There are a lot of similarities between business and sports. They’re both demanding, competitive and require an unflappable desire to succeed. That’s why so many elite athletes go on to become successful in business. Jeff Epperson, is one of them.
The IVC Technologies founder and CEO has always been a bit of a maverick – independent-minded, often unconventional and never afraid to do the unexpected and blaze a new trail.
As a student at Monroe High School, Jeff was a standout athlete earning numerous honors and recognition in both wrestling and football. After being heavily recruited by Division 1 college football programs across the country, he accepted a scholarship to play for The Ohio State University. But he missed wrestling. So, after his freshman year, he transferred to Miami University in Oxford, OH where he could participate in both football and wrestling.
Eventually, wrestling won out. He stopped playing football altogether to pursue his wrestling career in A.A.U. Freestyle Competition, winning numerous Open tournaments and ranking 3rd in the nation. He went on to become a member of the New York Athletic Club and a finalist in the 1976 Summer Olympic Trials for the United States wrestling team’s heavyweight division.
The road to Victor-y
All of Jeff’s athletic accomplishments earned him quite a bit of notoriety in his hometown. So, in 1977, when Victor the Rasslin’ Bear came to town as part of a wrestling event meant to draw crowds to the recently opened Towne Mall, who better to put into the ring with him than the hometown’s wrestling “star?”
Victor was somewhat of a celebrity in his own rite. Standing at 7 feet tall and weighing roughly 550 pounds, he traveled the country, entertaining crowds, appearing in Sports Illustrated and on television shows including the Johnny Carson Show, Donahue, The Ed Sullivan Show and Let’s Make a Deal.
For the Towne Mall event, Victor would wrestle five opponents during three different time blocks throughout the day. Jeff was to be wrestler number four during the mid-day session. He was very much up for the challenge, but smart enough to get a look at exactly what he was up against.
“I went and watched some of the earlier matches and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to pin Victor…but I could definitely put on a good show,” said Jeff.
Another thing he realized? A pattern in how Victor “finished off” his opponents.
“Victor would start out the match standing upright,” explained Jeff. “At some point, the trainer would give a signal, at which time, Victor would drop down on all fours and go after his opponent’s legs. He’d roll into them, getting them on their back and then he’d stand on them (thankfully with just two legs) for the pin.”
Fight Club: Bear Addition
Finally, it was time for Jeff and Victor to meet face to face. Though he was declawed, de-fanged and muzzled, Victor was still, well…a bear, and a very strong one at that. Jeff tried three standing headlocks to no avail.
Then the “finisher” signal came from the trainer and Victor dropped to all fours. However, little did Victor know…he was the one about to be “finished.”
Recalled Jeff, “When Victor rolled into me, I used a common lift move and used his own momentum to take him to his back. I was able to step over and lock him up long enough to get the pin. The crowd went nuts!”
Until his matchup with Jeff, Victor had been undefeated in his last 15,000+ matches.
Captain of a different kind of team
Make no mistake about it – the competition in the business arena is every bit as fierce as it is in athletics. The qualities and characteristics that drove Jeff to reach his elite level of athleticism helped Jeff transition into an incredibly successful businessman and entrepreneur.
Having worked for many years in the family business, repairing paper mill machines, he saw an opportunity to save companies money in a way that had never been done before. At a time when strip-chart recorders ruled, the idea of computerizing data collection was unheard of and very cutting edge.
But just as he did as an athlete, Jeff thrived on the adrenaline and excitement of rising to the challenge and overcoming the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that come with navigating unchartered waters.
In the beginning, Jeff along with lifelong friend and business partner Mike Hogan started Industrial Vibration Consultants, Inc. (or IVC), which rapidly grew into one of the biggest vibration analysis companies in the industry. Later on, as industry needs changed, Jeff’s vision of what the market needed also evolved from being just a “vibe” company. The name was changed to IVC Technologies to reflect not only the expansion in personnel, but also the significant expansion in service capabilities by providing a comprehensive suite of predictive technologies to the Condition Based Monitoring arena.
In the end, the former Monroe High School standout athlete turned entrepreneurial maverick, turned the field of condition monitoring on its head and made IVC Technologies the industry leader it is today.