4 local people to be inducted into Junior Achievement Hall of Fame

One local business and three members of the area’s business community will soon be honored with their induction into a regional hall of fame.

The Junior Achievement of Mad River Region (JA) will host its Business Hall of Fame on May 10.

This year’s inductees include Laureate winner Clayton Hays, founder of Hays Fabricating and lifelong farmer; Spotlight award winner Chad Wilson, executive producer at Seven Wing Creative; Entrepreneurial Business of the Year award winner Esterline & Sons Manufacturing; and Volunteer of the Year Patrick Closser, mayor of London and owner of Casey’s Carry-out.

“Hall of Fame laureates embody business excellence, courageous thinking and action, vision and innovation, inspirational leadership, and community support,” said President Crystal Steiner. “JA honors Hall of Fame Laureates and award winners for their contributions to our region’s economic development and their commitment to business excellence.”

Hays began his career as a farmer before going to college, where he worked part-time in a boiler shop. In 1977, he started Hays Fabricating, which now employs 30 people who manufacture boilers and pressure tanks, general iron working and machining.

He started and continues to operate a commercial real estate company, is the vice president of Tecumseh Council BSA and manages the endowment fund and the Camp Birch farmland, and has done many years of non-profit volunteer work.

Wilson graduated from Middle Tennessee State University’s Recording Industry Program, went on to work in a production department of a mega-church and helped on several other productions.

Three years ago, he left a 10-year tenure as worship and production pastor at Fellowship Christian Church in Springfield to become a small business owner. He owns and operates an audio production company in Springfield called Seven Wing Creative, and is working on refreshing a brand he’s helped build called Springfield USA, a Facebook and YouTube channel that will highlight stories, concerts and First Friday events.

Esterline & Sons Manufacturing, a precision components manufacturer in Springfield that serves clients around the world, started in 1957 by Waldo and Dale Esterline. It’s grown into an 18,000-square-foot facility to provide customers with prevision components essential for aerospace, medical and sensors grade applications.

In 2016, the business was purchased by Waldo’s nephew, John Maurer, and plant manager Mike Stollings, and is still located on part of the original 160-acre farm in 1890 in Green Twp. near Springfield.

Closser attended Wright State University, later returning to his hometown of London to purchase a business at the age of 22, which he still owns and operates today.

After establishing his business, he wanted to work on improving his hometown by joining nonprofits and sitting on boards. He joined London City Council in 2011, became council president in 2014 and then mayor in 2016.

The Hall of Fame opening reception will start at 5:30 p.m. with the awards ceremony at 6:15 p.m. at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center, 275 S. Limestone St.

To attend and purchase tickets for the event, visit madriver.ja.org/events/2023-junior-achievement-business-hall-of-fame.

The JA of Mad River Region provides financial literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship programs to students in grades K-12 in Clark, Champaign, Logan and Madison Counties. During the 2021-22 school year, more than 8,500 students were served by JA of Mad River Region.

About the Author