Heidelberg University welcomed more than 500 guests Thursday evening to its eighth Patricia Adams Lecture series, the largest attendance to date and featuring the first entrepreneur speaker.
The lecture featured entrepreneur Cheryl Krueger, who founded the multimillion dollar gourmet cookie and gift company Cheryl & Co. in 1985.
During her talk, "An Entrepreneur's Road to Success," Krueger discussed why she wanted to start a company, the risks involved, how to survive bad times and how to remain successful.
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Cheryl Krueger, founder of Cheryl & Co. gourmet cookie company, speaks Thursday evening at Heidelberg University’s Patricia Adams Lecture series.
When she started her company, she said she wanted to have control of her schedule, a chance to influence the business strategy and the opportunity to make more money.
She said she built her business from a product that already existed and she wanted to make it better.
The company, Krueger said, was the first to individually wrap cookies.
"We did not create the cookie. We understood that women were working more and didn't have time to bake," Krueger said.
She challenged students to ask their future employers to detail their customer service policy.
"You have to pay attention and take care of your customer," she said. "If we do not take care of our customer, someone else will."
When considering starting your own business, Krueger said, "You have to understand the risks you and your family are willing to make."
She said one situation she and her company had to get through was the 9/11 attack on the United States.
"Our business relied on sales in stores and shipping through the airlines," she said.
Krueger said to get through that time, they had to focus on situations they could control, cut costs and maintain a high employee morale. Krueger and her team came together to control expenses and ended up making $1 million in cuts, including management taking pay cuts so hourly employees didn't have to, she said.
"You have to get people involved," Krueger said. "People want to get involved, they want to know the truth and ask for help."
To have success in your own business, Krueger said you have to have vision, innovation and financial discipline, take advantage of government programs and understand the risks.
"Vision is to have the ability to see the invisible and do the impossible," Krueger said. "The biggest challenge we have in our education system is for students to think out of the box and be open to what is out there."
Currently, Krueger is the CEO of KRUEGER+CO. Consulting Inc. In addition, she has served on the Bob Evans Farm board of directors since 1993; was named the top female entrepreneur of the year by Working Women magazine; serves as the foundation board past president of the Arthur James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University; and serves on the OSU Foundation Board.
Heidelberg President Rob Huntington said Krueger gave half her stipend from the lecture- $10,000 - to the James Cancer Hospital the rest back into the Patricia Adams Lecture series.
Sponsors of the series are Tiffin Aire Inc., Reineke Family Dealerships, National Machinery Foundation and Mercy Tiffin Hospital.
The next lecture is to feature Jackie MacMullan, newspaper sports reporter and ESPN analyst, Oct. 2.