable places. 10 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
HOW IT ALL STARTED The story of how it all started sounds like a Hollywood movie script. Hoard, a 1973 graduate of Knightstown High School, and his wife, Sarah, a 1974 graduate of New Castle Chrysler High School, recalled how neither really knew how to even throw a Frisbee when a notice about a dog competition was published in The Indianapolis Star. “In the backyard, I had a floppy flyer from Walmart,” Hoard recalled. “You know, Rory caught everything I threw in the backyard. I started to think, ‘There ain’t nobody out there better than this dog is.’ ” So Hoard packed a soft drink, a bottle of water for Rory and a floppy flyer then headed to Indianapolis with his wife, Sarah. The Hoards immediately felt out of their league. “People have got golf carts with dog crates and bags of Frisbees and tents,” Hoard said. “And then we find out he couldn’t even play with a floppy flyer,” Sarah Hoard added. “He had to buy a Frisbee there.” “Rory had never played with a plastic Frisbee in his life,” Tony Hoard said. “I had never thrown one. A canine Frisbee is so much different.” Undaunted, the pair finished second in that competition. A star was born. AMERICA’S GOT TALENT The opportunity to appear on a national television show with Rory didn’t come without lots of patience and perseverance. Even after it was offered, it almost didn’t happen at all. Hoard recalled the auditions for the show were at McCormick Place in Chicago, a gigantic convention center space. Auditions started at 8 a.m. The Hoards got there at 7 a.m., only to discover they were 465th in line. “We were there more than 12 hours,” Hoard said. “I told Sarah afterward, ‘I doubt very seriously if they’ll call us.’ ” But three weeks later, the call came. The producers wanted
Hoard and Rory to come to Miami Beach. There was just one problem. Plans called for Rory to ride in the cargo hold of the airplane, a situation Hoard just couldn’t accept. “I called back and told the producer, ‘I don’t feel good about this,’ ” Tony Hoard said. “I don’t want to put Rory in a cargo hold. I just can’t do that.” After that phone call, the Hoards agreed they might have just thrown away a golden opportunity. But then, amazingly, the producer called back. “You fly your dog any way you want, and here’s a list of six cities you can go to,” the producer said. So Rory got to ride alongside Tony in a passenger seat and slept through the whole flight to California. The trip clinched a spot on America’s Got Talent. And the rest, as they say, is history. DOG TALES There have been some humorous moments for Tony and Sarah Hoard with their dogs. Like the times Rory accidentally held up plane flights. “There were two or three flights he was on that held up the plane because when they took a head count of the people, they could never figure out where Rory Hoard was,” Hoard laughed. “They thought he was a person.” And there was the day when Electra added some unexpected moves to her routine. “She’s a great dog, but she’s very food motivated,” Hoard said. “We’re in Madison Square Garden, throw a Frisbee to her and somebody is sitting at the very end of the front section. They had spilled their popcorn.” “She catches the Frisbee,” Sarah Hoard said, “but leaves it, just drops it immediately.” “And runs straight toward the popcorn,” Hoard said. “The crowd’s going crazy and she’s going over there to eat.” “Since then, every ball game we have done, she’s looking for popcorn,” Sarah Hoard said. There’s the time at the Major League Baseball game in St. Louis when Sprocket, a half-border Collie, half Blue Heeler, tried to become a Cardinal infielder. “In between innings, I had thrown a Frisbee on the sidelines and Sprocket went out and caught it, but then sees the first baseman throwing warm-up grounders to the third baseman,” Hoard recalled. “Sprocket was coming back, caught a glimpse of the ball rolling across the grass, immediately drops the Frisbee and runs across the infield to get the ball. The players thought it was the funniest thing, they were laughing and cutting up – and I’m about to die of embarrassment. Here the Cardinals had just won the World Series the year before, and I’ve got a dog running across the Busch Stadium infield.”
NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES Tony Hoard shares something in common with his highflying dogs. He took a leap of faith, quitting his well-paying job at Draper in Spiceland so he could devote full attention to the dog show. “People see us and say, ‘You’ve got the best job, you don’t have to work,’ ” Hoard said. “We don’t punch a time clock but there’s a lot of work in what we do.” The Hoards drive to almost every show they perform. “There’s been times when we’ve been out at the University of Connecticut and have to come back for an Indiana Fever game the next day, so we drive 14 straight hours to get home,” Hoard said. “When we were in New York, we had to leave after the game and go all the way to Alabama,” Sarah said. Then there’s the training. One of their dogs named ‘Q’ went to fetch a Frisbee once right at the time a lady opened an umbrella. He instantly became “totally freaked out by umbrellas.” “We had to de-sensitize him,” Sarah said. “We had to open up umbrellas and set them all over the house. I was borrowing umbrellas from people. We would set one by the door so when he went in and out, he’d have to go by an umbrella.” BUCKET LIST But the Hoards say it’s all been worth it. Last year, they became the first dog act ever to perform on the hallowed Indiana University Assembly Hall. “That was on his bucket list,” Sarah said, pointing to her husband of nearly 40 years. “I’ve always been an IU fan,” Hoard said, “starting back when Kent Benson played and I also loved Bobby Knight. Before we ever got off the floor, Fred Glass told our contact he wanted us back,” Hoard said. Today, Rory is slowing down. At age 14 years, his best performing days are behind him. But the torch – or, in this case, Frisbee – has been passed. Rory still makes brief appearances but Hoard said he almost seems like a grand canine patriarch, barking encouragement to the younger dogs. Meanwhile, the phone keeps ringing at the Hoard household. “When people see the trust that a dog has in you, to take off and go flying through the air, trusting that you will catch him, you know there’s a bond there,” Hoard said. “People like to see that bond.” As late TV journalist Andy Rooney once said, “the average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” For Tony and Sarah Hoard, that statement comes barking through loud and clear every day. ■ CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015 | 11
Magna machine &
Chamber’s 2014 Business of the Year more than lives up to its name
heir work ranges from bearing housings that go into turbo chargers for huge tractors to tiny strips diabetes patients use to check their blood sugar. Glass container makers, insulation companies and scores of others in multiple states who need precision cutting of metals, plastics or aluminum know them well. Their payroll adds $2.3 million annually to the Henry County economy. It is the little shop that could – and does. A shop that more than lives up to its name. Magna Machine & Tool is the 2014 New CastleHenry County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. Presentation of the award put an emotional exclamation point on the Chamber’s 93rd annual meeting March 17. As Magna’s grand patriarch and co-founder, Marion Shore, joined current owners Kirk Robbins, Bruce Schmidt and Doug Hinshaw on stage, many of the approximately 50 employees from the company surprised them with their presence. The sight of all his fellow workers made an acceptance speech as complicated as one of Magna’s precision parts. “Magna wouldn’t be here without its employees,” an emotional Robbins said.
12 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
State-of-the-art machinery is so precise, it’s like ‘dividing a hair about 20 times,’ says Kirk Robbins who owns the company with Bruce Schmidt and Doug Hinshaw.
CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015 | 13
In his introduction of the award, John Montgomery of Montgomery’s Steakhouse, last year’s business winner, echoed those sentiments. “This is a company that recognizes value is in your people, not your location,” Montgomery said. In 2014, those people at Magna completed 3,095 jobs for as many as 90 companies in East Central Indiana and surrounding states, including firms as far west as Arizona and as far east as Massachusetts. “Each job could require ten hours of work or it could be 1,000 hours of work,” Robbins said. Amazingly, it all happens out in the middle of cornfields in northeastern Henry County. “The shops at Muncie used to call us the cornfield shop,” Shore said of the company’s location, a short distance from an obscure town called Messick off U.S. 36. A tour of current facilities includes information that some of the office space is located in what used to be a farrowing house inhabited by pigs. Sturdy wooden beams of yesteryear contrast with state-of-the-art machinery that is so precise, its cuts are like “dividing a hair about 20 times,” Robbins said. Matching the precision is the skill and dedication of the workforce here, many of whom have been here for decades. “All of our employees on the floor are skilled machinists,” co-owner Bruce Schmidt said. “We don’t have any button pushers out there. They all know what they’re doing.” “Every operator could program his machine or actually work on it if he needed to, tear it apart and fix it,” Robbins added. “We have a very highly skilled workforce.” It is a workforce that is more like family, an atmosphere that three generations of ownership has maintained – from Marion Shore and his late business partner Dick Culy to Eugene Weaver and Mike Broyles down to the current generation ownership team of Robbins, Schmidt and Hinshaw. Hinshaw recalled he almost left Magna for Chrysler. “As a matter of fact, I went to Mike, Gene and Dick and
