Ball State’s Namesakes Subjects of New Documentary to Premiere Sept. 25

Ball State University has become a state institution with quite a reputation for producing very skilled graduates. But you might not know much about its history. A group of students hope to remedy that with a new film project. Ball State reports:

A student-produced documentary will explore the impact the five Ball brothers have had on east central Indiana since the 1880s, when they moved their glass manufacturing business from Buffalo to Muncie — transforming the community into an industrial force in the Midwest. “A Legacy Etched in Glass: The Ball Brothers in Muncie” is an immersive learning project by Ball State University under the direction of Chris Flook, a telecommunications instructor. The film explores the lives of the five brothers, the family legacy in Muncie and the core values that propelled them to success: hard work, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and beneficence. The story weaves cinematography, motion graphic animation and archived material with interviews from historians. Building their factories on the south of side of Muncie, the Ball brothers expanded their operations enormously over several decades in the early 20th century. Even after the natural gas ran out, Ball Corp. continued to produce glass in Muncie well into the 20th century. Ball Corp. spun off two enterprises — today known as Jarden and the Ardagh Group — before moving fully to Colorado in the late 1990s. Ball Corp. currently focuses on avionics and beverage container manufacturing. “Legacy” not only explores the lives of all five brothers, their wives and other family members, but it also explores the wide-ranging philanthropic efforts of the family in Muncie over the past 120 years. The documentary will have its public premiere at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at Minnetrista.

Watch a preview of the documentary, and learn more about the project online.

Chris Flook, who also serves as executive producer, may be reached at caflook@bsu.edu or 765-730-0841.

Muncie’s Knapp Supply Marks 140 Years in Business (Public/Customers Invited to Celebration)

Muncie’s Knapp Supply is celebrating an impressive 140 years of serving its customers on Sept. 12. The company, which has 32 employees, is marking the anniversary with a big party and its customers and the public are invited. Here are the details:

  • When: Friday, Sept. 12
  • Where: Knapp Supply office, 420 S. Ohio Ave., Muncie
  • Time: noon – 8 p.m.
  • RSVP to: dstanley@knappsupply.com or (765) 288-1893

We also spoke with David Stanley, Knapp Supply’s director of sales and marketing, to learn more about this storied Hoosier company.

Tell us about the history of Knapp Supply:

“Our founder, Capt. Alexander Knapp, was a Civil War veteran who was wounded in Georgia — in the Battle of Chickamauga, I think. He came back to Union City to open a plumbers’ steam and gas center supply house in 1874. He operated that into the early 1900s, selling everything from black pipe fittings to terra cotta pots and vases. He was sort of diverse in the things he sold.

Then the company moved to Muncie in 1926, because it was more of a hub of industry, and to cater to some of our industrial clients at that time.”

What do you sell today?

“Today, we’re basically a distributor of plumbing supplies, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and industrial supplies.”

With so much longevity, you’re obviously doing something right. What sets Knapp Supply apart from others in the industry?

“From reading and talking to different wholesalers, (our strength is) that we’ve been able to adapt quickly to changing times. Going back to the housing crunch (when houses were built at a slower rate), we were already heavily into the remodeling business at the time so we could roll right over. We were so versed in new construction years ago, we knew what people had installed and we could jump into the remodeling business.

And our employees (are a great asset). We have well over 500 years with the company in these thirty-some people. Many people have been here for many years – myself for 27 years, and our owner for 37 years. Our employees just have a wealth of knowledge.”

And what is it that makes staff stay with the company for so long?

“It’s a family atmosphere and we all get along really well. It’s a good, steady job with fair pay, health insurance, life insurance, all those things that add up – and it’s operated by a local family that takes big pride in helping their employees.”

How beneficial is it to be in Muncie?

“We operate in a daily delivery service of about 125 miles around Muncie. So from that we stretch up toward Valparaiso, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Bloomington – being centrally located in the Indiana/Ohio area allows us to get material out fast and provide good service.”

