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Premiere Issue August 2010

Who’s who Get to know Jim Cherry, Executive Director of the AMA Helping hand Advice on how to get your home or business ready for winter Good news Open Door Health Services is moving on down — town, that is

American ingenuity at work

Mid-West Metal Spotlight: This family owned company is preparing to celebrate 90 years in Muncie

2 | The Chamber

The Chamber | 3


Premiere Issue: August 2010


JAY JULIAN, Publisher

765.288.6681 |


ELIZABETH RICHMAN, Creative Director 765.213.5806 |

ADVERTISING CHERYL LINDUS, General Manager/ Advertising Director

765.213.5701 |

PUBLISHER’S VISION | 10 ABOUT THE CHAMBER | 11-15 MEETINGS & EVENTS | 16 BRAVO TO BUSINESS Tom Leaird’s Underwater Service | 18 MEMBERS HELPING MEMBERS Tony Rolli: The Home Manager/Muncie Property Inspections | 23 Business Profile J & T Systems, Inc. | 33 BEST PRACTICES: Missy Shrock of WorkOne | 36 GOOD NEWS Open Door Health Services | 38 GETTING TO KNOW YOU Jim Cherry of the Academy of Model Aeronautics | 44

EDITORIAL: For comments about editorial content or suggestions for the next issue, contact Beverly Matthews at ADVERTISING: To advertise, contact Sherry Anderson at 765.213.5779. SUBSCRIPTION: To request additional copies of the magazine, contact Nancy Norris at 765.751.9127. The Chamber: A guide to MuncieDelaware County business and economic development. It is a product of Star Press Media Custom Publications and The MuncieDelaware County Chamber of Commerce. These materials are the sole and exclusive property of Star Press Media Custom Publications and The Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and are not to be used without written permission.


PARTING SHOT Prairie Creek Reservoir | 48


Mid-West Metal has a long and successful history in Muncie and Delaware County. 25 ON THE COVER: STEVE SMITH, PRESIENT OF MID-WEST METAL PRODUCTS. ABOVE: FANS BUILT AT MID-WEST METAL ARE PAINTED AND COATED. Photos by Kyle Evens

Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce 401 S. High Street, P.O. Box 842 Muncie, IN 47308-0842 (765) 288-6681 Fax: (765) 751-9151 Website:

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8 | The Chamber

The Chamber | 9



ELCOME! We are pleased to present the Premier issue of The Chamber. This will be a semi-annual magazine containing interesting articles about our members. We will have feature articles: Bravo to Business, Members Helping Members, Business Profile, Best Practices, Good News, and Getting to Know You! 2010 is an exciting time to be a member of the MuncieDelaware County Chamber of Commerce. We are creating new ways to help our members thrive. We continue to improve our delivery system as evidenced by the changes in our publications, on our website and in all our email blasts! Our focus is on our members. The Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce IS the voice of business. We represent the best of the best and are proud of our members. I encourage you to go to our website to find the services and products you may need, right here in Delaware County. By patronizing these businesses, you can help yourself as well as benefit the entire community. If you are not a Chamber member, keep in mind the power of this marketplace of ideas is available for you to tap into by joining the other successful businesses that have made a smart investment in this Chamber. As always we thank you for your commitment to the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. Best regards,

Jay T. Julian, President & CEO


n behalf of the Chamber Board, it is with great pride that we present the premier issue of The Chamber magazine. Twice a year, these pages will feature a cross section of our membership in hopes of not only illustrating the tremendous quality of life we enjoy, but also demonstrating our economic strengths. For me, these stories serve not only as a reminder for why our family is proud to call these people neighbors, but also should serve as an invitation to other opportunistic entities to join our community of hard working, thoughtful, friendly, resilient, creative and giving people. The real key to the strength of the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce is our membership - individuals and companies who provide the resources to help a community meet the opportunities of the future. Growing daily, our Chamber membership consists of more than 650 area businesses, government entities, non-profits, and individuals. The goal of the Chamber is to help define, develop, and implement programs and services that enhance economic opportunity and consistently add value to our membership….and therefore, our community. Enjoy…and share our successes! Tara Smalstig, Chairman Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce 10 | The Chamber



10 REASONS TO JOIN THE MUNCIE-DELAWARE COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE We have provided a membership application on the back of this page. Go ahead — fill it out and send it in and start enjoying the benefits of a Chamber membership today. For additional information or to receive a complete membership information packet in the mail, please contact Erin Ailstock at

Quantifiable Benefits | The Chamber partners with a variety of member businesses to bring savings and benefits directly to you. New progams are added frequently, so check to find out about our latest partnerships!


Publicity and Exposure | Through our Chamber page in the Star Press, Membership Directory, Chamber Connect, Muncie on the Move,, and much more, you will gain direct exposure to the Chamber membership and their employees.


Ribbon-Cuttings/Open Houses | All Chamber members are entitled to a ribboncutting or open house. We will notify the membership, bring the ribbon and big scissors and coordinate the ribbon cutting, and a picture of the event will appear on our Chamber page in the Star Press.


Business Referrals | The Chamber receives thousands of inquiries by phone and on our website by individuals and companies looking for products and services in Delaware County. Our policy is to refer only Chamber members.


Government Affairs | Many voices speak louder than one. Your Chamber monitors legislation, keeping you informed and speaking out for our members. Our full-time Government Relations Division tracks legislation on all levels and keeps you informed.


Insurance Discounts | The Chamber has partnered with PHP and Humana to provide discounted group health insurance and individual supplemental insurance benefits to all Chamber members.


Economic Development | Through Vision 2011, the Chamber is aggressively working to retain and promote existing business and industry. We are also actively seeking new companies which will bring additional employment to the community.


Marketing Opportunities | Nowhere else can you market your products and services in such a wide variety of methods to such a large audience at such a low price. Take advantage of our monthly member mailing, eBlast, Chamber Magazine, Star Press Chamber page, Membership Directory, website, Member-2-Member discounts program, and much more.


Credibility | 70% of consumers believe that Chamber membership means a business uses better business practices. By displaying your membership plaque and decal, you will benefit from the added credibility and recognition of being part of the Chamber of Commerce.


The Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce is Delaware County’s leading business organization with the main purpose of advancing the commercial, financial, industrial and civic interests of our community. Being a Chamber member gives a business all the business-building resources needed to prosper. It just makes good business sense.

