On Entrepreneurship And Being All You Can Be

As I face retirement and can look back clearly with my life, I feel I can be a source of wisdom for young people on the verge of entering the workforce while still determining their career goals. In reading the Blugold View, the alumni news letter of the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, www.uwec.edu, I am looking at Pablo Properties which was founded by three UW Eau Claire Alumni who are great examples.

Number 1. Never settle for being in a mediocre job where you just punch a clock. You will never grow by doing that. You will never be able to make a name for your self.

Be brave. Do not be afraid to go out on a limb. Zach Halmstad, Julia Johnson, and Jason Wudi, each recent alumni of the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, were able to do just that. These three became the driving force behind the state-of-the-art, $51 million Pablo Arts Center at the Confluence. Their company, Pablo Properties has helped to revitalize two downtown hotels in Eau Claire.

Number 2. Take advantage of changes in the social climate. A few decades ago, a friend of mine, Cory Tomzck determined to put environmental law into practice and worked to create a recycling business known as Industrial Recyclers of Wisconsin. Profits for his business come from the sale of recyclable material such as paper and plastic. http://www.irow.bz/pagedata.aspx?id=80

Number 3. Start with an idea. A thought. A passion. Richard Burke and Bevil Hogg partnered together to take advantage of the 1970s bicycling boom to form Trek Bicycles. I doubt if Burke & Hogg even knew if their company would become the largest bicycle manufacture in the United States. Trek manufactures everything from basic children’s bicycles to high end carbon fiber road machines.

Number 4. Take full advantage of any education that you can get to help you learn on how to start your own business. Some universities like the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire offer certificate programs in areas like Entrepreneurship through their College of Business https://www.uwec.edu/files/288/Entrepreneurship-minor-certificate.pdf. There may also be other types of programs within the community where you live that might prove to be valuable resources. In cities like Wausau, WI that might be in the Entrepreneurial and Education Center http://www.wausaudevelopment.com/BusinessAssistance/DevelopmentCenter.aspx.

100 North 72nd Avenue,
Wausau, WI 54401.

Number 5. If you have an idea about doing something that maybe no one else is doing, go for it! The company that I have been working for during the past 33 years was founded by two brothers who saw a need for replacement storm windows in the immediate post-war economy in 1946. The Kolbe brothers were farm boys. They knew the challenges. They knew hard work, and Kolbe Windows & Doors was born. www.kolbewindows.com

The company went through many phases and a customer base was developed at first when Kolbe was primarily a distributor. Actual manufacturing would have a start in the 1970s. At first, the company’s market was primarily in the Mid-West. Today Kolbe’s market sales extend throughout the United States and overseas. It employs nearly 1,000 people in the Wausau area.

The point is to never depend on someone else to provide for your future. You are the one who must be in control. If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to bring it to market. You don’t need to be an Elon Musk or a Zach Halstead. College-educated or not, it can be done!

Alumnus from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire