Archive for » October 15th, 2017«

Young Entrepreneurs: CC Wilcox juggles businesses, insurance sales – Galesburg Register

GALESBURG — At age 35, Galesburg resident Christopher Collin Wilcox — better known as C.C. around town — has accomplished more than many people do in their entire lives.

In addition to selling insurance full time at Miller Dredge Insurance Agency, Wilcox manages a total of 70 properties, and he expects that number to increase to 80 by the end of the year. The properties are mainly residences and apartments, including the apartments in the former Catherine Club building. 

His business ventures even include a chili-cheese dip that’s well-known to Galesburg’s foodies: Kit’s Original MUD. Wilcox’s father, Kit, invented the dip while he owned Cherry Street Restaurant and Bar, but Wilcox brought it to market as a frozen product. 

Marketing MUD while juggling his other responsibilities left Wilcox with a premature patch of gray hair, but his hard work paid off in the end. Hy-Vee was the first local business to pick up the product, and numerous others followed suit. He’s currently searching for a regional distributor who can focus on marketing MUD and expanding its presence in local stores. 

Wilcox does it all thanks to his impeccable time management skills and a flexible schedule. He keeps in touch with the community by participating in Business Networking International’s Peoria chapter, Galesburg on Track and other local organizations — and helping Kit with a boutique hotel project for downtown Galesburg. 

“In high school and college, I had a lot of teachers mention that time management was a very important thing, and I never knew why that was such an important thing until I got into the business world,” Wilcox said. “Especially in sales, I’m kind of my own boss. … If you don’t schedule things and use your calendar appropriately, time will just float away.” 

So how do all of Wilcox’s business interests intersect, and what does he do when he needs to take a break from them all? The Register-Mail asked him, and learned more about the history behind Galesburg’s favorite local dip. 

RM: Your dad invented Kit’s Original MUD, but you brought it to stores. How did that come about? 

CW: He didn’t have the time to tend to bringing it to the market, so I saw that as a challenge and started working on it. From the day he passed over the reins and said ‘go for it,’ it took me about five years before we actually got it on the shelf, and then I spent the first year and a half just going crazy. I was working between 10 and 20 hours a day, and a lot of that was weekends and late nights and that sort of thing. It was an interesting process to go through and to learn about an industry that I knew nothing about. That’s what entrepreneurship to me is all about: It’s a challenge and it’s exciting, and you don’t know whether you’re going to fail or succeed. Hopefully you succeed, but each time you try something different, you learn something new about specific tasks or an industry or about people, or about yourself. It’s a lot of fun. 

RM: Why did you think the dip would also work well as a frozen product people could buy in stores? 

CW: It has a great flavor, and it was (Kit’s) No. 1-selling item when he sold the restaurant in 1994. After ’94, the new owners didn’t keep up with the recipe. The ingredients were higher-quality ingredients, and it’s an intensive process to make it. We actually make a homemade chili, and there’s 16 different spices that go into it. People were always saying to my dad, “I wish we could still get it,” so he started making it at home and serving it at parties that he would have at his house, and then he started giving it away to people after they left the party as a little parting gift. When he had extra he put it in the freezer, and then he saw how you would take it out of the freezer and it still tasted perfectly fine. We were like, “huh. Maybe that’s how we can sell it.”

RM: While marketing MUD, you made connections you later used as an insurance salesman. Does it also help you as a property manager to be involved in the insurance business? 

CW: Property management and insurance definitely go hand-in-hand. Insurance is all about risk management and trying to keep everyone safe, so all of that helps me look at a building when I’m maybe going to buy the building and say, “this is a good building,” or, “these are things I can see from an insurance standpoint that should be fixed.” Then I get to insure the building myself, which is nice, and then I’m out there talking to contractors doing work for me in some of my buildings, and they need insurance, of course. It’s a circle of life. The more you get out there and put yourself out there, the more that things are going to come back around. 

RM: How did you get into property management, anyway? 

CW: It was kind of something I always thought about wanting to do, and my father had a property complex that he owned at the time (The Locust Apartments), and his property manager had to retire. It was a 24-unit complex, and he was definitely hesitant to let me do it. It’s always a little worrisome when you go into business with your family, because you don’t want to cause problems — he technically was my boss during that time — but I think he was pretty happy with what I did. I want to say 18 units were rented of the 24 at the time I took over, and within a year, all 24 were rented. Over the next five years or so, he saw between a 95 and 100 percent vacancy rate; the only time they weren’t rented was because we evicted somebody, somebody moved or we needed to do some repairs. 

RM: What are some skills you need to be an effective property manager? 

CW: You have to be very careful about how you treat people. You have to treat them with respect and try to be understanding with things that happen in their lives, but you also have to be firm with your rules. I bend on my rules more often than I should, but I’m also a softie a little bit, and I believe in the goodness of people. The harder-nosed person you can be, you’re probably going to be a little better in some aspects, but I also believe that when you give a little to somebody over here, you’re going to get that back over here. So you definitely have to be able to communicate very well with people. 

