“Leadership is not a rank. It is a responsibility. Leadership is not about being in charge, it is about taking care of those in your charge. When we take care of our people, our people will take care of us.” – Simon Sinek. This quote stuck out to me when I was sitting in Mr. Payne’s Leadership class back as a sophomore at CCHS. Having just started a “side hustle” lawn mowing and painting company that same year, I vowed to incorporate this view of leadership into my newly founded business life and my personal life.
Some great memories of mine while at CCHS are the experiences of acting out many classical literary pieces in Mrs. Lavery’s class, creating a business plan for a green energy company with the legendary Dr. Kuipers to submit for a state-wide DECA competition, serving the school through my internship as a maintenance assistant under the former facilities manager Rick Stanson my senior year, and, of course, being in my element attending and participating in all but one of the business classes taught by “the coach,” Mr. Kreykes. A yearly highlight has to be Spirit Week. The class of 2014 always knew how to win the hallway decorating component of the week with our out-of-the-box thinking – having incorporated a Port-A-John, classic car, and even a huge antique tractor into our displays throughout the years.
When my time at CCHS came to a close, I didn’t go far. In 2018, I graduated with a BS in Business from Trinity Christian College, having double majored in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing. While at Trinity, fellow students and I envisioned an “Entrepreneurial & Innovation Hub” on campus where students and the community could connect, collaborate, and create projects, businesses, and ideas together. After four years of trying to pursue this endeavor, in 2018 upon my graduation, Fusion59 Campus Innovation Center was formed, and for the next two years after graduation, I was the center’s Co-Director.
I attended my later years at CCHS and all my years at Trinity as a business owner. Now, almost 10 years later, my company, IKG Property Maintenance, Incorporated, continues to grow and provide painting and certified environmental remediation services to Chicagoland. We have served many unique and interesting notable clients including The Brookfield Zoo, Ravisloe Country Club, Hilton Hotels, iFly Indoor Skydiving Centers, and countless local ice cream shops, restaurants, bowling alleys, and private schools. Most recently we completed work at the old Illiana Christian Campus for the church that now owns the property.
Reflecting on my times at CCHS, the community, courses, and teachers helped shape who I have become. I was given many chances on campus to forge my leadership skills through leading countless clubs and activities. In the early days of my company, I continuously implemented business tactics, strategies, and skills I was learning in classes. My "success,” as some would call it, is truly not my doing. Yes, I put in the long hours it takes to run an organization; however, at the end of the day, it’s God’s doing. CCHS is great at instilling the notion that no matter what, God has a plan for all of us. I remember there being chapels about this when I was a student and I sure hope there are still chapel services delivering this message today. As I grow, I hope to continue to live out that Simon Sinek quote I mentioned earlier. I seek to take care of those that God has put under my charge as a leader – a leader that CCHS has helped develop.
You can find Tom's business listed in our Knight Business Directory here