Mike and Judy Wilkes met in 1973 while attending SWOSU and were married November 27, 1974. Mike was a cadet in the Army ROTC graduating from SWOSU with degrees in Marketing and Military Science. Following graduation Mike was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Judy completed all but 12 hours of her degree at SWOSU then accompanied Mike to the Army Armor Officer Basic Course at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. With the cooperation of the SWOSU administration, Judy was able to complete her education at the University of Louisville, transferring the credit hours back to SWOSU, and graduating May 1976 with a double major of accounting and business administration and honors of Summa Cum Laude.
Mike’s military service took them to Mannheim, West Germany where he served as a tank Platoon Leader, a staff position and subsequently the interim Headquarters Company Commander with the 3rd Battalion of the 68th Armor, 8th Infantry Division. The lessons Mike learned during this time proved very valuable later in his business career.
In 1979 Mike and Judy chose to return to Oklahoma with their 2 month old daughter, Jacqueline. Mike embarked on his marketing career in the material handling industry, first inside and then outside sales. He made the sift to the metal finishing industry in 1991 when he worked for Goff, Inc. in Seminole, Oklahoma, a manufacturer of wheel blast machines. Mike made a name for himself in the industry by applying new ideas and processes and was soon hired as a Regional Sales Manager for a distributor of a competing blast equipment company. After 3 years, the distributor was acquired by a French Company that reduced their Regional Sales Staff because “they didn’t believe” in Regional Managers.
In July 1997, just 2 months after being terminated Mike formed Arrow Industrial Equipment and he has never looked back. In August 2006 Judy joined him fulltime and today they own and operate Arrow Industrial Equipment, a blast equipment sales and service company, and Southwestern Paint Panels with an office, warehouse and manufacturing facilities in Houston, Texas, administrative offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Denver, Colorado, and a warehouse operation in Odessa, Texas.
Judy has enjoyed sequencing her career to meet the needs of her family. While living in Germany she worked as an accountant for a German Tele-communications subsidiary of IT&T. She owned her own tax and accounting business for 6 years in Crescent, Oklahoma where their son Austin was born in 1985. After the Wilkes family relocated to Oklahoma City two more sons, Travis and Bryan, were born in 1987 and 1989.
For 12 years, Judy chose to work part-time providing income tax services from home and at H&R Block, while working full-time nurturing their young children. She then returned to full time employment in public accounting at a local CPA firm. After being out of college for 18 years, Judy studied for and passed the CPA exam, receiving her Certified Public Accountant license from the State of Oklahoma in the fall of 1994.
Judy’s accounting career has led her to a great variety of opportunities - working up to Senior Audit Manager at a CPA firm performing primarily governmental and non-profit audits; serving six years as the Chief Financial Officer of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association; and now co-owner and CFO of their family businesses.
By working together and focusing on each other’s strong points, Mike’s marketing and management talents and Judy’s financial management and organizational skills, their companies have enjoyed positive growth allowing then to contribute to their church, community and to Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Mike and Judy consider it an honor to support and promote the SWOSU Presidential Leadership Class and all the outstanding educational opportunities provided at Southwestern.