Stu Crum, President of Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC

1 Commentby   |  05.08.14  |  Entrepreneur Speaker Series, Springboard

Mr. Stu Crum, President of Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC, visited ACU as the keynote speaker at the Springboard awards dinner in April. Mr. Crum has nearly thirty years of experience in the automotive retail business, and was able to share his experience and give insight to hopeful entrepreneurs. Mr. Crum also shared his perspective on how Christian entrepreneurs and business leaders can make a difference in the workplace.

“Mr. Crum talked about how whatever we do as Christians, no matter what it is, we are in full-time ministry,” said sophomore Finance and Accounting major Mandy Stratton. “This impacted the way I think about my life. Literally every move I make should have a purpose, and that purpose is to bring glory to God so He can shine through my work, my social life, and my academics.”

As President of Bridgestone Retail Operations, Mr. Crum leads operations and teammates at 2,216 company-owned stores. His responsibilities as President include developing company goals, training and developing teammates and creating customer experiences to grow business.

Springboard Awards Dinner

0 Commentsby   |  04.24.14  |  Springboard

The following video was shown at the annual Springboard Ideas Challenge, highlighting all of this year’s contestants and the process of the competition.

Winners Announced for 2014 Springboard Ideas Challenge

2 Commentsby   |  04.17.14  |  Springboard

The winners from the 2014 Springboard Ideas Challenge were announced at the Springboard Awards Dinner this past Tuesday evening.  This year’s winners include:

College Division

Grand Prize: Float 2 Swim, Morgan Hood
Float 2 swim is a floatation device unlike any other product on the market. Float 2 Swim serves as both a lifejacket and puddle jumper that effectively teaches young children how to swim without any effort of the child or parent. Float 2 Swim has an innovative approach to keeping children safe, while at the same time encouraging the child to learn the basics of swimming.

Second Place: NovaScore, Jason McVey and Rudy Garza
NovaScore is a software solution for educational institutions that allows students to use their mobile phones as an answer document.  The service automatically grades for instructors, generates detailed and filterable grade reports, and records academic performance over time into private personal profiles for students.

Third Place: Sign Me Up, Jeff Johnston
Sign Me Up offers exceptional, durable, highly noticeable garage sale signs at a low cost. The company also delivers and picks up signs at preferred locations, removing the hassle for their customers.

Values Award: Carefree Financial Solutions, Brandon Avedikian
Carefree Financial Solutions allows the elderly or those that care for them to focus on more important things instead of worrying about remembering to pay bills on time.

Community Growth Division

Grand Prize: iGreenPod, Shawn Altman and Chas Quissenberry
iGreenPod is a biodegradable coffee pod similar to the Keurig K-Cup. The iGreenPod coffee pod will compost with most home composts in just a few months. iGreenPod is focused on “Closing the Loop Back to Nature”.

Second Place: Nap Mat Carriers, Nicola Joshua
Nap Mat Carriers provides a line of nap mat bags for children’s nap mats that are durable and fashion forward. Nap Mat Carriers is a product that allows easy transport of children’s nap mats, pillows, and blankets to and from daycare or school.

Third Place: The Country Escape, Mike and Patty Smith
The Country Escape provides high quality, handcrafted products that emphasize fragrant aromas creating a welcoming and peaceful environment. The Country Escape has an extensive product line including candles, handcrafted soaps, lotion, essential oil, and much more.

Values Award: TruMud, Ryan Lynn.
TruMud manufactures an exclusive dry chemical storage and distribution system which dramatically diminishes environmental, human, and operating costs for the oil and gas industry.

Community Small Business Division

Grand Prize: Jacob Ray Creations, Jacob Ray
Jacob Ray Creations provides custom designed knives. The company allows the customer to find their perfect knife.

Second Place: Clean & Simple, William Suell
Clean & Simple is a premium laundry service that comes with professional folding and packaging, convenient pickup, and delivery to member’s homes within 48-hours. Clean & Simple strives to put quality time back into homes by taking away one of the most demanding needs families and students have on a daily basis.

Third Place: Academy of Life, D’Angelo and Janelle Sands
Academy of Life merges traditional etiquette and civility with modern professional and personal development. Academy of Life will offer classes, workshops, and seminars for etiquette, civility, and life skills for youth and adults.

Wildcat Ventures Announces New President

0 Commentsby   |  04.14.14  |  Wildcat Ventures

The Griggs Center is pleased to announce that Connor Osburn will serve as the President of Wildcat Ventures for the 2014-15 school year. The Wildcat Ventures program is a collection of student-run businesses that provide opportunities for students to learn how to run a business.

Connor Osburn is a junior accounting major from Southlake, Texas. He is the oldest son of Mike and Allison Osburn. Connor has been part of the Purple Collar Tees team this year and will begin serving as President following graduation in May.

