Once a Steeler, always a Steeler.
But former linebacker Andy Russell, a member of two Super Bowl-winning teams in 1974 and ’75 and a seven-time Pro Bowl pick, also found success away from the football field.
Russell went on to become a skilled businessman and knows what it takes to be an accomplished entrepreneur. He was involved in investment banking and now is vice president of Liberty Waste Tire — the largest tire recycling company in the world with 1,700 employees — and vice chairman of EconomicsPennsylvania.
As introductory speaker at Youth Entrepreneurship Day Challenge at Shenango High School, Russell offered tips to learning about business at a younger age.
Normally, the gym is set up for basketball. This day, it was arranged so ninth- through 12th-grade students from Shenango, Neshannock, Mohawk, Ellwood City, New Castle, and Lawrence County Career and Technical Center could divide into teams and begin a contest in forming a company.
In all, about 100 students started developing business plans. By February, some of them could be declared winners at a state level.
One of the teams from the Career and Technical Center had visions for a nonprofit free clinic for women.
“It’s really needed in the area for women ages 13 and up,” said Dusty Adams, a junior in the health assistance program.
As president of the company, Adams said her team created a name — Open Heart Clinic For Women.
Neshannock High School has an entrepreneurship class overseen by Cynthia Welker, business teacher.
Following the viewing of a video about a 16-year-old entrepreneur, Welker remarked that, “Age 15 is not too young to learn about starting a business. I think this is a wonderful way to get them excited about business.”
Students in her class are responsible for running the school store.
“We design clothes called Lancer Wear for the store,” said Jessica Klingensmith. She was part of a team of seniors, which also included Erik Welker, the company’s president, and Constance Richards, Noura Amudi and Dave Hosaflook.
“We’re thinking about a business like Jillian’s or Dave & Buster’s to attract kids 21 and under,” said Welker, who is the school store’s CEO.
The event was sponsored by EconomicsPennsylvania and Russell’s Charitable Foundation.
Russell is the author of three books. His most recent, “Beyond the Goalpost” is a biography of sorts but also explores the transformation of the Steelers from consistent losers in the 1960s to a winning machine in the ’70s, a decade in which they won four Super Bowls.
In addressing the group, Russell said, “You need to do something in your life that you’re passionate about.”
Later, he noted, “I am trying to encourage and inspire young people to become entrepreneurs and start their own business.”
After coming up with a plan, students described the business idea, its name and uniqueness, the competition, target market, costs required to start the business and expenses such as advertising and marketing, labor and equipment.
On Jan. 19, the teachers will return to Shenango with each school’s top two teams to present their business plans before a panel of judges during the regional Lawrence County competition. The judges include Justin Bruce of Bruce and Merrilees; Sam Biasucci, a member of Shenango’s school board and retired businessman; Joe Saad of Pizza Joe’s in Lawrence Village Plaza; Frank Augustine of Augustine’s Pizza; and Guy Natale from Carbis Walker.
There will be five regional winners who receive awards, including a $500 savings bond for first place and a reward for teachers, said Cindy Morgan, field consultant for EconomicsPennsylvania. Those winners will be entered into the state competition.
Youth Entrepreneurship Day is a learning experience, Morgan said. This is the first time it was held in Lawrence County, and involves incentive and accountability, she pointed out.
“It doesn’t end today. This is only the beginning.”