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Ready to be inspired? Introducing Jon Hiltz, the owner of Celebrations Event Center located in Marion, Illinois, whose journey weaves through service, entrepreneurship, and community building.

Born in Maine and raised across Texas and Mexico, Jon’s early years were marked by altruism, aiding refugees and contributing to humanitarian causes. Following his service in the United States Marines, including a deployment to Fallujah, Iraq, Jon pursued higher education in Saint Louis, earning degrees from Saint Louis Christian College and Lincoln Christian University.

Grounded in a passion for fostering growth and community, Jon has worked in various roles, from managing digital marketing firms to steering not-for-profit organizations. Currently, Jon and his wife helm Celebrations, offering a space for weddings, business meetups, and charitable events.

Let’s dive into Jon’s insights on his journey, the challenges he’s faced, and the wisdom he’s gained along the way.

What made you decide to take over Celebrations, and what’s your favorite part about running your own business?

We have talked about a wedding venue for a number of years, and the opportunity kind of just fell into our lap when COVID was starting to die down. I had DJed at this venue several times and always loved it. Once I heard it was for sale, I took the jump.

What are some of the challenges or barriers you faced in getting going?

Lack of good consistent marketing. Due to COVID, the venue had not been advertising or having a good number of events due to the pandemic. Financing and jumping into the business very quickly have caused some extra stress, but we have been good at building the ship as we start sailing.

What does a typical “day in the life” look like for you professionally?

Primarily, our days are spent helping couples find the perfect venue and being here for the events. On the day of the weddings, we always have an owner on-site along with our staff to make sure everything goes smoothly. We host and manage our own websites and social media. Being a small business, we are very connected with every aspect of our business.

Has anyone been a mentor or coach for you in getting through challenging professional times? If so, what kind of advice have they given you that has really resonated?

I have had the blessing to have several good business owners in my life as mentors. Learning not to take things personally and to have grace with others has helped me a lot. We all make mistakes and just try to do your best each day. Making sure to take time off from time to time is very important also.

When you were a kid, how would you have answered the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Would the kid version of yourself be happy with how your career turned out?

My kid self had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, and honestly, I can’t say I “know” what I will do with my career. I just love being able to help people and create a better world. My businesses have just always been a great way to fund my not-for-profit work. I am happy with what we are doing and the business we have been creating along the way.

What’s your advice to people who may feel like they are “stuck” in unhappy work situations?

If you don’t change anything in life, don’t expect anything to change. If you are not happy with something, what steps do you need to take to start to make it better? That is your starting point.


Want more career happiness stories? Check out our spotlight on Oscar Mayer Hotdogger, Chili Cheez Keagz.