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story.lead_photo.caption Mr. G's Liquor owner Norris Gerhart was the featured speaker at the October gathering of Central Missouri Business Leaders. Gerhart spoke to attendees about the trials and tribulations he's faced throughout a 40-year career. Photo by Austin Hornbostel / California Democrat.

Attendees at October's Central Missouri Business Leaders gathering heard from one prominent local business owner about his humble beginnings and the challenges he's faced throughout a lengthy career.

Mr. G's Liquor owner Norris Gerhart was the featured speaker at the Oct. 16 event, where he addressed a group of about a dozen as part of the morning's agenda. Gerhart, having recently celebrated the store's 40th anniversary, spoke at length about his history and the unexpected trials that have come about over that 40-year span.

"If anybody says when you walk into business that every day is not going to be a hill to climb, I've climbed a lot of them in 40 years," Gerhart said. "Some days I wonder why, some days I know why."

For much of the first 14 of those years, Gerhart was without a business partner, he said. His wife, Lesley, came into the picture and quickly helped him to streamline his management process by encouraging him to purchase a computer to help with inventory, among other ideas over the years.

Though one of the topics on the agenda for discussion at the event was creating and implementing a business plan, Gerhart said he'd never really had one throughout his nevertheless fruitful career.

"It wasn't a plan to be successful, but I'm thankful," Gerhart said.

Gerhart mentioned during a question and answer session that in regards to the Moniteau County community represented in the population of attendees present, there is a chance a stronger connection between Tipton and California could act as an energizing force in the community at large. He said the younger population that has recently started electing to stay in California is having such an effect in the bubble of the California community.

Following Gerhart's portion of the morning, Lauren Carter, Director of Lincoln University's Small Business Development Center, provided an informational presentation about creating a business plan — a framework that helps to clarify and define a business's goals and identifies the actions needed to achieve them. Carter said a good business plan is "vital to the success of a business."

Central Missouri Business Leaders' next meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, again at Grind Gathering Place.

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