Last in a series on this year’s Courier 20 Under 40 winners.
WATERLOO — Born and raised in Denver, with a self-employed family, Lindy Zars was taught at a young age the importance of building relationships with customers, employees, family and community.
She has implemented those values into her daily life at work, home and through volunteerism.
“Building authentic relationships has benefited me my entire life,” Zars said. “I believe you reap what you sow, and in return I’ve met some of the greatest people I could ever imagine that help me out whenever I am in need.”
Zars received her bachelor’s degree in communication arts, electronic media from Wartburg College in Waverly in 2002. During her senior year, she participated in the Wartburg West program in Denver, Colo.
When Zars moved back to the Cedar Valley, she landed a job at CBE Companies in 2007 as the only employee in the marketing department.
During that time, she led initiatives in rebranding the company, both in domestic and global marketplaces, launched two new websites and added six employees to her team.
Zars switched gears in December and is now director of marketing strategy and communication for VGM & Associates.
But her 10-year tenure at CBE helped her grow and develop in her career and personally. “I kind of grew up” there, she said.
Zars was “instrumental in structuring a marketing department for CBE,” wrote Chief Human Resource Officer Mary Phillips in her nomination letter.
At CBE, Zars was promoted to director of sales and marketing in 2011, and earned a master’s of business administration degree, with a marketing concentration, from Bellevue University in 2013.
To stay abreast of the fast-paced marketing world, Zars is involved with the American Advertising Federation of the Cedar Valley and attends conferences to stay up to date with the latest trends.
“In marketing, you just can’t sit still,” she said.
With a knack for networking and a passion to be involved in her community, Zars joined the Volunteer Center of the Cedar Valley in 2013.
“I love that organization because not everybody understands what the volunteer center’s role is,” she said. “It really does provide a liaison service with the community’s activities.”
She has served on the board as president and, at present, marketing chair.
“You can hear her passion for volunteerism and community engagement every single time she mentions the organization and how to connect with the VCCV to start volunteering.” Lauren Finke, with the volunteer center, wrote in her nomination letter.
Zars attributes her success to putting others first and making the most of her time.
“To me, time is the most precious thing, and there’s never enough of it. ... And for me as a mom, it’s showing my kids that the world doesn’t revolve around you, it’s so much bigger than you, and it is your duty to give back.”
Zars remains close to her family and has two children, Kaylee, 13, who volunteers through her confirmation group, and Drew, 8.
“I’m proud to live here. I think it’s a great place, too, for my kids to go to school and give back,” she said.
The family attends Nazareth Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, where Zars, along with her sister, Lory, and father, Larry, sing together in the choir.