Then and Now

In March, Northwood celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding. Since then, the University has been lifechanging for tens of thousands of graduates. In this article, IDEA Magazine looks at two students, whose university experiences were similar but whose timing was separated by 60 years.

Jim Smith and Zach Allread both graduated from Northwood. Both were captain of the basketball team. And both had a dream to start their own business. Allread graduated in spring 2019; Smith graduated in 1962. Allread was roughly the 57,000th student to enroll; Smith was the first.

Jim Smith - A.A. Industrial Science ’62 and B.B.A. Business Administration ’84

Position on basketball team: Forward; captain for ’59-’60 season

Why did you choose Northwood?

I wanted to study retail and marketing. My dad and I were going to start a hardware store. I heard about Northwood and was fortunate enough to get in contact with Gary Stauffer, then I signed up. Come to find out, I was the first student enrolled in the school. When I went up to the school, I was the first guy at the building, and I was the first guy in the dorm, so I got to pick which room I wanted.

What memories stand out during your time here?

We hung out at the snack bar a lot. There was a little auditorium outside of that. That was all there was. They’d have a dance every once in a while. The dance floor and the snack bar were in a carriage house. And that wasn’t just a fancy name, the building was actually built to hold horses and carriages. The cafeteria was in the basement of the old hospital in Alma, and a house built in the 1930s was our dorm.

Describe your experience as a basketball player for Northwood.

I was a pretty fair player, but I didn’t go to Northwood to play basketball. The student body formed the basketball team. We formed the team, then we got Gary Stauffer and Jim Stauffer to back us. We played Alma, we played Central Michigan’s reserve team, we played a couple of high schools. One of our students was the coach.

What were your plans after graduation?

I was hired in at Oldsmobile as a first-line supervisor for quality control. I had it all lined up before I got out of college, because of my education. Three years later I moved into a general supervisor’s position. While I was working at General Motors, I continued my education through Northwood’s External Degree Program. I worked for General Motors for 30 years, retiring in 1994 at 54 years old. Then I started my own business, JL Smith Landscaping and Mobile Home Repair.

What advice would you give to future students?

If you’ve got something to say, say it in the right way. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.

Zach Allread - B.B.A. Marketing ’18 and M.B.A. Management ’19

Position on basketball team: Forward; captain for ’18-’19 season

Describe your experience at Northwood.

Unexpected. I knew I would like Northwood because I had an interest in business and a dream of playing college basketball. It turned out to be the best-case scenario for everything. I got to live out my dream of playing college basketball and I got two degrees in four years. I would recommend Northwood to anyone. I met a lot of great people and made a lot of connections.

Why did you choose to go to Northwood?

I initially didn’t want to go to a small school, but Northwood started recruiting me so I visited the campus. They offered me a scholarship and I accepted it the same day.

What memories stand out during your time here?

I could come up with hundreds, but road trips with the basketball team and living out that dream were probably the best memories. I loved building those relationships and getting to know the guys on the team.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’ll finish my M.B.A. classes in the beginning of August so I’m still seeking job opportunities. I’m mostly looking for roles in outside sales, but I’m also open to jobs in marketing and analysis, business development, and strategy. Ultimately, my dream is to run my own business.

What advice would you give to future students?

Get involved as much as possible. Time really does fly by. The more you put into your experience at Northwood, the more you’ll get out of it.