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Farmers Turned “Business Extraordinaires” Thanks to Packer Mentor Protégé Program

Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Food is a company that has created a healthy snack based on Non-Genetically Modified Organism (non-GMO) soybeans.

The company began as organic grain farmers that had one bad year after dealing with poor weather and broken equipment.  Finally, as farmer Darren was plowing his underdeveloped soybean crop back into the ground, an idea struck him. Dry Roast these beans!  Running into the house with this new inspiration at 2AM he woke farmer Jennifer up and said “Hurry Jennifer, get up and cook these” to which farmer Jennifer said “You’re crazy, I’ll do it in the morning.”  Needless to say, after much research and development they now have a wonderful product to eat.

“As farmers we had little training in the business world and have loved the learning process and development,” said Jennifer Kornowske, CEO of Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Food.  “We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with the Packer Mentor Protégée Program, because it gave us a wonderful opportunity to better understand the finical side of a
company and how it should function at a larger level.”

When Jennifer and Darren first applied to the Green Bay Packer Protégé Mentor Program they were pumped up to participate and then felt honored that their little company was selected as a protégée.  At the first meeting the mentor’s event they were able to interview so many great mentors, but when they got Lonnie Charles table they knew they had found their mentor.

Lonnie Charles works for DPACC member  Wipfli LLP which is an accounting and business consulting firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and accounting and business is where the Kornowske’s needed the most help.

“I began to cry.  I knew we needed his help desperately and was embarrassed and fearful of how needy we were in our financial department,” said Kornowske.  “All of a sudden I was personally flooded with emotion because of how inadequate I felt in the accounting department.”

Through the next year Lonnie met with Darren and Jennifer every week, rarely missing an appointment. Lonnie’s calm and peaceful personality and his dedication helped Jennifer become comfortable and willing to get more involved in the accounting part of her company, Almost Nuts!.

“Now we are more organized, efficient, and accurate in so many areas of our company because of what Lonnie was able to teach us,” said Jennifer Kornowske. “I no longer cry in the face of paper work, tax season only took 30 minutes instead of 3 weeks, inventory is accurate, and sales are up.”

Jennifer and Darren Kornowske of Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Foods are grateful to the help which the Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program has given them, especially the help given by their mentor Lonnie Charles.

“I believe it has been a successful tool for us and wish I could continue to participate in the Packer Mentor Protégée Program because it is a valuable tool for small companies to get information and hands on education from successful people that volunteer their service to improve Green Bay and the community one company at a time,” said Jennifer Kornowske.

“This program is so valuable and I hope it continues for a very long time.”

The Green Bay Packer Mentor- Protégé Program established in 2011 to pair emerging minority- and woman-owned companies (protégés) with established, knowledgeable, and committed companies (mentors) that can provide exposure, appropriate training, resources and experience not readily available to the protégé companies.

The Packers and AFF Research, LLC, administrators of the Mentor-Protégé Program, are committed to the continuing success of the program and to the community of businesses that benefit from it.

Byline:  Claire Westlie, PR Intern DPACC

And now.. from a mentee! It isn’t so intimidating to be successful

It isn’t so intimidating to be successful

A part of the The Green Bay Packer Mentor- Protégé Program established in 2011 to pair emerging minority- and woman-owned companies (protégés) with established, knowledgeable, and committed companies (mentors) that can provide exposure, appropriate training, resources and experience not readily available to the protégé companies.

The Packers and AFF Research, LLC, administrators of the Mentor-Protégé Program, are committed to the continuing success of the program and to the community of businesses that benefit from it.

After working as a graphic designer for 10 years, which included many hours of sitting and staring at a computer screen, LeeAnn Laes of About Body realized she had very bad posture.

“The chiropractor said I had the spine of a 70-year-old woman,” said Laes. “The doctor sent me to physical therapy.”

A good friend had recently graduated from massage school and needed business cards, so the two traded services. Laes saw the benefit of massage and decided to change her career.

After that Laes attended Blue Sky School of Massage and graduated with a degree in medical massage. Laes began her company, About Body, to provide people with massage therapy. “I saw the need and went for it,” said Laes.

About Body, LLC primarily does Neuromuscular Massage Therapy. “We also do postural analysis and corrective exercise to help people correct the soft tissue or muscle deficit problems. We do cancer, pre-natal and post-mastectomy massage. We use aromatherapy as well as salves,” said Laes.

Laes applied for The Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé program because her business was in a state of growth and she hoped this program would give her the guidance she needed. “I had many different aspects of being a business owner to learn,” said Laes, “From being a one person business to having many people on staff.”

