O'Fallon Progress

OTHS alumnus goes the distance on east coast

O’Fallon alumni Josh and Bridget Eickmeier with their daughter Eloise.
O’Fallon alumni Josh and Bridget Eickmeier with their daughter Eloise.

One former O’Fallon Township High School (OTHS) runner Josh Eickmeier has gone the distance — not just with running, but with higher education academic success.

The 2007 alumni has been honored for Outstanding Academic Achievement at Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“Basically this is (like) valedictorian, Tepper just doesn't call it that,” Eickmeier said of last week’s graduation ceremony when he was recognized.

Growing up in the military, Eickmeier said his family moved around a lot, but he ended up in O’Fallon for the seventh grade for his father’s last assignment at Scott Air Force Base before retiring.

“I attended OTHS, where I ran cross country and track and did lots of extracurricular activities. I achieved both valedictorian and athlete of the year my senior year in 2007. Even more important, I met my future wife Bridget, as we were both on the student council together,” Eickmeier said.

Eickmeier attended Carnegie Mellon for my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.

“I chose engineering because I had always been good at math and science, so it seemed like a natural fit. I chose the school because it had a good reputation for engineering, it was relatively small, and I knew I'd be able to contribute to the cross country and track teams in a meaningful way. When I graduated, Bridget and I got married and we moved to Cincinnati where I got my first job at GE Aviation as an engineer,” Eickmeier said.

Eickmeier speaks highly of his employer McMaster-Carr, an industrial distributor — think Amazon for maintenance guys and machine shops.

“We sell nuts and bolts, hand tools, raw materials, you name it. Everything is on our website and we deliver same day or next day. I wasn't drawn to the industry itself — I was drawn to the idea that I could manage people and processes and focus on running the business as opposed to being one small part of it. I was also happy to move to a smaller company,” Eickmeier said.

So why did Eickmeier go back to school for his MBA?

“I had a couple of management roles when I started, first as a floor supervisor and then a department manager. While I enjoyed it, I felt unprepared for many of the challenges I faced such as understanding financial performance or leading large teams. I decided that getting an MBA would be a really good way to learn all of those things. Plus, I could see that many successful managers at my company had an MBA and the company was very supportive of getting an additional degree,” he said.

Being given a gift for learning and understanding challenging problems, Eickmeier said he wanted to use those gifts to make a difference.

“It may not seem that being a manager at an industrial supply company is using my gifts, but if you look out at the world, business leaders have a huge opportunity to do good. If I can continue to grow as a business leader, I can help my company treat people well and do things that improve the world. I have no plans to leave - McMaster-Carr has been good to me, I just got a nice promotion, and I'm still growing a lot where I am. I attribute much of that success at my current job to things I learned at CMU - particularly as part of the leadership training program,” he said.

Although Eickmeier was at the top of his MBA class and won a few awards, he decided not to fast track to Wall Street or a big consulting company because he wanted to be focused on his family, serving people he works with every day and not just be a money making machine.

“Plus, now that I'm done with my MBA and have a little more time, I'd like to focus on serving my community more outside of work through volunteering. I'd really like to use what I've learned to help churches, small businesses, or non-profits run their operations more effectively so they can serve more people,” Eickmeier explained.

After dating his OTHS sweet heart Bridget, formerly Adams, now Eickmeier, they went onto date through college, and get married in 2010 after graduating.

“Bridget got her masters in education from Kent State when we moved to Cleveland and now teaches biology and environmental science at a public high school in Solon, and also coaches the Science Olympiad team there,” he said.

The couple just had thier first child, little Eloise and they live in Cleveland, Ohio now.

“It's a big enough city to have good music, good museums and good food, but it still has that Midwest charm where people are very polite and easy to talk to. We live about 40 minutes from downtown in a quiet area, so other than the cold winters, it's not terribly different from Southern Illinois. I still run quite a bit, about four times a week. I enjoy taking my dog Remington out on the trails, especially in the summer where the weather here is perfect for running (a perk relative to St. Louis heat!). I recently ran my first marathon in Pittsburgh as a way to celebrate my MBA graduation,” Eickmeier said.

Meet Josh Eickmeier:

Q: Do you have words to live by?

A: There is only one person you can control: yourself.

Q:Whom do you most admire?

A: No single person, but anyone who devotes their life to serve God and help people.

Q:If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?

A: C.S. Lewis

Q: What is the last book that you read?

A: “It's Your Ship,” by Michael Abrashoff

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?

A: Reading, running, and playing board games

Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?

A: Almost clean but never quite there

Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?

A: Engineering

Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?

A: I can teach myself almost anything by reading about it.

Q: What irritates you most?

A: When simple things don't work like they are supposed to.

Q:What type of music do you listen to?

A: Whichever radio station isn't playing commercials.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: Seeing people improve.

Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?

A: Traveling and volunteering.

Q: What would people be most surprised to know about you?

A: I was home schooled through 7th grade. Also, I own my own bowling ball that was specially made to fit my hand.

Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?

A: Will Smith

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?

A: A library.