Senior steps up to help family business

A local student received a prestigious scholarship from a nationwide organization, which recognized his efforts of helping out with his family’s business.

Wapakoneta High School senior Jeff Poeppelman recently learned that he has received a Coca Cola Scholarship for $3,000. This scholarship was given through the National Independent Concessioners Association (NICA).

Along with the $3,000 scholarship, four more $1,000 scholarships were given away, and Poeppelman says he was in awe of his achievement of receiving the top prize.

“I was really excited,” Poeppelman said. “My sister had gotten the $1,000 scholarship (when she graduated high school) and I was actually shocked I got it.”

Poeppelman applied for the scholarship this year and explained he had to fill out a lengthy application form along with writing an essay telling the history of being a concessioner and how many years experience he had.

Poeppelman had been working since he was 7-years-old helping his family run a concession trailer, Poeppelman Concessions, of Wapakoneta. The family business sells such items as sugar waffles and funnel cakes at area festivals and fairs.

At 16, Poeppelman stepped up to help run the family business after his father, the late Fred Poeppelman, died in an auto accident.

“Jeff has excelled academically in spite of his life changing events,” Poeppelman’s mother, Debra, said in a news release. “He has always been a very dedicated, compassionate, loyal, determined and competitive individual.

“After the tragic death of his father from an auto accident, Jeff, at the age of 16, matured and became a leader much faster than most boys that age,” she said.

Poeppelman said that the family business is in its third generation, as his grandfather started it and his mother and father continued it. Now he plans to take it over once he graduates college.

“It’s kind of special, you have this running in your family, and you don’t want to end it,” Poeppelman said. “My dad took it over from grandfather. It was his main job, and once he passed away, I took on more responsibility.”

Job duties Poeppelman assume are operation of the famiy’s two concession trailers, maintenance, food inventory, food preparation and trailer preparation at each festival and fair.

“Determined to continue the third generation family business of 46 years, he devoted his energy and enthusiasm overcoming obstacles in help me continue the business,” Debra Poeppelman said of her son.

Poeppelman said he brings the concession trailer out for the Summer Moon Festival, the festival in Cridersville and other local festivals, along with traveling around Ohio to different fairs and events.

Poeppelman plans to attend The Ohio State University-Lima branch, this fall to study business administration.

Currently, Poeppelman is a member of the National Honors Society, plays CYO basketball, worked at the city recycling center, donated to God’s Storehouse, bought Christmas gifts for adopt-a-family, along with other volunteer work including St. Joseph Catholic Church, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.

“With all of these activities,” Poeppleman said, “I have become a more mature and responsible person.”