30 Years in Business – Who Knew?

Mark J. Komen, President

Kodyne, Inc.

Plymouth, MN

I’m writing this because 2016 is Kodyne’s 30th anniversary as a Minnesota corporation. Where did 30 years go? I incorporated back in 1986 while I was still working for Honeywell as an engineer but was also working part-time (nights and weekends) in the music business doing live sound work, studio recording, artist management and some video production. This was a big passion of mine and I looked at the entertainment business as my eventual escape from corporate life since coming to terms with the fact that becoming the CEO of a Fortune 100 company didn’t really hold my interest. I never was too crazy about neckties and wing-tip shoes anyway. I also rocked the boat because I spoke up – “Hey, we can have a better boat!” Why is our boat leaking? What if we tried this out or headed in that new direction?” Some of my employers over the years didn’t care for comments like these. That’s when I decided it was time for Plan B.

Well I bailed on the music business “career” after about 15 years but learned a lot about these small businesses called bands and the parallels they have with their larger corporate counterparts. This learning dovetailed with my emerging interest in how organizations worked (and didn’t). My frustrations with poor management and leadership, questionable strategic decisions, debilitating corporate cultures, and the inevitable politics built up to the point of making me want to run away screaming from big companies. My plan was to go back to school, get some credentials and go out on my own. I eventually earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from St. Catherine University in 1993 and moved over to engineering management positions at ADC Telecommunications where I hoped to embody some of the new management and leadership skills I’d learned. I wanted to make a difference for my staff and myself.

Then the phone started ringing – companies were calling – “can you help us be more successful, effective, productive, profitable, valuable …?” So I had a choice to make – continue on the corporate ladder or hang a shingle and go to market to share what I’ve learned to help others. There were risks and benefits aplenty on both sides of the decision. So I went for it in 1999 to make a living as a consultant and eventually added the roles of coach, mentor, adviser and facilitator.

These days, I primarily work with senior leaders and business owners who are still wrestling with those same questions about how to become more effective, profitable, etc. After 2 major stock market crashes, the ensuing economic uncertainty and the booming impact of the internet and global competition, the questions remain – where do we go from here? How do we survive, grow and prosper? How do we better serve our employees, customers, vendors, banks, investors, families and even ourselves?

The answers seem harder to come by. Things are happening faster. Disruptive innovations are shaking things up, not only locally but around the world. Gen Xers are taking over for the Baby Boomers who are retiring or selling their businesses. Millenials are just starting to impact economies and the workforce and the story is yet to be told there. Buying habits have changed drastically as there is so much more information available on the internet at a tap of the keyboard than ever before.

So it’s been quite a ride. Went by so fast too. I plan to be in the game for a while longer. I still believe that paying attention to business fundamentals is important in spite of all the turbulence out there in the business world. I encourage every organization to have a clear and descriptive vision of your future; come to terms with the purpose for your organization and what you bring to the world; build your organizational culture with the intent of supporting your future vision; have well-defined roles, responsibilities, processes, procedures, and systems that align with the culture and vision; make plans and track progress; implement and maintain accurate and timely financial reporting; learn, improve and grow; and remember to say, “Thank you” – to your staff for their contributions, to your customers for their business and loyalty, to your stakeholders for their trust in you and to your families for being there for you in good times and tough times.

And thank you for reading this!

© 2016.  Kodyne, Inc.  All rights reserved worldwide.