Tag Archives: Business

Fashion In Business Settings

April 13, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The worst thing I saw someone wear in a professional setting was a mini skirt with a backless blouse and tattoos showing when accepting an award,” says Gretchen Twohig, a lawyer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska.

Many executives would agree. Tales of skintight leggings, flip-flops, and ripped jeans appearing in a professional office abound. Some reports blame millennials while others consider the cause to be the rise of tech startup culture, but the rules are clearly not as black and white as they were in the Mad Men era.

JP Morgan formally embraced the informal trend in 2016 when they created new guidelines that took their offices from being full of suits and ties to ones that allow “Casual pants, capri pants, business-appropriate casual shirts, and polo shirts,” among other trends.

The variety even happens within industries. Nicole Seckman Jilek, a trial attorney at Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman law firm, wears a suit and pantyhose every day. If she wants to add a personal touch to her workwear, she uses accessories, especially black high-heeled pumps.

“If I’m going to be appearing in front of a judge or a jury, I’m probably going to choose a more conservative suit in a more conservative color: black, navy blue, some sort of neutral color,” she says. “But I do have a few of what I call ‘power suits’ that are emerald green and a couple of red suits. So depending on the circumstances, sometimes those red suits can project a more confident image than an all-black suit.” 

Jilek works in a setting that requires her to speak with a variety of clients.

“If I’m going to cross-examine or depose a difficult male witness, I may not want to wear certain colors because I want to come across stronger and bolder and more confident.”

Her personal preference to wear pantyhose every day doesn’t mean she finds it unprofessional if other women don’t. Jilek considers being too casually or youthfully dressed as crossing the line in a business formal setting.

Color choice can push the boundaries of acceptable business formal attire, too.

“There are certain circumstances that are the utmost professional setting, such as a jury trial, so I stay away from wearing a lot of color [in those instances],” Jilek says.

Twohig, on the other hand, works at a business casual workplace. She often wears accessories like jewelry, or brightly colored or patterned shoes.

She deems short skirts, anything with holes, or faded jeans as inappropriate for the workplace. Even dark jeans are pushing it.

Jeans, incidentally, are on the rise again, in terms of their prevalence and their waistlines. The 2018 spring fashion trends show everything from higher-waisted jeans paired with fuchsia blazers to jeans-style pants in sequined materials.

Michael Curry, a customer service training specialist and coworker of Twohig at Blue Cross Blue Shield, is known for having a playful sense of style.

Curry’s favorite way to express his personal style is with a boldly colored watch, belt, or shoes for that pop of color. He enjoys having more fashion options in a business casual environment like dressing down his outfit with a pair of white sneakers if he wants. But Curry also loves the polished look a tie can give when he needs to be at his best.

“My go-to work outfit when I need to feel confident is a cardigan over a button-up and tie with a tie clip, fitted slacks, leather band watch, eyeglass frames, and my signature fragrance,” he says. “I feel unstoppable.”

As workwear becomes more open to interpretation, the idea of acceptable fashion in business differs for each individual, and is only going to get more complicated, as millennials, who value personal expression over formality, rise to upper management and the conversations about gender identity and equal pay continue.

“Even at my office, there’s different dress codes,” Jilek says. “I wear different things depending on what I have on my calendar that day. I have a bunch of colleagues that also don’t meet with clients. They generally only see the people that we work with. So sometimes that can also justify a different look for them, but even under those situations, I always dress like I’m going to end up having a surprise important appointment or have to run down to the courthouse.”

And there’s another factor people sometimes don’t consider when hiring younger employees —those coming right out of college may not have much of a wardrobe budget.

“Early in my career, I didn’t have a lot of clothes to wear to work or the money to buy a lot of new things all at once,” says Twohig. “Now that I’ve been working for a long time, I have built a wardrobe.”

Even though Curry thinks jewelry should be minimal at work, he views a small eyebrow piercing or lip ring as still looking professional. Jilek sees fashion trends as a major influencer of what is considered acceptable business fashion.

“Ten years ago, you probably wouldn’t have seen any double-breasted jackets or suits in a store, but, in fact, I just saw a very successful, well-dressed evening news anchor wearing a double-breasted suit last week, and she looked great,” Jilek says.