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Serving our community since 1894

Application for Membership























How would you like to receive Chamber news?





List additional contacts to include in mailings, either paper or electronic: EMAIL ADDRESS








Please return form to: Member Services, P.O. Box 842, 401 S. High St., Muncie, IN 47308 or FAX this form to: 765.751.9151 | More information: or 765.751.9102

12 | The Chamber

Words Go Here Page Header


BOARD OF DIRECTORS MARK BURKHART (Vice Chair, Comm/Govt Rel) Muncie Community Schools 2501 N. Oakwood Ave. Muncie, IN 47304 747-5222 Fax: 747-5352 Email:

Board term: October 2009-October 2010

DEANNA CASE (Vice Chair, Operations) 3D Company, Inc. 3200 E. C.R. 350 North JUD FISHER (Vice Chair Eco. Dev.) MUNCIE-DELAWARE COUNTY Muncie, IN 47303 Ball Brothers Foundation 288-3326 Fax: 288-3344 222 S. Mulberry Street Email: Muncie, IN 47308 741-5500 Fax: 741-5518 GARY CHENAULT Email: United Way Delaware Co. 500 North Walnut Street RICHARD HELSPER Muncie, IN 47305 Ball Memorial Hospital 288-5586 Fax: 288-5588 2401 University Ave. Email: Muncie, IN 47303 751-5071 GAIL CHESTERFIELD Email: (Vice Chair, Comm/Env.) Ivy Tech Community College JEFF HOWE 4301 South Cowan Rd. Old National Bank Muncie, IN 47302 110 E. Main Street 289-2291 ext 1301; Fax: 289-2292 Muncie, IN 47305 Email: and 254-3979 Fax: 747-7509 Email:

ROGER LAVERY Ball State University College of Comm Info Media Muncie, IN 47306 285-6000 HANK MILIUS Meridian Services 240 N. Tillotson Muncie, IN 47304 254-5101 Fax 741-0310 Email:

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Serving the community since 1894

CORNELIUS DOLLISON Motivate Our Minds 1012 N. Blaine, Muncie, IN 47303 288-1892 Email: CHRIS FANCHER Muncie Power Products 201 E. Jackson, Ste. 500 P.O. Box 548, Muncie, IN 47308 284-7721 Fax: 751-9506 Email:

STEVE KERN CS Kern, Inc. 3401 S. Hamilton Ave. Muncie, IN 47302 289-8600 Fax: 289-8662 Email: JEFF LANG (Sec./Treas.) Ball State Foundation 2800 W. Bethel Ave. 47306 285-7062, 759-1927, 749-7279 Email:

JIM RIGGLE (Chair Elect) Indiana Michigan Power 5000 N. Wheeling Avenue Muncie, IN 47304 287-3294 Fax: 287-3298 Email: CATHY STEWART Estep Doctor & Co. 3737 W. Bethel Ave. Muncie, IN 47304 289-5366 Fax: 289-3332 Email:

CHARLES SURSA (Past Chair) Raymond James 400 S. Walnut Street Muncie, IN 47305 288-0362 Email: charles.



Serving the c

TARA SMALSTIG (Chair) Dennis, Wenger & Abrell, P.C. 324 W. Jackson Street Muncie, IN 47305 288.8950 Fax: 289.5803 Email:

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President/CEO Jay Julian (765) 288-6681




Serving the community since 1894

14 | The Chamber

Human Resources Director Executive Assistant Nancy Norris (765) 751-9127

Director of Events MUNCIE-DELAWARE COUNTY Nance Buchert (765) 751-9114

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Serving the community since 1894

Director, Community/ Government Relations Brenda Brumfield (765) 751-9128

Membership Director Erin Ailstock (765) 751-9102

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremonies, Open Houses, Grand Openings





Contact the Chamber to schedule a ribbon-cutting ceremony as a new member or for a grand opening, remodel, or open house. We will notify the membership via eNews, bring a big ribbon and scissors, and put a photo in the Star Press. This is a free benefit for all Chamber members.

Chamber After-Hours A member-sponsored after work reception, an After-Hours is a great way to draw people into your business. We will invite the membership via website, eNews, bulk mail and newspaper, photograph the event & publish photos in the Star Press, on our website, and in eNews, and help you plan the event. $300

Membership Listing Receive a complete listing of Chamber members with all contact information in Excel format. $300

Monthly Mailing Want to send out a flyer or advertisement to the membership? We can add your piece to our monthly mailing to more than 1,100 addresses. $175

eNewsletter We set aside Tuesday each week for a Chamber member eBlast. We will send out your email with graphics to over 1,300 email addresses. $100

Mailing Labels Your company may be interested in sending out its own bulk mailing. You can purchase over 1,100 pre-printed mailing labels from the Chamber. $100

Advertising Only Chamber members are eligible to advertise on our website, in the annual Membership Directory, the bi-annual Chamber magazine, and on our Delaware County and Muncie Downtown maps. Advertising rates are very reasonable in comparison to other publications and companies. Prices vary. As a Chamber member, your business will be listed on the Chamber’s website at no charge. A direct link is provided to your business website. You can also advertise on the website, or have your discount offer posted on the Member-2-Member page. Prices vary.

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Serving the community since 1894 Business Referrals

For more information: 765-288-6681 or

The Chamber receives thousands of inquires each year by phone as well as hits on our website from individuals looking for products and services in Delaware County. Our policy is to refer ONLY Chamber members.

Sponsorships At the Chamber, we make every effort to provide our sponsors with as much exposure as possible. RangingMUNCIE-DELAWARE from $50 - $5,000,COUNTY Chamber sponsorships are a great way to get your nameCHAMBER and company in OF frontCOMMERCE of other people. Serving the community since 1894

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September 2 | Communiversity Day 2 | Academy for Community Leadership 8 | Small Business Council 23 | Customer Service Excellence October 6 | Muncie on the Move 21 | Chamber Connect 28 | Annual Meeting

January 12 | Small Business Council 20 | Chamber Connect TBD | Legislative Update February 2 | Muncie on the Move 9 | Small Business Council 26 | Chamber Bowl TBD | Legislative Update

UPCOMING OCTOBER EVENTS* Business Education Seminar Gov’t Relations Committee Meet the Candidate Forums

March 9 | Small Business Council TBD | Legislative Update

November 2 | Remember to Vote! 10 | Small Business Council

April 6 | Muncie on the Move 21 | Chamber Connect 27 | Administrative Professional Day

UPCOMING NOVEMBER EVENTS* Business Education Seminar Legislative Preview

May 11 | Small Business Council

December 1 | Muncie on the Move 2 | Academy for Community Leadership Dinner 7 | Member Holiday Reception 8 | Small Business Council

June 21 & 22 | Chamber Cup!

