A Wallowa High student had a business experience that would be the envy of any business owner last week.
Daniel Delancey, 17, sold a custom-designed plasma cut metal sign to Sen. Bill Hansell. Hansell opened his wallet and forked over the dough in front of Delancey’s fellow high school students during an impromptu assembly in the high school gym last Thursday, and then the two shook hands on the deal.
The senator has since featured Delancey’s business on his personal Facebook page.
Delancey joined the Wallowa County Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneur Program this year without a solid business idea, he said.
“I thought I might find something to do that supported the projects of the other students,” Delancey said.
Turns out that thought takes into consideration two key concerns for any entrepreneur: does my business idea fill a need? and can I collaborate with other businesses?
Delancey’s first project, making a sign for “Courtney (Bailey) and Cailey’s (Murray) Cans and Bottles,” turned out to be a brilliant beginning. A sign-making business was an idea with “legs.”
It took advantage of the work Delancey was already doing in the Wallowa High School’s Agricultural Sciences and Technology program; it filled a need; and signage is a highly visible advertisement for the sign-maker.
That first sign was made in November 2017. Delancey now has 30 signs on his order list, he said.
Delancy’s work came to Hansell’s attention when the class was introduced at the Chamber of Commerce Citizen Awards banquet Jan. 28. Hansell said he was impressed with the program and checked out some of the work done by the students.
“I saw Daniel had done a (plasma cut metal) mascot of Oregon State University, but I didn’t see anything from the U of O,” Hansell said. “I told him, ‘look, I’m a Duck, can you do anything like this?’ And I showed him my cell phone cover.”
Delancey began texting the senator with ideas the following morning.
“That began a whole day of texting,” Hansell said. “We went back and forth and by that evening we had something ready to go.”
Hansell was so impressed with Delancey’s business sense and follow-through that he changed his schedule to appear before Wallowa High students in an impromptu assembly last Thursday.
Hansell, an Athena High graduate, wanted to let students know that the size of your school, hometown or county doesn’t matter.
“Just because you are from a small school, as I was, does not mean you should be limited in any way possible,” Hansell said. “You’ve got to think ‘I’m just as good, just as talented and have just as much to give as anybody else from a big metropolitan area.’
“When I went to U of O, there were more people in my dormitory complex than there were in the whole town of Athena.”
Delancey, Hansell said, had all the talents he needed to succeed.
“He had a vision, he had a desire and he had a skill set,” Hansell said. “He’s developing that and made a business out of it. He took the initiative: he didn’t wait for me to call him. He did research before he contacted me. He presented ideas to me. He did great customer service.”
Delancey was surprised and pleased at the senator’s reaction.
“That was great,” he said. “I really appreciated his recognition and support. He’s a really great guy.”
The after-school mentor program, open to any junior or senior in the county, is in its 8th year.
More than 80 students have taken part in the program.
Maddie Bailey, president of the Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneurs, is a former youth entrepreneur and current owner of youth entrepreneur business “Go Go Groceries,” which she purchased from her sister, Courtney Bailey.
Stacy Green, owner of Stacy Green Marketing, is adviser. The program is financed by Building Healthy Families.