Brent Weinmann’s career is one that many may dream of, but few accomplish.
The 49-year-old Bowling Green State University graduate started out literally on the ground floor of the company filling bags with bird seed, and is now the president and CEO of Vitakraft Sunseed, Inc.
A visionary, who purchased Sunseed in 2001, and then sold it to Vitakraft several years later because he saw an opportunity to grow the brand, says listening to other people’s ideas, always looking to innovate and being opened minded are some of the keys to being successful in business.
“Listen to the customer, listen to the production staff. Once someone plants an idea in my head, I’m good with pushing it, and instead of saying, ‘what if,’ say, ‘why can’t we?’ My passion is doing just that looking at other products, or ones that could be in the market, and saying, ‘how can we improve,’ and working collaboratively to solve issues, whether it be helping the retailer or even internally.”
The number one piece of advice Weinmann has for those getting started in the industry is to get engaged in the business.
“If this is what you
want to do, if you love pets, if you love the business and see this as acareer path, then see this as an opportunity to make connections,” Weinmann said, who started volunteering on several trade industry committees, which led him to another position he currently holds, president of the Pet Care Trust.
“If you’re a guy stocking shelves, start going to trade shows. Go to open houses. Learn as much as you can about the business, your own business and explore other areas of it. I understand the production side, the quality side of the business. I’ve traveled pretty extensively on business and took advantages of opportunities. You have got to get out there. Engaging with people is critical.”
Weinmann shared with us his Top 5 tips for having a successful business career:
1. Honesty – At the end of the day, all you have is your reputation. Don’t sacrifice that for a short term gain. Whether it’s making a sales presentation, and trying to slide something in there to tip their decision in your favor, if you can’t truthfully say it, then don’t.
2 Be Open – Listen more than you talk.
3. Understand the people you’re dealing with – People have good days and people have bad days. Take everything with a grain of salt.
4. Hold yourself, and those you employ, to higher standards – It’s easy to keep yourself to a high standard, but it’s harder to push your staff. Learn to read people, and learn what motivates them. Know what buttons to push to get them to be more engaged in the vision of the company. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions, but do your best to share your vision, but if they don’t have it in them, it’s best for both of you to part ways.
5. Have fun – Enjoy what you do. I tend to make fun of myself sometimes, or if someone does something silly, have fun with it. It helps you built attitude, and gives people the sense that I genuinely care about them. Whatever you’re doing look for the humor in it. I work a lot, but I truly enjoy what I’m doing.