*Check for upcoming event dates

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18 | The Chamber


For the love of



he reach of Tom Leaird’s Underwater Service touches lives in East Central Indiana and crosses the boundaries of states and countries. For 50 years, Tom Leaird has been scuba diving, instructing, writing books and providing resources through his own passion for diving and his local business, Leaird’s Underwater Service. Leaird has helped train over 4,000 divers in Muncie — either at the YMCA or Phillips Quarry — and Leaird’s Underwater Service has been a backbone for those pursuing underwater adventure since 1969 — providing lessons, equipment, service and trip planning, priming the new divers for deeper dives, rescue missions and commercial jobs.

How it all began

Leaird first became interested in scuba diving when he saw pictures on the front page of the Muncie Star Press in the winter of 1960. Watching the old television series, Sea Hunt, had always inspired his interest in scuba but he said, “When I saw those pictures of people jumping into Phillips Quarry in icy water, publicizing the first scuba class to occur in Muncie, I signed up and got involved.” That lesson eventually led to his ownership of the second oldest scuba supply shop in Indiana. As Leaird himself proclaims, “It’s more than a love of scuba, it’s in my blood.” “We started here shortly after I became an instructor in 1969 and by 1970 we just started out of our garage, eight blocks from here. But by 1971, I purchased a little building that was behind this building. I started a part-time thing my wife helped me run because I was production manager in this building for Prestige Portraits at the time,” he said. His part time diver’s supply went full time in 1988, when he retired from business life and pursued scuba full time. By 1997 he owned both buildings on the current property.

SCUBA Training and Education

Tom Leaird, of Tom Leaird’s Underwater Service. PHOTO BY KYLE EVENS

According to Leaird there are lots of opportunities to become good at scuba in East Central Indiana. “We have 12 instructors teaching at nine YMCAs and two universities in this area and a couple hundred divers per year go through our programs,” he said. “They pursue the sport in various ways, some become local divers or pursue other avenues associated with government, law enforcement, college degrees in marine sciences or just plain recreational divers,” Leaird said. One of the many divers Leaird helped influence was former Ball State University student, Sean Finley, who graduated in 2007 and now works CONTINUED ON PAGE 21

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Originally was an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, although now widely considered a word in its own right.

Sean Finley, who was inspired and trained by Tom Leard, travels around the country diving for different types of businesses. PHOTOS PROVIDED

20 | The Chamber


“I travel all over the USA working on nuclear, fossil, and hydroelectric power generation; commercial marine shipping; highway and transportation; oil, gas, and power transmission; water utilities; pulp and paper; municipal, state, and federal government and industrial and manufacturing facilities.” — SEAN FINLEY, PICTURED AT LEFT underwater for a living. Finley lives in Noblesville and works for a commercial diving company called Underwater Construction Corporation. “I travel all over the USA working on nuclear, fossil, and hydroelectric power generation; commercial marine shipping; highway and transportation; oil, gas, and power transmission; water utilities; pulp and paper; municipal, state, and federal government and industrial and manufacturing facilities,” he said. Finley got into scuba as a hobby, but then took all the diving classes offered at Ball State. “My teacher, Carol Reed, got me involved with Tom,” Finley said. “I would definitely recommend learning to dive from Tom and his group. Carol Reed, as well, was a great teacher. They have mass amounts of knowledge and overwhelming experience. I learned a lot from them, and it has helped me establish myself in my career as a commercial diver.” Leaird said Ball State is number one in the U.S. with aquatic majors and minors and he utilizes those students as interns either at the store or in the diving classes. In addition to Ball State, Leaird’s group is also involved with Anderson University.

New Initiatives

“Our mainstay is training divers, selling them gear and servicing their needs,” said Leaird. However, Leaird continues to bring the benefits of scuba to the community. He purchased Phillips Quarry in April and hopes to have it up and running soon as Phillips Outdoor Center, Inc. “It’s a new entity which I have purchased as a non-profit for outdoor environmental education beyond scuba, including Task Force 6, a 13-county ECI law enforcement cooperative group to do training at this center,” said Leaird. “In addition to law enforcement, my vision for Phillips Outdoor Center is to have it available to home schooled kids, scouts, and other groups. I want that environmental center to be available to them for outdoor education,” he added. Scuba Educators International (SEI) is another new venture that Leaird leads and operates out of the business on West Jackson Street. “It’s a new agency that was taken over when YMCA of the USA stopped teaching scuba in 2008,” he said. “I have given space to SEI in the back of our building and we have one full time and a part time consultant that help run that business. We have instructors in 30 states and nine countries as a result of those who have transferred over completely and become part of this organization.” “We also do leadership programs. I just certified seven dive masters and seven assistant instructors and four new instructors last spring,” said Leaird. CONTINUED ON PAGE 22 The Chamber | 21


Tom Leaird’s Underwater Service Facts Owner, Tom Leaird, learned to dive in 1960, became an instructor in 1969, has authored nine books for YMCA National Scuba Program, started a part-time scuba business in 1970 and took on Scuba fulltime in 1988 when he retired from business life.


• WHAT: Scuba instruction, underwater supplies, equipment and repair, diving trip coordination. • WHEN: Opened in 1970; at current location since 1997 • WHERE: 1623 West Jackson Street, Muncie, Indiana 47303, Phone: 765-288-8144 • WHY: Serves East Central Indiana in underwater service. • HOW: Certified instructors and learning materials, offers equipment and open water diving site. • WEBSITE: • OTHER ENTITIES: Scuba Educators International and Phillips Outdoor Center Inc. (formerly Phillips Quarry) & Sponsor of Delaware Divers Club. SIGNIFICANT STATISTICS • Trained over 4,000 local divers • Has 12 instructors teaching at nine area YMCAs and two universities and a program in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

22 | The Chamber


Community Service

When area law enforcement calls for help, it’s hard for Leaird to say no because he possesses a knowledge, experience and skill that is a valuable resource. “A couple of years ago when Bartholomew County was flooded and Task Force 6 assisted, the sheriff called and said, ‘Tom I really want you with us’ and I go, as a volunteer.” “Here in Muncie, we don’t have a lot of water, but when we get an incident that occurs — a drowning or something thrown into the water — the sheriff’s department will call and say bring this or that and help us solve this issue. In earlier years I would be the one in the water doing it, but today I’m the one to support those younger guys in there,” he said. With the help of his daughter Tamara Leaird-Connelly, who’s the store manager, Tom Leaird’s Underwater Service activities continue to grow. At age 71, Leaird is still planning for the future. “My vision is to live 20 years more. I’m working on the next book. My wife, Bobbi, and I built a cabin on the farms we grew up on and spend time there each week. No phone. We read books, write and get away,” he said. But for Tom Leaird, there’s no getting away from scuba – it’s in his blood.


