The promise of tomorrow is bottled up and pounding through the veins of a diverse and creative group of young men and women participating in Brentwood’s Youth Leadership program. All that energy and creative power is hard to contain, and it was exciting to have the entire group tour our warehouse and distribution center yesterday morning.
The highlighted theme for the day is “Non-Traditional Businesses” and the educational focus was on entrepreneurship. Nashville’s 2014 NEXT Award Winner as the Entrepreneur of the Year and our CEO at Hobby Express, Mark A Cleveland was the morning’s host. Topics ranged from challenges in global supply chain management and opportunities related to drones and emerging technologies, to brand management. “Both my daughters graduated from Youth Leadership Brentwood,“ Cleveland said as he introduced the day’s speakers and demonstration plan. He fielded questions about the giant Twelve Foot Telemaster, a radio controlled airplane hanging from the ceiling that is manufactured by Hobby Express in Tennessee. The drone demonstration went perfectly! We pulled out a Zugo™ 2MP HD Camera Drone RTF straight out of the box and started flying the $79 multi rotor with integrated camera capturing video of the warehouse tour. “That’s the most popular christmas gift we’ve ever seen in fifty years,” Cleveland said.
The next featured business was Batch Nashville, where CEO Sam Davidson talked about their vision to be the worlds largest source for premium gifts and creative corporate gifting. “Statistics show that as many as half of you will start your own business,” he said as he encouraged them to imagine the flexibility of entrepreneurship and the opportunities to do something you enjoy. “Anyone can have a job, but being in business is fun because it is always challenging you.” Batch started in Nashville and provides local cottage brands creating specialty products manufactured in Tennessee with an opportunity to be included in gift packages and made available on the BatchUSA.com. Mark and Sam were both be honored last night at the Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO Awards held at the Omni Hotel downtown where Ron Samuels, CEO of Avenue Bank was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The group left to visit the Nashville Entrepreneur Center in downtown Nashville. The EC is an amazing resource for supporting and generating new companies and helping entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. “It was awesome,” said Rob Bellenfant, CEO of Technology Advice who, as a graduate of Youth Leadership Brentwood, is one of the organizers of the program. “The kids were impressed with both Hobby Express and Batch!”
Cleveland is a board member of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Williamson, Inc.. the organizer and sponsor of Leadership Brentwood and the Youth Leadership Brentwood programs. Each year, accomplished students from all Williamson County High Schools submit applications to become part of the next class. “It’s a competitive process,” said Lynn Tucker, the Director of the Williamson County Chamber Foundation, “the best of the best are part of our Youth Leadership program. The only complaint is that they really wanted to interact more with the drones!”