A Calling Repurposed

Grace College graduate Bryce Glock   (BS ’16, MBA ’16)

 

This story first appeared in the fall 2017 edition of Grace College’s “Two Eight & Nine” magazine.

For Bryce Glock (BS 16, MBA 16), attending Grace College was a natural choice. He’d grown up in the area, had many friends and mentors from the school, and won a scholarship to play soccer there. When Glock enrolled, Grace was in its second year of offering an accelerated degree program that allows students to earn a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years. Glock’s experience with this combined degree program reveals a signature Grace story — one where strong relationships and spiritual insight help form a student’s understanding of his role in the world.

MAKING PLANS

Nearing the end of his senior year at Grace College and eager to propose to his then-girlfriend, Glock was highly motivated to figure out a plan for life after graduation. During his junior year, he and several other Grace students had participated in a countywide program called Kosciusko Leadership Academy, which included opportunities to tour a variety of local businesses, government groups and nonprofits for insight into how they functioned. One of those tours took place at Poly-Wood, LLC, a Syracuse, Ind., startup in 1990 that over the past 20 years had realized exceptional growth and was located just down the road from Grace. Poly-Wood was the brainchild of two high school friends who found an innovative use for post-consumer materials — turning recycled milk jugs into exceptionally durable outdoor furniture. Their model has since inspired a number of imitators, but Poly-Wood continues to lead the industry while maintaining their homegrown values and familial culture.

This culture really impressed Glock during his tour. “From my first interaction with the company,” he remembers, “I felt welcomed and appreciated by everyone, even the president went out of his way to acknowledge me.” The following year, when Glock applied to Poly-Wood, his interview process was a further testament to the company’s openness. “They were involved all the way through, from my first initial meeting throughout the entire interview process. I felt valued from the very beginning.” For Glock, this impression quickly crystallized into a career goal. “There wasn’t even a job description I was looking to fit — it was ‘I want to be a part of this company; where can I fit in?’”

This was exactly the type of employee Poly-Wood was looking for. In addition to his willing spirit and enthusiasm for the culture the owners had worked to build, Glock brought with him an impressive résumé, which included a master’s degree in business completed concurrently with his undergraduate degree. In today’s competitive landscape, an MBA sets candidates apart from the pack. And as an early member of Grace College’s four-year bachelor’s and master’s program, Glock was able to get a jumpstart on life after college. After graduating from Grace on a Saturday in May 2016, Glock showed up for work the following Monday.

DOUBLING THE EDUCATION DOLLAR

One of the most obvious benefits of completing both degrees is the opportunity to make a college education more cost- effective. For Glock, this was a powerful draw toward the program. There’s no getting around the inconvenient truth that private colleges tend to be more expensive than other options. But when Glock ran the numbers, completing a master’s in the four-year bachelor’s time frame offered significant value compared to a state or technical school. “The ability to graduate with both my undergrad and master’s in four years — which would have been a six-year journey in a more traditional setting — ended up coming out more to my advantage.” The financial aspect, he adds, is only one part of the equation. “The tight-knit community, the one-on-one attention from the faculty, the freedom to incorporate Jesus and the Bible into everything, those are all things that play into the value of choosing Grace.”

Even with the heavier course load that attends this combined degree program, the online class model gave Glock a level of scheduling flexibility that other undergraduate students didn’t have. “The professors were there when I needed them, but I enjoyed working at my own pace. It opened up a lot of time for me during the day, as compared to being tied to a class schedule.” Glock says that what really anchored his success was his clear set of goals for finishing his education early. While for some students, attending college is more of a vocational exploration, Glock seized the plan to complete a bachelor’s and master’s together as a rare opportunity to focus and achieve at an accelerated pace. “I really don’t mind being in control of my learning process, to dig in and find answers to my own questions. The program is designed so that you get out of it what you put into it.”

Glock stands in front of a mountain of thousands of recycled milk jugs at Poly-Wood. The jugs are one of the primary raw materials Glock’s company uses to build its outdoor furniture.

AN UNEXPECTED CALLING

Along with the financial and timespan advantages, choosing this option gave Glock a new way of thinking about his calling. Glock initially entered college with his sights set on church leadership. However, his Bible professors and business professors alike encouraged him to explore his gifts and interests further, to take business classes alongside the Bible classes and see where his skills could best be applied. Following their advice led Glock to a revelation: “I was of the mindset that working in a church had more value to God, that it was a higher calling. But a lot of those relationships at Grace — with other students as well as key professors — helped me understand that every major, every profession has value in the same way. We all serve different roles, but we ultimately all have the same mission.” Allowing God to define his path opened a whole new avenue of opportunities for him. One opportunity was hatched with the help of Dr. Jeff Fawcett, dean of the business school. Glock and another classmate, Mike Shank (BA 16), worked with Dr. Fawcett to create Oikonomia (Greek for “stewardship”), a fellowship group within the business school. “The goal was to help everybody know that God has a role for all of us, and we all have a very important role to play in this life.”

The concept became so popular that it soon outgrew the business school and became a gathering place where Grace students in every department came to learn, discuss and encourage each other in the grand scheme of what God is doing around the world. “God doesn’t want everybody to be a pastor,” Glock laughs. “That wouldn’t work out so great for society. Once I got out of that limited thinking, it really opened my eyes to evaluate my skills and abilities.”

Since joining Poly-Wood, Glock’s affinity for business has only become more apparent. In just over a year, he has been tasked with a series of more creative leadership roles, from structuring the company’s direct-to-business sales team to spearheading the company’s commercial/contract sales. His enthusiasm for the company is matched by a pragmatic humility about his rapid growth within it. He says simply, “I have a very important role to serve here, and Grace reinforced that.” And for Grace students currently exploring where their calling might be, Glock offers a lesson that goes far beyond the classroom: “Be open— what God wants for you might not be what you expect.”

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