WATERLOO - Chad Shipman doesn't claim to be the smartest guy in the room. Winners of The Courier's 20 Under 40 award typically don't.
Shipman, though, seemed awed to join a club that features some of the sharpest leaders of the Cedar Valley's future.
"When I think of young leaders, I see myself as definitely not the smart one. I know just enough," he said.
Shipman, Iowa business development director with the Waterloo-based Samuels Group, said he is a big believer in cooperation and teamwork.
"I surround myself with successful people that are well-connected. I couldn't have done it without them."
As a leader in Main Street Waterloo and Irish Fest, he gets plenty of opportunities to do that.
He says winning the award is a "wake-up call" of a sort.
"You have core groups that you surround yourself with, and it's a realization of, ‘Wow. I'm in a circle of influential people in the area, and that means I have to continue down that road and have to be a mentor for others.'"
He gets plenty of opportunities to work with others, as a volunteer, said KWWL producer Agnes Kress, herself a member of this year's class of 20 Under 40 winners, who nominated Shipman.
"It would be surprising to attend an event in Waterloo and not see Chad Shipman involved," Kress said on her nomination form. "He is a member of various boards and holds leadership positions within them. Instead of writing various nonprofit organizations a check, he stands out by offering his time, as well, to make an impact."
Shipman was born in Wichita, Kan., but didn't stay there long. In fact, his family "moved around a lot" between then and his graduation from Waterloo East High School in 1995.
"I consider my growing up somewhat unstable when it comes to living in one place," Shipman said.
It also helped him appreciate the Cedar Valley, where his family finally settled.
"You need to find an anchor community," he said.
It also may have fueled his desire to get involved in that community.
He didn't wait long.
"I graduated early and went to work full time immediately," Shipman said. "I still didn't know what I wanted to do."
He was in the U.S. Marines for eight years and, afterward, went to Hawkeye Community College, where he earned an associate's degree in business.
He said it was important to keep moving forward.
"You can't get lazy," he said. "I've learned over the years that friends, family, church, God and other mentors and leaders in the community are my support system."
Since April 2009, Shipman has been with the Samuels Group, a construction company that Waterloo native Sid Samuels founded in 2005 in Wausau, Wis., and subsequently expanded into Waterloo. He moved to the Samuels Group from Pella Windows in Waterloo. As the lead for business development in Iowa, Shipman is charged with fostering new relationships with potential clients across Iowa.
"I met Sid Samuels, and that's one of the reasons I was successful," Shipman said. "He supports all the volunteer organizations I'm in."
Indeed, the company trumpeted the news of Shipman winning the Volunteer of the Year Award for Main Street Waterloo for 2009.
Shipman received the award for his dedication to downtown revitalization by enhancing economic development in Waterloo and the State of Iowa. Gov. Chet Culver and Main Street Iowa recognized him for his efforts in 2009.
"Shipman's commitment to excellence sets the standard for all of Main Street Iowa," the Samuels Group said in a news release about the award.