“Wildcat Ventures is one of the most unique student experiences here at ACU and I’m eager to continue to develop and expand student ventures over the next year,” Osburn said.

The new executive team will follow Casey Duncum and Brandon Avedikian who have served as the organization’s CEO and CFO, respectively, throughout the 2013-14 year. This past year, under Duncum and Avedikian’s direction, each of the four Wildcat Ventures’s companies has seen growth in sales. There has also been an increase in the overall number of students working in the Wildcat Ventures program.

“Casey and Brandon have worked tirelessly over the past year to help solidify and grow Wildcat Ventures. Their passion and commitment to the program have helped both their current employees and many future students have a great experience. They’ve also led the group of student-run businesses to a significant year-to-year growth in sales” said Jim Litton, Director of the Griggs Center.

The program’s success this year would not have been possible without a number of other students who served in leadership positions in the fall and/or spring semesters and will be graduating or moving onto to other opportunities at the end of the semester. Those students include:

Whitney Herrington – Executive Team
Allie Rostron – CEO of The Crossing Cafe
Tyler Eidson – CEO of Purple Collar Tees
Luke Luttrell – CEO of Wildcat S&D
Cade Isham – CEO of PhoneER

“I appreciate the hard work of everyone on our team this year. It was a great experience and we look forward to seeing how next year’s group will continue to improve the program,” Duncum said.

Open positions for next fall will be announced in the coming weeks. Students interested in applying to be a part of Wildcat Ventures can email for more information.

Ally and Jeff Davidson, Co-founders of Camp Gladiator

0 Commentsby   |  04.10.14  |  Entrepreneur Speaker Series

On Monday, COBA hosted Ally and Jeff Davidson, co-founders of Camp Gladiator. The Austin-based company is the fastest growing boot camp and outdoor fitness program in the country and was ranked #234 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing U.S. companies in 2013.

Ally and Jeff shared their journey of starting Camp Gladiator with approximately 100 students in a fun-filled class session. “The Camp Gladiator presentation incorporated fun into a very interesting discussion of unique business structure and creative marketing ideas,” said sophomore Marketing major Alex Abston. “Ally and Jeff were great about encouraging student involvement! Their message was inspirational to all!”

The events leading up to Ally and Jeff launching Camp Gladiator were anything but normal. The day before their wedding, Ally found out that American Gladiators was holding tryouts for their next season. She snuck out early that next morning and went to the gym, only to find 2,000 people already in line. Ally pulled out her veil and put it on, ran to the front, and the producer let her skip the line to try out. Ally went straight to her wedding after the tryout, not even having time to shower before walking down the aisle.

Ally went on to compete in the show, selected as one of 40 contestants out of 15,000 who tried out. After six weeks of living in Los Angeles and competing, Ally won the 2008 season of the show. Following her success on the show, Ally wanted to do more. The Davidsons decided to open their own training program, and Camp Gladiator was born.

Ally and Jeff also shared insights about their business model, marketing efforts, and how their faith plays an important part in how they run the business.

“I loved seeing an example of successful, Christian entrepreneurs who are passionate about their company. Ally and Jeff are more than business owners or fitness trainers; they empower and connect people to build a community of wellness through Camp Gladiator,” said sophomore Marketing major Rudy Garza.

The company has approximately 350 locations in eight states and is continuing to grow.

To learn more about Camp Gladiator, visit

Springboard Awards Dinner Featuring Stu Crum

0 Commentsby   |  04.08.14  |  Springboard

The winners of the 2014 Springboard Ideas Challenge will be announced at an awards dinner next Tuesday, April 15th. The event will be held at the Hunter Welcome Center at Abilene Christian University from 6:00 – 8:30 pm. The evening begins with an exhibit hall of the business ideas from this year’s competition.

You can purchase tickets online at Individual tickets are $15, or you may purchase a reserved table for $150.

Stu Crum, President of Bridgestone Retail Operations, will be the featured speaker at this year’s Springboard Awards Dinner. Stu joined Bridgestone as President in August 2013, and has nearly thirty years of experience in the automotive retail business. Stu came to Bridgestone from Shell Oil Company, where he most recently served as President of Jiffy Lube International, overseeing more than 2,100 franchised service centers serving approximately 22 million customers annually throughout North America. He held numerous leadership roles with Shell during his 13-year tenure there, including Vice President of National Accounts, North American Automotive Consumer Products; General Manager Strategy & Portfolio, North America; General Manager Sales & Operations, Caribbean, Central America, Northern South America; and Director of Marketing.

Prior to joining Shell, Stu worked for Texaco Inc., serving in various marketing and retail capacities. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Tulsa, where he attended on a full football scholarship before spending three years as a professional place kicker in the NFL and USFL.

