“None of my 13 brothers and sisters, nor my wife’s six siblings live in Storm Lake,” Ron Sippel, who accompanied me back to his hometown, told me during our trip. I’ve know Ron for almost 20 years and found him to be one of the best economic minds I know. He went to Chicago and made his fame and fortune on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Ron’s father was a farmer and was the local postmaster. His wife Maureen’s father was the city engineer. Both were from successful middle class familes who like what I see in many small towns, raise great families and instill a wonderful work ethic in them. The unfortunate fact is that many of our small towns don’t offer the types of opportunities that can keep those young people in their hometowns or attract them back.
Ron graduated from Iowa State in Ames, one of my top 100 agurbs®, and wanted to go to Chicago to trade commodities, having worked on the Board of Trade during the summers. But, he didn’t have the capital to get started. He thought of going to work for a local bank, but knew that he could make more money quicker at the local packing plant. So, for two years he worked de-boning hams and cleaning up the plant in order to save $20,000 which he used as a grubstake in Chicago. It was tough at the start but Ron stuck with his dream, multiplied his fortune many times over and is still one of the nicest people that I know.
He and Maureen still get back to Storm Lake and give back to their hometown. He and I talked about the impact of the Awaysis Project that I blogged about yesterday and how he could help to leverage that wonderful project. Ron is always thinking!