RM: You also use those communication skills in insurance. What are some of the most difficult things about being an insurance salesman that people may not think of?  

CW: Anyone can start off in insurance or other sales jobs and sell to the people they know and their friends and family, but eventually you burn through those people and you have to build other business, and continue to build new business. It’s all about perseverance and not letting “no” stop you, and when you hear “no” so often, not taking it personally — which I still do. If you could take emotion out of your daily interactions you’d probably be the best salesman there is, but I’m not very good about taking emotion out of things.

RM: Insurance is very technical and can be difficult for customers to comprehend. How are you able to break it down so your customers understand it better? 

CW: That’s been a learning opportunity for me over the years. Initially you get licensed and you learn all the technicalities and you want to impress people, or use those because they’re new to you. You quickly realize that that goes straight over people’s heads and they don’t understand it, so you need to learn how to speak in layman’s terms. I just have learned over the years when I talk to people about certain things, how they respond. Are they receptive, or do they kind of look at me with a blank stare? It can be challenging for sure, but I just try to make it as simple as possible.   

RM: How did you decide on insurance as your main career path? 

CW: I did not decide on insurance — I think a lot of people in the insurance world are in that same boat — it actually found me. I was working as a teller for FM Bank and going to school part time at Carl Sandburg College in 2004. A position opened up here and I knew the owners, our original founder Larry Miller and (his wife) Brenda Miller. They actually contacted me and said, “hey, we’ve got a position open. We think you’d be a great fit for it, and are you interested in coming in and talking with us and maybe working for us?” I was like, “I don’t know … why are you calling me again?” (laughs) 

RM: Juggling all these things must be stressful at times. What do you do to relax? 

CW: I have been golfing a lot more, so I really enjoy that, and I snowboard, so I try to go once every year or two. I typically go out west to the Colorado area, and Galena is close, so I’ve been to Chestnut Mountain (Resort) up there, and Wisconsin. I also play racquetball with my dad and some of his friends or business colleagues, and have gotten pretty good at that. I’d like to start a racquetball club; I think it’d be cool to bring back the game, because the sport seems to have died off for the younger generation. I think it’s a great sport.

RM: What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs looking to start a business or get into the insurance business in Galesburg? 

CW: I would say go with what you’re passionate about, or what you tend to be good at. I went into insurance not being good at it, not being passionate about it, and came to love aspects of it. The freedom of the job helped bring me to something that I’ve always been passionate about, and that’s real estate and construction, carpentry kind of stuff. So follow your passions in life and the things that you tend to be good at, and if you’re going to start a business or go into sales, find mentors or people who are already in the community who you can go to meet with and have them help you. Never, ever be afraid to ask questions; never think that you know everything. 

To get in touch: 

C.C. Wilcox 

Account executive at Miller Dredge Insurance

(309) 343-1168, ext. 2116

To order Kit’s Original MUD:

Visit or Hy-Vee, 1975 National Blvd. or 2030 E. Main St., Galesburg.

Rebecca Susmarski: (309) 343-7181, ext. 261;; @RSusmarski

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Names and faces: Oct. 16, 2017

Linda Benedict was named CareerSource Suncoast’s business development director. In her new role, she is responsible for discovering, researching and implementing potential revenue streams, including new lines of business and alternative funding sources. She also will build innovative programs, develop contract proposals and implement the vision of CareerSource Suncoast. Before joining CareerSource Suncoast, Benedict was a business consultant with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida.

John Secor was named marketing and communications director for the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. His responsibilities include overseeing all facets of the organization’s marketing and public relations to support ticket sales, assist in donor cultivation and satisfaction, and maintain positive relations with the media. The role will be particularly vital as the organization works to close out its Heart Soul Capital Campaign, a $6 million effort to transform the organization’s 2.5-acre Sarasota campus into a cohesive, state-of-the-art theater arts center.

Mike Presciti was named regional vice president, Tampa Bay, for IBA Consultants, and David Handley joined the Manatee County firm as an inspector. Presciti will coordinate IBA’s services that include cladding, glazing, roofing and waterproofing consultation for new construction and building renovations; forensic and diagnostic services related to building envelope failures; jobsite testing; and third-party inspections. Handley joins IBA with more than 10 years’ experience in commercial and residential new construction and remodeling.

John Sackett was named general sales manager and Morgan Rushnell was named land project manager at M/I Homes of Sarasota. With a combined 34 years of experience, Sackett and Rushnell will be responsible for meeting the organization’s sales targets through planning and budgeting, as well as providing feasibility support for new land acquisitions, respectively.

Joe Deutschle, the club manager for the Regatta Point Marina club of Bradenton/Palmetto, was named the Freedom Boat Club’s employee of the year.

