Jeff and Amy Grewe, owners of Arbor Aesthetics. Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
Jeff and Amy Grewe, owners of Arbor Aesthetics.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

Powerhouse Arborist
Arbor Aesthetics Blooms from Humble Beginnings

As the husband-and-wife ownership team behind Arbor Aesthetics Tree Service, Amy and Jeff Grewe have proven to be a winning formula: his leadership skills and her business savvy.

“I was sole owner until 2014 when I met Amy and she came into the company,” Jeff Grewe said. “She is a complement to all of my skills. Together we’ve created the magic that is Arbor Aesthetics. It wouldn’t be what it is without both of us together.”

Jeff Grewe attributes the longevity of Arbor Aesthetics to a core initiative of making a generational impact, both on trees and its people.

“I want families changed because mothers and fathers work here. I want trees that survive the 20-year shelf life and are there 100 years from now,” he said.

Doubling in size since the pandemic, the tree service provider offers a full range of residential and commercial services. Jeff Grewe said a big contributor to that growth is the emphasis on building a strong team.

“I don’t have one or two A players. I have A players period. We have excellent people across the board,” Jeff Grewe said. “We’ve shared our story with our employees, and we’ve created an excellent place for people to thrive.

“Our continued growth will be fueled by our unmatched opportunities for professional and especially personal development that we offer our people that I think in terms of a vision, we’re going to continue to provide exceptional human experiences for our teammates and our clients and that is what we’re born from.”

The couple gives a lot of credit to Entrepreneurs’ Organization for developing their business chops and leadership skills.

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“I joined EO Accelerator in 2014, which is an organization within EO that teaches entrepreneurs how to grow and scale their businesses to $1 million. [Arbor Aesthetics] was at a quarter of a million when I joined and in a matter of two years we had grown to a million in size.”

Amy Grewe said another impactful element of EO has been the close-knit forum which provides a platform for unvarnished talk on the joys and pressures of business ownership.

“The forum is made up of other business owners, between six and 10 people,” she said. “Monthly, you’re meeting and talking about the top five and bottom five percent of your life, the successes and the failures that you wouldn’t share with other people.

“This is a confidential space where you share your life experiences with others in a very trusted way. It has taught Jeff and I the value of vulnerability. That has translated into the way that we lead our company.”

6724 Irvington Rd    Omaha, NE 68122
arboraesthetics.com • 402-408-5600
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Mike Battershell, president of Bergman. Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
Mike Battershell, president of Bergman.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

New Era
Battershell Takes Bergman to Next Level

There are few things more daunting in business than taking over a longstanding firm, but that was precisely what Mike Battershell did with promotional merchandise supplier Bergman in 2017. Battershell had been on board with the promotional products company for 17 years at that point but one look at the business today reveals the new president wasn’t about living solely on past merits.

“We are a 135-year-old company that has evolved many times,” he said. “I think allowing your personality to come through has been a business shift in the last 10 years or so, but I also think, certainly in our business, knowing who you are so that you can take care of clients appropriately is really important. That’s become more forward-facing than it probably had been in the past.”

Battershell didn’t throw everything to the side, but the things that did change were equally foundational.

“As I took over company leadership, we added core values that we were able to define. Among those is being passionate about relationships, something I definitely hold true,” he said. “The other core value is to own it, which is simply how you live. If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. If you make a mistake, you own it and if you do something great, you own it.”

Battershell said he’d maintained an entrepreneurial mindset before formally stepping into the leadership role. 

“The entrepreneurial spirit was always what I loved,” he said. “I loved being in business, problem-solving, taking care of client needs. At the time, it came into my life where I was just ready to take the next step and fortunately, that step could be taken inside of the company that I worked for. It was a natural progression.”

With the additional responsibility, however, also came more complex decisions. Three years ago Battershell joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska for the group’s leadership development and the opportunity to learn from other business owners’ lived experiences.

“I was looking for a way to have conversations and share time with people who were facing the similar complex decision-making that I was faced with as a small business,” he said. “In my time there I’ve been able to experience that through the regular meetings and with my forum. They’ve provided me with the invaluable ability to solve problems faster and to communicate better and to be a better leader as a result.”

In 2024, things haven’t slowed down much, but experience and the continued support of EO have equipped Battershell with the tools needed to survive in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

“My mantra over the last few years is ‘Go fast, don’t die,’” he said with a laugh. “I think that shines through exceptionally well as a business owner, the idea that you’ve got to move, man. At the same time, there’s a balance where you’ve got to go fast enough but you can’t die in the process.”

9411 F St.    Omaha, NE 68127
bergmanbrand.com    402-661-7900
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Mary Vandenack, managing partner of the Omaha office of Duggan Bertsch. Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
Mary Vandenack, managing partner of the Omaha office of Duggan Bertsch.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

Leaning into Innovation
Vandenack Forges own Path in Law

There’s a lot about Mary Vandenack that doesn’t fit the mold of an attorney. For one thing, few people are as successful in a career they never wanted to enter in the first place.

“In college, I took a career inventory and I told the person the one career I wasn’t going to do was law,” she said. “My dad and my brothers are lawyers, specifically, they’re all tax lawyers. So, I’m like ‘I don’t want to do what everybody else in my family is doing so I don’t care what the inventory says, I’m not going to be a lawyer.’

