Northwestern senior building his foundation long term

Alex Temple with his parents Steve and Pam. CONTRIBUTED
Alex Temple with his parents Steve and Pam. CONTRIBUTED

Alex Temple was a middle-schooler walking the streets of Philadelphia with his dad when he got an extraordinary idea.

Father and son were sightseeing while Temple’s mom was attending a work conference. There was history everywhere, but Temple focused on a current issue: homeless people. They were everywhere.

“It just really hit Alex,” Pam Temple said. “He wanted to help.”

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When Temple returned home to Clark County he wanted to help the local homeless population. He sought donations and filled boxes with food and necessities like soap and shampoo. People paid Temple for the box to help cover his costs. Then they would carry the boxes in their cars and give them to homeless people they saw. He called it Boxes of Blessings.

For a year, Pam Temple estimates her son distributed about 100 boxes. There are still a couple in her garage. When Alex started high school at the Global Impact STEM Academy and started playing football and lifting weights, he didn’t have the time to continue.

“He’s got just such a huge heart,” Pam Temple said.

Alex Temple is still doing things others rarely consider. And he gets all these business ideas, too, that make others wonder: “How did he think of that?”

Temple is about to graduate from Northwestern High School. His future business plans are big and unusual and a long time in the making. He’s made the types of decisions most high school kids save for later. Giving back to Springfield is his No. 1 goal.

The football decisions

Temple grew up in the Northwestern school district, but he wanted the STEM school education in high school. He joined the Springfield High football team as a sophomore in 2017 and immediately became a starter.

He loved blocking for Tay’Veon Smoot, the Wildcats’ burly running back who burst through holes made by Temple and his linemates. He loved it so much a painful injury couldn’t stop him.

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Temple had a pilonidal cyst between his tailbone and spinal cord. After playing through pain for five weeks during his junior season, he had a procedure after the seventh game that relieved enough pressure to allow him to continue.

“It was about the team and the O-line in particular,” said Mike Berry, who was Temple’s line coach that season. “A lot of guys in that situation, would back out or use the pain as a reason to not practice or to play. He was a tough kid.”

Temple didn’t miss a game and played five more weeks until the Wildcats were knocked from the Division I playoffs. When he was asked to rate his pain on a scale of 1 to 10, Temple said it was consistently an 8 or 9. As soon as the season ended, he had surgery to remove the cyst. It was almost the size of a softball.

“You can imagine having to sit on that during class, or let alone walking, running, hitting,” Temple said. “It was definitely difficult, but I just had to fight through it.”

Playing through pain was an easy decision for Temple. But where he would play his senior season this past fall was not so simple. Temple was part of a top program at Springfield, but he chose to return home to Northwestern and play football with the friends he had grown up with.

“I could understand that he wanted to go be with his buddies for his last year of high school,” said Springfield offensive lineman Trey Harper, who started two years with Temple. “So I really supported him.”

Alex Temple at center for the Springfield High School football team. CONTRIBUTED
Alex Temple at center for the Springfield High School football team. CONTRIBUTED

Temple also got support from Berry even though the coach really wanted to keep his group together for what turned out to be a special season. Temple’s parents also understood his desire to be with his friends even though it meant he would be playing at a Division IV school. Northwestern had a 6-4 season and missed the playoffs.

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“I definitely had the best of both worlds throughout my football experience,” Temple said. “Both teams are definitely families to me.”

While Springfield was sorry to see Temple leave, Northwestern was glad to have him back. Warriors head coach Shane Carter said Temple’s presence was important to the team’s success.

“The game came to him easy in terms of understanding scheme and responsibilities,” Carter said. “I always talked about him being mature beyond his years and kind of a young adult at an early age. Coming back to play with his friends meant a lot, and to be a Warrior again meant a lot to him and meant a lot to our kids and our program.”

Temple is 6-foot-1 and played at 285 pounds and was a three-year starter, primarily at right guard. His play earned him lots of attention. He was invited to the All-American National Combine in San Antonio, Texas, after his sophomore and junior seasons. He went the first time but not the second because he had complications during his recovery from the surgery to remove the cyst.

This past January, Temple played in an all-star game organized by USA Football at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Temple is good enough to play Division II or III football and even visited Ivy League schools Harvard, Yale and Penn.

Jeff Smith was Temple’s line coach at Springfield during his sophomore season. Smith has been a Division II assistant at Urbana and Lock Haven in Pennsylvania.

“He’s not going to be the guy that they’re going to covet the most,” Smith said. “But what he is, he’s the guy that will outwork everybody and maximize his potential. You’ll get more out of him than you’ll get out of a lot of people.”

Steve Temple remembers the day he was at Dick’s Sporting Goods buying gear for his son’s trip to the all-star game in Texas. Alex answered his phone and the football coach at Carleton College in Minnesota offered his son a full ride to a school with an $80,000-a-year tuition price. He turned it down.

Alex Temple is an entrepreneur, and the economics major wasn’t right for him. He doesn’t want to work on Wall Street. He wants to start businesses. While the Carleton football offer to pay for college was one mom and dad liked, their son was having other thoughts.

Steve remembers the conversation going something like this:

“Dad, I just don’t really know if I want to play college ball,” Alex said.

“Buddy, it’s OK,” his dad said.

“Yeah, but dad, you and mom have spent so much money for the camps.”