Tell us what will be happening at your Sept. 12 customer appreciation celebration:

“Without our customers, we obviously wouldn’t be here. We want to give back to them; we have customers who are the third and fourth generation of families that keep coming here. All sorts of our vendors will set up expositions. There will also be show tents with brand new items so our customers can see new things that are coming out and even talk to some of the people that had a hand in engineering or manufacturing some of these items.

We’re going to have food (lunch and dinner), a band for their enjoyment, free drinks and all sorts of knick knacks that will commemorate 140 years.” 

If you plan to attend the celebration, just RSVP to David at dstanley@knappsupply.com.

New Indiana Fair Employment Poster a Required Change

The Indiana Fair Employment Poster (released by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission) has been changed to add veterans as a protected category and prevent discrimination against them. This stems from House Enrolled Act 1242.

It is against the public policy of the state and a discriminatory practice for an employer to discriminate against a prospective employee on the basis of status as a veteran by:
(1) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a veteran of the armed forces of the United States; or
(2) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a member of the Indiana National Guard or member of a reserve component.

We are updating our poster sets to comply with this mandatory change.

You can order our new Indiana state/federal poster sets online, or contact customer service at (800) 824-6885 or customerservice@indianachamber.com.

Better yet, make life much easier for yourself and join our FREE poster subscription service!

In the Rough or a Favorable Lie? Perspectives Vary on the State of Golf

My on and off affair with golf started when I was about 17, and has been somewhat tumultuous. Like many duffers, I’ll take some time off, then mosey out to the range after watching a PGA event on TV. Next thing you know,  the seductive temptress known as a promising round appears with her flowing hair as beautiful and dangerous as windblown fescue — and once again I’m hooked and helpless. Walter White himself might as well be running the clubhouse cash register.

Yet with viewership of the PGA’s major tournaments reportedly down — often credited to Tiger Woods’ absence (he’s battled serious injuries and hasn’t won a major since 2008) — and with Millennials more interested in soccer (and their smartphones), there’s been much speculation that the game’s popularity has dropped off like a shank over a Pebble Beach cliff. Many attribute it to the time commitment of an 18-hole round — and legend Jack Nicklaus even proposes a move to a 12-hole standard outing for amateurs.

However, findings portrayed in a recent Golf Digest article posit the game is not in as dire shape as some might have you believe. We hope this is the case for our members in the golf industry:

Contrary to popular belief, there are positive stories in equipment sales, rounds played, and even employment opportunities. The professional game might be on better financial footing than any other individual sport, and maybe most important, the game’s leaders have embraced the idea of growing the game in its most important way: young people. The story of golf in July 2014 certainly is not candy canes and rainbows, but those clouds might not be as dark as others have been so quick to point out.

Has 2014 been a down year for equipment sales and rounds played? Certainly. Is there an oversupply of golf courses (fueled by unsustainable real-estate projections) and golf-equipment inventory (driven by overzealous manufacturers who were primed by unrealistic sales forecasts from certain large-scale retailers)? Unquestionably. But that’s a relative and limited point of view. First, let’s remember this: There were about 5 million golfers in 1960. While U.S. population has increased only some 75 percent since then, the number of golfers has more than quintupled to around 25 million.

Recent data from golf-retail research firm Golf Datatech show that the sale of hard goods (clubs, balls, bags, shoes and gloves) through the first six months of the year are higher than or equal to 12 of the previous 17 years. Is the trend line down from the somewhat freakish highs of 2006-’08? Yes. But there are unquestionable categories of enthusiasm this year. Iron sales, the largest purchase a golfer makes, have been up this year. The wedge market, thought to be dead after the USGA rolled back groove performance, has been consistently up this year. Even the footwear market has been an important, steady source of revenue. Callaway Golf just announced its second-quarter earnings and noted its sales for the first half of 2014 were up 9 percent, with growth in all categories, including woods (up 8 percent), irons (up 14 percent), putters (up 9 percent) and golf balls (up 7 percent).

