Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)
BETCHA’ DIDN’T KNOW…I ONCE WAS PART
OF A COMPANY THAT PRODUCED BELLOWS
Betcha’ Didn’t Know…I was once part of a company that made and sold bellows.
It was during my senior year—1960-1961—at Kensington High School, in Buffalo, New York, that I became part of the Hanna J. A’s company, sponsored by the Hanna Furnace Corporation, as a part of the Junior Achievement of the Niagara Frontier program.
Back then, the Niagara Frontier program involved many businesses which each sponsored a mini-company which functioned during one school year and was designed and operated by high school students.
I’ve forgotten much of my time in program.
The Hanna J. A’s included students from many high schools. We had to organize quickly in order to decide on a product, create stock, figure out how to produce and market said product, and have it ready to market before Christmas, a critical marketing time.
How or why the Hanna J. A.’s decided on producing bellows (a device for producing a strong current of air, consisting of a chamber that can be expanded to draw in air through a valve and contracted to expel it through a tube) is a mystery to me—it seems such an odd item for a high school company to produce.
Our company survived, and even made a profit, even though I was not a CEO.
I was in the program, I believe, for two years—two companies. Always the entrepreneur, these companies fine-tuned the business skills that benefitted me through the years as I founded a craft business and a child care home business. I believe it made the business world almost second-nature to a person who isn’t in that world (I was making/picking fruit to sell from the age of 8—read Raspberries Lead to Enterpreneurship—and I covered coat hangers with yarn (to slip-proof them) and sold them in the neighborhood.)
I couldn’t help but compare the JA experience I had over two years to what I read a November 12, 2014, article about Junior Achievement in Western Pennsylvania when this organization marked its 75th anniversary.
Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania serves more than 72,000 students in 167 school districts in the region.
Some schools have JA lessons over several weeks or after school throughout the year. Others, usually at the elementary school level, have one day a year, called a Junior Achievement Day, in which students attend five 45-minute sessions.
“There’s a strong curriculum that can really tie kids to real-life experiences, real-life opportunities, whether that’s business planning, marketing, because kids can be at so many different levels where they can do entrepreneurship activities,” said Randal Lutz, superintendent of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District.
In Western Pennsylvania, participating school districts include Baldwin-Whitehall, Gateway, Moon Area, North Hills and West Mifflin Area.
I’m not certain I could learn the same lessons in the Western Pennsylvania JA program as I did in the Niagara Frontier program. Looking back, making and marketing bellows provided the basis of much of my activities today.
However, when I spoke to Dennis Gilfoyle, president and chief executive officer, Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania, he noted that the Westmoreland JA program is in the current business pipeline.
They are developing a new company format based on today’s Internet and social media—for example, substituting crowdfunding for stock. The new program has the same objective as the original format.
I might be able to buy into that if I were in high school today.
NOTE 1: Founded in 1919 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., Junior Achievement USA is a nonprofit that uses volunteers to educate students about the three pillars (of business) through hands-on programs. Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania… celebrating its 75th anniversary this year…was the first Junior Achievement branch in the country, said Dennis Gilfoyle, president and chief executive officer. He can be contacted at (412) 208-4747, firstname.lastname@example.org.