The IBJ Podcast
The IBJ Podcast
Indianapolis Business Journal
A weekly take on business news in central Indiana. The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Pete the Planner on understanding your (and your partner’s) relationship with money
IBJ columnist Peter Dunn—aka Pete the Planner—joins the podcast this week to talk about the ways in which people relate to money. He describes four money personalities—or "scripts," as they are called by Brad Klontz, a Boulder, Colorado-based psychologist and certified financial planner who first wrote about them. They scripts are money vigilance, money worship, money status and money avoidance. Pete uses a series of questions to help listeners identify the script that best matches their relationship with money and then explains the pros and cons of each. Plus, he talks about the importance of understanding not just your own relationship to money but that of your partner's as well.
Oct 15, 2023
30 min
Shawn Fain, UAW’s firebrand prez, was forged in Kokomo’s union hotbed
Shawn Fain seemingly came from nowhere to win the United Auto Workers presidential election in March by a razor-thin margin. He ran on a reform platform promising to toss out the status quo and stand up to the Big Three automakers: GM, Ford, and Stellantis. He took a hard line in contract negotiations, and when the automakers didn’t meet the union’s aggressive demands by the Sept. 15 deadline, the UAW took the unusual tack of striking against all three companies at the same time. It’s still in the midst of what’s called a standup strike, meaning that it adds more and more of its 145,000 members to picket lines as negotiations continue. The UAW has 13,000 members in Indiana, but no workers in those Indiana plants had been asked to strike as of Oct. 6. But Fain knows all about the auto industry’s history in Indiana. He grew up in Kokomo, the grandson of two UAW members at General Motors. Another grandparent started at Chrysler in 1937, the year the workers joined the union after a sit-down strike. Fain himself worked as an electrician in a Chrysler foundry in Kokomo and was active in the union for decades. Of course, Chrysler now goes by the name Stellantis, its new parent company, and it employs about 7,000 people in Kokomo and nearby Tipton. Now 54, Fain is leading a high-stakes battle against the U.S. auto industry, which is remarkable given that he has been such a relatively low-profile player in the union until recently. IBJ reporter John Russell went back to Fain’s old stomping grounds and tried to get a sense of how he was shaped by his decades in Kokomo. It’s worth noting that Fain still carries in his pocket one of his grandfather’s Chrysler pay stubs from 1940. In this week’s episode of the IBJ Podcast, John tells us what he’s learned. The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Oct 8, 2023
32 min
Phish fan, philanthropist builds huge wireless retail business, branches into cannabis
You could say Scott Moorehead, the 45-year-old owner and CEO of Fishers-based Round Room, is in the connections business. Round Room is the holding company for TCC, which is one of the largest Verizon retailers in the United States, and Wireless Zone, one of the nation’s largest wireless retail franchise systems in the U.S and also a Verizon authorized dealer. Together they count about 1,260 stores in 43 states. Another one of Moorehead’s main preoccupations is finding ways for workers to feel connected to their employers, beyond the need for a paycheck. To that end, Round Room has given its employees the ability to grant millions of dollars per year to not-for-profit groups of their choice. And another firm under the Round Room umbrella provides consulting services for employers who want to strengthen their company cultures by finding the “soul” of their enterprises. Here's another move out of left field that makes a certain sense to Moorehead via his expertise in the retail industry. He and his wife, Julie, sniffed out cannabis as a simpatico business opportunity and dove in after Michigan legalized it for adult recreational use. Founded in 2020, Stash Ventures is a vertically integrated provider with indoor growing operations, a processing facility and several retail dispensaries. Moorehead also has been lobbying Indiana legislators to take the leap and legalize marijuana use, seeing big growth opportunities in the sector. In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, Moorehead lays out his journey as an entrepreneur, first buying out his parents in their family-owned company and guiding it through a decade of staggering growth in the wireless industry. He also details how he uses philanthropy to help define Round Room, as well as his hopes for expanding Stash Ventures.
Oct 1, 2023
56 min
On the frontlines of adopting revolutionary AI as firms ask, “What’s in it for me?”
