Across northeast Indiana entrepreneurs are creating new products and developing unique services. Their creativity knows no bounds. Fostering their creativity is a thriving region filled with experienced business leaders anxious to support them.
Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana is also fostering entrepreneurship and encouraging kids to dream big. Through JA, over 6,500 community volunteers share entrepreneurship and economic education activities with over 140,000 students annually.
Highlighting entrepreneurial success and recognizing community leadership are important to JA, too. That’s why, at this year’s JA BEL celebration, entrepreneurs Jim Scheil of Summit Mechanical, and Robert Lauter of Master Spas, will be inducted into the 2018 Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame. Julie Inskeep will receive the prestigious Ove Jorgensen Spirit of Leadership award.
Jim Scheil opened Summit Mechanical in 1983 after sharpening his mechanical contracting skills as an employee of Cupp, Inc. He designed systems, built customer relationships and became part-owner.
“When we sold the business, Jim wanted to continue on his own,” Bill Cupp says of his business partner. “Jim started Summit Mechanical from scratch, building it through honest, hard work and a customer-oriented philosophy.”
A respected full-service mechanical contracting company, Scheil’s team has provided engineering design for a range of industries. Projects have included Trine University’s Thunder Ice Arena, Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation and numerous automotive dealerships, manufacturing facilities and office and medical buildings.
Robert Lauter started his entrepreneurial career when he led an investment group that bought the spa division of Fort Wayne Pools in 1996. The business sold only to big box home centers, so Lauter immediately took a risk and converted the business model to add dealer distribution.
“I also introduced a high-end spa line and focused on innovation,” Lauter says. “We became the high-end manufacturer that also leads the industry in innovation. We introduced a television spa that put us on the map, for example, and we’ve developed a proprietary polymer skirting that has changed the status quo.”
These and other business decisions created tremendous expansion at Master Spas. Through organic growth, sales of premium swim spas, luxury spas and portable hot tubs increased from $5 million in 1996 to more than $100 million in 2017.
A native of Fort Wayne, Julie Inskeep has made it a priority to work in and serve the local community. After serving on The Journal Gazette’s editorial board and working as assistant publisher, in 1997 she assumed the role of publisher and became chairman of the board of Fort Wayne Newspapers. She was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame in 2008 for, in part, “carrying on a tradition of local ownership, for maintaining a local voice, for preserving local newspaper history …”
Inskeep serves on numerous boards, works on committees, raises money and encourages others to be involved. She says, “I have been mentored by people who cared a lot about the community and about me. That’s what I strive to do as a leader myself.”
Join the community in honoring these entrepreneurs at the BEL Awards celebration on Wednesday, May 16.
Address: 601 Noble Drive Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Phone: (260) 484-2543