Maintaining home preserves …


Furnace Inspection • Have your furnace cleaned and serviced by an HVAC professional. • Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. • Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat. • If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. • Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.


Get the Fireplace Ready • Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. • Have a chimney sweep remove soot and creosote. • Buy firewood or chop wood. Remember firewood should be properly seasoned to help reduce creosote build-up. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home. • Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing. • Check the mortar between bricks and also check the flashing for needed repairs.


Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. And as the trees turn from their multitudes of green to shades of red, yellow and burnt orange, we should be turning our attention to winter weather preparation. Before the first frost of the year, here are some tasks that need to be completed around the home. Following these few easy steps can be a way of reducing your home repair headaches during the winter. Remember, water can do more damage to your home than most anything, the more we do to stop moisture and water intrusion the better off our homes will be during not only the winter months but all year long. When in doubt call a professional.

Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts


• Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. • Replace worn roof shingles or tiles. • Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. • Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.

Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows • Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them with a proper exterior silicon caulking. • Check the glazing on older wood windows, replace where it is cracked and flaking off. • Use weather-stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows. • If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields. • Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.


CONTINUED ON PAGE 20 The Chamber | 23


Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors • Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends. • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater. • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work. • Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.


Check Foundations • Rake away all debris and vegetation from the foundation. • Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house. • Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime. • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. • Secure crawlspace entrances.


Contact Tony Rolli Address: 3904 N. Locust St., Muncie, IN 47304; Phone: 765-744-9777 Website:

Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces


• Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires. • Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury. • Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes. • Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks. • Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

Prevent Plumbing Freezes • Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. • Disconnect and drain all garden hoses. • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, and shut off your water, set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees.


Service Weather-Specific Equipment


• Drain gas from lawnmowers. • Service or tune-up snow blowers. • Replace worn rakes and snow shovels. • Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment. • Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

Prepare an Emergency Kit


• Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage. • Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book. • Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment. • Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location. • Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.

About the author: Tony Rolli owns and operates Muncie Property Inspections as well as The Home Manager, Inc, He began his residential and commercial inspection career in 2001 in East Central Indiana and has since completed over 2,500 inspections, ranging from 2-bedroom, 1,200 squarefoot condos to 186,000 square-foot, five-story office complexes. Tony observed a greater need within his community, the need for a faith-based homeowner advocate. The Home Manager, Inc. is Tony’s vision to serve those needs.

24 | The Chamber


Muncie’s Mid-West Metal thrived and survived 90 years with a little …

American Ingenuity



The Chamber | 25



id-West Metal Company Incorporated may not have a fix for America’s economy, but they have found the recipe for success in a business model that reaches around the world. ‘Flexible manufacturing’ is the term Steve Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Mid-West Metal, calls the technique that propelled the familiar name in Muncie to become the nation’s largest manufacturer of wire-built pet homes. The ability to adapt to market pricing and apply the entrepreneurial spirit the company uses to develop new products has helped the 89-year-old business remain a leader in a world market that changes rapidly. Smith attributes the success of the company to its high standards. “A lot of it is searching for the best equipment and hiring the best people you can find and let them use the skills they have,” Smith said. A private, family-owned business, Mid-West Metal currently has 140 employees locally — including engineers, administrators, sales people, graphic artists, skilled trades, machine operators and warehouse workers. And, an additional 20 people work for the company in sales throughout the United States. All non-pet products are made in Delaware County at Mid-West’s two plants on Cowan and Mt. Pleasant Roads. They include hubs for commercial air circulating fans, guards, wire fixtures for retail stores, components for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industry, refrigeration unit racks and several products for the after automotive market. “We’ve always looked at ourselves as a sheet metal and wire fabricating company. If someone has an idea, we can design a product or manufacture from their own design,” said Smith. “Twenty percent of the company’s business is produced on the industrial side.” Other products the company has made include returnable racks for soft drink bottles, material handling bins, CONTINUED ON PAGE 29

26 | The Chamber

Mid-West Metal will be celebrating 90 years in Muncie as a family owned business. A generational photo shows framed pictures of the second generation, L – R, Jim Wingate Sr. and John Smith. The middle row is the fourth generation of Jason Smith, John Smith III and Neil Smith, and the back row is Jim Wingate, Kevin Smith and Steve Smith, the third generation of Mid-West Metal. They are shown at their corporate headquarters on East Jackson Street. PHOTO BY KYLE EVENS

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28 | The Chamber


welded wire mesh grids, closet organizers and tanning bed components. In addition to the plants that manufacture wire and sheet metal, Mid-West has a 160,000 square foot warehouse on East Seymour Street for storage and distribution of pet products. And, Mid-West Metal Products recently added a powder coating plant to enhance their manufacturing process and keep quality standards high – a trait they’re recognized for inside the industry.

Business Drivers

Labor costs and the price of steel are the fixed rates that drive the business of Mid-West Metal, explains Smith. “Competition from overseas started in the early ’70s. When I came on board in 1975, we decided to invest in better equipment. We were among the most highly automated within the membership of the wire association, which became a dominant factor in decreasing labor costs,” said Smith. The company still relies on advanced technology with an automatic laser which can operate seven days a week to complement their employee workforce. But in 2000, according to Smith, the price of wire spiked around the world from 21 cents a pound to 35 cents — everywhere but in China. Smith said as thegap got bigger, Mid-West had to start transferring some product manufacturing to China to stay competitive. “Subsequently, we (the U.S.) had a spike in the price of wire and it went up to 65 cents right before the current recession, but now it’s down to about 40 cents per pound. China went up to 25 cents, but nothing like other worldwide costs.” The price discrepancy is a result of subsidization by the Chinese government, which keeps the wire price artificially low. It is not a free enterprise system. However, according to Smith, eight of nine supplier plants of Mid-West Metal’s in China are owned privately and all of the plants have expanded since 2005. “The United States used to produce 93 percent of their own steel and now they produce about 50 percent,” he said. But he believes free enterprise is the most competitive way to do business. “We were forced to go overseas in 2001,” he said. ‘Flexible manufacturing’ plays the key role in the company’s capability to remain a leader in wire fabrication. It was this ingenuity that led the company to be selected for the Blue Chip Business Award from the Indiana Business Journal in 2005 for overcoming challenges – such as steel prices — and remaining an industry leader.

