How Did You Do That?

Entrepreneur Sue Marks On How Companies Can Win In The War For Talent

Sep 17, 2018

From a very young age, Sue Marks has valued entrepreneurship and a strong work ethic.

After her grandparents immigrated from Germany in 1919 with nothing, her grandfather built a life for them in Milwaukee as the owner of a small printing business.

Sue married at 19 and finished college at night, earning a BS in Business Administration from Marquette University. Like her grandfather, she never stopped working.

From Health Care To Hospitality: Entrepreneur Kyle Weatherly

Aug 27, 2018
Frontdesk LLC

Kyle Weatherly took over his mother’s compression garment business in 2006, grew it by 30 percent a year and sold it 10 years later — all without a relevant degree. In fact, he started out wanting to be a lawyer. Solaris had five employees when Kyle started and 120 employees when it was acquired by Lohmann & Rauscher International GmbH & Co., a European conglomerate of medical device and product companies.

Laurie Benson, Co-Founder of Inacom Information Systems

Jul 17, 2018

Laurie Benson was trained as a nurse, but when she recognized in the early 1980s the impending importance of technology to businesses, she co-founded a tech startup.

Entrepreneur Paul Schueller Believes in 'Learning, Not Lamenting'

Jun 19, 2018

Paul Schueller was interested in energy and environmental issues as a young boy in Port Washington and was lucky enough to get into that area as a pipeline construction engineer at Wisconsin Electric. He left the utility to form his own consulting firm, then in 1994 founded Franklin Energy, a Port Washington company that operates energy-saving programs for customers of utilities. Franklin does everything from running rebate programs for purchases of energy-saving light bulbs to performing energy audits for large corporations.

John Byrnes: The Business of Investing in Businesses

May 30, 2018
Mason Wells photo

John Byrnes spent decades building companies – his own and others’. After running the private equity group at Marshall & Ilsley bank for 15 years, he managed its spinout into a new private equity firm. Under John’s oversight, Mason Wells raised three funds, the last reaching $525 million. New Mason Wells leaders have gone on to raise a fourth, $615 million fund.

Food Finance Institute

A quest to find a use for whey produced as a byproduct of organic cheese making drove Tera Johnson to create Wisconsin Specialty Protein, maker of Tera’s Whey nutritional protein powder, which sold in 2012 to Omega Protein for $26.5 million.

Chicken Feed, Probiotics and Staying Ahead of the Agri-Tech Curve

Mar 19, 2018

After getting his PhD in food microbiology from Iowa State, Tom Rehberger took a research-oriented faculty position in Oklahoma State’s animal science department. There he met critical collaborators with whom he discovered that introducing certain friendly bacteria into cows’ stomachs kept them from getting a potentially fatal form of nitrate toxicity, known as chocolate blood syndrome.

That discovery set Tom on a commercial path and gave him Milwaukee connections because Phar-More Biochemical, the company that helped fund that first startup, was based here.

How Jerry Smith's Entrepreneurship Shaped His Career in Commercial Banking

Feb 19, 2018

Jerry Smith's entrepreneurial streak helped shape a successful 45-year career in commercial banking. He was founding CEO of First Business Bank and its parent company. Jerry is now chairman of First Business Financial Services, a publicly traded company with a $200 million market cap and $1.8 billion in assets.

1. Trust your instincts and don’t quit

How Roger Thrun Moved Into the World of Moving People

Jan 16, 2018
Reggie Baylor artwork

When Roger Thrun founded WHR Group, Inc., in 1994, it was an appraisal management firm. Nearly 25 years later, it has grown into a full-service global provider of employee relocation services for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

Thrun says the aim of the Pewaukee-based company is to bridge the gap between affordable relocation solutions and "high-touch" customer service. 

On this episode of "How Did You Do That?", Thrun shares some lessons he's learned along the way:

How Fred Foster Built a Theatre Lighting Company From Scratch

Dec 18, 2017

Fred Foster started Electronic Theatre Controls with his brother and two friends in 1975. He was a UW-Madison student with an idea to create a computerized lighting console. It was a brainy group: Two of the team members would go on to be physicists.

'How Did You Do That?': A Podcast About Wisconsin Entrepreneurs

Nov 20, 2017

Today Lake Effect debuts a new monthly series: How Did You Do That?

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and executive director of the Milwaukee Institute Kathleen Gallagher and Tim Keane, director of Golden Angels Investors and an entrepreneur who led his own startup to a profitable acquisition, talk with successful entrepreneurs about how – and why – they succeeded.