VALPARAISO | Vince Neal found himself in charge of his family’s former business, Neal Company, suddenly when he was in his 20s.
“My dad died in 1982 and I was in charge the next day,” Neal said. “I had just worked and then it was my turn. I had my mother and I wouldn’t have made it without her.”
Neal believes his expertise and years of experience can benefit a new generation of entrepreneurs.
He recently launched a networking group, Business Associates Workshop, that is rooted in creating connections between mentors and mentees as well as providing essential lessons to business owners.
“I had joined a couple networks that didn’t fit me as they were there to get referrals. It’s the same thing as give them a fish they live for a day … give them a lead they live for a day. You got to teach them how to get leads,” Neal said.
The group meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Valparaiso.
It is open to new and current business owners as well as those interested in launching a business. Annual dues are $45 and those interested in joining should contact Neal at (219) 405-5807.
Neal looks to hit various topics at each gathering including: how to fire a customer, creating and improving your image, setting yearly goals, elevator pitches, dressing for success, free estimates aren’t free and how to ask for your money without asking.
As the group grows, Neal plans on having meetings at various locations, including the showroom of his new venture and business, Stone Poured Factory.
“When an associate went out of business, he gave me the equipment and taught me as I have always had an interest in it,” he said.
Stone Poured Factory offers custom home products including tabletops, sinks, countertops and pet memorials. The hand-poured items can include memorabilia, collectibles and family treasures as well as “moon rock” that features a luminous aggregate that glows.
With 50 years in the business world, Neal looks forward to helping younger entrepreneurs in the group learn from his mistakes while also picking up some lessons of his own.
“I want individuals from our group to pick apart my showroom and tell me what am I doing wrong? Educate me,” he said.
“I didn’t have anyone to ask: ‘What do I do?’ In business, you often don’t have enough time to learn something as you are always working.”