As President of Bridgestone Retail Operations, Stu has leadership oversight of operations and teammates at 2,216 company-owned stores. His responsibilities include developing company goals and strategy, training and developing teammates and creating exceptional customer experiences to grow the business. He also works to ensure collaboration and integration between retail and the overall consumer group.

Stu and his wife Mia reside in Barrington, Illinois. They have two grown children.

Mark Duncum, President of Double Creek Capital

0 Commentsby   |  04.03.14  |  Alumni Spotlights, Entrepreneur Speaker Series

Mark Duncum, owner and President of Double Creek Capital, Ltd. visited ACU yesterday, bringing students advice and a new perspective of entrepreneurship in the real estate industry.

Double Creek Capital Ltd. is a real estate company in Decatur focusing on residential and commercial real estate management and development. The mission of the company is to provide and promote quality real estate properties through integrity, honesty, concern for our neighbor, and a trust in God.

In addition to working in real estate, Duncum serves on the ACU Board of Trustees, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, the Board of Directors for North Texas Bank, the City of Decatur Zoning Board of Adjustments, and as a deacon at the Decatur Church of Christ. He is also involved with the Wise Regional Health Foundation, Wise Regional Health System, and the Wise Area Relief Mission.

Brandon Avedikian, Masters of Accountancy student, was among those in attendance the lunch. “Mark Duncum is an incredible role model both in the business and spiritual realms,” said Avedikian. “The message he shared was thought provoking and inspiring. He is an exemplary representation of what it means to be a Christian in the business world.”

Duncum graduated from ACU’s College of Business Administration in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, and became a CPA while working in the Audit Division of Ernst & Young in Fort Worth for five years.

Springboard Ideas Challenge 2014 Finalists

0 Commentsby   |  04.02.14  |  Springboard

The Griggs Center is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Springboard Ideas Challenge. These contestants will advance to the final round of the competition next week, presenting their business plans before a live panel of judges.

“We are excited for the teams that have advanced to the final round of the competition. Next week they will compete for over $40,000 in cash prizes,” said Dr. Jim Litton, Director of the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy.

The goal of the annual competition, now in its seventh year, is to promote entrepreneurship on ACU’s campus and across the Big Country and to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the opportunity to come one step closer to launching their own venture.

Community – Growth Finalists

iGreenPod – Shawn Altman
The Country Escape – Patty & Mike Smith
Crowd Meets Science – Ian Robertson & Kyle Gainey
Nap Mat Carriers – Nicola Joshua
Spirit Wood Furniture – Jerry & Linda Waldrup
KINGA – Hasina Randriasandratriniony
TruMud – Ryan Lynn
The Memory Tree – Pete Ruiz
thrive! – J.R. Kessler
Helios – Lincoln Mason & Richard Castillo
reMotion – Brent Reeves
Mapmath – Phillip Dosa
Alonus Fitness Wear – Mishawn Childers

College Finalists

Sign Me Up – Jeff Johnston
CareFree Financial Solutions – Brandon Avedikian
College Flat – Colton McCoy
Hawkeye 3D – Will Anderson – Troy Bonneau
Float 2 Swim – Morgan Hood
hush! – Samantha Martinez
ProFoam Combat Gear – Peter Kenna
NovaScore – Jason McVey & Rudy Garza
STICKeBIBS – Evan Webb & Elizabeth Lurz
Smart Park – Brady Johnson
Tools for Fools D.I.Y. Work shop – Ryan Lupton
Mercari Nano – Nicole Rowland & Mason Thorn

Community – Small Business Finalists
Academy of Life – D’Angelo & Janelle Sands
Clean & Simple – William Suell
Explore Abilene – Ashley Grisham
Jacob Ray Creations – Jacob Ray
Kaleidoscope – Janet Fish
Lone Star Shopper – Robert Ochoa
Pearl Power Academy – Katherine Gordon Rice
Portable Portraits – Missy & Jonathan Stinson

Join us Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 in the Hunter Welcome Center at Abilene Christian University as we reveal the winners of the 2014 Springboard Ideas Challenge. The awards dinner is from 6:00 – 8:30 pm and begins with an exhibit hall of the business ideas from this year’s competition. You can purchase tickets online at Individual tickets are $15, or you may purchase a table for $150.

Paul Vinyard, Founder of Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

0 Commentsby   |  03.31.14  |  Entrepreneur Speaker Series

Paul Vinyard, owner and founder of Babe’s Chicken Dinner House visited ACU bringing students a new perspective of entrepreneurship in the restaurant business, and gave advice to students hoping to pursue a career in the industry.