Jilek, however, keeps her attention on the fact that she works in a professional setting.

“I’ve always kind of followed the mantra: dress for the job you want not the job you have,” Jilek says. “So if you want to be perceived as strong, confident, and capable—you need to dress like it.”

Nicole Seckman Jilek

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Sexual Harassment Across The Pond

March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I was traveling in England when the recent scandal about the President’s Club Charity Dinner at the Dorchester Hotel hit the news. The event was a fundraiser for worthy U.K. organizations. It was for men only and the entertainment included 130 specially hired hostesses who dress in short, tight black dresses with high-heeled shoes. The Financial Times sent two women to work undercover. The article that followed explained that women at the event were groped, sexually harassed, and propositioned.

In the current #metoo climate, we could be witnessing a sea change regarding sex and the treatment of different sexes in business and politics.

We must sort out, in our own minds, the continuum of male-female relationships we consider acceptable in business. But, we cannot allow sexual predators. They should be identified and wrestled from positions of power. We should promote every workplace welcoming the silence breakers who come forward with questions, concerns, and fears about sexuality and the use of power in
the workplace.

Nevertheless, we should allow for the range of the human sexuality continuum that comes with male-female relationships (including friendship, flirting, and love). To partition genders would foster an oppressive workplace culture.

We also need reasonable organizational policies and practices. Ariel Roblin, KETV President and General Manager, was a keynote speaker at the spring Business Ethics Alliance Executive Breakfast. In her discussion about sexual harassment in the workplace, she stated that one of the best things an organization can do is hire male and female executives. This creates the best chance that a rank-and-file employee has someone in power to talk to.

Jane Miller, COO of Gallup, has a podcast about sexual harassment in which she discusses the importance of friendships at work yet the need for clear guard rails in male-female business relationships. Most importantly, Miller says that business leaders need to role-model the moral courage it takes to engage in trusting relationships while being able to walk away as a person, or a firm, when a relationship, though financially viable, is harassing or otherwise destructive. Whichever side of the pond you are on, Roblin and Miller make good human, and business, sense.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Business Ethics Alliance and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics and Society at Creighton University.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Take a Vacation and Create Jobs

When is the last time you took a vacation? I mean a real vacation, not just time off work to paint the kitchen or clean out the garage. Has it been a while since you’ve discovered a new place or experienced a new adventure you couldn’t wait to share with family and friends? If the answer is yes, you are not alone.

In Nebraska, 66 percent  of the workforce has unused vacation time. They’ve left 4.9 million vacation days on the table. Nationally, if everyone took all the vacation they’ve earned, it would generate $236 billion for our economy—enough to support 1.8 million jobs.

Think about it: if hotels had more guests, then they would need more staff. If restaurants had more diners, they would need to order more food from suppliers and hire more people. If retailers had more shoppers, they would need more merchandise to keep shelves stocked and more staff to provide great customer service. Inviting more people to visit Omaha would have the same effect in our community. You get the picture—tourism means business.

According to research from U.S. Travel, taking time off makes you a more positive and productive employee. In fact, the research shows employees who use their vacation time are more likely to get promoted and receive raises when compared to those who choose to forfeit their vacation time. Plus, and here’s the real bonus, people who take time off feel happier and enjoy improved physical health.

If you’re still not sure about taking time off, think about it this way: by taking a vacation, you’re helping create millions of jobs and providing a big boost to our nation’s economy. Now add that to your resume.

*Research provided by U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off, The State of the American Vacation.

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

The Relentless Pursuit Of Concision

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As an ad nerd, I love a good tagline. Think different. Just do it. But taglines (or slogans if you call pop “soda”) are tricky things. They’re easy to get wrong—easier than most everything else branding-related. They’re often too trite, too obvious, too obtuse, too clever by a turn, too forgettable, or too overstuffed with “messaging.” So, I’d like to offer some advice gleaned from two-and-a-half decades of writing more than a few taglines.

Pick one message. Unless you’re Miller Lite circa 1974, chances are you’re not going to get away with saying two things in one tagline (and I’d even argue that Miller Lite’s was a single message as neither “tastes great” nor “less filling” meant anything without the other). Yes, this forces you to define your business and its purpose in very specific terms. Remember, that one thing doesn’t have to be a product feature—it can be an emotional pull or a shared state of mind.

