Throughout the spring semester, Weber State University hosted a series featuring four different speakers from the Peterson Leadership in Technology group. The series culminated on April 9 when John Wolthuis spoke about how “You Can’t Email a Handshake.”

Wolthuis, who attended WSU over a decade ago, is the vice president for West Coast Container in Portland, Oregon. The company manufactures high-quality bottles and jars, according to their website.


The main topic of the speech fit the title, as Wolthuis spoke of the importance of meeting face-to-face in a business situation, as opposed to relying on technology.

Wolthuis spoke of the hardships of working as an entrepreneur. He admitted he did not get off to a flying start, but meeting with several other clients in person helped the situation. His company once invested two years of time to a fellow business, only to have it be for nothing.

“Every day there are ups and downs in business,” Wolthuis said. “Especially running a small company. Every day has some highs and some lows.”

Wolthuis said he believes there can be valuable lessons learned from his speech, which could then be applied to business courses at WSU.

“You’re going to have to understand to take the good with the bad, and that you are going to have to be able to communicate clearly what value you bring,” Wolthuis said.

Wolthuis offered a word of advice for students wishing to enter the business field.

“Learn as much as you can,” Wolthuis said. “In order to be effective at sales, you need to try and understand not just the item you’re selling, but you need to intimately know it.”

During his time working for West Coast Container, Wolthuis said he has been required to help with troubleshooting.

“I have tried to learn as much as I can about the manufacturing process, and my customer’s needs and demands,” Wolthuis said. “I think my challenge would be for people to learn as much as they can about the process from start to finish.”

Wolthius said returning to Ogden for the speech led him to reflect on his past.

“(Coming back) has led me to remember the classes I took and the experiences I had at Weber State,” Wolthuis said. “It has been a good opportunity for me to reflect and think back on the different professors I had and lessons I learned.”

Wolthuis currently lives in Portland and was able to visit with family during his business trip to Utah.

“It doesn’t usually take much arm twisting to get me to want to come back to Ogden,” Wolthuis said.

As an alumni of WSU Wolthuis said he appreciated the opportunity to speak to current students and faculty.

“I am excited about the opportunity to come back to Weber State,” Wolthuis said. “It has been a really good experience.”

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