was putting in my two-week notice when they said ‘We’re considering bringing you three on as owners.’ ” The company promotes from within, pays very competitive wages and even offers employees incentives to keep the facility clean by splitting proceeds of recycled material among them. The quality of work is more than a sales pitch or slogan. Magna was one of the first businesses in Indiana to achieve ISO 9001 status for its quality management of facilities, people, training, services and equipment. Shore remembers the time in 1975 when he had to make a pivotal decision – go to work in a big machine shop or start his own. His decision to start his own company just down the road from his home has proven to be, as the company name translates to, great. That name was actually selected by Shore’s daughter, Melody, and son, Bud. Both were students of Blue River Valley Latin teacher Clarice Shively. “They came up with the idea of naming it Magna, because that means “great” in Latin,” Shore said. The company is not connected to or affiliated with Magna Power Train of Muncie. The award capped another magnificent year for the company, which has contracts with such impressive names as Roche Diagnostics for specialized equipment to manufacture blood sugar testing strip, Saint-Gobain for machinery parts for glass manufacturing equipment and even a Randolph, N.Y. client that actually moved equipment to Magna’s rural setting for specialized assembly work. Meanwhile, the magnanimous nature of Magna is at work through more than 200 volunteer hours on restoration of Henry County Memorial Park’s historic cannon, the one New Castle native son Gen. Omar Bundy captured from the Germans in World War I. Magna hopes to have the cannon restored and back on its perch in the park by the end of this year. ■ ANNUAL MEETING PHOTO ESSAY: PAGE 26.
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14 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
Citizens State Bank helps Country Acre Animal Clinic treat patients like family Back row: Ken Schroeder and Latina Masters of Citizens State Bank with veterinarians Rob and Nathan Rich Front row: DeeDee and Mecca
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16 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
CULTIVATOR: Jeff Ray’s dream for the Wilbur Wright Trail has resulted in a four-mile round-trip recreational path in Henry County.
Jeff Ray CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Happy trails: Dreamer and architect of Wilbur Wright Trail honored as Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Citizen of the Year
2014 CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Jeff Ray was planting things when he was just 8 years old. What he planted then were trees on the family farm. But for the past decade, Ray has been planting, cultivating and nurturing something else – the dream of having a walking trail in Henry County. Today, Ray’s dream is a reality and hundreds of local people have experienced the vigor, solitude, camaraderie and natural splendor offered by the four-mile round-trip trail that runs from the Henry County YMCA to Ind. 103 and back again. For his leadership and the benefit the trail has become for the community, Ray was recognized as the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce 2014 “Citizen of the Year” in March. Chamber organizers had to go on a rather unique trail of their own to honor Ray, who was out of town in Minnesota with family celebrating the birth of a grandson. Thanks to the wonders of Skype and cooperative family members, Ray found himself on a big screen at “The Gathering” in Lewisville.
CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015 | 17
Information overload? e market performanc opportunities plan success itors t e p m co
BUSINESS goals PLAN ideas marketing analysis
As 2013 Citizen of the Year recipient Cathy Hamilton introduced him, Ray suddenly was pictured peering into the computer camera. Hamilton was wearing one of Ray’s baseball hats.
Ray’s acceptance speech was a classic – funny, short and humble. As the applause rose, Ray held a newborn infant in front of the camera and said: “Did you see my grandson?” Then, addressing Hamilton, he said, “Well, I wondered why she wanted to know where my hat was.” Family members made sure Ray was back from dinner in time to accept the surprise honor via computer. “We just got through going out to eat and everybody was like ‘hurry up, hurry up,” Ray said. “I certainly appreciate the honor and I see there’s quite a few people there. Thanks a lot Cathy for what you were saying there. So, what else can I say?” In accepting the award, Ray was a man of few words. But during the process of making the trail happen, Ray knew exactly what to say – and to whom. And he said it often. “Jeff has actually raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and got the rest of us to match it,” Hamilton said. Mario Vian, Indiana’s state policy analyst for Hoosier Rails to Trails, said earlier this year the trail “is the best” of the two-mile paths in Indiana. “I think the Wilbur Wright Trail is spectacular,” he said. “This trail takes you by fields and a wooded area and an old railroad bed so it has an historical aspect to it. You go by actual farm fields and a river with a bend. The scenery changes often enough that you don’t get bored. If you go by water, woods and fields, what kind of life experience are you missing there? It’s a jewel.” Perhaps someday, Ray can take his new grandson for a walk on the trail he made possible – and tell him about the special night he celebrated his birth with more than 200 cheering friends. ■
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firstname.lastname@example.org www.nchcedc.org ANNUAL MEETING PHOTO ESSAY: PAGE 26. 18 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
birds Breakfast at iconic New Castle location has never tasted so good or been so entertaining.