Keep your voice. The fewer words you use to say something, the greater chance there is of it sounding generic. That’s just how language works. But maintaining your brand voice is imperative if you want your tagline to ring true. And if your overarching brand voice is already generic (no “We’re all about…” please), now’s a good time to fix it.

Set realistic expectations. Most taglines are not destined to enter popular culture in any real way. Because it takes millions upon millions of dollars in media to accomplish this feat. Instead, understand that your tagline acts as a nice reminder of what your brand represents—both practically and attitudinally—to your customers. Better yet, a good tagline can act as a great battle cry for your employees better than any Successories-style mission statement ever could.

Don’t mess with a good thing. If you’ve managed to create a memorable, ownable tagline, don’t screw it up. Sure, times change and businesses change and consumer tastes change. But don’t change your tagline just for the sake of change. Take Lexus, for example. When they launched in 1989, their tagline was “The relentless pursuit of perfection.” Spectacular. That was the goal of their company—to never quit refining their cars regardless of the obstacles. Then, a few years later, they removed “relentless,” implying they’d get around to perfection if it weren’t too much bother. Today, it’s the hyper-generic “Experience amazing.” Which sounds like a headline from a billboard for Big Zeke’s Reptile Emporium and Gator Wrasslin’ Expo. Avoid this (both the tagline and Zeke’s).

Honestly, it is wiser to forgo having a tagline at all than to attach a mediocre one to your brand. But if you manage to craft a great one, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. As a calling card, a mantra, and a reminder of what’s important—an exceptional tagline has no equal in ad land.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

The Science of Selling

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that the U.S. would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In October 1969, Apollo 11 delivered Neil Armstrong into space and he set foot on the moon. How did NASA, never having completed this task before, have success without disaster? By understanding the science and testing everything on Earth according to the rules of science, NASA was able to predict how things would work on the way to the moon and the result was Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong.  We can leverage that same science when it comes to selling, and, if understood, can use it to predict the outcomes of sales calls.

Most prospects have a negative perception about salespeople. “They are pushy, arrogant, self-seeking, annoying…” are just some of the adjectives given. I know, because I have asked many times. However, the science behind human behavior and communication has been understood by psychologists for decades. The method of Transactional Analysis, Dr. Eric Burne explains, states that to generate trust and bonding with other people one must behave with humility and vulnerability, which is the opposite of how the typical salesperson behaves in a sales call.

The DISC behavior assessment, developed by psychologist William Marston, defines four distinct behavior styles of people.To win favor of a prospect, behave like they do, not like you do.

Neuro-linguistic programing, created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder is the science of communication.

To win favor of prospects, mirror and match the way they communicate.

Sir Isaac Netwon gave us the laws of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion; every action has an equal and opposite reaction. These laws spill over into human behavior. The best chance of getting a prospect to say “yes” is to take this prospect to “no.” The action of taking a prospect to “no” will often be met by the prospect with an equal and opposite reaction of moving toward “yes.”

I can’t give any one scientist the credit for emotional motivation, but that doesn’t diminish the power behind this scientific truth: People buy for their own reasons and these reasons are driven emotionally. Most sales conversations revolve around intellectual information such as features, benefits, price, and terms and conditions, and the conversation never leaves the realm of the intellect. Take the conversation to the emotional level and then prospects start buying from you even if your price is high.

I am a scientist by education (bachelor’s degree in engineering) and I love the science of selling. However, for many years I did not know it nor did I pursue it, so I had to work much harder to win sales. Sales professionals should make it part of their personal development to learn and then own the scientific rules as they apply to the world of selling.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Creating a Development-Focused Culture

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As Baby Boomers retire, organizations are left wondering who will take their place. Identifying who has the potential to take, for example, the COO’s place in five years can be a daunting task, but it’s a very important one. When organizations don’t make a plan beforehand, they find themselves stuck when the COO decides to retire or, worse, leaves suddenly.

The first step toward transition is to identify the vision for the organization’s future. This serves as a guiding framework for planning future talent.

