A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:
Jim Zuehlke cardinal board services
As principal of Cardinal Board Services, Jim Zuehlke is using his executive recruiting experience to help companies find candidates who will add oversight and expertise as members of their board of directors. In 2015, Cardinal Board Services will continue to concentrate on working with privately held companies with $50 million to $1 billion in yearly revenue, Zuehlke said.
“Nobody focuses heavily on private companies,” Zuehlke said. “Where we have the biggest impact is the private company that is really looking to grow and have a board bringing value.”
Zuehlke and principal Charlie Roer launched Cardinal Board Services after recruiting directors for a number of companies that are clients of their retained executive search and placement firm, Cardinal Mark.
“Everybody needs a good boss, even if you’re the CEO,” Zuehlke said of a board’s role. Boards can be especially valuable in helping family-owned companies through transitions and in developing growth strategy. Board members should bring expertise the company needs, often in areas such as international sales or sourcing, manufacturing or finance, Zuehlke said.
“They can open up doors for you with customers, in new markets or new suppliers,” he said. Zuehlke has 25 years of recruiting experience at Cardinal Mark, after finding that he was a “natural networker” as he worked in the technology, medical and financial services industries. He and Roer founded Cardinal Board Services in 2011.
Q: What should companies be looking for in a board?
A: It’s moved from just shareholders to stakeholders. A stakeholder is five things (shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, the community). If your board thinks about those stakeholders, it really mimics how the company can move forward and be successful for all of those people and continue to grow.
Q: How can a board help a family-owned company?
A: The challenge is how do you equitably manage the business for the business’ sake but also for that generational shareholder/stakeholder. The board becomes even more important because it’s an independent party that is overseeing the operation of the company to make sure that it’s done in the best needs of those shareholders and those generational owners.
Q: Why shouldn’t CEOs recruit board members on their own?
A: You get more value bringing in an independent person. You need a board member to come in who is truly independent and is not doing business with you, is not your friend or your relative. What you need is honest, independent feedback on how the business is running.