e tosses and twirls. Eggs are airborne one moment, spatulas the next. His moves are almost like a ballet being performed in front of a grill. Cecil Brumley is everyone’s favorite cook at the New Castle landmark, The Early Bird Diner. Cecil is known for sometimes starting a customer’s favorite dish as soon as they walk through the door. “It’s fun to watch him work,” former Henry County Sheriff Harold Griffin said. “I’ve never seen him drop an egg,” retiree Tom Smith marveled as he talked about this culinary daredevil. “He’s entertaining, witty and quick,” Esther Madison said. “He’s just Cecil.” “He may not know your name, but he knows what you like to eat,” Early Bird co-owner Ted Toller said. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Cecil, though, is not his theatrics or blazing hot
Early Bird Diner owners Ted and Sharon Toller keep the restaurant stocked with good food and warm fellowship.
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Numbers 1930 - 2015
Offices in Muncie & Indianapolis whitinger.com 20 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
homemade salsa or even his breakfast “scrambler” that has become a customer favorite. It’s the fact that before working for Toller and his wife, Sharon, Cecil had absolutely no experience as a cook. The Tollers were Brumleys’ landlords in Richmond. When he started working for them more than six years ago, the tasks involved building maintenance, not cracking eggs. “I had never cooked before,” Cecil said. But when Sharon talked Ted into purchasing and reviving the former downtown New Castle restaurant in 2008, necessity became the recipe for invention. “We had to let one of our cooks go and I cooked for two or three days before I finally looked at Cecil and said, ‘you’ve got to be our grill cook,’ ” Sharon Toller said. “He jumped right in and taught himself.” “Now he’s probably one of the best you’ll ever see,” Ted Toller said. “He grew as we grew.” Today, the Early Bird Diner is abuzz with food and fellowship from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and 6 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The eatery sits on the location of the former Terminal Coffee Shop, a time-honored downtown New Castle place where a bus line once dropped off and picked up passengers. Sharon Toller, a former employee at the wellknown Bill’s Diner years ago on Ind. 3, had her eye on this place a few years before finally talking her husband into buying it. “There had always been a restaurant here, but it had been closed for three years,” Sharon Toller said. “My brother has worked next door at Jeff’s Alignment and I’ve met him here for lunch lots of times.” The move turned out to be timed perfectly. “We opened a diner and I lost my job,” Ted Toller said. “I was going to retire in a few years anyway. It’s been good to me.” The family ties at this restaurant run even deeper. The waiter, Ben Graw, is Cecil’s brother-in-law. Cecil’s wife, Angel also works here at times. For Cecil and Ben, the people they serve are in the same category. “They become like family,” Cecil said. “The worst part about it is you get to know them, and then they pass on. It’s sad to lose a customer.” “You get to know their kids and their grandkids,” Sharon Toller said. “On Saturdays, they’ll bring them in to meet us.” There is a menu – and there’s also Cecil’s creativity. “Tell us what you want and we’ll try to make it,” Ben said. In fact, one of the dishes growing in popularity is simply called “The Cecil,” where a customer gives a general description of what he likes and lets Cecil do the rest. “The atmosphere and the service here are great,” Charles May said. “They have the best grill cook and the best waiter in town.” That grill cook and waiter work together like hand and glove. And they have such fun doing it. “It’s definitely a fun place to work,” Ben said. “If you don’t have a sense of humor, we’ll make sure you have one by the time you leave. If you’re not smiling when you walk out, we haven’t done our jobs.” ■
