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Hard work pays off

From a young age, Alex Willacker knew exactly what he wanted to do for his career, he wanted to be an accountant.  While attending North Central State College, he honed his skills while his passion grew stronger. Now he is working his dream job as an accountant at RS Hanline, a multi-million dollar company in Shelby, Ohio.   The RS Hanline Company is one of the largest produce distributors in the Eastern United States providing ready to eat and packaged produce to some of the most reputable food service, retail, food manufacturing and wholesale distribution companies across the U.S.

Willacker’s passion for numbers began long ago.  In 8th grade, he had an opportunity to be a job shadow for a CFO of a company in Galion. “I shadowed him one day,” Willacker explains.  “We had a great time chasing receipts and looking for numbers.  I knew I always wanted to do something math-related.  It made it easy for me because when I began high school, I already knew I wanted to be an accountant.”

During his senior year at Colonel Crawford High School, Willacker learned about the College Credit Plus (CCP) program at North Central State College. CCP allows high school students who are college-ready to enroll in college classes while in high school.  Coming to NC State College was a great decision for him.  “I was grateful to be able to live at home while I got my degree at NC State,” he says.  “I also saved a great deal of money.  Some of my friends were attending a large four-year college and paying up to $35,000 a year.  Instead, I chose to stay close to home and take classes full-time, saving me thousands.”

It was classes like managerial accounting that helped him prepare for his future career. “I liked learning about the cost side of things,” he explains.  “In the classroom, the instructors make the assignments as realistic as possible and it was like being in the actual workplace.”

In 2012, Willacker graduated with his associate degree in accounting.  After graduation, he decided to continue his education by transferring to Franklin University as part of the 3 + 1 agreement, which allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree by taking additional classes at the Kehoe Center in Shelby or online.

Between obtaining his associate degree and bachelor’s degree, Willacker became a father.  He realized he needed to find a job to help support himself and his daughter.   “My daughter was born three weeks before my senior year of college.  That made it really tough, but thankfully I was able to take classes online,” he says.  “It was really convenient because I was still delivering pizzas at night so I could wake up in the morning, sit at the table and get my homework done.”

“After graduation, I went to interviews in Bucyrus, Marion, Mansfield…all over the area!  Those interviewing me said I was a great person, but I lacked experience.  I started to get discouraged, I thought I may have to go to a bigger city like Columbus to find an accounting position,” he explains.  Soon after, he heard about a position opening at RS Hanline in Shelby. “Thankfully they were looking for someone with a clean slate, and willing to learn about how they operate.  So, it worked out great.  I was hired.”

Willacker is responsible for accounts payable for five of the 11 companies RS Hanline operates.  “They treat me incredibly well here.  There is room for me to grow as a person and a professional.  With all of the new companies, I can’t even imagine where we are going to be five years from now.”