Pendleton named person of the year

By: 
KateLynn Slaamot

KateLynn Slaamot

NLJ Correspondent

 

Pat Pendleton, who owns Unker’s Therapeutic Products in Upton, received this year’s FBLA Businessperson of the Year award on the state level. 

Each Wyoming FBLA chapter can nominate someone for the award by submitting a resumé for that person. The state FBLA has a rating sheet, and the nominee’s resumé is examined in light of the criteria contained on the sheet. The rating sheet’s criteria include years of participation in FBLA activities, contribution to local or state chapters and more. 

Upton resident Karla Ludemann nominated Pendleton by submitting a resumé about the ways Pendleton has helped the local Future Business Leaders of America club. Ludemann teaches business and computer science at Upton High school and serves as the local FBLA chapter adviser. 

Ludemann also nominated Pendleton a couple of years ago. Pendleton didn’t win the award that year, but Ludemann wanted to try again, she said, because she felt like Pendleton was “worthy of getting that award.” 

“She (Pendleton) has helped us for so many years and in so many different ways,” Ludemann said. Pendleton has offered financial assistance to the local FBLA, according to Ludemann, and she has allowed the students to tour her business and gain valuable hands-on work experience, among other things.  

“She’s had the follow-through,” Ludemann said. Pendleton has been helping the FBLA for several years, and each year she asks the group what they need, she said. 

Upton’s FBLA members aren’t the only ones who have benefited from Pendleton’s generosity, Ludemann said. Pendleton also cares for the people in the community — always seeking to help people with her product. She has great care for her workers too, Ludemann said. 

The award winner was announced at the end of March at the state FBLA banquet. Although Pendleton wasn’t there, Ludemann and the local club members called Pendleton on the return trip home to tell her about the news. Pendleton said that she was shocked and honored. She also felt that it was special because she was told the news on her late father’s birthday, she said. 

“I’m extremely proud to be recognized — not me personally, but my team,” Pendleton said. Her three employees,  Joyce Allen, Bridgette Hodson and Georgenna Materi, are invaluable members of the team, she said. 

“They’re really the backbone for the company,” Pendleton said.

Over 30 years ago, Pendleton’s father started the company in his garage in 1982. The company’s hometown was Wapakoneta, Ohio. The company’s product, topical pain reliever, is made from pure essential oils. The mixture is made from a recipe passed down in the family for many years — its origin dating back to the early 1900s, according to Pendleton.

Unker’s got its name from a mispronunciation of the world “uncle” by a young child in the family at the time. Pendleton’s father, who suffered from health issues, moved to Upton in 1994 because of the dryer weather. Upton has been the home base for the company since then. 

Pendleton’s own company, Olde Tyme Remedies LLC, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, bought Unker’s in 2010, and Unker’s is now a second-generation company. 

Pendleton keeps the business in the same house her dad used, and the property boasts a 1,500-square-foot pole barn and yard space. All the manufacturing is done by hand in Upton. Although Pendleton still lives in Cincinnati, she makes visits to Upton to see how things are going. When she first took over, she said, she had to travel to Upton a lot, but now her workers know what they are doing and can run the business efficiently.

The transition wasn’t without its challenges, however. Pendleton said that because her father was ill, the company had run out of product, so she had to restock from scratch. Pendleton’s father did not have a website or any advertising, and Pendleton has made changes and increased advertising. She has also spread word about her business through sponsoring a NASCAR driver. 

Unker’s has grown a lot since Pendleton took over, she said, and she hopes the growth continues. The product, which comes as a rub, spray and lip balm, is sold locally and to retailers. Pendleton said that the product is sold to retailers with a healthy profit margin to encourage the growth of small businesses all over the country. Unker’s customer base is generational, she said, and the same people and their families keep coming back. 

Through the years, people have grown more aware of how to take care of their bodies and the natural alternatives available, Pendleton said. Pendleton’s desire in offering this product is to make available safe options that can be used in conjunction with traditional medicine. 

“We have “To God Be the Glory” on everything we manufacture,” Pendleton said, noting that the phrase is part of their mission statement. She also said that she wants to use her product to help others, and she wants to get natural pain relief in the hands of everyone. 

“When we know there’s a need, we fill it. And God has always provided a way for us to do that,” Pendleton said. 

Helping people by providing her product isn’t the only way she wants to make a difference, she said. She also has a deep-rooted desire to help whoever she can, in whatever way she can, she said. Pendleton donates to local communities and their fire departments, food banks and more. She also supports overseas missionaries and the Wounded Warriors organization. Pendleton has multiple family members who serve in the military, she said, so the cause is near and dear to her heart. 

“We won’t let people down,” Pendleton said. 

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