Meridian Helps Mercury MerCruiser Employees Explore Entrepreneurial Interests

Mercury MerCruiser employees recently took part in a customized training session offered by Meridian Technology Center on the basics of starting a new business. Tom Casey, front, Darrin Doty, center and Keith Schmidt, back, are each considering starting their own business when the factor closes later this year.
Mercury MerCruiser employees recently took part in a customized training session offered by Meridian Technology Center on the basics of starting a new business. Tom Casey, front, Darrin Doty, center and Keith Schmidt, back, are each considering starting their own business when the factor closes later this year.

Tom Casey has spent the last 24 years of his life working for Mercury MerCruiser. He recently spent time trying to figure out what he might do with the next 24 years.

“I don’t know where I will go from here,” he said. “I am thinking about opening my own business when MerCruiser closes. I don’t know, there is a lot to consider and a lot of options to weigh. I want to be sure that I have the information I need and make the right choice.”

To help make that decision, Casey and approximately 20 other employees from Mercury MerCruiser met for a lunch-and-learn training session facilitated by Brad Rickelman, Assistant Director of the Meridian Technology Center for Business Development.

The “Business 101 or How to Start a Business” program highlighted essential elements for aspiring entrepreneurs. Rickelman challenged participants to explore their motivation behind starting their own business, understanding the importance of having a business plan, conducting market research, and distributing the product or service their business would supply.

“It’s important to recognize that just because you love to do something, it is not necessarily a great business venture,” Rickelman told the group. “When it comes time to think about what really makes a great business idea there are a lot of questions to be asked.”

The staff members at the Center for Business Development are on hand to help aspiring entrepreneurs from start to finish. The Center is dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs through networking, education, consulting and business incubation services. Assistance is available in various areas such as marketing, product planning, international business and writing business plans. As part of Meridian’s mission to provide customized education and training services to individuals, industries and communities, Rickelman often works directly with civic groups, chambers of commerce and local entrepreneurs to assist in the economic development of the district.

As part of the customized Mercury MerCruiser training session, attendees were given a worksheet to assist them with evaluating the feasibility and risk associated with starting a new business. They were also provided with a list of local and state resources to help them be successful in their potential venture.

Casey indicated he was going to quickly start evaluating his own situation with the materials given.

“I think once I sit down and complete the worksheets my choice may be a little clearer,” he said. “It may make more sense to either go to work for someone else or even look into partnering with someone else already in business. But then again, in the end, it may be a good idea to go out on my own. For now though, I’ll have to wait and see.”

Joe Payne, Mercury MerCruiser Director of Human Resources, indicated making this type of customized training program available to employees is just one method the company is working to assist with the transition of the plant closing. Payne indicated the company has utilized the services of an outsourcing agency that will provide job assistance support for employees until they are able to gain employment elsewhere.

“In so many ways we’re more like a family than employees,” he said. “Once we knew this would happen we put a strong plan in place to make sure that we are taking care of our employees the best way we can. This kind of thing is never easy, but we are providing them with the skill training they need to be successful in the next phase of their careers. At the end of the day, we want to be sure that everyone is taken care of.”

Meridian has been a strategic partner in assisting in this process. Employees have had the opportunity to develop or expand their computer skills, explore their personal strengths and practice for job interviews with services provided by Meridian’s Business and Industry Services department.

“Meridian has been a part of MerCruiser almost since day one,” Payne said. “The school has helped us with whatever training we have needed through the years. This process is no exception.”

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