Couple Flips F
Robby and Cara Taylor are a match made in real estate heaven
t’s like a magic wand in slow motion. A room is enlarged, colors and textures change, fixtures are upgraded. And before you know it, the house that was is gone, replaced by what is, for all practical purposes, a new home, ready to put back on the market. It’s called “flipping” a house, and it’s more than just the topic of popular HGTV shows. It’s a significant part of Robby and Cara Taylor’s lives. The rural New Castle couple has been flipping houses now for nearly a decade. They’ve sold every one of their transformations except one, which they kept for themselves. When Robby and Cara “flipped” for each other and got married seven years ago, it was a match made in real estate heaven. Robby is a son of local construction business owner Mike Taylor and has been working in that field since he was 15 years old. Cara, a daughter of Teresa Southerland, is an interior design graduate from Ball State University and local real estate agent. By the way, her mother flipped houses, too. “I’d fix every house that needed it if I could,” Cara said. “I’m showing houses all the time and when I see something that needs an upgrade, I’m just itching to fix it.” “She’s emotional with real estate,” Robby teased. “I am not,” she responded. CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015 | 21
On a more serious note, Robby said there are important tools Cara brings to their joint ventures. “With her being in real estate, she can tell what the buying price is for that kind of property,” Robby said. Likewise, Cara said Robby was an interior designer’s dream. Her mode of operation is simple. “I tell him and he does it,” Cara said with a laugh. “He’s really good at it.” Both credit parents for the love of home improvement they now share. Robby was a seventh-grader when he first started working on his dad’s construction crews. “You get to see something different every day,” he said. “One day I’ll be outside, one day I’ll be inside. One day we’re doing a roof, the next day we’re doing a room addition. It always changes. You get to meet a lot of fun people and see their dreams come true.” Meanwhile, Cara has her mom to credit for giving her the itch to flip houses. “Growing up, my mom would buy homes that needed some TLC, she’d fix them up and they were beautiful again,” Cara said. Now, an afternoon trip to a home improvement store is
almost like going to Disneyland for the Tri High School graduate. “My favorite part is when we literally get to spend five or six hours there,” Cara said. The couple relies on each other’s strengths to avoid the dramatic pitfalls chronicled in some of the HGTV programs. The longest wait to date for the Taylors to turn around a house has been about three or four months. Good decision-making is the key. “He’s my protection,” Cara said of Robby. “I would buy every house that needs fixed up.” Robby said he typically goes room-by-room, tallying paint, flooring, windows, trim and door estimates. Meanwhile, he keeps a sage piece of advice given to him by his dad. “Dad taught me to look at things as a whole instead of just section by section,” Robby said. The ultimate goal, Cara said, can be summed up in a three-letter word. “I want to put something together where people walk in and say ‘wow,’” Cara said. ■
Caring service when it’s needed the most. Honoring your loved ones and celebrating the life you shared are the cornerstones of healing after loss.
22 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service New Castle (765) 529-7100 Knightstown (765) 345-7400
On track for fun N
New Castle businessman teams with racing series owner in hopes of reviving historic Mt. Lawn Speedway
ot only will checkered flags fly once again this spring at historic Mt. Lawn Speedway, but kids will oooh and ahhh, musicians will create noteworthy moments and families will rediscover how much fun it is to be together again.
