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Agrimarketing : July 2009
40 Feature Story:32 Feature Story 7/15/09 2:32 PM Page 44 COVER STORY/continued frompage 43 I see the same passion and dedi- cation to the company in Susanne that I see inmyself. She’s a tenacious, no-nonsensemanager. She and the Kinze leadership teamare doing a tremendous job of leading the company into the future of agriculture equipmentmanufacturing.And our employees see and sense that—it’s an exciting time at our company, and everyone involved is very proud to be a part of this phase of our growth. all. I always felt like I needed to provemyself to everyone in the office, including our office secretary. And yet, the one individual I needed to convincemostwasmyself. Tom Flynn: I joined Lessing-Flynn in 1993 as ProductionManager/ Copywriter after a stint in saleswith a couple other companies. I’mthe fourth generation of Flynns in the agency. I used to think I joined because I love the creative storytelling involved in developing a brand and being part of helping companies grow.However, as I’ve gotten older andwiser, I think I was secretly coerced to join somy dad would have someone to sell the company to. I think I’mhis eventual escape plan. Susanne Veatch and Jon Kinzenbaw Requirements? The only requirement was that theywere asked to gowork for another company or companies for four or five years, before coming towork for the family company. I wanted themto see howother companiesweremanaged—whether good or bad. And our children needed that period of independence and of being outside of the “bubble” of our own company. Susanneworked for Caterpillar for several years, and it was a tremendously beneficial experience for her. LESSING-FLYNN DesMoines, IA Conner Flynn: Lessing-Flynn is a 102year-old advertising agency—one of the oldest inNorthAmerica. I’ma classic son-of-the-boss hire. The yearwas June 1968. Therewere more than a one-halfmillion guys in Vietnam. Iwasmarried, scheduled for basic training later that summer and needing a place to crash.My dad offered to payme $6,000/yr ($3Kless thanmywife’s starting salary).Nevertheless, I startedwriting copy on an old Remingtonmanual. Benefits ?No. 1: Trust. That’sHUGE. No. 2:Having a sounding board who’s always ready to suggest new concepts/ventures. Challenges? The biggest one is confidence. Being the son-of-the-boss, thatwas the toughest challenge of 44 Agri Marketing s July/August 2009 Responsibilities?As of 2008, I amthe President. On a day-to-day basis, I meetwith clients, developmarketing strategies, sign checks and try to sort through piles of papers onmy desk. I amalso still very involved in the creative side of helping companies tell their stories. I also do a lot ofwriting. Benefits?Well, the bad part is if the companywere to ever go down the tubes, I couldn’tmove inwith the folks —because they’d be in the same boat. The benefits? Consistency and continuitywith clients that you have a longstanding relationshipwith is something that is important.Also—having had the opportunity to “hang-around” the businesswhen Iwas younger probably gaveme better insight as to what the business is about. Also, you can’t ask for a better mentor. Challenges? The biggest challenge is making sure I don’t get too comfortablewith the status quo. There’s a lot changing in our industry—and you can’t expect to do business the same as itwas done 10 or 20 years ago. As the “newer” generation, I need to be the one that helps push for those changes, yet still learn from the experiencemy dad brings to the business. The old adage of your parents getting a lot smarter as you get older is definitely true. LESSITER PUBLICATIONS Brookfield,WI Frank Lessiter: Lessiter Publications was founded in 1981 bymywife, Pam, andme. Today, the company consists of seven agricultural titles and two international conferences held annually. For the last 13 years, the company has operated an athletic coaching division consisting ofWinningHoops, The Real AAUand the recently acquired Coach&AthleticDirector. Afterworking for three ag pub- lishing companiesmywife and I decided to go into business for ourselves in 1981.We acquired two publications fromReiman Publications, took several employeeswith us and were off and running. Benefits?Mike literally grewup with the business.When hewas first out of college andwent towork for a publisher in Illinois, he’d callme for my advice.After about four years, I started calling himwhen I had a problemand he’d helpme solve it. He came back in 2003, andwe both have the same goals for the company, and he shares the same commitment to the long-range growth of the business. Challenges?Mike’s dilemma is that I can be a pain in the butt.When I have awacky idea, he and his mother use things like logic, results and ROI againstme. Aswe’ve grown,we’ve become more of amanagement-based companywith a dedicated publisher on each title. The strategy has paid off, but it’s difficult at times not to have my fingers in everything. I’ve had to resist chasing an idea Imay have had thatmorning on theway towork because another project offers amore meaningful impact. Mike Lessiter: I amPresident of the company and also Editor/Publisher of ourAgricultural EquipmentDivision. Benefits? I learned fromthe best ag editor in the business. Even before he went out on his own, I spent Saturdays with himin the office and in the field. The benefit of a family business is a communication level that couldn’t existwith non-family colleagues. Ideas, strategies and action plans unfold at the Thanksgiving table, in our seats at Badger football games and atweddings and funerals. It’s not for everyone, but for peo- ple as engaged in the business aswe are, it helps usmove forward. AM
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