“I started work as a bus boy when I was 14,” says Mike Grudzien, then a Catholic-school kid in Northwest Chicago. “I’ve never not worked.” A straight-A student, he pumped gas during high school, put in a year at Wright College, then joined the Marines. “I was looking for adventure and college benefits,” says Grudzien, who served on embassy security duty in Bucharest, Romania. He made sergeant in 22 months, but he left active duty to return to college and earned a master’s degree in advertising from the University of Illinois. He worked in ad marketing and in computer wholesale, then ventured into telecom after the breakup of Ma Bell. “In 15 years I worked for nine different companies,” says Grudzien, who moved to Eugene in 1995. “A thousand businesses knew me as Mike the phone guy.” During the past year he has become “Mike the Mead Guy,” national sales director for Blue Dog Mead of Eugene. “By the end of 2014 we’ll be in 20 states,” he notes. A dedicated community volunteer, Grudzien has served 30 hours at the Egan Warming Center this winter. He made his 100th blood donation earlier this month. Also a fitness buff, he does 1,000 crunches before 7 am every day, in the gym, at home or on the road. He plans to perform 12,000 crunches in a fundraiser for Womenspace on May 18. To learn more, look for Mike Grudzien on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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