Roger Geiger probably couldn't believe his ears.
Four years ago, the executive director of the Ohio office for the National Federation of Independent Business received a call from Curtis E. McGuire, CEO and owner of Redleg's Lumper Service Inc. in Columbus.
"He said, 'I'd like to meet with you and find out how I could become more involved in the organization,'" Geiger remembers.
As head of an organization that usually must go on a recruiting mission to find volunteers, Geiger was impressed with McGuire's passion and initiative.
"It is a rare gem for somebody to proactively say, 'I really believe in what you do, so I'm going to do more than write you a check; I'm going to give you what's even more valuable, and that's some volunteer time and effort,'" Geiger says.
Now McGuire serves on the NFIB's Leadership Council, helping to set priorities for the organization and manage its programs.
McGuire says he follows two key issues: taxes and employees, the latter imperative to his company, which provides workers to load and unload truck deliveries. His 8-year-old lumper service cracked the $1 million mark last year. He runs it, for the most part, from his home, with offices in the buildings of some of his clients.
As he expands from serving Columbus companies -- including Abbott Foods and Consolidated Stores -- into other states such as Alabama and Colorado, he strives to grow his work force beyond the nearly 60 employees he has now.
Perhaps it's the marksman skills he's developed as commander of a National Guard artillery battery in Piqua that help him seek out and target opportunities rather than wait for them to cross his path.
In the Guard, McGuire is finishing a class to become a major. In fact, he says he'd have chosen the military as his career if he hadn't ended up starting the lumper service, which -- incidentally-- makes use of a nickname for field artillery men: Redleg.
In his opinion, every young man should have at least two years in the service, where he says he did a lot of growing up.
"You find out quickly nobody's going to make your bed and somebody is bigger than you and does have power over you," he says. "You've got to have respect for yourself."
Another mantra he follows: "Just don't accept failure. Promote and reward excellence; be ruthless against failure."
It's a lesson in discipline he learned from two mentors: a battalion commander in the Guard and a teacher in the junior academy where he attended school in Brooklyn.
His mother also raised him with those values: "You will do the work. That's it. Period," he says.
McGuire's hard work and determination are among the reasons Linda Reidelbach chose him for her campaign staff as she runs for Rep. Pat Tiberi's seat in the 26th Ohio House District this fall. McGuire collects resources and information to keep her abreast of changes or items she might want to include in her literature or speeches. He also helps her network with the business community.
"Curtis not only has his own business, but he's also interested in doing things that are positive for other business owners as well, and that includes his activity with the Northland Area Business Association and the NFIB," Reidelbach says. "His caring and his activities certainly go beyond what he's getting for himself."
McGuire also is a member of the Governor's Small Business Advisory Council; an assistant coach for the girls' softball team at his daughters' Catholic school, St. Anthony; a board member of Shiloh House, an elderly daycare center in Dayton; and a Mason at Successful Lodge #17 in Columbus.
"I think he's a man who feels he's been very blessed and given some great opportunities in this free enterprise of ours, so he's looking for ways to give some volunteer hours back to others who are coming in behind him," Geiger says.
McGuire has been an active spokesperson for NFIB, testifying on the state and federal levels on key issues.
"He puts a great face to our issues," Geiger says. "He's articulate; he's passionate. What he does in such a great way is he makes it very real for politicians and bureaucrats. He can, in a straightforward, passionate and yet simplistic way, look politicians in the eye and say, 'What you're doing here today -- this is how it's going to impact my small business.'"
McGuire's involvement in business and community activities, however, doesn't overshadow another passion in his life -- his wife of 14 years, Nancy, and his daughters, Danielle, 12, and Samantha, 13.
In fact, he considers fatherhood the greatest challenge in his life: "Raising kids and making sure you do it right and don't slip up in front of them."
His children are also the answer to the question of what he considers to be his greatest accomplishment. "I haven't reached it yet, but I know it," he says. "I want to see my girls walk across the stage at college with a diploma and say, 'Mom, Dad, we graduated -- we did it successfully.'" Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.