That’s the plan of Dan Redmond, a New Castle businessman who is teaming with notable racing series leader Steve Vore to stage the first ever “Family Fun Fest” in Henry County. Simply put, the pair wants to turn Mt. Lawn’s track into a family circle over Memorial Day Weekend, May 22-24, 2015. It’s all part of an effort to give local businesses a boost of foot traffic and a shot of economic growth. “We want to make it a very family-friendly and affordable weekend,” Redmond said. “Steve has a true passion for smalltown America and wants tracks in those locations to remain vibrant. He wants race car drivers to be able to experience these tracks.” During the Family Fun Fest, Mt. Lawn will become more than just a racetrack. It will become a campsite for people to gather. There will be free camping on the Mt. Lawn grounds for the entire weekend. It also will become an amusement park of sorts. Saturday morning “Kids Day” rides will be offered around the Mt. Lawn track. For more intense thrill-seekers, there also will be Monster Truck rides available. The finish line of the storied track will become an outdoor photo studio of sorts. Photographs of kids wearing racing gear in Victory Lane will be available, posing next to “trophies taller than they are.” Saturday night, the engines will rev up once again as Mt. Lawn features a full line-up of races. Shortly after the final checkered flag flies all eyes will be on the skies for a professional fireworks display. Sunday morning, a non-
denominational church service will be held. Campers can then fire up grills and listen to the Indianapolis 500 race broadcast. After the Indy 500 is over, more Mt. Lawn fun begins with what’s being billed as “a night of thrills,” including spectator drag racing, burnout contests along with motorcycle and daredevil antics. Then Mt. Lawn will be transformed again, this time into a concert venue featuring the popular country music duo Cook and Belle. Monday, Redmond hopes families will take time to drive over to downtown New Castle and enjoy what has become one of the state’s largest Memorial Day parades. The Mt. Lawn Speedway dates back to 1934. Some notable names have raced on the one-fifth-of-a-mile track, from 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann to big-name racers like Tony Stewart, who is still making headlines today. There have been other famous names off the track as well. Years ago, Mt. Lawn was also a resort area that featured 50 cabins and a large dance hall where nationally known big band leader Jimmy Dorsey appeared. As people arrive for the Family Fun Fest, Redmond hopes to gather information that could help the future of Mt. Lawn Speedway – and perhaps the entire New Castle community. “We want to ask people what brought them here – the racing, the monster trucks, the concert?” Redmond said. “We want to give them a coupon book and encourage them to support local business. Then we can go to track owner Rick Sweigart and say, ‘This is what people are asking for.’ ” “Just doing business the same way you did it 20 years ago doesn’t work anymore,” Redmond continued. “Maybe it’s not racing every Saturday night any more. If you could do one event a month here from March through October that would pull in maybe 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 people into New Castle, wouldn’t that be a big help to local businesses?” ■
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www.triplejplumbing.net CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015 | 23
March 17, 2015
ANNUAL MEETING JMG PHOTOS
24 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
Magna Business of the Year 2014
Why My Co-op Matters Local schools are often facing new reductions in funding and new requirements in spending. Through this, Henry County REMC has been a good educational partner, taking the initiative to help us reduce energy costs with usage audits and rebates for efficient lighting, and at the same time helping our community, our staff, and our students become more aware of the benefits of energy efficiency.
Learn more about YOUR cooperative and how it is helping build a better world.
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Since Henry County REMC is a member-owned cooperative, we are an owner as well as a customer, which keeps our investments close to home, with benefits to all of our educational community.
My co-opâ€™s commitment to education and the local economy matters to me. Superintendent Eric L. Creviston Blue River Valley School System CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015 | 25
Board of DIRECTORS 2015 Executive Board President Ric Barr Castle Pawn Shop
1st Vice President Rebecca Gonya Big O Tires 2nd Vice President Dave Nantz Nantz Photography 3rd Vice President Vickie McIntosh Ameriana Bank Treasurer Betty Stickler Perfect Circle Credit Union Exec. Board Sec. Myra Strobel GEO Group
Immediate Past President Kevin Brown Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service
26 | CHAMBER MAGAZINE, Spring 2015
Kevin Davenport Clean N Simple Bob Hansen The Courier Times Joel Harvey Hayes Copenhaver Crider Bill Kindig Individual Cindi Kiner The HR Connection Leisa King Citizens State Bank Paulette Lees MainSource Bank Jamey Marcum Henry County Hospital Chris May Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Doug Meier State Farm Insurance Dan Redmond Noble Romanâ€™s Take N Bake Randy Riggs Shelter Insurance
Cara Taylor Crossroads Real Estate Christy Tompkins Individual
Chamber Executive Staff Missy Modesitt Executive Director Mary Campbell Executive Assistant
2015 Ex-Officio Members Jameson McGrew Chamber Ambassador Corey Murphy President: Henry County Economic Development Corp. Lee Stacey Henry County Convention and Visitors Bureau Greg York Mayor: City of New Castle
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Monday, May 25, 2015 Memorial Day
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Published on May 4, 2015
Published twice yearly, Chamber Magazine is the voice of the New Castle-Henry County (Indiana) Chamber of Commerce. The Spring 2015 edition...