Monday, March 06, 2006

Entrepreneurial Oklahoma

Meeting entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs is one of the highlights of my touring the USA. Their enthusiasm and often inspirational stories are very uplifting. I was at the Rogers County Entrepreneur Day in Claremore, OK (population 15,873). Rogers County, the fastest growing county in the state, was named for Clem V. Rogers, member of the OK Constitutional Convention and father of famed Will Rogers. Rogers was born in the county and his burial site and museum in Claremore is a major tourist draw. Several entrepreneurs were honored at the event.

Michael & Delinda Martin started Heartland Florist Supply in 2001 in Inola, OK (population 1,589) as a way to be able to take care of their disabled child, Danielle. The company sources floral supplies worldwide, servicing floral shops in a four state area with over a dozen employees.

David Allen and Scott Williams both work for American Airlines in Tulsa as mechanics but dreamed of starting their own business. One year ago in March, 2005 they started Green Country Bio Diesel which is currently producing 750,000 gallons of vegetable oil bio-product with plans to boost production to 2.5 million gallons.

M&S Foods started a new grocery story in Inola in 2003, allowing local residents the convenience of shopping locally. Who starts a grocery store today? Only a dedicated local entrepreneur.

I also was intrigued by one of the exhibitors at the event, Inola Castings ( Do you notice a trend here? Three entrepreneurial companies that caught my eye, all from a town of 1,589! What is in the water there?

“Dad started the company in 1990. He was a traveling salesman but always dreamed of starting something on his own. He found someone who used a lot of small casting products and got them to back him. Today my sister Cheryl Charles, my brother David Freeman and I run the business. My sister is also mayor of the town.” I was talking with Stephani Freeman, one of the three siblings. She showed me products they had done for Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones and other well known groups, companies and organizations.

There is a growing movement of entrepreneurism in this country. Keep your eye on it because it is going to transform the country.

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