There have been arguments that television ratings for golf are down in 2014 (and indeed the majors have been off), but according to the PGA Tour, the number of unique viewers this year is consistent, and sponsorship interest across all tours has risen to unprecedented levels. Golf Channel set a ratings record for the month of April this year…

Bishop and other leaders believe young people are not only the catalysts for golf’s future, but the strongest elements of golf’s present. Finchem points to The First Tee reaching a record 3.5 million youngsters in the last year. That’s a powerful number when you realize that a traditional, outdoor, analog game like golf is somehow energizing a nation that is eschewing physical education, battling a growing childhood-obesity problem and fighting a culture that sees kids spending nearly eight hours a day in front of screens.

ExactTarget Partnering With Mentoring Women’s Network to Pass the Torch for Women

ExactTarget employees are making the pledge to Pass the Torch for Women.

Mentoring Women’s Network is holding its Pass the Torch for Women event and luncheon on August 14 at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis. You can sign up online, and be sure to use the discount code INCHAMBER to receive $50 off the all-day ticket.

July/August BizVoice Building a Buzz

Today, we’re unveiling our July/August edition of BizVoice magazine.

And the headline is actually a joking nod to our cover story about drones… assuming they make some sort of buzzing sound as they fly. If they don’t, well, let’s just ignore it and move on.

This issue covers a gamut of topics. Here are a few of the top stories (but you can view the full edition via our interactive online version):

Velodrome/Indy Cycloplex a ‘Major’ Asset for Central Indiana

The soon-to-released July/August BizVoice will feature a series of stories on cycling in Indiana. One piece will feature an interview with Dean Peterson, head coach of Marian University’s dominant college cycling program (which now boasts 26 national championships).

In addition to the hard work of Peterson and his staff, one asset the team has parlayed into a big advantage is the Indy Cycloplex and Major Taylor Velodrome. Visible to those driving on I-65 on the city’s north side, the bike park is operated by Peterson and the school to serve the public. He explains:

The Velodrome is a unique asset for a school, and three years ago, Marian entered into an agreement with the city to manage the Indy Cycloplex park (over 40 acres). We wanted to retool and revitalize the park and invite the community in a little more – and maybe re-energize to a new level. The city recognized it was hard for them to do that with the money they had, but they looked at us because we could be more autonomous in how we could raise money and be more creative in our operations.

It’s certainly a great synergy and it helps us recruit – and the community gets to come in and race and ride with our riders. We do run this as a city park in a unique setting.

There’s very few Velodromes in the country with the amenities we have here. It was built for the International Sports Festival and the Pan Am Games, and this is an amazing set-up with bathrooms and fountains and places to change. Usually tracks are out in the middle of nowhere. But it is expensive to keep it all going. But I think we were the right people to take it over and have been very happy with our partnership with the city.

He adds that developing the BMX track has been a benefit, as well as a challenge.

That’s been a challenge financially, but we’ve learned a lot and that has more capacity to generate income while making a lot of young riders happy and generate great cyclists. They learn skills there that are very hard to teach anywhere else.

Furthermore, Peterson says the school strives to communicate the history surrounding the Velodrome’s namesake, Major Taylor, as well. For more on this champion cyclist who overcame racial prejudice, visit the Major Taylor Association’s web page.

Labor Issue Proves Costly; Could You Be Next?

A recent labor case has been in the news, in which a prominent coffee company has been deemed by the National Labor Relations Board to have illegally dismissed a problem employee because the staffer was “pro-union.”

However, here are some comments that worker reportedly made to his manager during one instance when he felt the manager should have helped during a busy period: “it’s about damn time”; “this is bull****”; and “do everything your damn self.”

Charming.