Then create a culture focused on employee development. When you build this, your employees will be better prepared to take the next step in their career and to help achieve the organization’s vision. Employees also appreciate companies that invest in their growth, so it’s a win-win.

Examine the gap between the talent you have and the talent you need. To identify the talent you need, determine which competencies are critical for your organization. Which competencies will move the organization forward and bolster the culture? Is strategic ability important? Is collaboration?

Identify the talent you have. Get to know your people and their strengths—as well as their opportunities for development. Consider using high-quality psychological and cognitive assessments, multi-rater feedback, and behavior-based interviews. Using multiple methods gives you a more complete and accurate view of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. 

Provide feedback to your employees. Where do their strengths lie? What areas could they work on? Then help employees put together a development plan. Meet with them monthly to touch base on the plan and provide guidance and mentoring. You may also want to consider establishing coaching services. Coaching can facilitate self-awareness, behavior change, and skill-building.

Once you have started a development-focused culture, you can focus on the nuts and bolts of succession planning. Identify who is leaving and when, who (based on their assessment results as well as your knowledge of their skills and career interests) could step in for each individual (keeping in mind that it might be a different successor for each), and what will be needed to develop that potential successor to ensure their success when the time for transition comes. 

Remember that communication is imperative. Communicate the purpose behind development activities such as assessments, development plans, and coaching. Employees with this understanding will be more receptive. Also ensure that you fully communicate the organization’s vision for the future and employees’ place in it. Communicating this information will help employees better understand their path and build excitement around the vision.

Lauren Weivoda, M.A., is a​ ​human​ ​capital​ ​strategist​​ at Solve Consulting LLC.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

The Best is Yet to Come

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Omaha is the best! I think so, and that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy working at Omaha Magazine. Not only do we bring you the best stories of the city, we bring you two Best Of contests, including the original Best of Omaha.
In this issue, you will find the Best of B2B Results. This is a Best Of contest that we specifically tailor for businesspeople, with categories such as Best Parking Lot Maintenance and Best Business Broker that reflect the needs of the business community. It’s located in the front of the book, because we know you are as excited as we are to find out who won.
Two stories in this issue bring readers information about topics that have been in the news quite a bit lately. Leo Adam Biga writes about changing policies with H-1B visas, which could impact several Omaha businesses, and Anthony Flott writes about changes to tax laws, particularly changes to business taxes, from the standpoint of a family of CPAs who have been processing taxes from the 1940s to the present.
There’s a lot of movement around the city right now. Omaha is home to several growing businesses that are building new offices and moving. What is the reason for all this movement? Maggie O’Brien writes about this on page 50. Maggie is a former colleague of mine from the Omaha World-Herald, and I was delighted to hear that she could write an article for us. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.
And another former OWH colleague, Ashley Wegner, brings you a well-written article on Joan Squires, who has been working tirelessly for many years to give Omaha an incredible performing arts scene.
Didn’t I tell you Omaha is the best?

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman is the managing editor of B2B, a publication of Omaha Magazine LTD. She can be reached at daisy@omahamagazine.com.

This letter was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

An Agile, Aerodynamic Arachnid

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Jay Leno…Jerry Seinfeld…Jason Pittack.

These “Js” are three of less than 1,000 people in the world to own a Porsche 918 Spyder—specifically, they are three of 918 owners of this vehicle.

“In the Midwest, there were only two copies of this car that I am aware of,” says Steve Gehring, president of the Great Plains Region of the Porsche Club of America. “Jason drove his around Omaha, so it was spotted here and there and people got to look at one.”

Pittack, the dealer principal for Woodhouse, likens his liquid-silver, 887-hp Spyder to a rocket ship—the car sports a 600-horsepower, eight-cylinder engine and two additional electric motors.

From left: Jason Pittack and his wife, Shelbi, with their Porsche 918 Spyder

That’s because the 918 was developed to have a powerful hybrid drive with the efficiency and ecologic consciousness modern drivers desire. Porsche, Pittack says, comes out with a “supercar” about every 10 years to serve as a showcase for the future of its technology.  The hybrid technology tested on the 918 is today available in the Porsche Panamera Turbo S (which was unveiled last year) and is in production with next year’s Mission E, Porsche’s first fully-electric car.

