Businessman’s legacy to help local startup grow
June 17, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( www.lasierra.edu )Jared Herling, a senior finance major at La Sierra University, received happy news the first week of June from the university’s School of Business. He was designated the winner of the first Joe Patton Business Award, a $5,000 prize that will help the 23-year-old chief marketing officer of startup company iHaveThatBook.com redesign the venture’s Web site and offset costs for flyers and other marketing materials.
“We were pretty ecstatic,” Herling said. “Five thousand dollars to us is really significant. It will allow us to do a lot of things this summer.” The online startup functions as an exchange service through which students buy and sell textbooks and notes. The site also serves as a network between college students, faculty and alumni and allows students to compare textbook prices from Amazon and other companies.
The business award is named for national award-winning aerospace entrepreneur and humantarian Joe Patton, co-founder of Gardena-based Aero Chip Inc. The company is a top minority supplier of precision machined parts for aerospace, U.S. military and private enterprise.
Patton passed away in 2006 following a 52-year career as a machinist, engineer, business owner and communit service leader. Although challenged by dyslexia and a third-grade level reading and writing ability, Patton rose to prominent heights in his industry. His numerous awards include those from aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp., the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Dep. of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Black Businessmen’s Association.
For years he worked to better his community and society through food programs and support of the American Cancer Society.
To honor and continue Patton’s legacy, Patton’s sister, Palm Springs resident Jan White, established the award program at La Sierra this year with an initial gift of $50,000 from the Joe Patton Trust. From that amount, the university will award $5,000 annually to an entrepreneurial La Sierra student who is involved in community service or is a member of the school’s Students In Free Enterprise team, and who has maintained a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. The funds are intended to serve as seed money for students’ startup ventures.
White presented the first Joe Patton Business Award during La Sierra’s School of Business annual awards ceremony, Wed., June 10 in the university’s Hole Memorial Auditorium.
The program included a multi-media presentation by La Sierra’s Students In Free Enterprise, or SIFE team. SIFE is an international nonprofit education outreach organization in Springfield, Mo. that strives to teach, through student teams around the world, market economics, business ethics and economic independence.
The LSU team presented their program during SIFE national competitions in Philadelphia last month, placing third out of 136 teams from schools around the United States. The presentation team highlighted LSU SIFE’s 13 economic empowerment projects engaged in during this academic year. The projects range from personal financial management and welfare-to-work programs in Riverside County to business ownership courses in Thailand and a multicultural business ethics program.
Herling and business partners Adam Phillips and Warrant Sturt are also former members of the La Sierra SIFE team. The team has won an unprecedented six national titles and two world cups. Phillips and Sturt, La Sierra alums, serve respectively as chief executive officer and chief operating officer for iHaveThatBook.com.
White learned of La Sierra University through alumnus Rocky Twyman, a 1971 music graduate and a finalist for a 2008 civilian Congressional Medal of Honor through NBC’s “Above and Beyond” program. Twyman is a public relations consultant through his firm, Rocky’s PR Miracles in Maryland. He represents primarily churches and nonprofit organizations. Twyman has organized numerous fund raising and awareness events over the years, including the “Oprah for Nobel Peace Prize” movement, an initiative he spearheaded in 2006. White was active in that campaign.
Following her brother’s death, White contacted Twyman for his assistance in finding a place to donate money in Patton’s honor. “Since she was from California, I immediately thought about my alma mater, La Sierra,” Twyman said. “I truly believe that this was a divinely appointed meeting.”
In April 2008, Twyman organized a “Pray at the Pump” campaign that garnered international media coverage. Through that movement, Twyman held prayer vigils at gas stations around the country asking God to lower the nation’s skyrocketing gas prices.
At La Sierra he organized the Glorious Revolution, an evangelistic community and social outreach program. Since 1992 he has led bone marrow donor campaigns, recruiting nearly 14,000 minority donors for the national bone marrow registry. Compatible bone marrow can save the lives of those stricken with leukemia, sickle cell anemia and lupus. Twyman’s numerous awards include the “Who Cares” and “Everyday Hero” awards respectively from CBS and ABC stations in his area and the United Negro College Fund’s “Measure of a Person” award. The latter honor recognized an individual in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area who best emulates the qualities of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“My brother was the first millionaire that I know of in my family,” White said. “He was of the philosophy that one could never make substantial money from working for someone else, and he valued the clout that money can often afford individuals. He earned his millions through determination, hard work and sage business acumen. …When things went badly he’d pick himself up and go to work with even more vigor,” White said.
Despite his educational and learning difficulties, Patton started off his career at age 18 as a machinist for a research and development firm in Santa Monica. Over the course of nearly 10 years, he rose to the position of lead-man. He quit when a supervisor informed Patton he had gone as far has he could go in the company, according to a biographical account. With borrowed funds, Patton started his own precision machining business in Santa Monica in 1966. Through Affirmative Action, Patton acquired government subcontract work and the business grew to provide services for the government, aerospace and commercial companies.
Over the years, the company expanded and moved twice to accommodate growth. However in 1982, an aerospace industry slump resulted in the company’s closure. Undaunted, Patton, together with a partner, founded Aero Chip in 1986.
During the 1990s, Patton struggled with various health ailments including cancer and quadruple bypass surgery. Despite such challenges, Patton pressed ahead with his business and community service. He served and supported the American Cancer Society and through Aero Chip, sponsored a holiday food, games and toys giveaway for 10 consecutive years for approximately 400 people in the Watts-Willowbrook community.
“As a small businessman, Joe was forever giving sage advice, encouraging friends and young people, and investing financially in entrepreneurial ventures while also giving back to his community,” White said.
“I hope that my brother’s example encourages others to pour their very best into what they believe in - for their well being as well as for the good of others,” White continued. “I am certain that he would be pleased he has this opportunity to be the catalyst in helping launch the entrepreneurial ventures of bright, creative, energetic, and hard-working hopefuls such as Jared Herling. This first annual award is both heartwarming and exciting, especially since it is the first of many wonderful events to come!”
Herling, Phillips and Sturt launched iHaveThatBook.com’s Web site last September following beta tests. Since the kick-off, the Web site’s user base has grown from 1,500 to 9,000 users, Herling said. The company makes money through banner ad sales and commissions on click-through links to other sites such as Amazon. They currently market the startup through flyers, talks to students and social sites including Digg and YouTube.
Phillips is studying law at Malibu-based Pepperdine University. Herling received an acceptance letter last week to the to the California Western School of Law in San Diego. Meanwhile, the trio wants to take their startup venture further. “Ideally we would like to see this build out to the point where we have the opportunity to run it full time,” Herling said.
The Joe Patton Business Award is the company’s first such prize. The startup’s leaders have thus far used their own money to fuel the firm’s growth. Herling sold his BMW to come up with capital for the company, and now drives a 1989 Jeep, he said. “All of us have been working and paying for it out of our own pockets.” The young business owners expect to make a first pitch to angel investors in a couple of weeks. The sacrifice and effort makes the Patton award all the more meaningful. “It’s a huge deal to us,” Herling said.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University