Kent greenawalt, ceo of foot levelers business roanoke.com electricity freedom system

When I was in the program, it was just a little different than it is today. They had an after-school program where you went to a building after dinner and you met there and you actually ran a company. Here it’s done mostly now through a classroom and through teaching that way. But we did all the real live things that a business does. We sold stock for a dollar a share. We elected officers of the company. We made a product and then we had to produce the product and then we had to sell the product. So not only did we have budgeting and finance and marketing to sell the product and production to make it right, we had a safety director. We had somebody in charge of safety of the kids, and it was one of our peers, to show you how the company worked. You did that all year long. Then at the end of the year, you liquidated. So you turned everything in, you stopped operations and you declared a dividend and then you went to the people you sold stock to and you said, “Remember back in the fall, you gave me a dollar and now your dollar is worth X.” And I’m proud to say we always made a profit and we always had good returns. I wish I could invest in a company that could give me those kind of returns today.

It’s a family business. My father started it. He was a chiropractor. He graduated from chiropractic college in 1948 and then four years later he founded Foot Levelers. The reason he founded it as a chiropractor is he had so many patients that had a back problem. He would give them a chiropractic adjustment, but sometimes it wouldn’t last quite as long as he’d like. And he noticed there was a relationship between bad back and bad feet. So he said, “Gee, maybe this could have something to do with it.” So he did a lot of Thomas Edison trial and error and found the formula that worked to actually get the feet in balance to help the back to feel better. So that is kind of our claim to fame.

I believe that the international markets have great promise for us. Everywhere I go when I travel, I find feet and spines. And we have not penetrated that market to that great a degree. So I think the international market has a lot of promise to it. I think that we should probably concentrate a lot more in the Roanoke area. You know, we have many seminars around the country, but we need to spend a little more time in Roanoke to get our brand out and get to the people more who live here.

It was not premeditated at all. What it amounts to, is when we first got there in the banquet room, there were two young ladies that were from Tanzania. And I guess they were exchange students or something like that. And they sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and they were unbelievably talented. They did such a great job. So that was the first exposure to these young adults who are just really special. Then later in the program there was a girl by the name of Megan and a young man by the name of Parker and they were interviewed on stage about what they do in their home and how they set goals and their positive thoughts and what they want to do in life. And it just was touching. So after seeing the two young ladies from Tanzania and the young man and the young woman up there, when I started to give my speech I sort of changed things on the fly. And one of the things that I thought would be appropriate — I thought back to how Junior Achievement had done so much for me, and how wonderful these young people were doing there, and I thought, “Well, why don’t we make a challenge grant?”