Issue 38, September 25th

Part 2 of our Jacksonville Entrepreneur series appeared to have been very well received last week.  Not only was Earl Benton’s story interesting to hear, but he was also a pretty comical guy.  Beginning in the Air Force after having attended college on an ROTC scholarship, he shared with us the disappointment of not being able to be a pilot and instead manning a missile silo.  Earl shared the glamor of being flown by helicopter for about an hour into the middle of nowhere, then descending 160 feet underground where he stayed for 24 hours at a time.  As soon as he completed his 4 years he went to work for Miller Brewing, and shortly thereafter was sent to Jacksonville on business.  Earl was hesitant at the time as back then he had never heard of Jacksonville, and insisted he didn’t have an interest in visiting a place with which he was unfamiliar.  His boss said “trust me, you’ll owe me.”  Earl packed a bag for a weekend trip….he stayed for 2 weeks.  Shortly thereafter he arranged to purchase the local Miller distributor which at that time if I recall had 2 brands.  Now he has hundreds of brands ranging from Miller, Coors, New Belgium, and locally to include favorites like Intuition Ale.

Now this was the first time Earl spoke to our club, however we’ve had involvement with Champion Brands dating back to 2009.  That year Mike White approached then President Tim Buchanan about a need for volunteers to work his very first Craft & Import Beer Festival; which was to be held in the West Club of the stadium.  Mike advised we could make about 8% of our annual budget, in just 1 evening.  Being the savvy business person Tim is, he thought this was a no brainer since it took us a week to earn less than twice that at TPC.  You see the Beerfest is a marketing event for all of Champion’s brands, (no pun intended) which Earl arranges to be donated to the event.  It’s always benefited non-profits, and due to this event plus a few others, SBMC has earned over $30,000 for working one or two days a year since 2009!  Furthermore it was very flattering that Earl began his speech acknowledging our JROTC Clay Shoot Oct 1st and called upon Mike Russo who announced the reminder “put Champion down as a sponsor, that’s a great cause.”  Talk about a convenient coincidence, having our speaker who was an ROTC cadet, address our club 10 days prior to our annual Clay Shoot.  Also Earl advised if he’s in town he’ll be joining us as a shooter in the event next Saturday as well!

Shifting gears to the third installment of our Jacksonville Entrepreneur series, this Wednesday we’ll hear from a gentleman whose company is very well known in Jacksonville….Preston Haskell.  Preston was reluctant at first, as he doesn’t really enjoy talking about himself.  He’s very involved in the community, and has been in the news recently for generous contributions to the arts; a cause often challenging to acquire funding.  It’s amazing to meet someone who’s achieved such immense success, but is also incredibly humble about it.  Friday night I’m sure many of you will be venturing up to the Bud plant to partake in Mike White’s Oktoberfest; which continues to evolve and become bigger and better!  Then Saturday after several months of hard work, our clay shoot committee will host the 3rd Annual YAP JROTC Charity Clay Shoot, presented by our own Duckworth Construction and Savage Brothers Painting.  The committee this year set some lofty goals, and appeared to be in sight of exceeding them for the 3rd year in a row.  Late last week the count was at 80 shooters, which is about 30% more than ever before!  Don’t miss out on your chance at winning the Over N’ Under 12 gauge generously donated by Tiger May of On Target Sports.  You can purchase a raffle ticket for $20 or 6 for $100 online

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