“Buddy, it’s been a great journey for us to watch you mature and grow. So don’t feel any pressure from us just because of this journey. It’s your choice.”

His dad encouraged him to go and enjoy the game and decide later. Alex came home and made the decision: he was giving up football, a sport he had played since kindergarten.

“Dad, if I play football,” Steve said of the conversation, “it’s going to be a little bit of a distraction for me getting in there, getting my academics completed, and to get out of school and get on with the rest of my life with what I want to do.”

Temple’s college choice is Dayton. He’s already taken several college courses and plans to major in business management and marketing, minor in psychology and complete his MBA all in four years. But no football.

That was a business decision.

Young entrepreneur

Sons following after dads: Alex Temple is on that path.

Temple wrote about his entrepreneurial goals in his application letter to UD. He said he had learned a lot of principles from his dad and wanted to take after him.

The son learning from the father began when Steve Temple wanted a flagpole in his yard in 1992. He went to the hardware stores but didn’t find anything that wouldn’t rust. So he bought a 21-foot long piece of two-inch galvanized pipe, painted it white, put a gold eagle on top, attached a pulley, planted it in concrete and raised an American flag.

Pretty soon several neighbors wanted one. So he started a side business putting up flagpoles for the next 14 years in yards and on commercial properties. By 2006 his financial planning business kept him so busy that he gave the flagpole business to the Nehemiah Foundation.

Three years ago an old friend moved to Fountain Avenue and wanted a flagpole. He called Steve Temple who said he still had two or three left over in his garage. Steve told his sons Alex and Terry, who is four years older than Alex, that if they helped him install the flagpole he would give them the money.

After they completed the job, then 16-year-old Alex started a new business and named it Pinnacle Flagpole. Temple has raised at least 40 poles since and wants to keep the business going while in college. He’s completed jobs as far away as Huber Heights and Troy and has started to get work from construction companies.

“That could be a very big stepping stone and opportunity for this company,” he said. “I’m excited about that because that can push us to the next step of where we want to be.”

One company isn’t likely to be it for Temple. His friends and family say he has lots of ideas. Because an established company beat him to the market with an idea he had been working on, he’s keeping his ideas secret.

“What always amazes me about Alex is all of the creativity, all of the things that spin in that head of his,” Pam Temple said. “I have no doubt that he’ll be successful and that you’ll see some of his inventions on the market at some point or another.”

Temple’s entrepreneurial appetite has also been fed by his godfather, Tom Sothard, who retired three years ago after a long career as the president of Konecranes. Sothard has served on boards and been involved in small business development for 25 years.

“He’s got a good work ethic,” Sothard said. “They talk about this generation being one that doesn’t want to work so hard – he breaks the mold on that. He’s not afraid to put in the time and effort.”

Temple says he’s always thinking about potential businesses he could start.

“I like being an innovator or just trying to think of new things to revolutionize something,” he said. “If one of those hit and that’s how the ball gets rolling, that’s great.”

Creating his niche

Boxes of Blessings, it seems, was more than just a nice thing for a kid to do. Temple’s parents, friends and coaches say it revealed a lasting character quality of wanting to help people. Sothard said he’s seen plenty of people go into business for personal freedom, to be their own boss and to be focused on only making money.

“This is a kid that’s already wanting to give back,” Sothard said. “He’s not a wealthy boy right now by any stretch. He’s just starting off, but he’s already thinking about how he can give back. And that’s what honestly impresses me about him.”

Temple chose UD because he sees it as a good environment for entrepreneurs. He also wants to stay close to home and begin building connections in the business community. He understands the value of networking because of what he’s learned from his dad, Sothard and some of his dad’s other business friends.

Networking is not an end for Temple. It is part of a grander plan beyond starting a business or two. Temple is determined to give other would-be entrepreneurs a greater opportunity to succeed. By the time he’s 30 he wants his idea to create the Pinnacle Foundation to have moved beyond the abstract to a concrete reality in Springfield.

“For the people that don’t have the financial means or the people that don’t have the connections, but do have the brilliant ideas, those are the people that hopefully we can be serving and helping and ultimately taking one step at time to hopefully change the world,” Temple said.

That’s the abstract of the idea. The concrete is to create a physical space for entrepreneurs to pitch an idea to a board and be mentored by like-minded people throughout the start-up process. For instance, Temple explains, someone might have an idea to revolutionize the automotive industry. If the board likes the idea, it brings you in and helps you finance it and get it to market.

“The main reason I thought about the foundation is if I had this available to me, it would be a game changer for me,” Temple said. “I wouldn’t have to be constantly searching for the right connections. It would be an instantaneous LinkedIn between business professionals. That’s what I think can become a game changer.”

Football, school, the flagpole business and his Christian faith have all been game changers for Temple. He says he has been motivated by all of them to innovate, work hard and help others.

“My dad has a saying: ‘If the ambulance isn’t here, God still has more work for you.’ I believe in that,” Temple said. “It’s all about me trying to spread the gospel and do that in whichever way he wants me to.”

Temple already has a test client for his Pinnacle Foundation. Blake Burge is 16 and working for Pinnacle Flagpole. Burge wants to be an entrepreneur and is learning from Temple. One day, Temple says, he might turn the business over to Burge.

“His business plans are always about helping others,” Pam Temple said. “Although I’m sad that I won’t get to see him play football anymore, at the same time I’m obviously so proud of the path he’s walking, the choices he’s making.

“He’s got a huge heart.”