Getting an earful of entrepreneurship from alumni

Students hear about starting and owning businesses from Notre Dame alums.

A number of students from Notre Dame’s upper division gathered today in one of the school's new collaborative classrooms in the science, art and technology wing for the 9th edition of the Alumni Career Speaker Series, which is sponsored by the Notre Dame Alumni Association. This session focused on entrepreneurship.

Mike Kastler, a Notre Dame alum from the Class of 1975 and a member of the association’s board of directors, moderated the discussion between students and two other alums who have become successful entrepreneurs: Tom Morley '72, president of Functional Foods Company, and Kris Powell '75, CEO of Bene-Pro, Inc., and HRPro.

Brief bios of each of the participant "entrepreneurs" are below.

Tom Morley, president, Functional Foods Company

Morley, a 1972 graduate of Notre Dame, started his career in the confectionary industry at Morley Candy Makers (MCM) in 1974. In the late 70s, he founded T.M. Morley, Inc. (TMMI), a refrigerated trucking company where he currently serves as chairman. In 1980, TMMI developed a strategic relationship with Little Caesars that ultimately helped support the build of over 1,800 Little Caesars locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 1990, he was appointed president and CEO of MCM and other Morley holdings. During that tenure, he developed a sports celebrity candy bar concept, an aggressive EU/Asian export program, and moved the company into contract manufacturing by acquiring the Sanders brand. In 1999, Morley, with his vast experience in guiding concepts to completion, co-founded the Functional Foods Co (FFC). FFC has brought products to the retail market under its own brands as well as a host of others. He also sits on three nonprofit boards as well as several for-profit boards, including the Macomb County Child Advocacy Center, which helps child victims of sexual and physical abuse. In his spare time, he likes to scuba dive.

Kris Powell, CEO, Bene-Pro, Inc., and HRPro

Powell, a 1975 graduate of Notre Dame, is the CEO of both BenePro, Inc., and HRPro, which have been in business since 1990. His two firms specialize in benefits consulting, HR consulting, and benefit and HR administration, including Cobra, FSA, HRA, HSA, HRIS, billing and enrollment services, etc. Powell is also a graduate of Oakland University. He is an admitted CGN (certified golf nut) and lives in Troy, Mich., with his wife, Jennifer. His daughter, Lauren, is also a Notre Dame alum as well as a student at Michigan State University. In addition, Powell sits on the boards of Automation Alley, a technology consortium in southeast Michigan and United Benefit Advisors, a partnership of the nation’s premier independent benefit advisors. Previous board positions include NDPMA, Big Brother/Big Sisters, and Red Run Golf Club.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at