Challenges don't stop Mindy D. Hedges in her tracks. The owner and president of Media Solutions Inc. has overcome her share of them -- from the very start of her career.
When Hedges graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1978, the recession left her few options to put her communications, theater and secondary education degrees to work.
Through a friend, she heard about an opening at Howard Swink Advertising, which has evolved into Fahlgren Inc.
"They needed a part-time research assistant -- which meant I was one step above cleaning toilets," Hedges says. "I took it because it was a job. A job was better than no job during the recession."
After five months, she was laid off. She found another job in advertising at a radio station and newspaper in Marion, but that wouldn't last long, either.
"It was a good salary right out of college," she says, "but I eventually figured out I was making 72 cents an hour" because of the schedule she sometimes worked: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
She ended up, however, staying in the advertising field.
Her career took her through positions at such notable firms now known as Lord, Sullivan & Yoder, Ron Foth Advertising and HMS Partners, where she worked her way up to vice president of media services.
"I eventually realized that I had the nerve to do it on my own," Hedges says, echoing many entrepreneurs. "I was working all kinds of hours and decided if I was putting that much energy and effort into a firm, maybe it ought to be mine."
Her timing was off, though. She started the company more than 10 years ago, during another recession and at a time when her husband, Don, didn't have a job.
True to form, she struggled through, bringing Media Solutions to profitability within the first three years and growing the company to its current status of more than a dozen employees and $20 million in annual billings. Her client list boasts DSW Shoe Warehouse, Fiesta Hair Salons, Three-C Body Shops, Swan Cleaners and the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, among others. Her husband has joined her as vice president of operations at Media Solutions.
The company has outgrown several office spaces and is now housed in a former Victorian home built in Delaware in 1800. Its fireplaces and antique look suit her style, she says.
"One of my clients calls me and wants to have meetings here so we can have lemonade on the porch," Hedges says. "It's much better than in his conference room, which is actually in his warehouse."
She's even put her education degree to work, teaching courses at The Ohio State University and serving as a guest lecturer at Columbus State Community College, as well as at Franklin, Capital and Ohio universities.
Her career isn't the only place Hedges has overcome challenges. A diabetic for almost 40 years, Hedges concentrates her efforts on supporting the Central Ohio Diabetes Association, where she serves on the board of trustees and several committees.
"The disease actually is life-threatening if you don't take care of it, and it's real important to me that we get that message out there," Hedges says.
"She's not only worked on our committees and with our programs but also has been an advocate in the community to help commit funds to our programs," says Jeanne Grothaus, executive director of the Central Ohio Diabetes Association.
Hedges also advocates for Senate Bill 147, which mandates insurance coverage of diabetes supplies and education.
Hedges says she's made community service her focus, choosing to encourage her staff at Media Solutions to take on active roles in professional organizations.
She shares her marketing expertise as a board member and marketing chair for the Community Foundation of Delaware County, a board member of the Delaware Arts Castle and communications chair for the Delaware Balloon Festival, among others.
Jane Van Fossen, chair of the Community Foundation of Delaware County, says Hedges' successful business traits are "knowledge, enthusiasm, personality, competence."
"She's just a very warm person to be around, outgoing and relates easily to people," Van Fossen says. "Certainly her willingness to move forward and get things going and contribute has been marvelous."
Grothaus also seems amazed by Hedges' "tremendous" energy.
"She probably can be characterized in some way by her ability to multitask. She just is constantly working with a lot of different things," Grothaus says, adding that Hedges' enthusiasm and energy go beyond the work environment.
In fact, Hedges says her greatest challenge hasn't come from her diabetes or past career obstacles, but from being a working mother.
"Although I wasn't one of the first to break the glass ceiling, I wasn't far behind," she says. "It was emotionally troubling to be not spending as much time as I wanted to with my kids."
She boasts of her teen-age daughters, Blair and Sara, whose pictures fill her office, and remembers how doctors warned her not to even try to have children due to the risks diabetics face.
"My greatest accomplishment was having children -- and having them grow up to be wonderful young ladies," she says.
Grothaus says Hedges exhibits a commitment to see things through in all aspects of her life.
"She enjoys what she does. She enjoys her family, she enjoys her children, she enjoys her agency. She's enthusiastic about her professional life," Grothaus says.
Thom Havens, chairman of The Waterworks and a client of Media Solutions, credits Hedges for helping his company achieve its goals.
"Mindy's been critical to the success we've seen in the past year," he says. "Her response and turnaround time is superb, and she works within a budget. We couldn't afford a $500,000 campaign. We're not at that point yet. And that was fine to Mindy.
"I believe Mindy has an extraordinarily bright future in this town." How to reach: Mindy Hedges, Media Solutions Inc., (740) 363-1600
Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.