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Great Service Grows Your Business

CEO Guest Speakers


Servpro Arrives to the Rescue

The CEO classes were able to tour Servpro and hear Mike Walker speak. When we think of a franchise, we usually think of a restaurant chain like McDonalds or Smoothie King. Mr. Walker told the class about the unique franchise of Servpro and the needs that they fulfill. We wish that fire and water restoration weren’t needed, but Servpro looks to help people that need it. Mr. Walker spoke about how the business started and how it has grown. The students also got to see the multitude of equipment that the Servpro team uses to help their customers. Even this late in the year, the students learned a lot from Mike Walker and the tour.

Written by Tyler Higgs


Tuscan Hills Winery

This week, the CEO students had the wonderful pleasure to visit Wanda Pitcher, a CEO ambassador and investor, at her business, Tuscan Hills Winery. The Winery is an absolutely beautiful place to visit, and the CEO class got to hear about how Mrs. Pitcher designed every detail herself and how the business has grown in the last seven years, among other things. Mrs. Pitcher has an incredibly entrepreneurial mind and it was interesting to hear how she planned Tuscan Hills Winery out and to see her execution firsthand. She also explained some of Effingham's tourism and how much it is underestimated. The Winery is just one aspect of what draws people into the town of Effingham.

Tuscan Hills Winery was an amazing tour for the CEO students and they greatly appreciated Mrs. Pitcher allowing them to see the workings of her business.

Written by Megan Hodge


Maddison Avenue Candles

Stephanie Gannaway

Nathan and Stephanie Gannaway purchased Maddison Avenue Candle Company in 2012 with no candle making experience at all. With just a week to learn from the previous owner, the Gannaways learned by fire. Get it? Candles and fire.

Stephanie shared with us the struggles and lessons she has experienced while continuing to develop Maddison Avenue Candle Co, and how unique her candles made of one hundred percent soy are compared to the other candles on the market. Stephanie’s hard work and dedication to her business was an inspiration to students who had the opportunity to hear her story.

Written by: Truman Rhodes


Double Tour Day with Todd Anderson

Jiimmy Johns & Anderson's Jewelry

It was a double treat to tour Jimmy Johns and Anderson Jewelry all in one morning. With it being two totally two different business models the one thing than remain the same was the owner of these businesses, Todd Anderson. Mr. Anderson sheared the details on how he became a franchise owner and the hands-on work he had to do up in Champaign at another Jimmy Johns to learn the business. He also shared his years of transition with his family’s jewelry store and some interesting stories of some very custom pieces that his clients bought over the years.


Life Lessons with Baseball Card Connection

Lisa & Jon Schafer

Jon and Lisa Schafer, owners of Baseball Card Connection, welcomed the CEO class to their business and home, all in one.  The visit provided a unique look at how Jon's passion of baseball card collecting grew and evolved turning into the sports memorabilia business they own today.  The life lessons that Jon and Lisa shared were perfect timing as the CEO Class of 2018 transitions from high school to college and career.  Some advice included: swing at good pitches, start your business at the bottom and work your way up, when you kick the tiger, you better have a plan for when it turns around.  


CEO Visited Dan Hecht Chevrolet - Toyota's New Showroom

Dan Hecht Chevrolet & Toyota may have a new look, but their service and dedication to customer service has been strong since 1958. Jim Hecht gave a personal tour of their new remodel and all the various departments that make up their dealership. Their unmatched quality and awarding service is why their customers return again and again to buy their cars and trucks. CEO could look around the showroom and see the hometown pride of photos from the community taking space on their showroom walls. Even the family photos with the history of the dealerships proudly displays their dedication to making every sale they make something to provide excellence from generation to generation. 


Student Journal Highlights for this week

This was a really good week of CEO Anderson’s tours and baseball card connection were two of my favorite days in CEO. I had no idea how big and nice Baseball Card Connection is. Mr Schaffer was smart and funny. Mr Anderson’s approach to life is unique and interesting.

Kaleb Whitt

Kaleb Whitt
Friday, April 27, 2018Learn More About Kaleb

"There was something he talked about that no one else has said to us before. He said that even though CEO gives us a big head start, if we don’t continue to use the skills we have learned then we will lose that advantage. I’m glad that he said that because it reminded me that just being in CEO doesn’t magically make you a better person, you have to actively try to improve all the time."


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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


Claudia Donovan - Effingham County CEO

Claudia Donovan

About Me

Claudia Donovan attends St. Anthony High School and loves using her free time to cook, exercise, read, babysit, and paint. She is a part of St. Anthony’s Softball Team and is also in the school's book club. She enjoys learning about new skills she can add to her repertoire. In the summers, she attends different camps, like speech philanthropy and chefs camps, that benefit her in the long run. Her passion for self growth and her faith in life is her motivation, and she always rises to any challenge. She likes to “take the adventure”. She is a caring sister, a supportive friend, a loving daughter, and a dedicated worker.

“I plan to listen, learn and experience CEO to the best of my ability, and come away with a better understanding of what it takes to create a great working environment and community.”


Learn More about Claudia

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