Young Entrepreneur Spotlight: Drew Groezinger

Date: August 02, 2016 Last Edit: August 03, 2016

Passion has been the key to success for Groezinger’s two businesses.

Young Entrepreneur Spotlight: Drew Groezinger

Drew Groezinger’s great-grandmother taught him that ‘planting a seed is showing you believe in tomorrow,’ and he took the lesson to heart.

Groezinger, of Stockton, Illinois, and the 2016 winner of the NFIB/Kathy and Richard Duffy Young Entrepreneur Award, took two interests—bead making and produce gardening—and turned them into successful businesses, planting seeds for his future.

He was 5 years old when he took his first glass bead making class, which took some convincing, as the instructor believed he was too young. Then he saved up his birthday money to eventually purchase a lampwork torch and start designing his own glass beads. At a local 4-H meeting, he gave a talk and demonstration on bead designs, and then sold his first beads. From there, success began to snowball, leading to the creation of NW Designs Glass Studio. He started selling beads at local craft shows, then two local art galleries (Hello Galena and Freeport Art Museum), and now he designs and sells glass works of art at more than 15 art shows throughout Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. He also enlisted the help of his parents, who he taught to design glass beads, and opens his studio to the public on Saturdays.

Meanwhile, he didn’t stop there, but also started a produce farm and community-supported agriculture (CSA) program: Groezinger Produce Farm.

“For as long as I can remember, I have been working in the garden with my great-grandmother and my grandpa and grandma,” he said. “I learned so much from them about seed genetics, hard work, and harvesting produce.”

He began selling his produce at farmers markets when he was 12 and started the CSA in 2013, through which he delivers a garden basket of produce to his customers every week. The CSA started with two customers and now has more than 24.

“If you have passion about what you are doing, people know and can sense that and they want to be a part of it,” Groezinger said. “You always have to believe in what you are doing today and believe in what tomorrow holds for you.”

He added that every junction of growth for both businesses has taught him something, such as how to design a logo, marketing, social media, inventory management, scheduling, and sales. His challenges have also provided opportunities for learning, he said. For example: time management. In addition to running two businesses, Groezinger has also been heavily involved in school and extracurricular activities: team captain for speech team, National Honor Society president, class officer, Student Council treasurer, 4-H, and Eagle Scouts, to name a few. And when he heads to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to earn his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business and Management, he plans to continue growing both businesses.

Groezinger credits passion, the team of teachers and mentors around him, and networking as the keys to his success, and he also said that his customers’ satisfaction is the most rewarding part of running his businesses.

“It is never about me, and that is important,” he said. “Whether I am designing an art piece or planting a new variety and harvesting the produce, I know what matters is the customer who buys it and how it will make their life better.”

Furthermore, he said, as a small business owner, no one is setting limits for him.

“I don’t have a job description that I have to live within. I can do, or at least try to accomplish, every one of my ideas and dreams.”

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