Aileron, started by billionaire Clay Mathile, adapts by teaching business leaders to do the same
In March 2020, the campus closed on a Friday afternoon. The following Monday morning, it opened as “completely virtual,” Fedders said.
Much of those early days was spent just calling customers and getting connected. “We know we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from this,” said Ailerson chairman.
Marisa O’Neill, Managing Director of RetireMEDiQ in Miamisburg, a customer of Aileron for at least five years, said Aileron had been “extremely useful” to her, especially since she had been identified as the likely future CEO of his business.
“It’s pretty amazing,” O’Neill said. “We had a counselor there who had his own successful career. He knew some of the things he had seen when he was going through this, and he passed some of that advice on to me. “
The pandemic has not derailed that work, she said.
“We said, ‘Okay, now it’s here and it’s going to impact our people now,'” O’Neill recalled. “How are we going to go ahead and change these plans? “
2021 marks 25 years since Aileron started working with companies. The Business Education Project was founded by Mathile and grew out of Iams University at Iams Co. When Fedders was running her own tech company, she took the Iams University Presidents Course.
Mathile owned Iams Co. and founded Aileron in 1996 to provide support to business owners and free enterprise in general. Mathile sold Iams to Procter & Gamble for $ 2.3 billion three years later.
But if you go back a little further, Aileron was born out of Mathile’s Center for Entrepreneurial Education, which began in 1994 as an outreach program for family businesses in the Iams pet food distribution network.
In 2015, Mathile had invested around $ 150 million in Aileron.
And those campus investments continue, Fedders said. In 2021, an outdoor area, including a gazebo, was added, providing guests with a safer outdoor space to congregate. And the interior spaces have been designed for the sake of social distancing.
Today Mike Mathile, Clay’s son, is Chairman of the Board of Aileron. Clay and Mary Mathile are the owners of the business, Fedders said.
Aileron leaders are beginning to consider ways in which clients and friends on campus can help support the campus and its ongoing work. As virtual connections continue, the campus is open today and is “busier than ever,” Fedders said.
“Our vision today is to be a thriving community that improves the quality of life in America,” she said. “This community, it could be made up of donors, it could be made up of people who sit on other boards of directors. There are different ways for you to participate in sustaining Aileron’s mission and vision.