Long History in Muncie

Top: The original Mid-West Metal facility in 1955. Above: Workers at the plant in 1965. PHOTOS PROVIDED

Mid-West Metal formed in 1921 when four gentlemen from Muncie bought two patent rights from a man named Kruse in Fort Wayne. The light-switchbox holder and hardware strip were both innovations in the construction business at the time and the company that continues today was born. The current family owners became involved in 1926 when Steve Smith’s grandfather’s job at Muncie Steam Engine was phasing out to diesel engines. CONTINUED ON PAGE 30 The Chamber | 29



Founded in 1921, Mid-West Metal Company, Inc., is a privately owned company specializing in sheet metal and wire fabrication with annual sales of $65 million. • Headquarters: 4211 E. Jackson St., Muncie, IN 47303; (765) 741-3167 • Other Muncie locations 3701 S. Cowan Road: Wire & sheet metal manufacturing 2100 W. Mt. Pleasant Road: Wire & sheet metal manufacturing 3500 S. Hoyt: Powder coating 1000 E. Seymour: Pet warehouse • Employeesi in the United States: 160 • Products: Pet Homes & Products, Fan Guards, Wire Guards, Store Fixtures, Refrigeration Racks, Wire & Steel components for other equipment manufacturers. • Web:;

While Mid-West Metal produces a variety of products, they are best known for their assortment of pet homes. PHOTOS PROVIDED

Earl Smith became sales manager at the new company and promptly bought into the new idea of hardware distribution and expanded the product line to include screen door guards. Steve Smith’s father, John W. Smith, and his uncle, Jim Wingate Sr., joined the firm in the 1940s. Smith’s brother, Kevin, and cousin, Jim Wingate Jr., also work for Mid-West Metal today. The sons of brothers, Steve and Kevin Smith; John W. Smith III, Neil Smith and Jason Smith are the fourth generation to be part of the company. According to Smith, it was the company’s sales through the successful Sears & Roebuck catalog (where sales grew to be 40 percent of Mid-West Metal’s business in the early years) that kept the company viable. “The Sears catalog produced a national market where we could sell our products and helped make the U.S. a homogenous nation. Nearly everyone received a catalog and had access to the same merchandise through mail order. We had a business association with Sears from 1933 to 1993.” When World War II started and construction business slowed, Mid-West Metal became innovative and started making canning racks. “This was a natural with Ball Corporation here and at a time when everyone had their victory gardens,” explained Smith. During this time the company also made wire rubbish burners, which remained top sellers until trash burning became illegal in most city limits. Ironically, it was the rubbish burners that paved the way for their leading product today – wire-built pet homes. In the 1960s, Mid-West noticed that a hardware store ordered more square rubbish burners than anyone else. “There’s never been full agreement if that store was in Detroit or Louisville,” said Smith. “But, when they told us they CONTINUED ON PAGE 32

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were using them (square rubbish burners) as animal cages, we adapted and added a new product line and started selling them in the Sears catalog.” The pet products produced steady growth during the 1970s and ’80s, and in 1988 MidWest Homes For Pets became a division of Mid-West Metal Products. New product development is ongoing at Mid-West, including improvements and updates for current products. “We have a new design for one of the doors of our pet homes coming out in the fall and we are updating constantly,” Smith said.

Contributing Community Member

Besides being a employer and tax base for the community, Mid-West Metal and Smith take helping their hometown seriously. “I’m very interested in Muncie and seeing it grow and want to do whatever I can to help that happen,” he said. He’s active in local economic development through the Delaware Advancement Corp., hosting potential employers and filling them in on Muncie’s qualities. Smith is also on the Yorktown School Board and serves on Inside Mid-West Metal’s wire and sheet metal manufacturing the Board of Directors for the The Community Foundation of facility at 2100 W. Mt. Pleasant Road. PHOTO BY KYLE EVENS Muncie-Delaware Community and YMCA. Call it a Muncie icon or a firmly established business in the community, but Mid-West Metal has stood the test of time — applying American ingenuity and reinventing their products since 1921 to manufacture what the country needs and what consumers want: a reliable product by a reputable company at a competitive price that’s in it for the long haul as a forerunner in its industry. — STEVE SMITH, PRESIDENT & CEO OF MID-WEST METAL That innovative spirit continues to pave the way for future success.

“I'm very interested in Muncie and seeing it grow and want to do whatever I can to help that happen.”

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President, Brian Brinkman, of J & T Systems, Inc. PHOTO BY KYLE EVENS


& T Systems, Inc. has the right concept. It’s a locally owned business, headquartered in Muncie. It sells and services a product manufactured in the United States and helps commercial customers save energy and money while reducing carbon in the environment. They do all this while helping create a productive setting for workers and machines through temperature control. “It’s not your standard heating, venting and air conditioning business anymore,” said Brian Brinkman, President of J & T Systems. He can pull up a thermal graphic floor plan of a facility on a computer screen and with an easy glance see what the temperature is anywhere in the building. It looks like a video game or a scene from a movie and it’s easy to understand: green is good, yellow is a little above the set temperature point, orange is even more above set point and red is an alarm condition — or out of set point. The purpose of the program is to allow the owner to change the conditions of those temperatures on or off site by using a high tech software program called WebCTRL. The energy system that allows this to happen is called Automated Logic CONTINUED ON PAGE 34

