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Wendell August Forge President to Keynote Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference

Will Knecht, president of Wendell August Forge, will deliver the keynote address at the 15th annual Entrepreneur's Growth Conference on Friday, May 10. Presented by Duquesne University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on campus.

Two days after receiving its largest order ever-aluminum tickets to commemorate the final Penguins hockey game at Mellon Arena-Wendell August Forge suffered a devastating fire that destroyed the company's workshop, office and flagship store in Grove City, Pa.

Even though Wendell August Forge has been in business for more than 90 years, Knecht said, the aftermath of the 2010 fire has required the company to function more like a startup.

"It turned from what could have been a very bad situation into something that has really put us on a trajectory for some exciting growth and opportunity," Knecht explained. "That's going to be the focus of my discussion. I'll talk a little about our history and the fire itself, but the balance of the talk is about what happened after the fire and the lesson in it for entrepreneurs."

Knecht contends that being a successful entrepreneur relies heavily on the way obstacles are confronted.

"As entrepreneurs, we face different challenges every week," he said. "It's how we respond to those challenges that gives us the opportunity to take a lemon and truly make it lemonade."

The SBDC conference also will offer 15 workshops, a business-building networking mixer and a luncheon during which attendees will be seated with experts ranging from technology, marketing and financial professionals to an entrepreneur who appeared on ABC's Shark Tank.

Workshop tracks are geared toward new ventures, established businesses and technology companies. Topics include marketing, public relations, strategic planning, finances and technology.

More information is available by visiting www.sbdc.duq.edu or by calling 412.396.1633.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.