Jerry Jendusa and his partners grew their business from a basement startup to a $100 million international company, but the path was neither straight nor easy.
Jendusa and partners Jim Harasha and Paul Schulls encountered many sticking points along the way to building EMTEQ, an aviation products and services company. As they progressed, they developed processes, tools and strategies to help them move past challenges and into growth.
As keynote speaker for Insight’s Technology & Human Innovation Networking Conference, or THINC!, Jendusa will share that wisdom with attendees.
The southeast Wisconsin native and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate started EMTEQ in 1996, along with colleague and IT guru Harasha and longtime friend Schulls, just five years after he’d graduated college.
“I think that if you were to define what an entrepreneur looks like, you’d probably say it is someone who has autonomy but is also willing to try and do some crazy things. I have been told that I fit that description,” Jendusa wrote in his 2017 book, “Get Unstuck: Strategies, Tools and Courage to Move Your Business to the Next Level.”
It turned out well for him. By the time Florida-based B/E Aerospace Inc. acquired EMTEQ in 2014, the company had more than 630 employees across seven locations.
After selling EMTEQ, Jendusa turned his attention to helping other small business owners. In 2014, he, Harasha and Schulls founded STUCK Management, which includes an investment fund and coaching, and STUCK Breakthrough Strategies, a platform that serves as navigation for small businesses to create a systematic growth approach.
“The world changes, systems change, products change, people change,” he says. “To keep up with the times, you have to adapt to the change.”
Jendusa says business leaders can get stuck for many reasons, from lack of a clear vision to issues with finances to resistance to delegating tasks to others. In his own business, Jendusa and his co-founders initially wanted to be involved in decisions at every level, a choice he says was disruptive and inefficient. Delegating allowed leadership to work more on the business instead of in it.
Even growth-oriented people and organizations can get stuck, Jendusa says. A company may simply ebb and flow and keep pace with the economy, struggling to find a way to outperform past results. A $10 million company may want to become a $100 million company but be uncertain about how to get there.
To help companies become more successful, Jendusa recommends creating a one-page business plan to guide strategic initiatives and targets for the five pillars of business: growth, customers, innovation, productivity
“A systematic approach to entrepreneurialism is a systematic approach to growth,” he says, adding that this method allows people to have more courage.
Companies that want to grow should innovate and sincerely listen to their customers, and every business should care about its people, Jendusa says. This advice may sound obvious, but attaining these goals often proves elusive.
At his THINC! keynote, Jendusa says he aims to get attendees to think about how they want to approach innovation. It can be different for different companies, he says, but commonalities exist as well. He’ll discuss organizational and people development and creating a culture of growth.
It will be a lively and engaging discussion in which Jendusa encourages the audience to ask questions. He wants people to laugh, and his talk will be peppered with self-deprecating humor.
“You don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room to be in charge,” he says, pointing to himself and his own entrepreneurial grit.
Thursday, May 10, 3-6 p.m.
University of Wisconsin-Fox-Valley
Tickets: $55 in advance, $60 at the door
Visit www.insightonbusiness.com/thinc to register, learn more and see the list of nominees for the Insight Innovation Awards.