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Badge Business Begins, CEO Board Visits Class & First Business Tour

CEO Business Visits


First Business Tour Was A Great Success

Y-Yard Auto & Truck, Inc. Kelly Roepke

The Y-Yard Auto and Truck, Inc. is in its 47th year of business. The students were amazed by the complex business model this company represents. This company prides itself on great customer service and developing a great culture for their employees. Kelly Roepke set the standard high when it comes to CEO taking a business tour. The mission statement up on the office wall states that “Together They Achieve More” along with Respect, Teamwork, & Communication.

CEO heard about OEM which means Original Equipment Manufactured along with replacement parts, recycled original parts and after-market parts. In the first 48 hours after a vehicle arrives they do a complete inventory of it and use an estimator software filter that is connected into other companies. Their customers expect quality and efficient delivery. She shared their color coded logistic game plan in making sure their deliveries are not only on time, but they provide communication to the customer alongside the process.


The Importance of Business Etiquette

Dwight Erskine

Did you know that there is no such thing as a short sleeve shirt in the professional world of business attire? Mr. Erskine shared with the class that when you dress for success it is more to make others feel comfortable and important. He also impressed upon CEO that there is more to business etiquette than dressing the part. Here are few areas he covered that have nothing to do with how you dress, but more of how you take action:

  • Answer emails immediately
  • Remember people's names
  • Don't interrupt people in conversations
  • Say "hello" and not "hey"
  • Send Thank you notes
  • Take your sunglasses off when you meet people
  • Have a great posture, set up straight
  • Stand up when you are meeting someone or being introduced
  • Proof your emails before you hit send

Mr. Erskine said that setting yourself apart in the business world is a continuous process and we never fully arrive. With this being said, we should always present ourselves with our very best everyday of our lives. 


CEO Debriefing On American Obstacle & PDP

In CEO, it is easy to experience many opportunities, but it is equally important that you have debriefings on the things you are experiencing and take time to discuss as a class your discoveries. The trip to American Obstacle was truly magical on so many levels. We as a class prior to visiting this leadership and teambuilding day shared their PDP results that they had taken over the summer. We then had name tags with their dominant trait displayed and formed our teams by design from the PDP results.

It is one thing to talk about personality traits, but truly another to see them acted out in real-life scenarios where you experience the outcome of working with a dominate, extrovert, pace/patience and conformity. It also brought the students closer together in a very short time with the teambuilding exercise American Obstacle put together to work with our four personality types. Many of the students commented that this is a must for next year’s class. The day spent recapping all the life lessons they learned from the exercises they did together was time well spent and built a great foundation when they start to work on their class business.

Mrs. Sayers put together a wonderful music video to capture the day’s bonding and critical thinking that took place deep in the woods. The best part is the students walked away from this day knowing each other and themselves on a deeper level.


CEO Board Presents To CEO

Steve Witges, Noah Brandenburger, Karen Etter, Lucas Wenthe,

The CEO Board Chairman Steve Witges addressed the class on the main responsibilities of the CEO Board. He said the board’s focus is the Mission of CEO and making decisions that will further advance the mission for years to come. He shared that culture is a huge contributor to a company’s success and so it is the same for our CEO Program too.

He was flanked by Board Co-Chairman Noah Brandenburger, Karen Etter and Lucas Wenthe. They used the analogy that CEO is a business by sharing that the Board was the Board of Directors, the CEO Facilitators were the managers and the employees are our 40 students. And he made a point that our 110 Investors are our preferred customers.

The board shared their personal passion for CEO and what their history had been as not only being on the board, but how they were mentors, ambassadors and investors to the program too. They all felt that the personal development that comes from this class is a gift and if a student does not take full advantage of the opportunities given, that it was their loss. They stressed that being on time, professional and ready to take on challenges was what CEO taught our students well before they headed out into the business world. The students are looking forward to attending a CEO Board meeting in the near future


Student Journal Highlights for this week

"Our tour at the Y-Yard was a great first tour for the class. I thought Mrs. Roepke was great at explaining the way that their company works, and also incorporating how all of the employees work so well together. They have a very well developed business, and you can see the years of hard work that has gone into building and expanding the business. I am curious as to how they incorporate the PDP profiling into their company, and would love to hear about how it influenced their work environment. This tour definitely set a high standard for our future tours."

Meg Deters

Meg Deters
Tuesday, September 5, 2017Learn More About Meg

"The day before Mr. Erskine talked to us, I had secured an MIT interview, my first interview ever. It is scheduled for next week Monday and I thought it was so great that the talk was directed towards business interactions which I translated to an interview interaction. But all in all, I feel like CEO has already improved my chances at any interview. I have also been thinking of the PDP test. Many times, when I am placed in a leadership position, I worry about being a how dominant of a leader I am and wonder why I cannot dominate as the leader. But now I see that I have much more to offer as a conformity leader, using my strengths to my advantage. Seeing everyone’s PDP results on Monday, with everyone separated into corners, was surprisingly not that surprising. I’ve known these people for a very short amount of time and I could have guessed most of their results. That is why they are such a great tool. I could just meet someone and know very soon how to interact with them and how they will interact with me."

Tyler Higgs

Tyler Higgs
Tuesday, September 5, 2017Learn More About Tyler

On Wednesday we got to meet the CEO board members. I can tell that we are super lucky to have Steve, Noah, Karen, and Lucas on our board. They truly care about our future and are trying their hardest to make sure we get to have the opportunity of a lifetime. Steve said, “Culture is a huge part of business.” That stuck out to me because that’s what makes a business so unique. It’s what makes it special in its own way. If you don’t have culture then you most likely don’t have a good business.

Marianne Hemmen

Marianne Hemmen
Thursday, September 7, 2017Learn More About Marianne


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The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the Effingham County CEO Program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

Click here to download the Effingham CEO Pledge Card

When we are not touring local businesses, we need a place to host the class. During that time, the 40 CEO students and their Facilitator would meet at your site where they would also have guest speakers and guests from the community attend. Hosting requires a facility with internet access and adequately accommodates up to 45 people.

We are looking for people to share real-life stories about the concepts of running a business, from strategic thinking, product development to marketing, and cash flow management. Also, sharing your personal successes and failures are what recent classes have enjoyed the most.


If you are interested in participating in any of the above programs, use our contact form to send us a message


Kaleb Whitt - Effingham County CEO

Kaleb Whitt

About Me

Kaleb Whitt is a senior at Altamont High School. Throughout his four years at Altamont, Kaleb has been very active in clubs such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, FCCLA, library club, pep club, band and National Honor Society, where he currently serves as the president. Kaleb is also a captain of the ACHS baseball team and participates in basketball. Kaleb has had a variety of work experience, including landscaping, umpiring, working for the West Township of Altamont and even being paid to perform magic tricks for festivals.

“The CEO program will give me a perspective on the business community in a way I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience. I’m extremely happy to be part of the program and look forward to seeing the knowledge I gain through it.”


Learn More about Kaleb

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