Laes mentor is Julie Musial with The Growth Coach and because of Musial’s help Laes has stayed focused on growing her business. Musial gave her new ideas and tools to use and continue to grow.

From the program, Laes hopes to continue to keep the connections she has made with other business. “I still have a lot of growing to do and can always use the guidance,” said Laes.

About Body, LLC is going into a new building and will expand into two other areas in Green Bay. Laes has gained contracts with schools to help students get internships through her business. Also, Laes is working with NMT Midwest Inc. to help students become certified in Neuromuscular Massage Therapy.

As a protégé, Laes believes The Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program is important because it gives single or small business owners an opportunity to grow their business and have experts around them at all times.

Laes has two children and three grandchildren with another grandchild on the way. She enjoys the outdoors, especially kayaking adventures around the U.S. and she enjoys the journey of being a business owner and the profession of massage.

Written by Claire Westlie, DPACC Intern 2012, St Norbert College Student 

Mentor-Protégé Program Partnerships of 2012

The Growth Coach, Green Bay, Wis. and Door County Interiors and Design, Egg Harbor, Wis.; Wiplfi, LLP, Green Bay, Wis. and IProcureDirect, Green Bay, Wis.; Wiplfi, LLP, Green Bay, Wis. and Bowman Performance Consulting, Shawano, Wis.; Score, Green Bay, Wis. and Key Elements Healing Arts Center, Green Bay, Wis.; and Strategic Management Associates, Green Bay, Wis. and Sabamba Alpaca Ranch, LLC, De Pere, Wis.

The Growth Coach is a Mentor too!

Julie Musial, a Growth Coach from The Growth Coach in Green Bay, is a mentor for the Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program. She has a simple mission: to help small business owners, sales people and managers to live their dreams and have a balanced life.

Musial has a broad range of experience in business, business coaching, advertising, sales, buying and Corporate Management. She currently owns “Media Ad Buying/How to Advertise and The Growth Coach” and recently finished writing her first book Media Ad Buying/How to Advertise in Traditional Media.

As a Growth Coach, Musial helps business owners gain clarity and focus by looking at what is and isn’t working in their businesses and lives.  The Growth Coach offers a series of one-day workshops, which are 90 days apart. With each workshop, topics of importance and interest pertaining to the group of participants are presented.
In between each workshop, The Growth Coach stays in touch with each participant and provides support and advice. This unique method helps participants improve while reaching their goals.

Musial believes The Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program is important for businesses. Not only does the program lend a hand to minor and women-owned businesses, but it also allows businesses to give back to the community through support and guidance. Giving back to the community is important to Julie Musial and The Growth Coach.  The Green Bay Packers Mentor Protégé program has allowed them the opportunity to do just that.

“The program allows minority businesses an added support system to contribute to their success,” said Musial.
“Because of what we do, The Growth Coach was perfect for this program,” said Musial, “Going into our second year in the program, The Growth Coach was able to add a lot of coaching knowledge to the overall program.”
Musial and The Growth Coach look forward to continue working with the Mentor-Protégé program.

the Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program is administered by DPACC member, AFF Research LLC

Summer Reading List for Entrepreneurs

From our friends at AFF Research who administer the Packers Mentor-Protege program, a summer reading list!

It’s often said, “it’s not always WHAT you know, but WHO you know.”  Luckily, being involved with the Green Bay Packers Mentor-Protégé Program allows everyone to get to know some really intelligent people.   Not only does the program grant participants exposure to a great deal of business expertise and knowledge, but it also gives them an outlet to meet many superb business professionals throughout the area.
We’ve learned that the connections made through the Mentor-Protégé Program are a valuable resource for guidance and advice.  Whether you’re looking for help in improving your Facebook page or wondering what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, the Mentor-Protégé Program provides a quality pool of professionals that are always willing to help out.  So, when brainstorming material for this blog entry, it made sense to turn to one of our own for some ideas.
Dr. John Hartman is the CEO of Visonex, a rapidly growing medical software company.  Headquartered right here in Green Bay, Dr. Hartman also serves as a Green Bay Packers Mentor-Protégé Board member.  He made the shift from working as the Dialysis Medical Director at Bay Area Medical Center to an extremely successful entrepreneur.
So, who better to turn to for some advice about entrepreneurship?  We asked Dr. Hartman to tell us some of his favorite books that he thinks helped make him a better entrepreneur.  Check out his reading suggestions below:
1. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy
2. The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage by Pine and Gilmore
3. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
4. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins
5. Co-opetition by Brandenburger and Nalebuff
6. The Art of Profitability by Adrian Slywotzky
What must-reads are on your list?  Do you have any suggestions to add to our summer reading list?

