RYM! Featured Partner: Donna Reese

Youngest of 9 kids raised on a fruit farm in North East. Being the youngest taught me a lot with 8 others ahead of me, paying close attention to the failures and successes – and also being the youngest fighting for position in use of our one full bathroom. I’ve always been a “cheerleader” with a tremendous amount of energy to energize those around me. I attended college and married very young (20). I didn’t finish college, but always continued with evening classes to expand my knowledge, including obtaining a real estate license.

At 23, I was a mother and also came into my husbands’ family business when he purchased from his family. Neither of us had business experience. He knew pest control and I had a taste of knowledge from the night and weekend computer classes. My original intent was to help get his company set up with computers…20 years later, we are divorced and I am considered one of Erie’s local pest control experts.

I have two sons, and proud of both. We were a hockey family. Both boys played travel hockey since they were very young. Ryan gave up hockey his senior year to enjoy what he had missed being on the road. He attended IUP and eventually transferred to Mercyhurst, graduating this year. Ryan and I just purchased “Reese’s Pizzas & More”. I not only get to mentor my son in business, I get to partner with him.

Shane’s love for hockey took him to the highest level possible for his age. After 3 years of traveling out of state daily for practice and games, he graduated from McDowell and is now playing Junior A in Rochester. His hope is to obtain a Division 1 scholarship while playing Junior A. His mothers’ dream is to have him play for Mercyhurst College.

In addition to being co-owner of General Exterminating and Reese’s Pizzas & More; More, I am the owner of Erie’s most dynamic networking organization “Erie Small Business Alliance”.

Question 1: Purpose and Mission
Never say never. All my life I’ve been told “you can’t do that” – which gives me that much more energy and passion to prove those who said it wrong. As a result, I’ve engulfed myself in projects and business and grown tremendously as a person. My mission is to “pay it forward” and help kids and adults realize that the sky is the limit!

Question 2: What does success look like? (Vision)
For years I just "went through the motions". I went to work, helped with homework, and drove countless hours to ice rinks. Not that this wasn't a great life, but three years ago the flood gates opened. I went out a limb an applied for the Athena Powerlink program, and got it! Life changing. I was surrounded by incredibly successful people who were donating their time to redefine our family business that had grown stagnant. It supercharged me personally and professionally. Now I own two additional businesses and even have the confidence in my ability that I considered a run for Congress (don't count me out for the future). I live by the "laws of attraction" and faith. Positive attitudes truly do bring positive outcome. Each time my phone rings, I wonder what awesome opportunity is on the other end. Bad days are a thing of the past. New and incredible things happen for me regularly. I can't wait to see what is next!

Question 3: Power
Fist thing that comes to mind when I see the word power is overcoming the obstacle of being a woman in a mans’ industry. Twenty years ago when I stepped into the lead role at General Exterminating I would take great offense when clients and industry professionals would not want to talk to me because they expected a man. I stood tall and firm. Twenty years later, I am not only respected, I am called on as an expert by heads of companies and organizations looking for pest control advice and guidance.

Question 4: Limitations
My limitations come from the inability to say “no”. After chairing a major non-profit annual function – the word got out that I was good at it. Now my phone rings regularly with people asking me to donate my time. I am not good at saying “no” when there are so many people in need of financial and volunteer aid. The more I say yes, the less time I have to focus on my own businesses and the volunteer work that I am already involved

Question 5: Need to Overcome
I need to overcome my extreme desire of thinking that I can change things fast. When I see problems in business or community, I want to tackle it NOW. Everything is a process and I get too anxious thinking that I can change things overnight.

Question 6: Plan
I’ve found over the years that my long-term plans have changed drastically, which poses daily change. While consistent in maintaining focus, I have also realized that some plans are not able to be obtained, maybe because I am somewhat unrealistic at times. This plays hand in hand with “need to overcome” – thinking that things happen overnight. My plan for the last 20 years of wanting to raise healthy, productive and respectful adults (my two sons) has been achieved through a lot of sweat and tears. With both sons graduating this year and moving on to bigger and better things, I’ve found my “plan” changing gears. As sad as it is that my parenting days seem to be over (which, in truth, they will never be) – I’ve found an empty nest that needs filled. My plan now includes helping other kids, building three successful businesses and working with my government to make people more accountable. I want to be an advocate of taking care of ourselves and
our families first….the rest will fall nicely into place.

Question 7: Helping Others
My first love has been working with people with disabilities. Nearly thirty years ago I was introduced to the Erie Homes for Children and Adults. These individuals will never have the opportunity to experience life as each of us knows it. Being able to assist with their needs to help live fulfilling lives is close to my heart. I also love getting out of the office atmosphere and serving lunch at the Erie City Mission.

I’ve seen society changes over the past several years and the struggles that kids have. It is not limited to any economic stereotype as once thought. Kids have a whole new set of pressures now than they had just a few short years ago. Parents are working hard to provide, but sometimes aren’t aware that the greatest support to a child is their time. I hope to mentor kids and adults. I was a very busy business professional, who always put my time first into my children. As a result, they are both productive young adults who also live by family value.

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