“We started the business in the family roots we grew up with,” said Vinyard. “Sitting at the park with everybody bringing the food and eating too much usually, and getting to spend time with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It’s hard to do that the way families are spread out today, so we wanted to provide a place to do that. So we serve the food, bring bowls, and let them pass the bowls around the table.”

In 1981, Vinyard and his wife Mary Beth opened Bubba’s, their first restaurant. Bubba’s was built in an old Texaco station in Dallas near SMU, and named after Vinyard’s longtime nickname.

“The fun and the excitement in putting all of your money into it and risking everything that you have, and having a family and a couple of kids, it’s pretty scary to do it,” Vinyard said. “At the same time, when the customers come in and like what you’ve done, it’s one of the most exciting things you can do.”

In 1993, the couple opened their second and most famous restaurant, Babe’s. Built in an old warehouse in Roanoke, the restaurant also took the name of a Vinyard family nickname, this time Mary Beth’s. She created the recipes for the country-cooking restaurant including the fried chicken, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and famous gravy. Today, Babe’s has expanded to nine locations in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, including restaurants in Sanger, Carrollton, Garland, Burleson, Granbury, Frisco, Cedar Hill, and Arlington.

“Babe’s Chicken Dinner House is a family dinner house, we call it the family table,” said Vinyard. “We really specialize in big families coming in and being seated around the table, a lot of time even three generations, which we really love.”

The third restaurant owned by the Vinyards is Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes, named after another one of Mary Beth’s nicknames. This Decatur restaurant serves filet mignon and chicken fried rib eye, as well as hamburgers and much more.

Vinyard has always worked in the restaurant business, previously working with other companies such as Taco Bueno and El Chico before opening his own restaurants.

“I had dreams about managing a restaurant,” Vinyard said. “I have no idea where that came from, but I’ve always loved the restaurant business. I’m 70-years-old and I don’t want to do anything else. I love the business.”

Vinyard gave students valuable insight on how to be successful in the food business, as well as gave advice on how to be an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry.

“The primary thing you’ve got to do is enjoy the product or the service you’re going to perform. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t get close to it,” said Vinyard. “And then get some experience with somebody who’s already good at it. Secondly, you have to know the business from top to bottom.”

This Wednesday Mark Duncum, the president and owner of Double Creek Capital, Ltd., real estate company in Decatur will join us as the featured speaker. The lunch will take place in COBA room 318 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and will include free lunch for all CEO members.

Jarrod Brown, Founder of Mission Lazarus

0 Commentsby   |  03.28.14  |  Alumni Spotlights, Entrepreneur Speaker Series

Jarrod Brown, the founder of Mission Lazarus, visited ACU on Monday to share his testimony of faith and social entrepreneurship with students in chapel as well as in the classroom.

In 2001, Brown quit his job as a consultant and moved to Honduras for a 10-month commitment using his business skills in the mission field. While there, Brown fell in love with the country and developed a business plan that would allow him to share his faith as well as provide opportunities for the people there to become self-sustaining. Brown and his wife worked together on this concept, and in 2004, Mission Lazarus was born.

Mission Lazarus is a nonprofit organization with full-time services in Honduras and Haiti, focusing their ministry into four different outlets: Spiritual, Educational, Medical, and Agricultural. In addition to these different areas of outreach, Mission Lazarus has planted 27 church congregations.

“Without the supporters and enablers, there can’t be doers,” Brown said. “I prayed and prayed, that God if you call me, I pray that my ears won’t be plugged up with dollar bills. I am so fortunate, because I am no better than anyone else, and I have the same weaknesses as everyone else, but I was able to walk away from a certain aspect of life that is so normal in the U.S.”

Brown graduated from ACU with degrees in International Business and Spanish. After dedicating his life to social entrepreneurship, Brown expressed to students how taking business classes at a Christian university shaped the way he has been able to do business.

“I really think the biggest blessing about taking COBA classes here at ACU are the Christian men and women teaching the classes,” Brown said. “Because when you don’t come at it from a Christian point of view, a Christian man or woman’s point of view, you aren’t thinking about those tough ethical and moral questions that often times are such a gray area for a non-believer.”

This summer, Brown and Drs. Andy Little and Jim Litton will lead a study abroad trip to visit Mission Lazarus and learn about social entrepreneurship on-site in Honduras. Students will have the opportunity to experience social enterprise in action, as well as earn up to 6 credit hours. The Honors College and COBA are partnering together to offer this study abroad opportunity.

“To have this group of young people, often times very idealistic, still having the feeling of ‘I can change the world,’ and to put that group of people in a room for discussion every day, and to challenge each other as Christians, the discussion is phenomenal,” said Brown. “It creates for a very challenging time that cannot be compared with any classroom study done here on campus.”