Besides being the dealer principle for Omaha’s Porsche dealership, he is a car guy.

“It’s been in my blood since day one,” he says, as evidenced by the fact that the first word he ever spoke was “car.” (The second two, for those who are curious, were “here’s” and “Johnny.”)

He owned, and enjoyed owning, the previous Porsche supercar, and knew when Porsche announced the 918 that the hybrid supercar would be a hot item. He put a deposit on the $950,000 car the first day they announced the concept in 2010.

Then, the wait began. Concept to production on this car took three years. The specific car he purchased was the 34th off the line and the fourth to come to the United States from Germany. The vehicle was flown to Atlanta by jet (it had a plane ticket) and was loaded onto a trailer from Reliable Carriers, the company known for delivering cars to the Daytona 500 and Barrett Jackson Auction.

The car was worth the wait, as he saw in October 2014. The acceleration will make a car fan’s hair stand on end, but the stops for fuel are infrequent.

“It’s a zero to 60 in 2.2 seconds, and we average 40 miles per gallon with it.” Pittack says.

Not that he accelerates that fast that often. Pittack and his wife don’t take it on long trips, or even the speedway, but it might be seen at the grocery store or the parking lot outside their favorite restaurant. The top pops off easily to turn into a convertible, making it a good all-seasons car. The fact that it’s built with carbon fiber makes it very lightweight.

And about that engine?

“You can use [the hybrid engines] in any combination. You can drive the vehicle like a true hybrid in all-electric,” he says. “You can drive it in electric to where the gas kicks on when you romp on it a little bit. You can drive it in the electric/gas combination at all times, and you can do it in just a full-out race mode where everything is just going nuts.”

And you do all that with the touch of a button on the steering wheel.

“It’s meant to be very intuitive on the inside. Just everything’s touch-feel,” Pittack says. “Using the inside of this car is like using an iPad or iPod.

Like the rare piece of art that this is, its value has appreciated to about $1.5 million. Given the value, one may be inclined to let it sit and never drive it at all. In fact, the second Porsche 918 in the area was never driven. That was owned by Pittack’s father, Lance, until February. Jason, though, loves using his car. It’s a fact that makes Gehring happy.

“Porsche cars are meant to be driven in our view, all of us who have them love to drive as many different models as possible,” Gehring says. “That one, for the average enthusiast is unattainable. Most of us will never see one, never drive one.”

“I drive all my stuff,” he says, and the Spyder is his current favorite vehicle. “It’s the fastest, but it’s also the most user-friendly.”

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Young and Professional

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

After graduating from Omaha Northwest High School in 2009, Ashley Rae Turner says she was happy to leave town to pursue undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I was definitely that person in high school who thought I was never going to be in Omaha again after I left,” she says.

By 2015, she was ready to return. Coming back, however, was contingent upon finding activities involving other young professionals and exploring civic opportunities for her peer group.

“If I could find a reason to stay, I would stay,” she says. “And I didn’t really want to have a mindset that, ‘this is temporary and then I’ll leave for somewhere else.’”

Realizing that several people in her peer group express similar concerns about a lack of opportunity, Turner became involved in community engagement through Urban League of Nebraska, where she joined the volunteer auxiliary group
ULN Young Professionals.

“From the very beginning I just saw an opportunity to improve Omaha for YPs [young professionals] but especially YPs of color,” Turner says.

Last year, Turner became a member of a community diversity and inclusion workgroup stemming from a joint effort of ULN and the Greater Omaha Chamber. The group aims to address key findings from a 2017 diversity and talent inclusion survey commissioned by the two organizations, including an area in which Turner has a special interest: technology and start-ups.

“It is one area I made sure was not overlooked in the survey recommendations, finding more ways to support black YP start-ups and helping them get funding,” Turner says.

Turner served as the programming co-chair for the Chamber’s 2018 YP Summit, held March 1 at CenturyLink Center.

YP Summit Chair Angel Starks says she called this year’s Summit planners “Dream Team 2018.”