Green Energy is here BUSINESS PROFILE

J & T Systems, Inc. is local energy management company

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and J & T Systems is the only authorized dealer in Indiana. “The biggest expense in operating any facility is energy costs. Without proper heating, cooling and light levels, people are uncomfortable and machines don’t operate efficiently. We manage the energy as low as possible and yet keep the comfort as high as possible. It’s called Environmental Index,” said Brinkman. When the three business owners of J & T Systems, — Brinkman, John Tetrault, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Rodney Morrow, Vice President of Sales and Marketing — started the business in 1997, they picked Automated Logic as their product of choice. “We chose Automated Logic because of their research and development capabilities. Everything ends up being in graphics to show energy use. Their tools allow us to use trending and energy reports to help solve problems and create the desired environment for our customers,” said Brinkman. All of J & T Systems’ customers are commercial and they’re located throughout Indiana. In Muncie, Ball Memorial Hospital and Ball State University are among their clients. “Our customers are larger projects with energy management nuances behind them — such as school systems, healthcare facilities, office buildings and industrial plants. What we can do is show people opportunities to optimize the resources that they have. We’re doing a lot of gas and electric monitoring that people haven’t done in the past. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Brinkman said. In addition to Automated Logic, J & T Systems is also a distributor of Notifier fire alarm systems. “Notifier is a product line where we do addressable fire alarm systems or fire alarm centers for large commercial clients. Some customers just need a pull station and a panel, but we do have facilities that have graphic interfaces where they do have command centers. If there is an emergency, a fire department can come in and set up and control air flow, elevators and exhaust; pushing fire out,” Brinkman said. While J & T Systems offers high tech help today, they’re already looking toward the future in energy management. “We’re always looking for growth opportunities — what will we do with solar and wind and how will we integrate that,” he said. “We don’t know in what form or fashion. It could be lunar power for all we know, or what we’ll distill instead of oil. But I do know there will be opportunities to better manage whatever energies we’re developing.”

Locally owned and grown

All three owners of J & T Systems live in Delaware County and have grown their business into three locations throughout the state with 30 employees. “Muncie’s been good to me,” said Brinkman. “Our pool of workers have never been an issue and a dollar here will take you a lot further than a lot of other places I could name. We chose Muncie to be our headquarters because you’ll be as competitive here as anywhere. We’d just pay higher leases, higher wages — everything somewhere else and conversely lose the edge we have over our competition.” In addition to a quality workforce and low cost of living, Brinkman said Muncie offers a good quality of life. “We have the benefits of Ball State and the job pool that they bring, and secondly, Ball Hospital — because it’s a regional health care center. There are things to do here and you don’t have to 34 | The Chamber


J & T Systems, Inc., was founded in 1997 as a privately owned company. They specialize in energy management and are a distributor of Automated Logic Temperature Control Systems and Notifier Fire Alarm Systems. • Owners: Brian Brinkman, Rodney Morrow & John Tetrault • Employees: 30 • Mission Statement: “J&T Systems, Inc. is committed to outstanding service in our communities by creating and maintaining comfortable, secure and productive building environments.” • Corporate Office: 614 E. Streeter Ave., Muncie; Phone: (765) 2861993 (J & T Systems also has offices in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.) • Website:

“The biggest expense in operating any facility is energy costs. Without proper heating, cooling and light levels, people are uncomfortable and machines don’t operate efficiently. We manage the energy as low as possible and yet keep the comfort as high as possible. It’s called Environmental Index.” — BRIAN BRINKMAN pay a $35 ticket fee or drive to get there. Prairie Creek, Cardinal Greenway, Minnetrista Cultural Center, Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Horizon Center and list goes on.” J & T Systems likes to share their knowledge to help the community. Through a “Lunch and Learn” event at the Horizon Convention Center in April, Brinkman presented a seminar to businesses on how to get their Energy Star credit through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act commonly known as ‘stimulus money.’ “We were able to show where to look for grants and help Ball Memorial Hospital get $100,000 in a matching grant on a project they were already doing. We think it’s ideal that the money is coming to Delaware County,” said Brinkman. While the past few years have been plagued by a recession, J & T Systems has managed to stay busy. And, the company recently won the Chamber of Commerce’s “Spirit of Small Business” award. “We appreciate the position we’re in. We like to think that we directed it, but it’s a combination of a lot of different things, from product line, to people to management. And it’s customers. It’s been a good run so far,” Brinkman said. Whether working, playing or relaxing, there’s nothing quite as uncomfortable as being too hot or too cold. J & T Systems has helped change that with the simple concept of energy management and a high tech system that helps people and machines always stay in productive mode.

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OJT is not a hiring subsidy. It’s a training subsidy. It bridges the gap between the existing skills of the new hire and the skills required by the job. The OJT contract will have a training plan outlining how the skill gap will be filled. On the Job Training is a skill gap bridge solution. What is On-the-Job Training? • Hands on training that you (the employer) design • A cash payment to offset training costs • An opportunity to train employees your way • An investment in your company The first step is for the employer to contact their local WorkOne business service representative to get the business approved for the program. Businesses May Qualify If They: • Employ full-time workers • Operate year-round • Enjoy low employee turnover • Pay an hourly wage or salary of at least $10 per hour • Prefer long term employer/employee relationships • Realize the benefits of investing in their employees • Enjoy saving money • Employ any number of employees BEST PRACTICES


On-the-Job Training Program

Column by Missy Shrock, Employer Services Representative for WorkOne

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Some businesses, especially smaller ones, are holding back on hiring new staff even as the first signs of recovery have appeared. The demand for the workforce system to “train more with less” is ever increasing in these times. WorkOne is pleased and proud to spotlight the On-the-Job Training Program (OJT). This is a wonderful opportunity to assist businesses with hiring a new employee. WorkOne will reimburse the employer 50% of the salary of the new hire during the training time frame. Even a small training subsidy may be enough to spur new hiring. The goal of Workforce Development is to assist businesses with their hiring needs, find them good candidates to interview and assist the economy by matching individuals that are dislocated or underemployed with a new skill and a great career with a new employer.

Many job seekers must change careers since their old occupations have disappeared and others are just beginning to emerge. Most frequently, the job seekers are not able to leap to new career paths through just improving their resume. Now employers consider related work experience very important in making the hiring decision as well as education. That is why this On the Job Training program is so beneficial to everyone involved. WorkOne matches qualified applicants with approved job openings that are posted on our free job matching website at www. and must be based on the Occupations in Demand list. WorkOne staff and the employer design a training plan to meet your unique business needs. Any business service representative can supply the list to employers as well by calling 1-800483-2742.

