One of the aspects that truly makes zWORKS unique is the variety in its memberships. As we highlighted in our last Featured Member blog post, there is a wide range in zWORKers from e-learners to entrepreneurs. zWORKer Lance Schwab is no different in that his journey and profession is as unique as the next zWORKer.
Lance was born and raised in Indiana, growing up in the small town of Remington. Staying relatively close to home, Lance attended Purdue University. During his time as a Boilermaker, he studied business and upon graduation, moved to Indianapolis to start his career working in finance for Owens Illinois, a glass bottle manufacturing company.
During his time with OI, Lance wore many hats including managing the factory operations, earning his Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. He eventually moved onto Element Three where he joined a small team of six in a Finance role. Looking back on his journey, Lance identifies this chapter of his career as where he really “cut his teeth” in growing a business. He worked with the team on everything from marketing strategy to operations and account management. Eventually, he helped the company grow to over 40 employees by the end of his time with them.
Lance used that experience and his passion for helping young companies grow into sustainable businesses when he joined Tegra, a family business started with his father. Tegra’s inspiration begins when Lance’s father was in the Ukraine with their church doing work with local orphanages. Driving around the country, he had the opportunity to see the vast farmland, and as an experienced farmer, recognized that the technology and farming methods were out of date compared to the current US farming practices.
Over the following six months, Lance and his father took this observation, conceptualized the business plan, and started working to get boots on the ground. In the early days, they worked to overcome language barriers, cultural differences, and a significant learning curve. Operating largely in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe this journey has been challenging and difficult, but very rewarding. Lance and his father have built Tegra from the ground up over the last seven or eight years.
Tegra now works with its team to provide Irrigation, BioStimulants, Biologicals, and other farming solutions for the region’s farmers. The team working for Tegra today is the same team put together seven years ago at the inception of the company. Despite the difficulties of the past year, Tegra’s team has maintained high morale and its experience has allowed the team to adapt with the complexity of 2020.
Prior to the pandemic, Lance would travel to the Ukraine half a dozen times a year, spending about four months of the year in the country. Every spring his family joins him for a one month trip. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Lance has not traveled to the country in over a year, but hopes things will change sometime in the near future.
Lance and the Tegra team are headed into 2021 optimistic and motivated. Rounding out 2020, the team was able to complete a major project exporting Alfalfa Hay directly to dairy farmers in the Middle East. With the expectation to continue their regular pace of 1-3 major projects a year, the Tegra team is hitting the ground running in 2021.
You can learn more about Tegra by visiting their website.
Getting to know Lance on a more personal level…
- The whole Schwab family goes to the Ukraine for a month every Spring.
- His two month old has a passport.
- Ukranian Customs agents are inclined to let you through security quicker when your family is with you.