But since the employee in question had organized union protests and the manager included that fact in the reasons given for dismissal, the NLRB determined his firing was at least in part because of his union support. It ordered the company to offer this person his job back — and compensate him for loss of pay and benefits. It goes to show that common sense doesn’t always apply with today’s NLRB and labor issues.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce are proud to offer the second edition of The Indiana Guide to Labor Relations. Last published in 2000, a great deal has changed at both the federal and state levels, as well as in the workplace. This is a comprehensive guide, illustrating how employers can deal effectively with all varieties of union issues. New updates in this edition include:

  • The NLRB’s recent attack on social media policies and disciplinary decisions
  • Updated discussion on how to defend against union organizing
  • Indiana’s right-to-work law
  • New union election rules being contemplated by the NLRB
  • Updated analysis of employers’ ability to lock out employees during bargaining

This book is available for $89, or $66.75 for Indiana Chamber members. It can be ordered online, or by calling (800) 824-6885.

Here are some other resources from the Indiana Chamber you may find helpful:

Throwback Thursday: Purdue’s Long History of Agricultural Contributions

While digging into the fertile soil of our archive room, staff has discovered an Indiana Chamber report from August 1945 titled, “Aids Behind the Farm: A Directory of Functional Analysis of Governmental and Civic Organizations in the Field of Farming.” (Yes, the title is certainly a mouthful – potentially equaling a bushel of vegetables from a Hoosier farm.)

The booklet includes features on major farm-related organizations in Indiana – and the nation – like the Indiana Farm Bureau, The Grange, the National Farmers Union and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. One such prominent organization highlighted is Purdue University. The 1945 entry about the school reveals its history and mission, and why it’s such a benefit to the agricultural industry:

In 1869 the Indiana General Assembly took steps to establish an institution of learning and it received $340,000 from the Federal government which sum is held in trust by the state at interest. In 1869 the General Assembly accepted from John Purdue, a philanthropic businessman of Lafayette, and other public spirited citizens of Tippecanoe County, the sum of $200,000 and a tract of 100 acres of land. It also voted to name the institution ‘Purdue University.’

In 1879 the College of Agriculture was founded. Prior to 1900, few students attended the college and intensive efforts had to be made to acquaint farmers with the value of agricultural training. The first short course in agriculture was held in the winter of 1887-1888. These intensive winter short courses are still permitting hundreds of farmers to attain further knowledge of profitable agricultural practices.

Even then, Purdue’s county extensions played a major role in building the state’s agricultural climate. (The school has an extension in all 92 Indiana counties.):

An integral part of the work of the Extension Department is carried on through the efforts of more than 30,000 volunteer local and neighborhood leaders. County Extension Committees, organized in each county, are composed of local people who know the immediate needs of the county and who help to plan the extension program of their counties to meet the local problems. These people help to bring to Indiana farmers the information and facts which they need to meet their particular problems speedily and proficiently, and to advise returning veterans interested in farming.

In 4-H Club work, more than 3,600 young men and women serve as junior leaders and 2,200 parents and other adults serve as volunteer local leaders.

Iowa Senate Race is Pretty Farmin’ Serious

Politically, Iowa remains one of our most interesting states. Obviously, its early caucus status lends itself as a power player in presidential politics. But its makeup is also rather vexing and seemingly unpredictable at times, featuring successes for both Republicans and Democrats — and the longevity of its Senators Chuck Grassley (R) and Tom Harkin (D), who’ve been in office since 1981 and 1985, respectively.

With Harkin retiring, there’s a heated race for his vacated seat featuring Rep. Bruce Braley (D) and State Senator Joni Ernst (R). (I actually interacted often with Braley’s staff during his 2006 campaign, while I was working on a State House race in Waterloo for U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh’s All-America PAC.) Braley, however, has found himself trudging through difficult terrain in light of some unfortunate and dismissive agriculture-related gaffes — the latest in a stump speech by a surrogate. Columnist Kathie Obradovich of The Des Moines Register highlighted Braley’s problems, illustrating how some unfortunate word choices here and there can quickly change the nature of a political campaign.

Below, you’ll find an ad where Ernst attempts to capitalize by relaying her hog castrating bona fides, because… pork. (I like the snuggly pig embrace 20 seconds in, personally.)

Oh yes, it’s campaign season, America. Let’s get hog wild! (I’ll show myself out.)