It’s not about the product

Posted on Aug 1, 2016 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Like many people who encounter him for the first time, I was struck by his presence. I think the first time I saw him in person he was delivering a thank you speech for one of many awards he’s received in the past few years. People hung on his every word, and his words were about how much he appreciates the people who work for him.

Here’s a guy who fills every room he enters with his broad smile and sincere handshake.

“High energy. Superb coach. Motivating speaker.” These are just a few remarks by people who endorse him on his LinkedIn profile.

Brian Gottlieb’s business is a home improvement company, Tundraland — he sells and installs sunrooms, windows and shower and bath units. But when you meet him, you get the feeling he would find success in any business venture he might launch.

He tells Senior Associate Editor Sean Johnson in this month’s cover story, in so many words, that transcending the products he offers is what motivates him. Starting a home improvement company in the midst of the Great Recession with $3,000 and a folding table didn’t faze him. Instead, he saw an opportunity in so many talented people in need of work.

“What I needed to do was create a business that was about more than just the products we sold,” he says. And today, he heads a $28 million company with 140 employees. Look for him at Appleton’s Mile of Music the first week of August — he puts a shower stall in the middle of College Avenue and invites passersby to step in and do a little karaoke.

It’s no secret a lot of great ideas come during a nice, long shower. Check out this month’s Made in the New North feature on page 62 for a glimpse of a “Why-didn’t-I-think-of-that!” idea from Kohler Co. Made in the New North is a feature we launched last month to replace Final Frame. With so many innovative companies and products coming out of Northeast Wisconsin, we’ve decide to feature some of the most notable in this spot every month. If you’ve got an idea we should feature in Made in the New North, be sure to let us know.

Something else we’ve got a lot of in the New North: Cool meeting places. When it comes time for your annual strategy meeting, off-site gathering or just a change of scenery from your office, the options are nearly endless. From Lawrence University’s Björklunden in Door County to Kohler’s Irish Barn at Whistling Straits, there’s a setting to inspire you and your team in every part of the region.

Lambeau Field Atrium, the Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium and the National Railroad Museum are just a few excellent and interesting places to hold a meeting that we could not squeeze into our special section this year. If you like this mini-directory of venue ideas and want to let us know what else is out there, we would love to hear from you.

Of course, getting out of town and immersing yourself in a different environment is a great way to rejuvenate yourself — and your business.  Here’s hoping you enjoy the rest of this Wisconsin summer (with your copy of Insight in your beach bag, of course!).

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →