Award winner sees Madison County as beyond the darkness and into the dawn
Interview by Dirk Webb
Photo courtesy of Dale Pickett
His name is Osborne J. Morgan, but to all of us he can only be, “Oz.”
Taking a circuitous route from South Bend, through Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Kokomo and back to Anderson from South Bend, Oz Morgan has been an educator, a salesman, a banker and above all, one of Madison County’s best friends.
After graduating from Indiana State University, Morgan taught Speech and English at Kokomo High School for four years and worked at a bank in Indianapolis for another 17 years while earning an MBA from Butler. He then received a call to return to Northern Indiana.
“After nine months on the job the bank was sold and at age 45 I found myself unemployed with a wife, two children and another baby on the way. I got a call from Carl Erskine who was getting ready to retire and I was offered a position with Star Financial Bank and was there for 21 years.”
Oz is married to Rosann an R.N. specializing in Ultrasound with Anderson Community Hospital’s OB/GYN department. Together they have one daughter Ingrid Stadler, sons Andy Moore and Sam Morgan as well as three grandchildren.
In addition to being the former President of Star Financial, Oz is a Retirement Planner and Insurance Agent with the Langen Agency, Chair of St. Vincent’s Anderson Regional Hospital and on the boards of the Anderson Center for the Arts, Assurance Health and Mofab. He also serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the Flagship Enterprise Center.
This year’s Keith J. Pitcher Award winner is also a past board member of the Leadership Academy of Madison County, Corporation for Economic Development, Indiana Bankers Association and is a Past Chairman of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
But to us he will always be, “Oz.”
Would you consider Madison County to be in the midst of sunrise? What does the business sunrise across the horizon look like to you?
“Absolutely yes, there is a sunrise here in Madison County. It hasn’t always felt that way. When I arrived 25 years ago, ‘Madrugada’ (Spanish for the dark before dawn) seemed to describe where we were. The only thing we had going was that CED had purchased the ground where the Flagship site was to develop. We were still lamenting the loss of GM and its jobs and it was a dark period before the dawn. During the past decades FEC came to be, schools are beginning to move forward again, we’ve left the GM depression behind and now we have such outstanding successes as Nestles, Flagship, Myers Autoworld, IVY Tech and the new P3 facility (Purdue Polytechnic). We are beyond the darkness and into the dawn creating a strong blend of home grown, statewide and international support. So many individuals have stepped up to make their headquarters here.
During my tenure as Board Chair of The Chamber, Keith Pitcher and I had many discussions about what the Chamber and Chamber leadership needed to look like. In the 10 years since, Kyle Morey, his staff and subsequent board members have exceeded our vision.
One of the biggest bright spots is the way Anderson University, Purdue and the City of Anderson have worked together to create jobs. Because our economic development thrust is not totally municipal, we continue to work through changes in government leadership and we stay right on track and that plays well with people coming into our community.
One example is the $26 million surgery center and $7 million emergency department that St. Vincent’s has invested in over the last eight years. Those contributions to our community typify the kind of commitments we are now able to attract.”
What does "A New Day" mean to you?
“Every day is a new day. Yesterday was yesterday and you can’t change it. I’d like to say I don’t worry about it but I do try to wake up each morning reminding myself that it’s a great morning and a new day. Now 3 a.m. might be another story, but the sunrise means anything is possible. We can take small steps. We can take large steps, but most importantly it’s another chance to put our footprints on a new trail.”
How has your optimism helped you guide your vision?
“I may not be able to do everything myself, but if I surround myself with good people and I simply do my part, anything is possible. When I look at a successful business I know ‘we can do this, the only question is how.’ So my optimism is for how we each fill our own role. We greet the day thinking ‘we’ve got this.’ We sometimes wonder about early morning meetings, but those crack-of-dawn moments help everyone around the table reaffirm the confidence and faith that together we can make great things happen through our combined efforts. Faith is most important.”
Is your optimism ever threatened?
“Every night! Every day some part of the world seems to be geared to challenge your optimism. That’s where faith comes in. Faith that we will prevail by doing the right things is what keeps me going. Sometimes those lapses in optimism have a slingshot effect. If your confidence is shaken you may realize you need to make some changes to get back on target. Having your optimism or self- esteem beat up is bad, but having it challenged is actually good. It gives you the push to do more than you think you could.”
If Optimism leads to achievement, what is it you hope our community will achieve in 2016?
“I hope we continue to pursue the current path for job growth and improved education. Stay the course with focus on economic growth through the change in political administration. Let’s make sure we close the deals that will bring more jobs and companies into the county.”
If you were to have five minutes with someone who was considering relocating to Madison County what would you tell them?
“I would start with the people. There are people trying to make this a wonderful place to live. Healthcare here is extraordinary. More and more companies are coming to town so the potential for jobs is really good. But overall, I have to come back to the people and how community leadership responds. Through the Leadership Academy, the City of Anderson, and Anderson University, a lot of good communication happens among all the groups which makes this a great place to live, work and start a company. It’s a very good place to be. We are comfortably close to Indianapolis for the feel of a larger city, if that’s what you want. We have great dining, professional and amateur sports; those amenities are so close without the baggage of being right there in a large city. I’m excited about the fact that we have a new generation of leadership coming on line that really brings a New Day to our community.”
To view past award winners, or to read more about the awards, visit MCC's Wall of Fame.