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Randolph County CEO holds trade show

The first year of the Randolph County CEO program is drawing to a close.

The nine remaining members of the inaugural Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities class, which started out with 14 students, showed off their budding businesses during a trade show on Friday at the Randolph County Courthouse.

The businesses ranged from custom baked goods to electronics to public speaking and even a clothing brand.

“I’ve always been interested in clothing,” said Steeleville High School student Patrick Rohlfing, who was showing off his brand “Hu$le.” “I was sitting in class one day, I drew it out, replaced the S with a $ and ‘Hu$le’ was born.”

Rohlfing said the name stands for “Have Unbelievable $uccess, Love Everyone.” The logo is the brand name inside a heart.

“I looked around in the world and saw a lot of negativity in brand names,” Rohlfing said. “I wanted to have a positive message in a brand name.”

In the space next to Rohlfing was Sparta High School’s Alex Hagene and his business, Hagene’s Pallet Designs.

As the name suggests, Hagene takes wood pallets and converts them into a variety of uses.

“The goal is to do custom orders,” he said. “I get ideas from Pinterest, paint and stain along with some other accessories.”

The table for Hagene’s display was made out of pallets, a design Hagene said took between 10 and 12 hours to build. Smaller-sized products included a wine rack, shelving units and an artistic piece with a painting of an American flag.

“I get the pallets for free from companies,” Hagene said. “Mainly wherever I can as long as they’re in good condition.”

Across the room, Red Bud High School senior Austin Wiegard was describing his business, New Persona, to attendees.

The acting/public speaking business seeks to provide “lessons to help you present a new you and be successful.”

Wiegard started acting in eighth grade and is a member of Actors’ Attic in Columbia, Ill.

“I decided I wanted to carry on my acting and pass that on to other people,” said Wiegard, who plans to study mass communication in college with an emphasis on TV and film. “I want to represent clients the best way that I can through New Persona.”

Other businesses were Chester High School student Cody Brant and his electronics resale business A&R Electronics, with the “A” and “R” standing for “Affordable” and “Reliable.”

“People want to see (the products) to make sure they aren’t lying about what they’re selling,” Brant said.

CHS junior Cassie Everding and her business, Cassie’s Bakes, was also on hand. Everding said her long-term goal is to have a food truck for her products.

“A lot of people doubted me and thought I couldn’t do it because I’m a kid,” said Everding, who started making cupcakes when she was 2 years old.

Other businesses present at the trade show were XMC Mobile DJ (Stephen Holliday), Grandma’s Red Hot Applesauce (Zachary Thompson), Devin Fraembs (The Cut Promo) and JNP Power Washing (Nathan Proffer).

“They are done on Wednesday, so we are at the end,” said Randolph County CEO Instructor April Nail. “They will do exit interviews on Monday, where they’ll get their final grade and do their exit interview describing how...basically a business performance review.

“We’ll have an orientation for next year’s class in July and start it up again in August.”

Nail was asked what she takes from the first year into the second.

“Especially with this being a first-year program, we’ve learned a lot about certain things,” she said. “What to do first, what do do second. I guess I assumed the students knew more than they did.”

Nail added that moving forward, the class will be more about the students leading her instead of the other way around.

Resource: Randolph County Herald Tribune 
By Pete Spitler

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