Heart@Work – Protege

Inspiration (in-spuh-rey-shuhn): An influence that motivates.

Diana Gustin’s inspiration was her son Drew, who has been diagnosed with Down ’s syndrome. Gustin use this as motivation to start her own company Heart@Work, to employ adults with disabilities to produce gourmet popcorn that is sold through retail locations, corporate gifts, and fundraisers. However, it doesn’t stop there, Heart@Work also provides vocational and education training for its employees. Heart@Work also is a one of the companies of that is participating in the Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program.

Administered by AFF Research LLC  of Green Bay,  the program enables established businesses with emerging businesses. Through the 12 month term, the minority- or women-owned businesses will be given specific tools, business exposure, training, materials and resources that cannot be easily attained.

Before the participants were ever chosen, Gustin approached the application process with a nothing ventured, nothing gained-attitude. She felt as the program would not be as beneficial as one would think; however, when Heart@Work was paired with Eli Swanson, Jason Hunt and Chris Hussin from Boradman and Clark Law Firm in Madison, the benefits were immediate. With the three attorneys and the Board Members believing in the mission behind the company, and having the confidence in Gustin, it was all she needed. The acceptance from her peers gave her motivation to do more with her company and remember that she is not only doing this for her son, but for mentally challenged children’s and adults across the nation and world.

During the program, the protégé is required to outline a specific goal that they hoped to accomplish during the year, along with how the company measures the success of those goals and the commitment to a monthly meeting with the mentors to follow-up on the process. This requirement was a great lesson for Gustin, as it helped her with defined and focused goal setting.  In addition, her mentors provided legal advice and support in areas that Gustin would never have though to focus on.   Most importantly, Gustin says the sincere enthusiasm and support toward  her mission and product kept her energized and moving forward.

As her company mission does for people with disabilities, she feels the Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program does for small businesses. It provides the support that enables small business to grow to its full potential. For Heart@Work and the inspiration that is behind it, it will continue to be inspired and continue to inspire others.

Growing & Developing Small businesses: The Power of Mentoring

Last year, DPACC member AFF Research began administering a program with the Green Bay Packers organization, in a partnership with local business development leaders, has established the Packers Mentor-Protégé Program to foster business growth, economic development and job creation in Brown County.

The program, now in its second year, matches mentor companies from the Green Bay area that can provide technical, managerial, financial or other guidance to protégés seeking to improve their competitive standing. The mentor-protégé relationship requires at least a 12-month commitment.

Initially, protégé companies were minority- or woman-owned businesses located in Brown County or on the Oneida Nation Reservation. The goal also is to reach veteran-owned and other small businesses with the opportunity to participate as the program develops.

Mentor companies must be established companies with the appropriate resources and the ability to commit to the program and the needs of the protégé. Organizations serving as mentors include Alliance Construction and Design, Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Schenck Business Solutions, Schreiber Foods, UnitedHealthcare and Wipfli.

The program is administered by AFF Research LLC (AFFR), Anna Steinfest, President/CEO, and overseen by a board of directors that includes John Hartmann, M.D., CEO of Visonex; Tammy Hawkins, Sourcing Manager, ROMO, Inc.; Lorri Kieff, CEO of Bay Area Consultants; David Martin, Business Development, H.J. Martin and Son; and Quasan Shaw, Business Development Planning Specialist, City of Green Bay. Consultants to the program include Jason Wied and Aaron Popkey, Green Bay Packers; and Greg Kuehl, Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District.

“We felt this would be a good opportunity to help establish a program that can help companies take the next step in their own business development,” said Jason Wied, Packers vice president of administration/general counsel. “We know many organizations in our area have the expertise to assist in developing the various skills needed by small businesses to grow and become more successful companies.”

AFFR assists their clients in designing and implementing comprehensive supplier diversity. They also provide guidance to entrepreneurs. AFFR has consulted in the field of supplier diversity for 10 years, and has worked on both the Lambeau Field redevelopment project and post-redevelopment projects.

Questions and requests for mentor or protégé applications should be directed to AFFR by telephone at 920-884-5006 or by e-mail aff@affresearch.com.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be profiling the first year’s participants and also doing before, during and after interviews with this year’s participants.  Stay tuned, I bet you’ll learn something useful AND be inspired.  Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to be a mentor or protege or simply pass the word.  At the very least, I think you’ll be fascinated by the journey and experience from both sides of the relationship.