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Open Door Health Services is Moving Downtown


ts time has come and no one is more pleased to see Open Door Health Services expand than Toni Estep, Chief Executive Officer, Nearer to the heart of downtown and yet reaching farther than before, the move to 333 S. Madison Street, scheduled for 2011, allows the non-profit community health center to double their services to East Central Indiana residents. “In 2009, we served 16,000 patients. When we combine our three sites to the former Delaware County Division of Family Resources building on Madison Street in the downtown area, we eventually will be able to serve 34,000,” said Estep. As health care is being scrutinized across the country, Open Door has been establishing a model since 1974 that has successfully served the purpose of helping the uninsured. And since 2000, when the local clinic became a federally qualified health center, growth has increased dramatically for both clients and staff. “We’ve gone from 80 employees to 130 within the past two years and the move downtown will allow us to have up to 200,” said Estep. Only one of 19 federally qualified health centers in Indiana, Open Door has evolved from a clinic open one day a week to three locations open morning to night and includes urgent care. “Our target population is for the uninsured and low income but we can see anyone – even those who have insurance,” said Estep. “Some people elect to come to us because they know we have good quality care.” Open Door Health Services is governed by a Board of Directors with 51 percent of their own patients as board members. The board is made up of 14 members and meets monthly. “Federal regulations require that the people you’re serving have the majority say in the policies you’re setting,” said Estep. “A lot of training is done to help board members understand policies and budgets. More often than not, our client board members tell us when our sliding scale rates are too low.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 40

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“Word gets around — you can be treated with respect and compassion at Open Door.” — TONI ESTEP, CEO


• Who: Open Door Health Services, 765-286-7000. • What: A non-profit, federally qualified community health center that acts as the safety net for the uninsured and underinsured. The majority of patients are ages 18-65. • When: Moving downtown in 2011 • Where: 333 S. Madison Street, Muncie, Indiana 47302 • Why: Combine three Muncie locations into one and expand services. • How: Planned for since 2002. • Website: • Funded by: Charges from services, state tobacco settlement dollars, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, United Way of Delaware County and other sources of grants and donations. • Current Offices in Muncie: Call 765-286-7000 for operating hours. 1. Medical Primary Care Clinic at 905 S. Walnut St. 2. Southway Urgent Care at 3807 S. Madison St. 3. Dental Clinic, Right Start OB Clinic, Pediatric Clinic, Women’s Health Clinic & Delaware County WIC Program at 3715 S. Madison St. 4. Family Planning Clinic at 806 W. Jackson St. (will close at this location & move to 905 S. Walnut St. when new building opens in 2011).


Quality Care

Providing basic health care for those at risk is not the only service Open Door provides. “Our services go over and beyond medical needs,” Estep said. “It’s a lot more than you’d see in a normal doctor’s office. We’re not a free service, but have a minimum fee and a sliding rate schedule based on income and household size, but we do provide a core of services to clients that include primary and preventive care, dental, lab, x-ray, pharmacy and behavioral care.” In addition to core services, Open Door has a social worker, health educator and dietician on staff to assist clients and also serves as a Medicaid and Medicare enrollment site. “While there’s a shortage of primary care physicians, we’re able to attract qualified doctors and nurse practitioners through a program with the National Health Services Corp. that helps them repay their educational loans,” Estep said. “The majority of the patients we’re serving are adults between the ages of 18 and 65. We currently have eight physicians with two more coming this fall, along with several parttime physicians that only work very limited hours. In addition, we have nine nurse practitioners, one physician assistant and a Nurse Midwife and are in the process of hiring two more nurse practitioners.”

Community Support Essential

Open Door is a collective part of bringing about positive social change and enhancing quality of life in East Central Indiana. According to Estep, their service area includes surrounding counties and they have opened offices in Anderson, Marion and Richmond. As a United Way agency and Chamber of Commerce member from the beginning, Open Door coordinates with other non-profits to host a variety of monthly education classes, such as smoking cessation. “Community support and a compassionate, caring staff have contributed to our success,” Estep said. “While we’ve always CONTINUED ON PAGE 41

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Nurse practitioner, Monica Buche, listens to the heart beat of six- month-old, Daniel Fuatavai, at the Open Door Pediatric Clinic, at 3715 S. Madison St. PHOTO BY KYLE EVENS

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Toni Estep Toni Estep has been CEO of Open Door since 2000 and has overseen many changes. The initial organization began as the Delaware AntiPoverty Corporation and the health center was called the Open Door Health Clinic. It started in a small house on Gharkey Street and was open one day a week. It was staffed by Ball Memorial Hospital residents and one nurse. The clinic grew over the years and had several homes and the name was changed in the 80s to Open Door Community. Clinic hours were added in the 90s when they hired their first non-resident physician. In 1996, Open Door Community Services expanded the health clinic with newly awarded state tobacco settlement dollars for community health centers. Ball Memorial Hospital was also looking at expanding in the community and the two organizations began discussing how they could work together which resulted in the formation of a totally separate, new corporation, Open Door/BMH Health Center. The name changed to Open Door Health Services in 2010 to reflect their federally qualified health center status and independence. Sources: Open Door/BMH Health Center Annual Report 2008-2009 and Toni Estep.

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been an independent organization, our long relationship with Ball Memorial Hospital has been invaluable. They have partnered with us to make sure East Central Indiana residents get the health care they need.” Moving downtown has been part of Open Door’s plan since 2002. “We haven’t moved before because our leases at other locations have been tied to March 2011. Our new building downtown is centrally located, very accessible and easy to come in to from other counties. We’re very excited about moving and interested in working with Ivy Tech downtown. We’ll be closer as a training site for interns in health services for both Ivy Tech and Ball State students.”

Contributor to Local Economy

What’s making a difference in the lives of East Central Indiana residents will soon be making an impact on downtown Muncie. Not only has Open Door Health Services been providing health care for citizens in the area for 36 years, the non-profit also creates jobs and plays a role in establishing a portfolio of a caring community. “We bring in a variety of salaries to the community, from entry level jobs to six figure incomes for our medical personnel,” Estep said. “Our employees will be utilizing restaurants and other services in the downtown area.” Estep, who has been at the helm of Open Door since 2000, believes their contributions will continue to expand and benefit Muncie. And it’s a good thing for Delaware County, because one of the aspects investors typically look for before locating a business in a community is how well the most vulnerable citizens are treated and if there are adequate programs in place. Open Door Health Services is the visible proof for all who look at Muncie that the heart of the community is right downtown.

