Remodeling a home improvement business

CEO Next Business Institute supports second-stage companies

Humble beginnings

At just 22 years old, Andrew Schmidt started his own family business subcontracting roofing jobs alongside his twin brother, Matt.

After nearly two decades of being the CEO of AMEK, a Twin Cities-based remodeling company, Schmidt realized he could use additional expertise and guidance to help the business expand. He also wanted to learn how to build his family’s values into their business model.

He heard about CEO Next Business Institute through Hennepin County, and enrolled.

CEO Next Business Institute is a program that supports second-stage companies through advanced business and market research, peer and cohort learning, and expert forums. Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Dakota counties contract with the Edward Lowe Foundation, who administers the program, to allow qualifying businesses to participate for free.

Second-stage businesses are abundant in Hennepin County: businesses with less than 100 employees represent nearly 17.5 percent of the total businesses in Hennepin County, provide 58 percent of the jobs, and 68 percent of the sales revenue.

Under construction

CEO Next Business Institute connected Schmidt to research teams and confidential peer learning opportunities, which allowed him to reconstruct his business model by comparing it to those of his competitors.

“I’ve never looked at our competitors,” he said. “I’ve never thought about what someone else is doing and how we compare to them. So what [CEO Next Business Institute] helped me with was research, which really challenged me to say ‘what is your core focus?’”

Through the research component of the program, Schmidt learned that the most successful marketing strategy for AMEK was referrals and testimonials from families they had previously worked with—an approach consistent with the family-next-door business model that his family was striving for.

“We don’t compete as a commodity; we’re a niche company that offers unique values,” he said.

In addition to researching competitors’ business models, CEO Next Business Institute guided Schmidt through consolidating AMEK’s branding strategy from three distinct brand identities to one.

“We had three brands … three different production processes, three different estimating systems, and it was really hard to do excellence with three different processes. Now we have one core process with different products. That will be the one thing that allows us to freely build,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt was just one of many second-stage business owners supported by the program. Since 2011, the regional partnership has supported 112 businesses, which provide 1,700 jobs, and supported the creation 650 new jobs.

Thanks to CEO Next Business Institute, Schmidt finally feels that AMEK’s business model is reflective of his family’s values. “We really do care about our customers because we care about our name and we care about our family,” he said.

Learn more about AMEK at

https://amekinc.com/

Research was completed by a team from the National Center for Economic Gardening.

Learn more about CEO Next Business Institute

http://www.hennepin.us/ceonext