Jim Peterson started his company, Peterson Roofing Inc. of Mount Prospect, back in 1978, when he was 19 years old. He recently got a chance to talk about his experiences as a CEO with a group of present-day teenagers from Prospect High School.
"It was great to see those young entrepreneurs using their brains to move forward," Peterson said. "It was so different when I started. Today there are so many regulations. I'm not sure how the kids today do it."
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Peterson talked to the students about the importance of honesty and sticking with it, even when things are tough.
And he told them that if they mess something up, they have to make it right.
"When you're in a community like we are, your customers see you at the store, at the movies, at ballgames, whatever," said Peterson, who's lived in Mount Prospect most of his life. "That's why you make sure to produce what you promise."
Peterson was one of two local CEOs who spoke to five Prospect High students on Feb. 6. (Suellen Wolk from Northwest Suburban United Way also participated.) The students are enrolled in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, an intensive 30-week after-school program that teaches young people the ins and outs of launching and operating a business. The Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce started the program at Prospect in the fall of 2012.
"I've been doing this for a long time, and it's still rewarding," Peterson said. "When someone tells me how much they love the work we did on their home, there's no better feeling."