Meet Frank Millheim: 10 Years as a Record-setting SCORE Mentor
If asked, since October, who has logged 29 hours on Zoom with an additional 64 hours on the phone mentoring 79 clients, 18 of them long-term, would you know who? What if we included the 90 hours of email communications for reminders, session notes, and reference information or the time spent vetting SCORE workshop presenters? His co-mentor, John Leggette, would know. Vic Goldberg, chair of the Speakers Bureau, would know. Many mentors may be able to make an educated guess. But for those who don't, we want to introduce you to Frank Millheim, this quarter's Volunteer Spotlight honoree.
After years working as a project manager and government-compliance officer with General Electric, then Martin Marietta, and finally Lockheed Martin, Frank retired from a career he enjoyed at the age of 75. (The way Frank tells it, he was sold, merged, and divested within a period of 5 years!) Not one to do nothing, in the fall of 2011 he began exploring volunteer opportunities. He started by visiting the extensive AARP library in Washington while on a business trip, leaving with pages of possibilities. Encouraged, he followed up with a local volunteer "matchmaker" who wasn't far into the interview process when she suggested SCORE would be a good fit. He feels blessed to have found his fit—like hand-in-glove.
Although invited to take on a leadership role early on, Frank has always known his passion was for teaching and mentoring. He values the chance to help such a diverse group of entrepreneurs. He likes that no start-up is the same and their challenges to succeed can be very different. When asked for some examples, he first thought of the husband-and-wife team who, under his mentorship over the years, has built a business on federal and state government contracts. Now with a multi-million-dollar income, the couple, in their sixties, is looking to retire. As part of their advisory team, Frank has seen their business come full circle as they are ready to sell.
He is also actively working with a client in the blast industry, a niche market where the client developed customized software that he hopes to sell to the six companies across the globe to streamline their operations. Finally, he mentioned his work with a multitasking woman who makes candles as a side-hustle. Although Frank suggested she seek help to build an e-commerce site, she single-handedly created a web store and sold out of her inventory in two-weeks time! It is the opportunity to help such a variety of small business owners that motivates Frank.
Never having owned a business himself, Frank has learned everything he knows about starting a business from his work with SCORE. He shares with clients his personal checklist of key steps to success he has refined over the years. As a generalist, Frank will readily do research and analysis to help clients, many of whom are juggling multiple responsibilities, but he depends on John to address all things marketing and will call in subject matter experts to fill in the gaps.
Why so many clients? Frank says he purposefully crafted his SCORE biography with keywords that clients would use when searching out a mentor. He also makes himself available to clients seven days a week but leaves it up to them to schedule the follow-up session when they are ready. His willingness to meet at their convenience and using their preferred method to communicate has resulted in a 60% return client rate. Although he enjoyed the face-to-face meetings, he thinks the video calls are 90% as effective.
So at the age of 84 and living in a retirement community, Frank is happy and feels blessed to be working with SCORE. He exercises regularly, likes to read, and is looking forward to socializing again at community dinners. And in his free time? Frank gives monthly lectures on technical topics of interest to seniors as well as holds monthly sessions focused on how to use an iPad and iPhone.
Frank has made a career of mentoring and problem solving and is an asset to SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties. He goes above and beyond for our clients every day and as such deserves the Volunteer Spotlight!