Nurse practitioner, Brandy Dantzer, checks the eyes of Rebecca Gibson at the Medical Primary Care Clinic at 905 S. Walnut St. PHOTO BY KYLE EVENS

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FLYING Leadership began with a passion for

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im Cherry ‘got the bug’ when he was 11 years old in 1961 and he still has the bug today – passion for model airplane aviation. “Getting the bug” is a well known phrase among modelers, who are part of the 145,000member organization Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), headquartered in Muncie. Coming up on their 75th anniversary in 2011, Cherry has nothing but good things to say about his job as Executive Director of the AMA. “I have a job most people dream of having. I get to meet people doing something they love and are passionate about. I’m getting paid to do something that I’ve loved as a child and an adult,” said Cherry. Even though he earns a salary, it’s cashing what he calls the ‘psychological paychecks’ that brings a smile to Cherry’s face. “It’s watching something that you help effect or come together — like seeing a kid get a check for $17,000 in scholarship money or the look on an eight-year-old boy’s face who gets called out for a trophy,” he said. According to Cherry, almost every astronaut or aeronautical engineer began with an interest in model aviation. “Models are real airplanes that fly – they’re just smaller, so don’t call them toys,” he said. Like most fliers, Cherry’s love of model airplanes began as a kid. While the sport inspired him to get his own private pilot’s license, he took a break from model flying while raising his family and working for Chambers of Commerce throughout the United States and managing associations. “After the kids got through college I had more discretionary time and went to a model airplane fly-in,” he said. “It was like going to a class reunion and seeing that girl you loved in high school and the flame rekindles. Within six weeks I had a plane and within six months I was flying and have been involved ever since,” said Cherry. That experience led him to become President of a Florida Model Airplane Club and on the board of directors of a Texas Club before making a trip to Muncie and applying for the job of executive director three and a half years ago. While Cherry’s family remain in Panama City, Florida, he makes his temporary home in Muncie because he says he wants to lead the AMA through this time in history. Much of what Cherry does is directly related to the Academy’s ‘Strategic Long Range Plan’ which guides the organization through 2015. One of the directives is to enhance awareness about the AMA.

Jim Cherry, Executive Director of the Academy for Model Aeronautics.


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“People are shocked at the reach of our organization, but we have a lot of lineage. Look at the astronauts - the majority of them played with model airplanes.” — JIM CHERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACADEMY OF MODEL AERONAUTICS


• Who: Jim Cherry, Executive Director, Academy of Model Aeronautics • What: Leads world’s largest aviation association: A membership of 145,000 people who build and/or fly model airplanes or other aviation craft, representing 11 districts throughout the U.S. and over 2400 model airplane clubs in 2000 different communities. • When: He’s in his third year as leader at the Academy, established in 1936 and coming up on its 75th Anniversary in 2011. • Where: Academy of Model Aeronautics, 5161 E. Memorial Drive, Muncie. Headquarters is housed on 1100 acres, providing flying sites and includes largest Model Aviation Museum. • Website: • Why: He has a passion for model airplanes and this is the “dream job” in fulfilling that passion. • How: Had a background in running Chambers of Commerce and association management and a passion for flying model airplanes. • Club Benefits for AMA Members: Sanctioned Events, Insurance, Flying Sites, Safety Code, Magazines and Scholarships Available. PHOTO BY KYLE EVENS

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“Muncie is the Mecca for people who are involved in this hobby,” said Cherry. “Before you take your final flight, Muncie is on your bucket list and you go through the world’s largest modeling aviation museum and the 1,100 acres we have here and do your pilgrimage,” he added. “We’re the best kept secret in East Central Indiana when it comes to the general public, but modelers want to come here at least once in their life.” Another part of Cherry’s job is to coordinate a 55 member staff at the AMA. “I keep them focused on where we need to go based on our newly adopted strategic plan and the desires of the membership,” he explained.

Education Involvement

In addition, Cherry is excited about AMA’s involvement as a partner in education outreach. “We just celebrated becoming a part of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum aviation exhibit. They received a NASA grant and we’re part of that grant to introduce youth to science, technology, engineering and math, an initiative called STEM. Aeronautics and aviation requires these skills and we will help supply expertise, materials and demonstrations to support the children’s museum as well as other museums around the county,” he said. “Not only is flying fun, it’s also educational,” he added. “We have a DVD and two CDs of basic lesson plans that can be used in the class room with experiments, called Aero Lab. As well, we have given out about $1 million in scholarships in the last 30 years to AMA members.” The loyalty of AMA members extends to the Muncie community. “We got a six figure gift last year to build an education facility that’s a community outreach for kids,” Cherry said. “We’ve invested quite a bit to work with kids in the East Central Indiana area and beyond and as an incubator for the future of aviation.”

Anyone Can Learn to Fly

Cherry says anyone can learn to fly a model airplane and there are many different kinds. “We have 18,000 plans to build any plane that’s been invent-

ed,” he said. The best way to get involved with the sport is to get in touch with a local club and find out when you can visit their flying site or come to a scheduled event at the AMA, Cherry said. Both are listed on the AMA website at “We sanction about 2,000 model plane competitions nationwide each year, with about 30-plus on site here in Muncie,” he said. “A great time to come out and see an event is Labor Day Weekend. You’ll see the guys you’ve seen build things on the History or Discovery channels and it’s one of our charity events, where half of our proceeds go to the Wilbur Wright Birthplace Museum in Henry County and the other half goes to scholarships.”

Challenges of a Dream Job

A major concern of AMA members and a big part of Cherry’s job is working with the federal government to keep and maintain flying sites – where clubs can fly their planes. “Our biggest concern is losing flying sites because if we lose the site, we lose the club and lose membership.” While urban sprawl or encroachment are always threats, Cherry and the AMA have helped model flying clubs reclaim some EPA Superfund sites that can’t be used for anything else because of their land-fill substances. “All we’re interested in is from the ground up, so we’re able to reclaim that unusable land for a good purpose.” In addition to working with the EPA, Cherry’s group is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission. “Airspace and communications are regulated and we have lobbyists that are looking out for our members’ interest,” he said. Cherry says there’s another challenge to his dream job. “This is a service organization and people have different expectations and making sure we exceed those expectations is challenging. We don’t sell products; people come here to have fun. The real strength of our organization is our volunteers, they help us succeed.”

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The Chamber: August 2010 issue  
The Chamber: August 2010 issue  

The premier issue of The Chamber magazine, published by The Star Press about members of the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.