Tours, Trade Show Prep, and Volunteering

5th Annual CEO Trade Show

May 1, 4:30-8:00 p.m. and May 2, 4:30-7:00 p.m.

Northland Mall, Sterling, IL

Janna Groharring

Sterling Main Street

Main Street is a nation-wide program started in the late 70's and operates under four specific points; design (including historical preservation), organization, economic vitality, and promotion. In other words, keeping the downtown healthy. Executive Director, Janna Groharring explained what that looks like for Sterling, noting how store owners work together and how her board members promote events. She talked about the facade grant, which helps building owners maintain pleasing properties. It is interesting to learn that there are 23 Main Street organizations in the state of Illinois and three of them, Prophetstown, Sterling, and Dixon are right here!

John Brady


John Brady, owner of UOI and JJM Printing, spent time with CEO students, explaining his journey to business owner in downtown Sterling. He talked about experience based shopping, online sales, the shop small movement, and downtown merchant collaboration. Students were then taken on an extensive tour of the multi-level UOI store, which inlcudes warehouse space. Students learned about a variety of positions needed for the success of the business operations. Students left with other take-aways, such as making sure you are willing to change and if you think you are the best, you aren't growing. 

Pre-Trade Show Practice

Champ's Banquet Venue was the site of Wednesday's class and was filled with visitors asking questions about the businesses featured at the upcoming trade show. It was a great day for students to practice the art of selling and at the same time entice potential shoppers to the show. But why were they not dressed in their typical business casual? It was also the YWCA Denim Campaign and students joined in by paying $5 to wear jeans, all to support awareness of sexual assault. Following class, Nick and Sam happily dropped off our donation of $165. Good job CEO! Lastly, students visited with Champ's owner, Denny Strader about the recreation of his business from a band venue to rental space. It is used for a variety of events, from weddings to business meetings. It is also the site of our end of the year Recognition Night, May 6 at 6:00 p.m. Join us! 

Rick Curia

Ken Nelson Auto Group

Rick Curia, owner of Ken Nelson Auto Plaza, spent time with CEO students on Thursday. His main message was to dream big and "don't slam any doors." He shared his own career path, encouraging students to keep an open mind to all opportunities and not discount the idea of coming back to the area. Besides his life lessons, Rick took time to get to know each student, asking about their future plans. Of course there was time to ask questions about the auto industry, and check out some pretty amazing cars. No, guys, a Cadillac is NOT in your budget...yet. 

WSDR Hosts Event

Whiteside County Relay For Life Pie Auction

Friday brought chaos to CEO as students were definitely multi-tasking. Half the class visited WSDR and presented the CEO Celebrity Pie for the Whiteside County Relay for Life Pie Auction, made by our very own Sam Hildebrand.  Some were listening to the radio at WACC getting ready to call in a bid/donation for the CEO pie! Other class members were running errands as they worked on trade show details or taking a look at their financial statements. It was a day to network with one another to problem solve and collaborate. Eventually everyone came together to meet with a Sauk Valley Media photographer Alex. We look forward to seeing Gavin Jensen's story on the trade show in the paper very soon!

Student Journal Highlights for this week

This year has really shown me how important it is to have people who support you and are there to help you. Meeting with Dawn on Friday was great. She had thought of things that I didn’t, had suggestions for me, and even offered to help me during the trade show. I so appreciate the support that she has shown for me. Dawn was encouraging and helpful. It really helped me when she told me I was doing a good job. That reassurance is so important. I have also learned this year that even if someone who always achieves high is doing good, they still need a “good job.” I know I am one of those people. I value someone saying that sincerely more than and trophy or a plaque. We have been told how imorotant it is multiple times this year in CEO. I had this weekend packed with things to do for both prom and the trade show. I wasn’t getting much support from my prom committee, so my mom offered to help me. She helped me stain pallets and build huge props for prom. She was a major help with both calming things, and reassuring me. You already know how much I have going on right now, but thier support has helped immensely.

As the trade show is coming up, I finally started working on my business. Yesterday I painted half of my pots and finished the rest of them today. Throughout the week I will keep adding extra designs to them and start potting the plants Wednesday. Starting all of this work had a few different effects on me.

First, it helped me realize the connections I had with people that I’ve known my whole life. I was talking to my aunt and mom about about all of the different things I needed to do to get ready for the trade show, and they were so much more helpful than I was expecting. My aunt had what seemed like a million cans of spray paint I could use, and she offered for me to spray all of them in her basement on the cement. My aunt is a painter and that’s where she tests some paints or spray paints what she needs to. My mom offered to help run my booth at the trade show, even though I didn’t ask her to. She said she can try to make time to help, which means a lot because she has a very busy schedule. Both of them also suggested that my cousin help me paint all of my pots since she is very artistic. Thankfully I talked to them about my worries, otherwise I wouldn’t have thought about all of their help.

Secondly, all of the thoughts about my booth and what all I haven’t to do had me awake at 4:30 this morning. At first, I woke up because my cat needed let out, but then I had troubles falling back asleep. I’m not one to normally worry, but it seemed like every time I closed my eyes I thought of something else I needed to do, and it sent me into a panic. Just the other day I felt like I had plenty of time, and now I realize my time is running low. This week will be the week that I take care of everything. My business has to come first, otherwise it will not succeed like I know it can. I’m ready for the trade show to be here so I can stop worrying, but at the same time I need all the extra time I can get!

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