Don’t stop improving upon everything you do. The world is moving faster than ever, and you have to stay ahead of the game or at least current with your industry.
Meet Carl Bolm. Snow fighter during the winter; wine champion and mud runner during the spring through summer. As president of Investa Management, Carl has created the perfect trio of businesses: Investa Management is the parent company of BSR Services (St. Louis’ largest locally owned and operated snow and ice management provider), Cedar Lake Cellars (year-round winery and event venue), and The Battlegrounds (St. Louis’ largest permanent mud run obstacle course).
Bolm grew up in the Foristell, Mo. area and had worked on a property adjacent to the farm where his winery now sits. In 1985, he relocated to St. Louis and then was laid off. So he purchased a used plow, installed it on his truck…and the rest is history. BSR Services was founded in 1985, Cedar Lake Cellars in 2010 (Carl was flying in a helicopter over a farm, landed in a back field, walked up to the house…and asked the owners if he could buy the farm), and The Battlegrounds in 2012.
It was a stellar year for Carl’s companies. BSR Services was named the 2015 “Environmental Leader of the Year” by Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA). This was the first year the award, which demonstrates a strong culture toward environmental responsibility, was given. Other accomplishments: Cedar Lake Cellars celebrated its fifth anniversary by introducing 3 Swans, a new line of elite wines, and The Battlegrounds will host its eighth bi-annual mud run in May of 2016.
Where did the idea for Investa Management come from?
My biggest strength is creating a company, developing it, watching it grow, and then starting the process all over again. Investa Management allows me to do just that. I can open a company, figure out how to most effectively manage the business, and then turn it over to one of my skilled directors who can handle the daily operations. I thrive on this type of relationship, which is the basis for Investa Management because I can oversee several companies at once while focusing on strategic planning and future growth.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 5 a.m., workout, and get to my office by 7 a.m. I bring lunch to work and try to arrange all meetings at my office to save valuable time. I work every day – whether it’s from home or at the office – plus three to five evenings a week until 9 p.m. It’s all about multi-tasking and keeping ahead of the work to make sure I handle all matters in a timely fashion.
I have a favorite quote that sums up my philosophy: Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I do a lot of thinking and debating on my own before I share my thoughts with others. Then I feel more prepared to present it to a group of people I highly respect. We work as a team to review the plusses and deltas of the situation, discuss at length all of the opportunities, and then I think about it some more before I embrace or discard the idea. Once I am committed, that’s where the perseverance takes over…and nothing can stand in the way of me and my team.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
That’s simple. Technology! All of my businesses have utilized the latest trends and data so we can provide solutions to our customers’ varying needs.
With BSR Services, technology is incorporated into every facet of our work day from GPS to the state-of-the-art snow removal machinery to our timely meteorological reports. With Cedar Lake Cellars, technology helps us select which grapes to grow and how to make our soil the most productive. With The Battlegrounds, technology enables our social media and international tracking system to tell us where our audiences live and what they are looking for in a mud run experience.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I never waste a minute of my day. I am a planner and a very highly efficient type of person, and I surround myself with like-minded people. My calendar is full of meetings and opportunities weeks in advance. I lay out my clothes and pack a lunch every night so I can start my day off right without missing a beat. When driving, I’m on the phone communicating with potential and existing clients, as well as team members and other entrepreneurs. I also like listening to Joel Osten or other motivational business people during my commute. Each minute is precious, and I make the most of every day.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I was a young man, I worked the third shift. I quickly found out my body was not made to work all night and sleep all day. I was miserable. That experience reinforced my determination to always do what I love and am passionate about.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely surround myself with knowledgeable advisors and mentors a lot earlier. It would have saved me time and money.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t stop improving upon everything you do. The world is moving faster than ever, and you have to stay ahead of the game or, at least, current with your industry.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Pure and simple: exceeding client expectations. You need to understand your market, know your client, and execute the best product or service possible. Plus you need to be better than everyone else.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I hired and trusted very unqualified people that talked a good game but didn’t deliver on their promises. I realized hiring was not a strength of mine, so I created a process that included a professional executive who assists with the screening and interviewing of potential candidates.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’m keeping my eye on technology to see what existing businesses it will replace. I’m betting on a tracking device that will separate BSR Services from the industry and give us a platform to grow and surpass our competition.
What’s the best $100 you spent and why?
An organizer. It’s where everything starts.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
OneNote from Microsoft Office to organize thoughts, tasks, and projects for all of my companies.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“What It Takes To Be #1” by Vince Lombardi, Jr. It directly speaks to the inner characteristics a person has to possess to survive, as well as what needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve goals and results.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
My mom, whose perseverance and passion to always keep chasing her dream was contagious. Joe Osteen is another one because his positivity and get-it-done attitude is motivating and guides me in the right direction.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.