Professor of marketing, College of Business Administration, Southwest Missouri State University; executive director, Center for Business and Economic Development; director, Wal-Mart Innovation Network; director, Support American Made/BUY US; director, Government Services Program. The Center for Business and Economic Development is the economic development outreach arm of the College of Business Administration. The center houses the Management Development Institute, the Small Business Development Center, and a series of Wal-Mart-sponsored economic development programs. The center was established in July 1981. Udell joined the center in 1988 as director.
No. of years in Springfield/area: Moved to northeast Lawrence County in July 1988.
Education: BSE, MBA and PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Early career: From 1954 to 1957 Udell was in the U.S. Army, serving as military intelligence and as a military policeman. "The U.S. Army convinced a young man who never took a book home in four years of high school that he really needed to study," Udell said. In 1962, he went to work for the Colgate Company, and from 1965 to 1967 he worked for General Electric in its marketing management development program and in product planning and customer service. From 1967 to 1969 he was assistant professor of business at the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Udell was a visiting professor of Consumer Economics at Purdue University from 1971 to 1972 and then an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin. From 1974 to 1980, Udell was associate professor of marketing/principal investigator at the National Science Foundation Innovation Centers Experiment. "It was here that the concept of Wal-Mart Innovation Network and Support American Made evolved," Udell said. The center "provided a theoretical base and practical understanding of the challenges facing independent inventors and innovators," he said. He became a partner in the Innovation Institute in 1979. Udell spent four years as a senior staff pastor of the Faith Center Foursquare Church, from 1980 to 1984. "Pastoring taught me how to listen and gave me the opportunity to study the Biblical principles of business and most importantly, the life of Christ, from which I learned real leaders are servants (and a good deal more)," Udell said. Udell then became the manager of marketing research for Restech Industries and a professor of marketing for the University of North Dakota from 1985 before joining SMSU in 1988. "SMSU has provided me with the best staff in the world, the freedom to innovate and the occasion to meet David Glass and the crew at Wal-Mart," Udell said.
Current projects: The newest distance-learning project for the center is the Innovation Review. It is designed to provide advice and information to independent inventors worldwide through the Internet. Innovation Review is an electronic journal that will carry articles on a variety of subjects of interest to inventors and innovators.
Management philosophy: Don't forget to say "thank you" a lot. Around the Center for Business and Economic Development there is "good dog, a floppy-eared critter we use to acknowledge good work." Good dog shows up on the desk of someone who's done good work, stays a few days, then moves on to say "Good dog" to someone else.
Spare-time pursuits: "At home there are 32 acres, three building projects, seven horses, three dogs, a bunch of woodworking projects, some uncut firewood, umpteen flower gardens, a never-ending supply of rocks, a NordicTrac, a couple of unfinished manuscripts and a hammock under a big old pasture oak to occupy whatever time sleep doesn't demand. The fish in the pond (and the deer in the woods) are getting off for the time being ..." Udell said.
Family data: Married to Karen K. Udell, manager of the Innovation Institute. Children are Scott Udell, associate editor of Strategy Plus in Burlington, Vt.; Kristen Barnette, a medical doctor and captain in the United States Air Force who is a family practice physician on McChord Air Force Base, Tacoma, Wash.; and Bethany Stone, who is a PhD candidate in plant physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
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