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Reprinted with permisson from the
Indiana Venture Center eNews, July 7, 2004

Profile of Success: Judy Nagengast

Judy Nagengast, CEO of Continental Design & EngineeringSince her arrival in Indiana in 1985, Judy Nagengast has become a seasoned entrepreneur with success in an impressive array of fields.

Currently, Nagengast is CEO and co-owner of Continental Design and Engineering, a company that has grown from two employees to over 250 engineers and designers. While at the helm, Nagengast has led Continental Design and Engineering to 12 consecutive years of growth of 30% or better growth. Continental Design and Engineering is also listed as the Largest Woman-Owned Business in the Indianapolis Metro area by The Indianapolis Business Journal for the past two years running.

Even though Nagengast received a formal education at Hubbard College International in Florida, Nagengast is a self-taught businessperson, constantly continuing her education through reading and attending seminars. She even claims she reads marketing books for fun!

After attending Hubbard College International, Nagengast joined her husband and became Managing Partner of Apple Lane Pottery. Before selling the company, Nagengast increased revenue more than 200% by implementing a marketing strategy, expanding their regional business, and establishing their financial procedures.

The move to Indiana was supposed to be temporary, but Nagengast and her husband have made a permanent home in Anderson, Indiana. Nagengast says, "When we first came to Anderson, we thought we would be here for only a year. But we fell in love with this town and its friendly people. this area has a lot to offer."

Not only does Nagengast love the community, she gives back to it as well. In 2003, Nagengast accepted the interim Executive Director position with the Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson, an innovative center for education, business incubation, technology transfer, and training which supports new economic development in Anderson, Indiana.

Nagengast emphasized, "This new Business Development Center will give Anderson a chance to re-invent itself and will help create and nurture entrepreneurs. We plan to use this Center to turn these talents into profitable businesses that create jobs and re-energize this community."

Her numerous successes have attracted much attention. In 1997, Nagengast was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Ernst & Young in the Woman Owned Business Category for the Indiana Heartland District. The following year, Nagengast was again honored, this time by the Small Business Administration as the Small Business Person of the Year from the State of Indiana. In addition to the State and National awards, Nagengast has also been honored by some local groups, notably the YWCA's Woman of Achievement Award. In 2000, Junior Achievement inducted Nagengast and her husband Bill to the Madison County Business Hall of Fame.

With all of her success in the business world, Nagengast sees her husband and two teenage children as her biggest successes.

From years of success, Nagengast has provided these "Tips from an Entrepreneur":

Tip #1: Get educated on areas that you are not expert in, such as finance and marketing. Running a small business takes many different skills and you need to have a working knowledge of the basic areas of business. That being said, please see Tip #2.

Tip #2: Get expert help in key areas that you are not expert in. Don't try to do it all yourself, but do try to have enough knowledge to direct your expert. For example, I always write all of our contracts myself (often using off-the-shelf programs) and then pass it by our attorney. This saves me a great deal in legal fees, but I get the expert advice I need.

Tip #3: Distill your business into key numbers that you can track weekly and/or monthly. For my business, it is billable hours. When these are on the rise, I know we are doing well. When they start to drop I know I need to increase my sales and marketing activity. We have other statistics that tell us about other aspects of our business, such as accounts receivable and overhead vs. billings. These statistics give us a good picture of what is going on, and we meet weekly and monthly to determine future actions based on these numbers.

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