A sudden leap forward in the evolution of artificial intelligence has brought the technology’s benefits and risks into much sharper relief and into everyday conversations. Businesses hear warnings that they need to take advantage of AI or else drift into irrelevancy. But when cheerleaders say AI can make businesses more productive, what does that look like exactly? As with the advent of any major technological evolution, will workers lose their jobs? You’ve probably already heard about professions that are vulnerable, such as tax preparers, law clerks, industrial designers, computer programmers, content creators, market research analysts, financial analysts, graphic designers, and customer service agents. Another question: Since data is the fuel of the AI revolution, how can companies keep theirs safe? How can companies avoid unintentionally stealing existing content fed into AI engines? And how can AI avoid adopting the biases lodged in previous data? In the latest edition of the IBJ Podcast, host Mason King poses all of these questions to the founders of an Indianapolis-based startup dedicated to helping business clients integrate AI into their operations. Named Stellar, the firm has been up and running for less than a year, but its executives have decades of experience working with AI applications and developing AI products. Brett Flinchum, Stellar’s CEO, and Zach Linder, the chief operating officer, share their account from the frontlines of a revolution as they try to help companies take advantage of the benefits while avoiding the pitfalls.The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Sep 24, 2023
57 min
Restaurateur Mike Cunningham on Pacers’ Commission Row and more new concepts opening soon in Indy
Founded in 1997, Indianapolis-based Cunningham Restaurant Group now counts 17 distinctive dining concepts spread over a total of about 40 establishments in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. A sampling: Mesh, Rize, Provision, Bru Burger Bar, Modita, Union 50, Nesso, Stonecreek Dining Company and the nationally rated Vida and Livery. And the stovetop at CRG’s development kitchen in downtown Indianapolis is full: The company is opening several new concepts in the next year, and founder and CEO Mike Cunningham estimates that the group could have as many as 60 locations within three years.The highest-profile additions to the CRG roster will be located on Bicentennial Unity Plaza next to Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon is building a 30,000-square-foot dining and entertainment complex called Commission Row, and CRG has been hired to develop and manage its three main components: a 220-seat upscale restaurant called Commission Row, a 110-seat speakeasy-style watering hole called Mel’s at Commission Row, and a 260-seat event space called Above at Commission Row. CRG also is working on an indoor/outdoor casual dining spot called Shindig in the North Mass corridor and a family-friendly joint in Plainfield called Theo’s Italian. In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, Mike Cunningham discusses in detail his plans for the new eateries, as well as adjustments he’s making to existing properties in central Indiana. He also dives deep into his philosophy for growing the restaurant group and why such a significant chunk of it has taken shape in downtown Indianapolis. The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Sep 17, 2023
54 min
The story behind Peterman’s wild growth across Indiana since brothers took over
Chad Peterman and his younger brother Tyler grew up with their dad’s business, Peterman Heating Cooling & Plumbing. Pete Peterman received at least one offer for the Greenwood-based business, but he kept it in the family and handed over day-to-day operations to his boys in 2015. He couldn’t have imagined how much and how fast the company would grow under the new generation, which had a strategy that required a fundamental change in the business. From 2016 to 2018, Peterman’s annual revenue grew 101% to $15.7 million. From 2018 to 2022, its revenue grew 560% to $88.2 million. Since 2018, its employee base has grown at roughly the same clip, from a little over 100 people to nearly 700. That’s pretty good for a company in an established industry that has been a staple of American life for at least a century. Chad Peterman didn’t initially think he’d go into the home-services industry, but he since has become CEO and co-owner. In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, he explains the strategy shift that led to more lucrative work and an expansion from central Indiana to most of the state. And one of the key factors in the firm’s continued growth has been its out-the-box solution—or you could call it and in-house solution—to training and retaining employees. Peterman essentially can supply itself with as many rookie technicians as it needs as it expands beyond Indiana’s borders and expects to break the eight-digit barrier for revenue. The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Sep 10, 2023
39 min
Brothers behind tech firm Qualifi on being Black founders, raising capital, ‘unwillingness to die’
Darrian and Devyn Mikell grew up in central Indiana, played sports, went to college, tried a few things to get their careers started and ultimately launched a tech firm together. They have some juicy stories from their early days of griding that would resonate with other tech founders: starting with the wrong sales strategy, struggling for months without revenue and slowly building a base of investors. There are a few things that are relatively unique: First, they’re brothers, and we all know that it’s often not easy for family members to work together. Second, they recently reached an important milestone with a $4.5 million fundraising round. Third, they are among the few company founders in any industry sector who are Black. Businesses majority-owned by Black or African American people accounted for only 3% of all U.S. firms that were classifiable by the race and ethnicity of their owners in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. And the Mikells have made hiring people from underrepresented populations a priority at their company, called Qualifi. The issues of diversity and inclusion dovetail into the mission of Qualifi, which sells software that helps employers automate the hiring process and avoid biases that could slip into the interview process. In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, the Mikells join host Mason King for an in-depth interview about how they work together as brothers; the inspiration they’ve received from their family (including an older brother with a Pro Bowl career in the NFL); how they handle the rollercoaster of startup life; obstacles that Black entrepreneurs face; and the importance to them of diversity as they grow the company. The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Sep 4, 2023
