On most days, you can find Joe Hall working hard behind his desk or on the service room floor as the longtime owner of Silver Star Service Center on South River Road in Edgewater.
But on one snowy day last week, Hall was sitting in a classroom, surrounded by 15 college students young enough to be his sons or daughters. Along with several other local businesspersons, Hall was at Anne Arundel Community College at the invitation of professor Bill Yuan. Yuan had invited Hall to campus to serve as a judge in a business class competition among several groups of students.
While Hall and his daughter — Tag & Title Service of Maryland owner Beth Hall – listened intently and took copious notes, teams of students shared what they learned about a variety of companies and organizations, including Food Lion, Target, Fort Meade, and Under Armour. As each of the two-member student teams finished their presentations, the Halls and other judges asked questions designed to see how much the students had learned in their research.
Later, as the morning portion of the presentations concluded, Yuan asked Joe Hall to share what he has learned during his three decades as a business owner.
“I started from nowhere more than 30 years ago,” Hall recalled. “I worked extremely hard to get the business to where it is today. What I learned along the way is that it’s more than just a business. It’s become a second family to me. The people who work with me depend on this business for their livelihoods and to support their families.
“Through the years I learned it wasn’t just about me anymore,” he added. “It was about everyone who works with me and their families. I would tell the students here today to be sure to remember that if or when they have their own companies. It’s one of the most important lessons I learned as a small business owner.”
The purpose of Professor Yuan’s business competition project was two-fold: for students to investigate some of the largest employers in Anne Arundel County, and to give them experience in preparing and delivering a business presentation.
“In the business world, you will be expected to communicate your activities and projects through individual or group presentations,” Yuan told the students. “Many of you will graduate and obtain employment in the public and private sectors. Eventually several of you will start our own businesses in the county. This activity brings together the many aspects of business, while focusing on the larger private sector employers.”
Joe Hall said that despite the students’ youth and lack of real-life business experience, their presentations were impressive.
“The students overall showed a great deal of enthusiasm in presenting the research and arguments for their various companies value to the marketplace,” Hall noted. “It is gratifying to see they were appreciative and very receptive to the suggestions of myself and my fellow judges.
“It was obvious that the student partners had worked hard to create a credible presentation,” he added.