“As chair, I couldn’t be more proud of my co-chairs, and especially of our programming. We enacted a speakers’ academy, we’ve done some things for our breakout speakers we’ve never done before, and I think we’ve set the tone for what’s to come,” she says. “That’s thanks to Ashley and her co-chair (Megan Flory Tommeraasen with Mutual of Omaha), specifically.”

In January, Turner also added volunteer engagement chair for the YP Council to her Chamber responsibilities.

She says she aspires to help foster a community in which YPs throughout Omaha feel welcomed, which hopefully will ultimately inspire them to become more engaged and involved. It’s all part of her mission to “be a voice for other YPs who aren’t necessarily at the table,” she says.

Last year, Turner began working for Borsheims as a content and marketing specialist, and one of the biggest contributions she’s made so far is executing a revamp of the company’s content marketing program, including establishing relationships with key influencers for future contributions and creating plans for new web features such as an education center and a lifestyle blog.

“It will be really robust content around Borsheims, around our vendors, and just around why we are the best at what we do and why you should choose Borsheims,” Turner says. “I really love social media. I love communicating and finding different ways to reach different individuals.”

In what little free time she has left, Turner also writes a food blog. And now she’s working with a partner to launch a lunchtime networking series for YPs, a channel that brings together her palette of talents and interests.

Whatever she does, Turner brings a sense of professionalism to her projects.

“It’s amazing that, although she’s involved in a lot of things, she brings quality to everything she touches,” Starks says.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Outdoor Entrepreneurship

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There have been a few viral online videos for Ultimate Fishing Gear’s Skinzit electric fish skinner. The handheld device can also been seen on the rack at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops, or on Amazon.com. Chris Kielian, an Omaha-area native and one of four owners of Ultimate Fishing Gear, says he crunched the numbers, and then sat back, amazed—the owners did not expect their product to generate $1.4 million in sales in the first year.

The prototype of the Skinzit was made from an electric tool.

The Skinzit is a machine that removes rib bones and skin from a scaled-fish fillet, leaving the meat intact. Kielan says the device produces 30 percent more meat than a typical fillet because the device allows one to spare the belly meat rather than simply discarding it. Simply cut the fillets from the sides of the fish, and Kielian says, “the device does the rest.” With a bucket of 10 panfish, 30 percent more meat per fish adds up fast. Kielian’s business partners are his brother, Brian, and brothers Eric and Perry Parks. They all share a love of fishing. Chris says they each contribute their unique skill sets to make their business successful. Chris is the main sales and marketing person. The partners agree that leaving their money in the business will help it grow. “We as owners don’t take much out—we keep it in there. Everything is paid for,” says Chris. “We reinvest.” Chris is able to reinvest because Skinzit is not his main source of income. By day, the Parks brothers run Computer Cable Connections, where the Kielians are also employed. Chris says the idea for Skinzit comes from the Townsend Fish Skinner, which is an out-of-production device that skins fish using the same mechanism, albeit hand-powered and narrower.

It took Chris and his co-owners roughly four years to create the product. Milestones in Skinzit’s actualization include selecting an engineering firm, testing and tweaking prototypes for a number of months, having parts manufactured on the assembly line in the Philippines, and having packages show up on the doorstep ready to sell.

Finished Skinzit product

“It took 4 years to get the first 5,000 (Skinzits),” says Chris. The capital cost was “heavy,” more than $500,000. Ultimate Fishing Gear owns seven patents on their product, which took roughly three years to acquire. A special electronic certification was necessary and recertification is required quarterly. But their greatest asset is their ability to use the internet.

Videos of their invention have racked up more than 30 million views across social media. The product hit the market in 2014, and in 2015 one video created by a customer generated almost 9 million hits. Another video of a customer using the product in late 2016 generated several more million views. Each video causes a large spike in sales.

“[Once you have a viral video], it wipes out your inventory,” says Chris, who suggests that Ultimate Fishing Gear has other ideas for novel products, but he cannot disclose them due to patent reasons. “I wish I could,” he says, sounding hopeful. His advice to other entrepreneurs and inventors is simple: “You need the time to make it work, the cash, and the capital. You want to have a product that no one else has—that was the key to the success of our product.”

Visit fishskinner.com for more information.

From left, Brian Kielian, Chris Kielian, Eric Parks, and Perry Parks

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.