56 min
State flipping public-input process for upgrading I-65, I-70 through Indianapolis
The process for designing and upgrading interstates in Indiana hasn’t exactly been a two-way street. Typically, the Indiana Department of Transportation draws up plans for its projects and then the public has an opportunity to provide feedback. You’ll recall the uproar in 2017 when INDOT presented its plans for reconstructing the North Split, where I-70 and I-65 meet in the northeast corner of downtown. Nearby residents were vehemently against some elements of the project and proposed a fundamentally different alternative. INDOT was able to accommodate the Rethink 65/70 Coalition’s concerns on some aspects of the project, but it proceeded largely as originally proposed. As the state now begins to plan for future upgrades to other portions of I-65 and I-70 that run through Indianapolis, it’s conducting a long-term study to get public input on the front end of the process. Piloted in part with the infrastructure firm HNTB, the ProPEL Indy study is collecting public input in a wide variety of venues to identify ideas for improvements that would impact quality of life, economic growth, mobility, and safety. In this week’s episode of the IBJ Podcast, we’re joined by Tim Miller, senior project manager for HNTB and the project manager for the ProPEL Indy study, as well as Natalie Garrett, communications director for INDOT. In addition to discussing the process so far, they share some of the ideas they’ve already received, related to signage, the location of interchanges, pedestrian right of way and the way these corridors represent—or fail to represent—the city as a whole. The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Aug 27, 2023
37 min
Sam Schmidt on his paralysis journey, basing national clinic expansion in Indy
For 25 years, Sam Schmidt has been a beloved figure in the IndyCar Series, first as a driver, then as a team owner and a champion of innovation, persistence and the human spirit. During a practice session in Florida in 2000, he lost control of his car and smashed into a concrete barrier at around 180 miles per hour. Doctors saved his life, but he has been paralyzed from the shoulders down ever since. Within about a year, he had started a racing team, as well as a not-for-profit group dedicated to raising funds for medical research, developing innovative equipment for rehabilitation and helping people with severe mobility issues navigate their lives again. Schmidt announced this month that the group, now called Conquer Paralysis Now, would be moving its headquarters from Las Vegas to the former home of Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 96th Street, right on the border between Indianapolis and Carmel. The facility also will house CPN’s second Driven NeuroRecovery Center, offering fitness programs, adaptive sports, aquatics, physical and occupational therapy and mental health services. CPN expects to invest $22 million in the whole project, including the nearly $8 million that it already has paid to purchase the property. In this week’s edition of the podcast, Schmidt shares his story of recovery from a near fatal injury and how he uses it to help inspire others with mobility issues. He explains why he wanted to move his not-for-profit to the Indy area, as well as his vision for how the Driven Center will work with many of the big players in central Indiana’s medical community. And he discusses his plans to create Driven Centers across the country—as many as 25 within five years. The IBJ Podcast is brought to you by Taft.
Aug 20, 2023
38 min
The story behind booking Taylor Swift’s tour in Indy as stadium prepares for ’generational phenomenon’
When people say Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour could have a seismic impact on Indianapolis during its three-show gig next year, that’s not just a figure of speech. When Swift performed in July at Seattle’s Lumen Field, the show generated seismic activity similar to that of a magnitude 2.3 earthquake, thanks to a combination of the sound system and the dancing and cheering of fans. When the Indy shows take place in November 2024, Swift’s local fan base will have waited more than a year and a half to see the music event of the decade, since Indianapolis wasn’t on the list of cities for the tour’s first pass through America. There’s no question whether the three shows will break the attendance record for concerts at Lucas Oil Stadium, which Swift herself set during her previous tour. Everything about this show is huge, starting with the complex stage and set pieces that require 90 semis to transport. In this week’s edition of the podcast, Eric Neuburger, the director of Lucas Oil Stadium, fills us in on the negotiations that led to landing the tour in Indianapolis. To fully appreciate the relationship that brought Taylor to town, you’d have to go all the way back to 2008 and the first concert ever staged in the stadium. Looking ahead, Neuburger discusses the advance work required to prepare for the shows, the questions that still need answers and the staff of more than 2,000 people that will be required to stage and host each concert.
Aug 13, 2023
32 min
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