ST. MARYS — Though St. Marys residents may know Garet Fledderjohann for his skills on the Roughrider basketball court, the 18-year-old has drive and passion for more than sports.
Fledderjohann is active in the Memorial High School chapter of DECA. The program has given him invaluable experience in an area he hopes to pursue as a career. The past two years he has competed in the DECA state competitions, where he has done well.
One year, he presented a case study to judges as part of a team, but he found that he works better by himself.
“I can pretty much talk myself through anything, so that helps a lot,” he said.
Fledderjohann is good at thinking fast under pressure, which is what students are often required to do during the state competitions. They are given case studies the day of the competition, which they have limited time to analyze and have to come up with a business plan or solution that they then present to judges.
“The competitions were really fun,” he said. “And you meet so many people, business people included. All the judges are business owners, or affiliated with business in some way. Just DECA in general, you learn so much about all that stuff ... I want to own my own business. So I kind of relate it to what that would be like. And with my work experience and stuff, it kind of goes hand in hand.”
For the past year, he has been a valuable employee at Guarnieri’s Pizza in St. Marys. His bosses, he said, have recognized the fact that he is interested in business and have given him more responsibility and business knowledge because of it. He makes the food and delivers it, and has gotten experience dealing with customers in various situations.
This aspect of business does not phase Fledderjohann. Even the confrontational situations when customers are unhappy for some reason or another, do not stress him out.
“There’s always something you can do,” he said. “Whether it’s giving them a discount — it’s pretty much customer satisfaction always first. And that’s another thing I’ve been able to be good at, just to think of something that quick. I don’t really have that many problems with customers in that sense.”
He also plays a big part in handling inventory - unloading it when it comes in and reordering when necessary.
“(I) realize how to manage stuff and I think that’s helped out a lot,” Fledderjohann said.
“Just understanding the business aspect of it all. A lot of nights when (the owners) aren’t around, I’m in charge of the drawer. You see what’s coming in a normal Monday makes so much money, and then on a weekend, it’s obviously more.”
This summer, Fledderjohann will be taking charge of getting all inventory himself, and last year when the owners opened a new store in Covington, he was a big part of that process.
Whether it was pricing new equipment or helping with renovations on the building, Fledderjohann was able to witness exactly what it takes to open a new business.
“I think it will just help out, when I want to open my business, so I can get more experience and learn more,” he said.
“I (saw) a lot of the money that you put into it, which is a lot. They have to pay rent every month, utilities, all that stuff.”
After graduation, Fledderjohann plans to major in business administration and entrepreneurship at either Rhodes State College in Lima or Ohio Northern University in Ada.
“If I go to Rhodes, then I’m going to stay around here but if I go to Ohio Northern, I’ll go to play basketball,” he said. “That’s what the big decision comes down to — whether I want to keep playing or not.”
His future business, he said, will most likely be a restaurant, or something in the food industry, as that is where his experience has been.
“I know so much already that it would just be easier,” Fledderjohann said. “And you deal with a lot more people, individually ... And it’s just a good feeling when people enjoy your food. Because then you know they’re going to keep coming back.”
Social interaction is one of his biggest strengths, he said.
“I’m not afraid to talk to anybody. And that’s a huge part of business, too,” Fledderjohann said.