Q&A: Orchard Graduate Brian Schutt ’94 Named One of IBJ’s Forty Under 40
It’s that time of year again. Last month, Indianapolis Business Journal delivered their list of Forty under 40, which highlights business leaders and professionals who are under the age of 40 and are excelling in their field. Orchard grads and community members are often featured on this list, and this year is no exception. Congratulations to Brian Schutt ’94!
Brian is the co-founder of Refinery46and Homesense Heating & Cooling. In our Q&A with Brian, we discuss what he’s most proud of, being a Forty under 40 member, and how he felt years ahead of his peers after graduating from Orchard.
Congratulations on making it into IBJ’s Forty under 40 Class of 2019!
Thanks a lot! It really is affirming to be included in such well-regarded company. And like any recognition or award, part of what it affirms is that the many sacrifices made to get where I am, are recognized as achieving something worthwhile. I feel like I'm just getting started, but this just tells me that the path I'm on through Homesense and Refinery46 has some legitimacy.
You’ve accomplished a lot since graduating from Orchard in 1994. You earned a degree in Management from Purdue, started two successful companies, and now you’re a Forty under 40 member. Certainly, you’ve accomplished a lot in between this time as well, so what are you most proud of?
If I'm proud of anything in the quarter of a century since I was at Orchard (Good Lord it feels strange to say that), it's not what I have achieved it's how. Again, it's really strange to talk about myself in terms of achievement -- because I don't feel like I've done much yet. But to the degree I've had success, it's how I've done so with a commitment to integrity in both the values I believe and how it's lived out with the people I've worked for and with. Albeit imperfectly, I've lived each day as the blessing it is, and tried to love others well within the context of vocation.
How did your Orchard experience benefit your professional life?
I've spent a lot of time on construction sites in the last decade, and one thing is abundantly clear -- without a strong foundation a structure won't last. Orchard was my strong foundation. As my classmates can attest, I did not walk the worn pathway. To spell it out more clearly, I probably had an identity crisis when I was 12 and pretty much identified as Michael Jordan. And that isn't hyperbole. The teachers, staff and classmates didn't care one bit that I marched to my own beat. In fact, I think my status quo challenging behavior was viewed as a positive thing. What an incredible environment to grow up in.
Beyond the personal growth foundation Orchard set, academically I was years ahead when I went to high school. I'm still quite sure I've never had a harder and better teacher than Mrs. Fidler. My wife still can't understand my near immediate recall of Russia's Romanov Dynasty. If she knew Mrs. Fidler she'd understand.
If you had to choose one, what’s your fondest memory of Orchard and why?
It's nearly impossible to narrow down. But one that returns most often is the pickup basketball games after school between Teague Avey, Zach Baker, Nick Pantella and I (I'm probably missing a few guys). It's memorable both because of the hours spent, but also because we designated an area close to a metal shed as a "checking zone" a la hockey. If that shed still exists, it probably still has the permanent imprint of my body in it.
What's next for you?
I believe we are created for inspired work than helps revitalize community. As we grow membership at Refinery46, our vision is to build a pipeline for workforce within the trades. In addition, we expect to continue the physical revitalization along 46th Street both commercially and residentially. Our belief is that you can have revitalization without regentrification if relationships are the foundation of the effort. We want to work alongside local churches, businesses, and homeowners to create a vibrant and diverse community that can be a model for other blighted areas across the city and country.