Wagner Realty’s listing honors for September 2017 went to Terri Marcoux (El Conquistador); Sandy Greiner (Cortez Road); Dia Wilson (Longboat Key); Lynda Melnick (Melnick Property Group at State Road 64 East); Donna Bucher (Manatee Avenue West); Rae Ellen Hayo (Anna Maria Island); Coy Carter (First Street in Sarasota) and Margaret Watson (Lakewood Ranch). Sales honors went to Lucy Halterman and Marsha Winegarden (El Conquistador); Sandy Price (Cortez Road); Lynda Melnick (Melnick Property Group at State Road 64 East); Sherry Flathman (Manatee Avenue West); Deborah Thrasher (Anna Maria Island); Jack Whittington (First Street in Sarasota); Cyndi Myers and Diane Lee (Lakewood Ranch) and David Fletcher (commercial division).

Please send all Names and Faces announcements to Mike Garbett at Photos accepted in jpeg format only.

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With fewer people fishing, reduction to hatcheries, stockings seems likely – Tribune

Updated 9 hours ago

Maybe the issue isn’t the issue.

Last month, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commissioners gave their executive director, John Arway, the authority to trim up to $2 million from the agency budget. He has to make the cuts if state lawmakers don’t raise the cost of fishing licenses or otherwise provide the agency additional revenue by July 1.

Just what might fall to the axe isn’t set in stone.

But the plan floated so far includes shutting down the Oswayo trout hatchery — eliminating 240,000 adult trout — and scaling back production of several warmwater species, among other things.

That possibility has generated a lot of talk.

Perhaps it misses the bigger point, though.

Commissioner Eric Hussar of Union County said the real issue isn’t the fate of one hatchery. It’s what to do with 13.

That’s how many the commission has. Whether it needs them all to satisfy fewer fishermen who get on the water less often is the question, Hussar said.

“Our anglers are changing. Participation in fishing is changing,” Hussar said. “The trends, if they continue five, 10, 20 years, paint a different future in terms of supply and demand and costs and benefits than what we’ve seen in the past.”

For decades, Arway said, the commission’s trout hatcheries have operated with one goal: to produce the maximum amount of fish possible. That’s remained the case even as interest in fishing has declined.

Each year from 1977 through 1995, the commission sold more than one million licenses. Sales peaked in 1990 at just less than 1.2 million.

By comparison, sales averaged about 847,000 a year over the five years prior to this one.

Yet the commission hasn’t adjusted, Arway said.

“You continue to produce more product for fewer people. It doesn’t make much sense,” he added.

An independent look at the commission agrees.

Master’s degree candidates in Penn State’s college of agricultural sciences did a business analysis of the commission.

It found the agency does things backwards.

In manufacturing, the report said, businesses determine demand for a product, then build to meet it. That production varies over time as the market dictates.

“Typically, marketing and sales professionals discuss goals before production is scheduled, then manufacturing determines production amounts and executes the plans,” it reads.

The commission, by comparison, produces fish, decides where to put them, and only then, “on the back end,” tries to generate demand.

That should change, the report said. With revenues flattening and expenses rising, “lowering fish production appears to be a necessary step” to balance budgets, it reads.

“You have to ask, how many fish do you really need and how many can you afford?” added Judd Michael, a professor of ecosystem science and management who oversaw development of the analysis.

If production is cut, the business plan makes two recommendations.

The first is to concentrate stockings and then market those hot spots to “generate demand at select locations prior to stocking,” it reads.

The second is to consider how fish are used these days.

Angler behavior has changed, the report notes. More and more fishermen practice catch and release.

“It may be the case that the catch- and-release rates have increased sufficiently that the agency does not have to stock as many fish since anglers are effectively ‘stocking’ the streams with fish released after a catch. If this is true, then any agency reductions in trout stocking levels would be offset by anglers who are releasing fish for others to catch,” the report reads.

The analysis producing such ideas has value, Arway said.

“This shouldn’t fall on deaf ears,” he said.

Expense is the reason why.

Operating hatcheries costs the agency about $13 million a year, he said. That’s about one-quarter of the agency’s total budget.

Most of that money — upwards of $10 million — is gobbled up by trout production.

Still, no changes to hatcheries or stocking are imminent, Arway said.

“We’re not going to do too many new things until we get our financial situation stabilized,” he said.

But changes may not be all that far off either.

Steve Kralik, director of outreach, education and marketing for the commission, said the agency has reached out to Southwick Associates. It’s a research firm specializing in the outdoor industry.

At some point, Kralik said, the commission may ask that firm to help it determine — based on public input — how many fish its customers expect or demand.

It’s been a “long, long time” since the commission did any such analysis of its hatchery program, Arway said. So such research could be beneficial, he added.

Hussar, a business owner himself, agreed.

The commission has had hatcheries for most of its 151 years. He hopes it will for the next 151, he said.

But, he added, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look at operations.

“You’re certainly not going to make stuff if it’s not going to sell,” Hussar said. “So this is an analysis that should be done.”

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-216-0193 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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