New President of Score Starts a Youth Movement

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Since coming on board as the chairman of the Youngstown chapter of Score, Ron Emery, has focused less on the penultimate word of the former name of the organization – “Retired” – and more on the final word – “Executives.”

Earlier this year, the mentorship organization, formerly named the Service Corps of Retired Executives, found itself at a crossroads. The chapter’s previous chairwoman, Janet Moy, was set to step down; there was no planned successor and just 11 mentors participating. 

But after meeting with Moy, Emery got involved with the group over the summer and became chairman in September. In the time since, he’s worked to rejuvenate the organization, bringing on 10 new mentors – all of whom are still working.

That youth movement, Emery says, is key to both the future of Youngstown Score and the region’s business community.

“When you look at the value of Score to entrepreneurial ventures, there are a lot of things that are new out there that my generation doesn’t know as much as we need to. If someone is starting a barber shop or a beauty shop, that’s one thing,” he explains. “But if you see what’s coming to us, like e-gaming or farming bees, you have to provide them the right resources to mentor them. And in a lot of cases, it’s going to be someone who’s not retired.”

Outside of Score, Emery is president of Alchemy Associates LLC, a business consulting firm working with clients such as Chevron and Cummins.

With a team of 21 mentors, Emery says he envisions that figure expanding to as many as 60, offering startups a full array of services they could tap into whenever the need arises. The Score chapter typically serves around 150 clients per month.

And newcomers are always welcome, on both sides of the table.

“Anybody can be part of Score. We have seasoned executives in retail, manufacturing and IT who have been very successful. They’re valuable and add a lot to ideas,” he says. “But you need youthfulness to throw new ideas in there to weigh against [that experience].”

Also new to the Score team is vice chairman Stephen Poullas, who works in IT for Zekelman Industries and runs The Soap Gallery in downtown Youngstown. He says bringing in a younger generation of mentors can help those more reliant on technology to create a successful business.

“We have mentors with a fantastic wealth of knowledge, but they may not have the technology perspective. You need to have your finger on the pulse of what’s changing technology-wise because that’s key to refining your business,” he says.

But mentoring isn’t the only facet that tech has infiltrated in this updated version of Youngstown Score. Poullas says video conferencing is available, allowing startups and mentors to meet remotely. “A lot of us aren’t able to do face-to-face meetings. If you remotely join and get mentorship on demand through a technology platform, that’s a great avenue to expand our reach,” he says. 

The organization, supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration and housed at Youngstown State University, is also looking to expand its footprint. Traditionally, it has mostly focused on Youngstown, Emery says, with a few ventures into surrounding counties. An effort was made a few years ago to start up work in Lawrence County, Pa., but “nothing seemed to get off the ground.”

Youngstown Score’s mission statement defines its service area as Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, as well as Lawrence and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania. Emery and Poullas have connected with leadership at the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce and started setting the foundation for programs in that county.

“They’ve connected us with the economic development group in New Castle. With all that power in one group, there’s a lot we can do,” Emery says. “We have a significant discussion going on with Westminster College and their entrepreneurship center about what we can do to expand that.”

Emery also points to the events Score has begun to host in Youngstown, which could be brought to the other counties. New to its schedule is a series of discussions about entrepreneurship in fields that don’t traditionally have much support available to them, such as brewing or the arts.

“When we had our event at The Soap Gallery, we talked to people who wanted to start a record company or host concerts. Those aren’t things you traditionally think of when you talk about business startups,” Poullas says. “With the brewing event and winemaking event, any time we can expand the scope of business, we’re doing a great service.”

One thing that won’t change, Emery makes sure to note, is the price tag of services, or lack thereof. All services from Score, at every chapter across the country, are always free.

“Anyone interested in starting a business can get help on formulating an idea. We can help with developing the business plan. We won’t do it for them, but we can give them ideas and ask the right questions to really create a robust idea,” he says. “Anybody who’s looking to start a business and doesn’t know where to turn, this is the call to make.”

Contact the Youngstown Score chapter at 330 941 2948 or [email protected].

Pictured: Ron Emery, the new chairman of Youngstown Score, has brought on Stephen Poullas as vice chairman. The organization has added 10 mentors since September. 

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.