1) Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

DuraLedge offers the leading sink support brackets renowned for their durability, functionality, and clean finish. We are actively working on developing new products to further expand the DuraLedge brand. Our goal is to deliver quality and value to our customers. I appreciate how home builders, plumbers, cabinet manufacturers, countertop fabricators, and many other trades have seen how DuraLedge improves their bottom line making our brackets the new industry standard for mounting sinks.

Our current headquarters are in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2) Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

I have a strong entrepreneurial background with extensive experience in the manufacturing industry spanning over 26 years. I currently own and oversee four businesses. Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have leveraged cutting-edge technologies such as automation, CAD/CAM, 3D printing and industrial design to drive operational efficiency and deliver high-quality products.

I see opportunities and I ask myself how I can maximize their potential. This has allowed me to successfully expand my business portfolio and diversify beyond one business venture. Innovation and Product Development comes naturally to me, allowing me to create, refine and launch new products that bring value to industries with their design, functionality, and market appeal.

3) What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

Customer care has always been important in business. As a custom cabinet manufacturer (my first business), homeowners, home builders, and other trade professionals such as countertop fabricators, and plumbers, often asked myself or my employees to install Farmhouse and Apron front sinks. Typically, the most common method of supporting Farmhouse sinks involved using 2x4s, which meant relying on leftover materials from the framing crew or purchasing supplies from the nearest home improvement store. This was and is not a great solution and posed several issues. It gave the interior of a person’s new cabinet a less than professional appearance and occupied valuable space. Moreover, it had the potential to create future complications for the client due to expansion and contraction of the unfinished wood, but also required shims to try and level the sink. Without any sink support options, I took it upon myself to develop a solution: DuraLedge.

5) What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

  • Persevere: When you’re confronted with challenges, and you will be, it’s crucial not to give up. Setbacks are a normal part of the entrepreneurial journey. Instead of being discouraged, use these as opportunities for growth and learning.
  • Prioritize client care: Your clients are the lifeblood of your business, so it’s essential to prioritize their needs. Take the time to actively listen to their questions, comments, and concerns. By understanding and acknowledging your client, you can provide better products or services and build long-lasting relationships.
  • Engage with fellow entrepreneurs: Networking and seeking advice from other entrepreneurs can be valuable. Reach out to them. You’ll likely find that most entrepreneurs are receptive to sharing their experiences and insights. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can provide inspiration, knowledge, and potential collaborations that can help you move forward, faster.

6) What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

  1. Continue to learn: Never stop seeking knowledge and developing new skills. Have a growth mindset and actively seek opportunities for personal and professional development. Most everything you want to know is either in a book or online.
  2. Listen and keep an open mind: You must recognize that no one person has all the answers or knows everything. Be open to feedback, ideas, and perspectives from others. Surround yourself with different people who can offer valuable insights. Being receptive to different viewpoints and approaches will help you make informed decisions and adapt.
  3. Start today. Growing a business takes time. Rarely is it a straightforward and rapid ascent.

7) How many hours do you work a day on average?

When I launched my first business at 28 years old, I worked long and intense hours. I have so many memories of starting my days at 5 am and leaving the shop at 1 am. Now that I’m older and have become a parent, my priorities have shifted. Now, it’s more important to be present for my kids. Those initial years of long and demanding hours have given me the freedom and flexibility to choose my time according to my preferences. Although there are still occasions when work demands longer days, on average, I now work around 30 hours per week.

8) To what do you most attribute your success?

I refuse to settle. I think this trait is instilled in many people, maybe to a fault sometimes. Nonetheless my focus is always set on moving forward and constantly improving.

9) How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Marketing is always an ongoing process. We’re always visiting different strategies as my businesses evolve. Generally, I will start with SEO paired with SEM. This will vary depending on the type of business but it’s a good way of gathering data allowing us to get creative with other forms of marketing based on the information obtained.

10) Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

In 2007 when I started my first business, the economy was not doing well and of course banks were not willing to fund a cabinet company while the housing market was collapsing. I came up with a business plan to pitch to investors. Knowing I would have to pay my investors first if I wanted to get ahead, coupled with the uncertain economy, I maxed out one Visa and one MasterCard to get going. These days I invest in myself.

11) What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

For me, besides being customer focused, it’s to always be forward-thinking. I’m always going to be open to adaptation, continuous improvement, and if necessary, the willingness to pivot in a new direction. New directions can really throw off a person’s momentum but if you can look at it as an opportunity rather than a hurdle, it will allow you to thrive over the long term.

12) Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

In the coming 5 to 10 years, my focus will continue to revolve around innovating and developing new products and businesses. Although I enjoy selling products, towards the end of the 10 years it may be time to look at selling some businesses or opting for licensing arrangements. When it comes to slowing down, I may take on mentorship and investment rolls.

13) Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

I admire many companies out there. When I was just getting started, I came across an Uline catalog. This business was selling, what appeared to me at the time, the most random stuff. All the stuff that helps a business run, yet things that I never considered my business needing until then. The other thing I noticed when I visited their will call was how clean the outside and especially the inside of the warehouse was. Not only was it huge, but it was also flawlessly clean inside, strangely beautiful. The old 5 second rule when it came to food being dropped on the floor would not be needed.

14) How important have good employees been to your success?

They’re really important. Whether it is a direct employee, subcontractor, or external business we engage with, treating people with respect and providing a conducive work environment has been instrumental in our success. By valuing people’s contributions and compensating them appropriately, it ultimately leads to a more thriving and successful business.

15) How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

Until you can feel it’s no longer viable. I’m not sure who said it, but I always like the saying “trust your gut, it knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.”

16) What motivates you?

Having a problem to solve. Being creative and learning scratches some sort of little itch in my brain and keeps me happy. On my days off, even something simple like making new dishes for meals, playing with Legos or 3D printing with my kids makes me happy.

17) What are your ideals?

My ideals center around honesty and a commitment to serving others. Using these values to guide my actions and decisions has made life better, both personally and in business. This can be challenging some days.

18) How do you generate new ideas?

I have a creative mind and write down everything that I think of. Good, bad, goofy, it doesn’t matter at that time. Later I come back and revisit my ideas to reflect on them and decide if I should take action.

19) How do you define success?

Living life on my terms and having freedom. Freedom comes in many different forms. Free time would be my favorite.

20) How do you build a successful customer base?

For me it’s been honesty and providing the client with the information they need. Once you do business with a person, asking for feedback will help you improve your consumer experience, services, or your products.

21) What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

For me, it’s creating. I approach almost everything as a creation, and it’s never finished so long as I have ideas and there is no shortage of ideas right now.

22) What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Being able to step back and watch a business run efficiently and grow without needing to be present all the time.

23) What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

A much larger paycheck. Joking aside, entrepreneurs are risk takers. I can understand an employee’s perspective. Being able to leave work at work is nice, although not everyone does. Also, there’s a sense of security being an employee. These days, maybe that sense of security isn’t as prevalent.

24) What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

I strive to create a positive work environment based on collaboration and work-life balance. Collaboration allows everyone to be on the same page. Listening and empowering people to make sound decisions based on their strengths is good for everyone.

25) If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

I don’t know that I would do things differently. Much of what I’ve learned has come from growing my first business. I have been fortunate enough to be alive at a time where information and technology is easily accessible.

26) How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Being an entrepreneur initially brought on some stressful days and maybe even months now that I reflect a bit more. As my businesses have grown, it’s provided me with more flexibility with my schedule, allowing me to spend more quality time doing what I want. Balancing entrepreneurship and family time can still sometimes be a challenge but the ability to create my own work-life harmony has been very rewarding.

27) What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Letting people down. I have found that if I can manage people’s, and my own expectations, and communicate effectively, it will pay dividends.

28) How did you decide on the location for your business?

We have moved to 5 different locations around the Twin Cities as my business has grown over the last 16 years. Now that we have a fair amount of space and automation it becomes a bit more of a challenge to relocate. Already having infrastructure helped me immensely when starting up new businesses. Generally, the locations I choose are based on supporting infrastructure in and around the area.

29) Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I feel it’s a mindset. A willingness to keep moving forward.

30) If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?

Napoleon Hill. For years people would suggest reading Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” Good book overall. When I read a book, I like to find out more about the author. Putting Mr. Hill’s name into a search engine yielded some interesting results. Hopefully he would stick around for my questions as I would be curious about his responses.

31) Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My Grandfather. He instilled honesty, values and a work ethic that have really helped me over the years.

32) What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)

There are so many great books out there that I’ve read. One that really sticks out in my head right now is “Chicken Soup for The Entrepreneur’s Soul.” Honestly, I can’t even remember any of the stories. It was the first book I read about being an Entrepreneur and I read it literally 2 weeks before becoming self-employed. Something in that book gave me the confidence to start a cabinet company when the economy was crashing. That makes me chuckle – who in their right mind starts a cabinet company during the housing crisis!?!

33) What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?

Yeah, there’s a lot of them. I’ve scaled a business I didn’t enjoy. Partnered with people with different visions for a business. Approved short production prototype runs of products after failing to catch a flawed component.

These are just a few that come to mind. Some big lessons were learned.

34) How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?

To try and prevent mistakes I create systems and protocols. Good communication is also important. Mistakes are learning opportunities and should be treated as such.

35) What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

I’m into many things that a lot of people are into, golf, mountain biking, cooking, etcetera, but I really enjoy going out on adventures and traveling with my family. Especially if they’re out in nature and off the beaten path.

36) What makes you happy?

Spending time with my family and friends.