JKL Associates – celebrating 30 years, a trip down memory lane with lessons learned, adding tools to the toolbox and building life long relationships.
As we bring 2020 to a close, we have a lot to be thankful for during a year with plenty of distractions. Over the next two weeks JKL Associates will travel our 30-year history to give you a glimpse into the ride of a lifetime. We will wrap it up with some lessons learned along the way and tools we have added to our toolbox of life.
It was 30 years ago in August of 1990 that the bud of JKL Associates was formed. It was very humble beginnings and an even more humbling journey for a business which for all intents and purposes was destine for a roller coaster ride none of which I could have conjured up in my mind over the past 30 years.
JKL Associates started officially with a flight to St. Louis, Missouri to participate in an expense reduction analysis program which was to be the original basis for the JKL business model. In fact, it was so simple that the JKL came from initials of my spouse and mine. Just like a monogram on a towel set. It also represented the birthday present I was giving to myself the following year in 1991 when I officially separated from corporate America. I was at the time a regional executive for a software development firm which had grown steadily while I was with them since the early 80’s and we were in the process of taking the company public through an IPO (initial Public Offering).
So it was that between Christmas 1990 and New Year’s Day 1991 while helping my brother-in-law put in hardwood flooring in the foyer of their house that I made the frightful decision to reach out to my present employer and see what timeframe of separation would work best for all parties. The organization had been exceptionally good to me. Giving me extensive growth opportunities from consulting to sales and account management to executive leadership and part of mergers and acquisition teams and part of the IPO preparation. These years formed a solid foundation in strategic planning and execution which I have called upon in supporting all the JKL Associates clients for the past 30 years. I was anticipating a 6-month transition process but to my surprise the CEO opted to bring a quick closure to the employment arrangement by the end of the first week in January 1991 and provided an as needed consulting arrangement for the upcoming few months to support a smooth transition.
So, on Jan 1, 1991 JKL Associates was officially in business. Not a single client to our name (with the exception to the prior employment transition support). Thus, it was time to see what I was really made of. Was my time in corporate America a fluke? Had my ascent to leadership been rightfully achieved or was it just pure luck? Moving from a nice multi figure income to zero income at the beginning of 1991 was a bit like jumping into a hole in the ice of a frozen pond wondering if I would survive the shock to my system. I needed to muscle in and get clients to support my wife and lifestyle which over the years had steadily ticked upward based on the stability of the corporate role at the software company. Here is where my personal experience with the book E-Myth was validated. That one second thinking I was an entrepreneur.
With the jump from the cliff of corporate America into the world of self-employment, I went to work. Originally thinking I needed a building office space and staff. It would look like a traditional company. I started to evaluate how to best make this new adventure work. I did not want to make mistakes but even with some of the best mentoring in leadership at the software company, I frustrated myself by doing things I felt were right but did not do my homework to verify first. Eventually I set up an office working from home utilizing the available technology at the time. This was during the initial evolving home internet connections and pathetic speeds.
Days were filled with dialing the phone to get appointments with prospects and then having meetings to espouse my services of helping them save money by better organizing the inventory and purchasing processes. The initial focal point of entry was in the medical industry. Specifically, nursing homes as the state had just changed policies on how much they would pay per bed in such a facility and they were struggling to survive. I felt that if I could save them money, then they would have a better chance of providing services to their clients. Then two things happened at about the same time. I was doing a free analysis for my church on their purchasing and inventory needs which led me to a conversation with one of their janitorial suppliers. The other thing was a conversation with the head of a local nursing home who agreed to meet with me to discuss my approach. As fate would have it, I was successful at landing the nursing home and the janitorial supply client at about the same time as our first two clients. One was for the purchasing and inventory analysis which was the basis for launching JKL Associates and the other was for business development, sales, and organizational effectiveness. The latter was part of my history but not really part of the initial model for starting up JKL Associates.
The analysis process at the nursing home went surprisingly well and we (my wife and I) were able to not only find substantial expense saving by renegotiating purchasing agreements with key suppliers but also improved terms, service levels and inventory storage (JIT- just in time) deliveries which freed up space at the nursing center. We were off and running at JKL Associates with Expense Reduction Analysis efforts.
At the same time, I was now in the need to start to develop material to help our other new janitorial supply client build their business to the next level. This client was a third-generation business which was trying to reinvent itself. I had convinced the present owner I had done wonderful things at the software company and could replicate them for his business. I had grown up in a family owned and operated business, so I was familiar with the dynamics of that environment. Years earlier I did not pursue to get more deeply involved in the family business. Not because it was not something I liked, but more about the industry had changed and the need for the services offered was being phased out. We were fortunate to find a buyer for my Dad and Uncle who were partners. This allowed them to retire and enjoy the fruits of their years of partnership in the business. This set of events would later come to play in JKL Associates navigating the many transitions which take place in organizations, both family owned, and tightly held corporations.
Next week we visit Part 2
JKL Associates looks forward to continuing to build relationships rooted in “Purpose.” Give us a call at (313) 527-7945 in Michigan or (407) 984-7246 in Florida and let us help you in your journey.