Born: Barstow, Calif.
Education: Bachelor's degree, biology, 1975, master's degree, horticulture, 1978, Purdue University
First job: Manager of a small garden center, Indianapolis, 1979-1980
Career moves: Quit garden center job in 1980 and started making plans for a mail order bird feeding supply company. Found first store location in Broad Ripple and decided to open retail store instead of mail order. Opened store in January 1981. In 1982, others wanted to own bird feeding stores, so he decided to start a franchise. Formed franchise company with a partner and started selling franchises.
Boards: None currently, but has been involved in many nonprofit and university boards through the years
What has been your greatest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?
Learning how to lead a growing company. To overcome this, I attended several in-depth seminars, joined the Indiana University Alliance Group and hired a board of advisers.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, for the success of his business and for his personal flair and on-the-edge accomplishments.
What is the greatest lesson you've learned in business?
Ask, seek and beg for help from more experienced business persons. No one innately knows how to lead a growing company -- it is a learned skill.