David Combs, general manager of Ikelite, spoke with BizVoice about the intriguing history of the Indianapolis company and why it’s so successful. Some may find it odd that a company so loved by SCUBA divers would be based in Indiana, but hey, it’s been working since the 1960s!
Read the Indiana Ingenuity feature on this exceptional business in BizVoice.
I love to tackle (no pun intended) stories that fall under the Business of Sports banner, combining business elements with the games we love to watch and play. Our team did some excellent work in BizVoice from Nov-Dec 2013 through Sept-Oct 2014, with a summary available here.
The Indy Eleven, in a rare Wednesday night game on August 19, is mixing soccer action with a “Networking Night” featuring business leaders representing a variety of industries.
A pre-game reception, open forum with the business representatives, dinner, two drink vouchers and exciting professional soccer (7:30 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Carroll Stadium) are all included for just $25. Tickets are now available.
For a century, Hoosiers didn’t need a college degree to make a good living. But with the manufacturing-based economy changing dramatically and giving way, in part, to the knowledge-based economy, you can’t make that case anymore.
Amid the backdrop of an increased emphasis on postsecondary education, we turn to three recognized leaders in the higher education community to discuss the current climate and what needs to happen next:
Jo Ann Gora, president emeritus at Ball State University
A quick survey of the college landscape reveals some obvious challenges: rising tuition, student debt and getting more students to complete their degree. The latter is the focal point for Jones and his organization.
“We know that completion rates at most colleges in the country don’t exceed 50%. So the freshman class looks very good in terms of numbers and in terms of diversity, but in the graduating class we only have about half of those students there – and we’ve lost a lot of the diversity that we set out to accomplish. So that’s a huge challenge,” he offers.
There’s no doubting the continued strength of Indiana’s agricultural industry (see the state fact sheet). We’ve told the stories often in BizVoice magazine – and will do so in the upcoming July-August issue (with a look at the prominence of ag businesses in Kosciusko County).
But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, Indiana did not rank in the top three exporters by state of various products. There are some interesting states and dollar figures included (selected examples):
The BizVoice® magazine team doesn’t spend a great deal of time or resources entering competitions each year. Validation comes via feedback from regular readers and others interested in the publication. But it is good every once in a while to see how some of your best work matches up against other professionals.
For work completed in 2014, two contests were entered and six awards were earned – two in the national APEX program and four from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists. That brings the total to 75 awards in 16 years.
Patrick, Charlee Beasor and Tom Schuman earned writing honors from Indiana SPJ for topics ranging from education and sports to business and politics. Full details are on the BizVoice web site.
As BizVoice editor, I have the privilege of working with a talented team. I congratulate them on their continued outstanding efforts and encourage readers to check out the past work online and in future issues of the magazine.
The skills gap, the difference between what employers need from an employee and the abilities the workers have to offer, is multi-faceted. Not only is there often a lack of abilities in hard skills (computer programming, mathematics and more), but also soft skills such as communication, working in teams and strong personal character.
Of the more than 530 Indiana companies responding to the 2014 Indiana Chamber Employer Survey, over 54% stated that a lack of work ethic is the most pressing issue in their hiring process, followed by communication and attendance.
“Employers are teaming with schools to better relate academic concepts to workforce needs,” says Amy Marsh, former Indiana Chamber director of college and career readiness initiatives. “Businesses are looking for employees that are ready to work on day one.”
According to the survey, more than 39% of businesses had vacancies related to underqualified applicants. To make matters more difficult for employers, more than half of businesses indicated plans to expand their workforce in the next year.
“This is not a sustainable model for moving Indiana forward,” Marsh states. “Ultimately, we want workers across the employment spectrum to be able to have a long, sustainable career that contributes to the strength of the Indiana labor force.”
Asking 10-year-olds their opinions about school subjects sometimes can yield unenthusiastic responses.
But when questioned if she enjoys science, Kelli Woods – a fourth grader at New Augusta South Public Academy in Indianapolis – passionately nods and answers, “Yes, very much – because I get to learn about new stuff and find out how it works.”
Kelli describes the project she entered in the school’s fourth grade science fair, in which she tested how soaking white roses in colored water would impact their appearance.
“My hypothesis was that the red (would make the rose change colors fastest) because it stains a lot,” she explains. “But it was actually the blue one.”
Dow AgroSciences’ Science Ambassadors gave guidance and judged the projects of Kelli and her classmates in late January in the New Augusta South gymnasium.
The scene was not a unique one as Dow’s brigade of over 300 staffers volunteer their time each year, often on nights and weekends. Last year, the ambassadors visited over 25 schools during about 75 events. Dow developed the program a decade ago, but added a major emphasis in 2012. Since then, officials estimate the company’s outreach efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education have impacted more than 4,200 teachers and almost 200,000 students.
Andy Allen, Batesville High School principal, slides into a desk in an empty English classroom and tells the story of a top student who learned after two days of a mentorship program at the local hospital that a medical career was not for her.
“She has spent the rest of the year on the health care administration side. What a great experience for her,” Allen reveals. “And all that occurred outside our walls. She has one block of time for us, 90 minutes every other day. We say, ‘Go to the hospital and work with our great partners there.’ ”
Kim Ryan, a senior vice president with Hillenbrand, Inc. and president of the company’s Batesville Casket Company platform, punctuates the beginning and end of her keynote presentation to a group of educators and business leaders with the following: “Small communities will determine our futures based on the workforce we create for ourselves today.”