Jerry Jendusa grew up working in the Waukesha pharmacy his dad operated for 33 years. It was there where he learned about being a business owner and having employees, customers, and a work ethic. So it was no surprise that Jendusa had the entrepreneurial itch. The surprise was the industry in which he chose to start his business.
Jendusa dabbled in home remodeling, re-sealing floors, and painting during college. Then he spent a short time as a bank loan officer after graduating. He considered doing pharmaceutical sales, but a job at Franklin-based Electronic Cable Specialists introduced him to the industry in which he’d achieve entrepreneurial success: aviation.
Jendusa founded EMTEQ in 1996 with a partner, Jim Harasha, who had worked at Hughes Aircraft. The company pioneered alternative lighting with LEDs on circuit boards at a time when aircraft cabins were still being lit with fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.
“Back in 1996, LEDs were not in use at all. The only type of LED might be for a small little indicator light, and we were trying to light up a whole aircraft, inside and outside, with this type of technology,” notes Jendusa.
EMTEQ grew sales to more than $100 million and had more than 600 employees. It was acquired by B/E Aerospace in 2014.
Jerry Jendusa's tips for entrepreneurs:
- Develop a culture based on customer fixation.
- You’ll develop products a lot faster if you get customers on the phone or visit them.
- Ask people for help.
- Have an effective board of directors.
- Surround yourself with inspiring people who align to your company's vision and mission statement.
- Have guiding principles and fundamental values about the way you want to work and the way you want to treat others.