Washington, who runs his own snack shop after school out of the Manchester Housing Authority Youth Center, is an excellent example of the kind of entrepreneurship JA fosters. Since it was formed in 1919, JA has been helping students like Washington follow their dreams of owning and operating successful businesses.
To further its goals of fostering entrepreneurship in youth, the local organization each year inducts three Columbus-area business leaders into its Hall of Fame. These leaders exemplify the characteristics Junior Achievement targets for development in its students: determination, high ethical standards and leadership, among others.
This year's honorees -- William Blaine, Jim Hopkins and Ed Overmyer -- have overcome obstacles and worked hard to achieve success in tough, competitive industries and through the economy's ups and downs. They are true role models for young people in the region.
Founder and CEO, Judson Lumber
Naval pilot, lawyer, professor, entrepreneur. These are just a few of the words that describe William Blaine and a career that spans more than four decades.
Blaine served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II and in Korea. He practiced law from 1952 through 1959, then turned entrepreneur, founding and running companies related to the family's lumber business.
His businesses included lumber, construction and real estate development firms; Each earned an average of $11 million in revenue.
Blaine taught business courses at The Ohio State University from 1977 to 1992 and served on the boards of community organizations including the Catholic Social Services, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Central Ohio and Riverside Methodist Hospital. He provides consulting services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Central Ohio.
Blaine says it was his grandfather who inspired him to achieve.
"My grandfather started me off in the lumber business when I was 10 years old. He was a tough old bird, but fair," he says. "He expected everything I had to give, and nothing less."
Blaine says both his grandfather and his father taught him the value of a strong work ethic.
"My grandfather taught me great work principles, and my father was the same way," he says. "He was a hard worker who gave me a good pattern to follow."
Now Blaine's son is the fourth generation working in the lumber business.
"We have been fortunate to have four generations that enjoy the business," he says.
And when it comes to mentoring others, Blaine has strong views.
"You can pick up the paper almost daily and see where someone tried to cheat, cut corners or neglected things that should've been done," he says. "We need more people to set examples that our youth can follow. It starts at home, in school, and follows through in business."
President and CEO, Hopkins Printing
Jim Hopkins started out small. With $3,000 in start-up money, he began operating his printing business out of his garage in 1974. Today Hopkins Printing is one of the largest commercial sheet-fed printing companies in the region; its 100 employees serve 300 customers.
Hopkins Printing is housed in a 75,000-square-foot building built in 2000, where customers' orders are printed on the high-tech, efficient equipment. Hopkins feels strongly that it is critical to keep up with technology.
"Keeping up with technology in the printing industry can be a big challenge," Hopkins says. "We can do by computer what used to be done by hand."
Hopkins says that while this new system brings more speed and accuracy to the process, it also changed the skills employees need to be successful.
"It reduced the craftsmanship of the operator," Hopkins says. "But now operators have to be computer-savvy."
To meet that need, Hopkins invests a lot of time and money in training and cross-training employees.
"It costs money to keep up," Hopkins says. "Many have fallen behind, and a lot of people have fallen out -- there have been a lot of plant closures, not just in Columbus and Ohio but throughout the country."
Hopkins says he learned a lot about business from his customer and friend Jim Bannister.
"He had a company that did trade shows and association management," Hopkins says. "I learned a lot from him about being professional, honest, hard-working and providing service to the customer."
Hopkins says Bannister was also loyal to his employees and suppliers, a characteristic he admires.
"He was also willing to share his time and information," he says. "As I've gotten older, I've reflected on what I learned from him and I feel it was very valuable."
Hopkins says business leaders should remember that they are serving as examples for future generations of entrepreneurs.
"We should always remember that your example means something," says Hopkins. "When you wear the mantle of leadership, you owe the people that work for you the best behavior and a willingness to bring them along."
Hopkins says the things that make someone a good businessperson are the same things that make a good person.
"That may sound naïve, but most people in business like to share what they know," he says.
Chairman, Berwanger Overmyer Associates
Ed Overmyer and Joe Berwanger started their insurance company in 1973 after working for a smaller company for several years. But before leaving his employer, Overmyer learned from it.
"I left a large company to work for a smaller one," says Overmyer. "I knew the risks involved in working for a smaller company, but it was what I preferred."
At his previous job, he was supervised by the owner, Bud Jaeger.
"He taught me a lot about business, discipline and sales techniques," he says. "There are a lot of factors that lead to a person's success, but those lessons are definitely a big piece," Overmyer says.
Today, BOA is the largest insurance agency in Central Ohio and the 59th largest in the country, employing 160 people. Overmyer says the challenges he and Berwanger faced were easier to meet once they had an excellent staff in place.
"It is mandatory to hire and train the top people you can find in sales and service," Overmyer says. "All other challenges are reduced once you have the right people, and you can achieve a lot of growth."
Overmyer says he and Berwanger decided years ago to hire the best people they could find.
"When you make that decision, you know you have to pay people accordingly," he says. "It is a financial investment and commitment. But when you have the right people, you can transcend the other challenges you face."
Overmyer extends this philosophy into training and mentoring employees as well.
"It is important to share experience and knowledge with newer employees," he says. "The business itself will continue to succeed when you do. The success of all businesses comes down to leadership.
"Promoting the success of employees is extremely important."
How to reach: Junior Achievement, (614) 771-9903 or centralohio.ja.org.