Local entrepreneurs find ways to cash in on their unique perspectives
There are probably as many strategies for a successful business plan as there are businesses.
Still, the one ingredient that makes a new business more likely to thrive is innovation. Find something that no one else is doing, and do it well.
During the past decade or so that I have covered businesses for Ozaukee Press there have been many examples of entrepreneurs who captured that vital spark. Some examples immediately come to mind:
In 2007, Ozaukee Press wrote about the arrival of Lakeshore Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Hospital at the North Port Shopping Center in Port Washington.
The animal clinic offered 24-hour emergency veterinary service, addressing the heightened interest in pet health care.
One year later, chocolatier John Reichert tapped into a nearly universal love of chocolate with the opening of the Chocolate Chisel at 125 W. Grand Ave., Port Washington.
A true artisan, Reichert had already earned an international reputation for his crafting of pewter sculptures — many sold as part of successful fundraising campaigns.
Asked about the shop’s name, he had a ready response.
“The name reflects the fact that we will be creating sculptures from gourmet chocolate. It is going to be unique,” he promised when the venture opened a decade ago.
The appeal of the business grew even more when ice cream was added to the offering of designer chocolates.
The banking industry has gone through many changes in Ozaukee County and around the nation, but a unique one came into play in spring of 2009 when North Shore Bank opened an office at 2301 Wisconsin Ave. in Grafton.
What made the office special was that it was created in part from a stone farmhouse built by Heinrich Anschuetz in the late 1800s, when the nearby Grafton lime kilns were still a thriving enterprise.
Initial plans were to raze the fieldstone house to make way for a new office building, but the partial restoration proved to be perfectly in sync with the county’s fascination with local history.
Finding a new use for an old building was also the key to Jim Keller’s 2011 plan to open the Fire House Restaurant.
The restaurant gained its thematic inspiration from the history of the brick building that was erected in the 1960s to house the Saukville Fire Department and village offices.
After a new Village Hall was built and the fire department moved to modern facilities on the west side of town, the building at 100 S. Main St. was used by several restaurants.
The centerpiece of the decor in Keller’s restaurant is an 11-by-14-foot mural created by a Saukville company, Wisconsin Sign Builders.
The mural includes the words to the Firefighter’s Prayer, an image of a bowed firefighter in full gear and historic photographs of fire trucks and other equipment collected from Saukville, Chicago and New York.
A scene from Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks is the most poignant entry in the collage.
Although Port Washington is a long way from what is traditionally thought of as wine country, that didn’t prevent Jim and CJ Wirshing-Neuser from opening Vines to Cellar, a shop that offers a variety of supplies to those who enjoy making their own libations.
The couple met in the Army Reserves and accumulated more than five decades of service to their country.
They opened their wine shop in 2008 at 114 E. Main St., in the former Grady Building.
Not far from that location is ZuZu Pedals, a keystone retail presence in the Boerner Merchantile Building, formerly the Leuptow’s Furniture store at 211 N. Franklin St. The bike and apparel shop moved into the bright, spacious location in 2014.
Owner Tammy Thompson-Oreskovic and her staff have managed to blend the healthy lifestyle activities of biking and yoga into a well-received melange.
The store shares the ground floor with the Daily Bakery, while building owner Dan Ewig has converted the upper levels to professional offices.
Location is touted as a key factor in any business’ success, but that has not been the case for Tony A. Roy — who has found a warm reception for his Tony’s BBQ wherever his 24-foot food truck and smoker take him.
Roy started the business in 2012 after a 20-year career as a remodeling contractor.
“I am not culinary trained. I simply have always loved to cook — and in quantity. I actually got into the barbecue business because of my remodeling work,” he said.
Doing what you love was also at the heart of Phil Orlenko’s decision in 2014 to start Philly’s Premium Beverages. He based the company in Grafton.
Describing himself as the founder, president, CEO and “chief mixologist,” Orlenko parlayed Wisconsin’s love of well-made cocktails into a thriving enterprise that offers premixed old-fashioneds and other bar favorites.
Sue Richison, owner of Dawgs in Motion, says she is amazed at the reception her Saukville business has received since opening at 580 N. Dekora Woods Blvd. in 2008.
Starting as essentially a doggie-day care, the business has gradually added pet boarding, grooming and specialized therapy services as well as a retail store. A recently approved expansion project will allow the business to offer even more training programs.
While the Buechler family has been operating a farm on Highway LL in the Town of Belgium since the 1960s, the desire to diversify as a way to ensure the survival of the agricultural business led Brian and Irene Buechler to incorporate as Buechler Farms LLC in 2015.
That move set off a variety of events and promotions designed to introduce guests, whether from the city or the country, to life on the farm.
It has become a popular site for Halloween-themed activities, seasonal attractions and a market.
The business even played host to a traveling circus.
It is Mike Kryshak’s unique business model that makes his Saukville company, Rebel Converting, stand out.
The Progress Drive company manufactures cleaning wipes, but Kryshak’s goal is to do as much good in the world as he can which still running a profitable enterprise.
Most of the surplus product or “factory seconds” are repackaged and sold to benefit a host of nonprofit organizations. The most recent emphasis has been providing bikes to children in need.
“The goal of Rebel Wipes is to give money, services, equipment and to help other groups without asking permission,” the company’s website proclaims.
“It’s our money, it’s your money and we have the right to give it where it’s needed.”
FOR MORE THAN a decade, Ozaukee Press reporter Mark Jaeger has been covering the businesses of Ozaukee County. He says one of the threads that binds new, successful enterprises is the ability to capitalize on innovation. Jaeger is retiring this week. Photo by Sam Arendt