Perry High students get a real taste of business, “50-Strong” style!

Author: Link Lima/Allen County June 20, 2019

May 9, 2019 – Lima, Ohio. Nothing is more inspiring to young developing minds than the chance to meet with entrepreneurs who are passionate about their story and are able to share that passion with those interested in listening. Such is the case with 50 Strong owners Ashley and Brendan Thompson. They recounted their journeys to becoming a highly successful manufacturer and supplier of water bottles to Walmart and Amazon to twenty-two students, mostly seniors, from Perry High School.

What makes the 50 Strong story so important for these high school students to hear is that the road traveled by the owners to land on their dream was not a straight line, but any means. Ashley Thompson started out as an engineer, then a lawyer, and then a manufacturing business owner. Brendan, Ashley’s husband, and partner, started out ask a mechanical engineer before turning the corner and joining Ashley as a co-owner of 50 Strong. The message to the Perry High School students from both Ashley and Brendan – “It’s okay for your career to change directions a bunch of times, and lead you down a different path. But
you must keep searching for your passion and you must have the desire to keep on learning.”

The visit to 50 Strong was more than philosophically inspiring. The Perry students got to tour the 50 Strong plant, and witness the manufacturing processes that produce products successfully placed at some of the world’s largest retailers – Walmart and Amazon. Brandan Thompson talked with the students about the good-paying skilled trade positions essential to 50 Strong that do not require a college degree. And they got to hear from owner Brendan that the number one priority in 50 Strong’s environment, trumping everything else, is “safety.”

According to, 61% of the businesses in the U.S. have less than 5 employees. There’s a better than 60% chance these Perry High School students will be working for a very small business or starting their own small business when they graduate either high school or college. Time spent with successful entrepreneurs like Ashley and Brendan, hearing how the built their dream and encouraging them to not give up, maybe some of the most important influencers these students could encounter.

Said several of the students: “I want to be an entrepreneur and this field trip taught us about e-commerce and advertising. I enjoyed learning about running your own business.” And “I learned about e-commerce and the power of a plan and hard work.”
This is the kind of up-close student encounter that can change lives. We extend our gratitude to Ashley and Brendan Thompson for sharing their dream with the students from Perry High School.

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ABOUT THE LINK LIMA SITE VISIT PROGRAM – The Link Lima workforce development framework and Site Visit program are hosted by the Greater Lima Region, Inc., and was developed to connect employers with local, upcoming talent. The Greater Lima Region, Inc. is committed to developing a workforce for the region’s employers that is second to none. For more information, contact Tracy Hollar, Greater Lima Region, Inc., 419-222-7706.