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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mentor company's good work rolls into a sixth year of big rewards

It was easy to excuse Tim Eippert.

The president of MC Sign in Mentor had stood before the group assembled in his company’s cafeteria, speaking about what MC Sign does, where its work takes place and about an initiative that’s very special to members of his staff.

Then, he started handing out scholarships.

Suddenly, just after reading the third name, Eippert stopped.

He looked out at the group and laughed.

“I just forgot one of the most important things,” he said. “Does everyone know you won $2,500 tonight?”

“No!” came from one of the moms sitting in the audience just as everyone assembled broke into the loudest cheer of the night.

Eippert makes no secret of the fact that he has the best job of those involved in the company’s annual Drive for Knowledge golf tournament.

About two months after the tournament at StoneWater Golf Club in Highland Heights, he gets to stand up and hand out a lot of money to a lot of deserving high school students.

MC Sign’s been in business since 1994, moving to Mentor in 2002.

Eippert, an Ashtabula County native, said the company employs 160 people, and 125 work in Mentor. The rest work in a manufacturing facility in Bluefield, Va.

The company is international, and Eippert points out that only 3 percent of business is conducted within 100 miles of Mentor.

He said 40 percent of the business involves the call center for the company.

With their focus so far outside this area, it’s even more impressive that employees at MC Sign devote so much effort to helping local residents.

Eippert lists a lot of charitable work that regularly occurs at the office, including a weekly jeans day that requires a $2 fee for participation. The boss doesn’t seem like he’s much of a participant, though, as he pointed out Wednesday night that his outfit of dress slacks and a button-down shirt was as casual as he gets on the job.

But, that’s OK, because it’s clear his employees have it covered.

This year marks the sixth time MC Sign has awarded scholarships to graduated seniors from Mentor High School and Lake Catholic High School.

The funds come directly from that annual golf outing.

Eippert proudly lists the totals from the previous years’ outings as he explains the event that involves the company’s clients and vendors.

In 2008, $20,000 was raised. In 2009, it was $15,000. In 2010, they raised $25,000. In 2011, $27,000 was collected. Last year, it was $37,800.

This year was a showstopper.


And, because the committee that manages the scholarship program wants to keep growing, they decided on more scholarships, rather than bigger awards.

Thus, this year 17 graduates received funds for their educations. Last year, it was 14.

Eippert and committee members say every dime raised at the golf outing goes into the scholarship fund. Any overhead is handled by the company.

This year’s recipients were much like those from years past. Lots of technology careers, including a few types of engineering. Two young ladies are headed to speech pathology studies. There’s a guy who’s going into nursing, a young man who plans to study criminology, a woman who wants to study political science, and a few who plan to enter education. Physical therapy and exercise science also were represented. And I put my fist in the air to celebrate the journalism major.

The one who got the biggest set of ooohs and ahhhs was a Lake Catholic grad who will be attending Johnson and Wales University to study baking and pastry arts.

The biggest laugh of the event was reserved for the moment Eippert realized a young lady from Mentor was planning to attend his alma mater, Kent State.

Earlier, he’d joked that anyone going to his college would get double.

The pair shared a high-five and then Eippert, ever the company man, said, “just kidding.”

After the event concluded, as families talked and their children discussed their impending departures for school, I teased Eippert that I, too, had attended Kent State.

We shared a laugh, and discussed how impossible it would have been for us, at their age, to get up and introduce ourselves to a crowd.

Here’s hoping that confidence will just keep on growing as they move to this next phase of their lives.

The winners
The following students from Lake Catholic High School and Mentor High School received scholarships from MC Sign in Mentor: Rachel Baucco, Mentor High; Molly Brown; Mentor High; Frederick Buse, Mentor High; Andrew Denton, Mentor High; Caelyn Eppler, Mentor High; Albert Giebel, Mentor High; Leila Mansour, Mentor High; Maureen Mierke, Lake Catholic; Hanna Mikulandra, Lake Catholic; Sarah Noviski, Mentor High; Cullen O’Donnell, Mentor High; Allison Pfeifle, Mentor High; Matthew Schaefer, Mentor High; Ryan Smerke, Lake Catholic; Justin Smith, Mentor High; Ashlyn Woods, Mentor High; and Amanda Wynne, Lake Catholic.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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