“The career counselor came back and said, ‘There’s one career that completely stands out for you, but you’ve already told me you don’t want to do it, so we’ll move on.’ Well, the other two were teacher and writer and bottom line, I thought I’d probably do better financially as a lawyer than a teacher or writer, so I chose law.”

Vandenack might have yielded on her aversion to entering the profession, but that hardly made her a conformist. She worked in various firms after law school, roles where she gained valuable experience but was nonetheless frustrated by the general lack of innovation she saw in the profession. So, despite never endeavoring to launch her own practice, she set out to do something about it through her firm, Vandenack Weaver.

“I have total respect for all of the lawyers I worked with leading up to this, but I’ve always been driven by the desire to use technology differently,” she said. “Technology wasn’t being used at law firms at that point, or to this day in many places, in the way that I envisioned it.

“I initially founded this firm with a guy by the name of Mark Williams. We put our skills together and in 24 hours and for less than $5,000, we built a database, built out our entire system, our website, everything.”

Vandenack’s efforts eventually caught the attention of another progressive-minded firm, Duggan Bertsch, and on Jan. 1, 2024, the two practices entered into an affiliation agreement. Before she found such kindred legal spirits, however, Vandenack leaned on peers in Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska for support in building her business.

“I’ve long been involved in a lot of legal organizations but in EO, you’re exposed to people of all types of businesses and they each have different walks of life,” she said. “In EO, people just connect; they just come up and talk to you and share their stories, share their successes, share their failures and are willing to just talk about it.

“It’s also nice that it’s an international network, so you can go anywhere and connect. I’m a member of the chapter here in Nebraska but I have a friend in Chicago and I have a friend in New York City and I can attend EO events there and be a part of things. It’s just an amazing network of knowledge, information, connection and enthusiasm.”

17007 Marcy Street, Suite 3    Omaha, NE 68118
vwtlawyers.com • 402-504-1300
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The client-facing team at Harrison Financial Services, from left, Emily Jung, Matt Graves, Tim Herrick, Tim Harrison, Brett Carson, Seth Tracy and Jack McKeegan. Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
The client-facing team at Harrison Financial Services, from left, Emily Jung,
Matt Graves, Tim Herrick, Tim Harrison, Brett Carson, Seth Tracy and Jack McKeegan.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

Finding Opportunity Through Purpose
Harrison Financial Services Grows from Ground Up

As founder and CEO of Harrison Financial Services, a company with 30 years under its belt, Tim Harrison has proven his tenacity as a financial service professional and entrepreneur. The drive that got him to where he is today started at a young age.

“I had a paper route and my dad was in a related industry and he encouraged me to start putting $25, $50 a month away in mutual funds, which I did. It was the ’80s and ’90s and things were good. I started to build a plan, track my performance and fell in love with the process,” Harrison said.

It was when he was a freshman in college that Harrison cemented his aspiration to go into the financial field.

“I was able to get an internship with Northwestern Mutual, and essentially went to school literally from freshman year, first semester on, in a suit and tie,” he said.

“I really tried to focus on getting comfortable being uncomfortable, where I was working with executives and decision-makers, and I, fortunately, had some good mentors that allowed me to learn about how to work with those types of people and just always had the interest to work with owners and decision-makers,” he said.

Harrison said the continued success of Harrison Financial Services can be directly attributed to the team he has built.

“I’ve surrounded myself with great people and have great talent around me — experienced people with a lot of capabilities and capacity — adds value for our business owner and decision-maker clients,” he said. In total, the HFS team has amassed over 30 credentials, include J.D., CPWA®, CFA®, CAP®, and many more that demonstrate a level of internal expertise that is uncommon within one team.

Early on, Harrison Financial Services developed a niche working with senior executives, many from public companies, undergoing liquidity events. Today, Harrison and his team help many business owners prepare and transition both pre and post exit.

HFS leverages the in-house advisor team and collaborates with a client’s existing advisor team to help prepare for the financial aspects but also the non-financial – the mental and emotional aspects of the transition, whether it be a family dealing with the death of a patriarch or an entrepreneur preparing to sell their business.

“I think a skill that’s useful, especially in our industry, is the willingness to and genuine interest in listening to people’s stories and helping them uncover things that might be currently unknown to them,” he said. “Then we craft a comprehensive plan that helps people build a better life, legacy, and community in a way that goes well beyond just finances.”

Harrison, a founding member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska, said his involvement in the organization for more than two decades has awarded him a community where he can learn from other’s experiences and share unique experiences of his own.

“Most entrepreneurs are on a bit of an island and they grapple with so many things in their own head,” he said. “EO allowed me, for the first time, to really surround myself with a true group of peers who are struggling and succeeding with similar issues and challenges as me in a way that’s completely confidential.”

Harrison Financial Services (HFS) is a marketing name used by certain individuals doing business as representatives of Northwestern Mutual. HFS is not a registered investment adviser, broker-dealer, insurance agency or federal savings bank. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries in Milwaukee, WI. For more information, visit hfs.nm.com.

9300 Underwood Ave., Ste 500    Omaha, NE 68114
harrisonfinancialservices.com • 402-891-2302
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From left, owner DJ Rezac and President Channing Johnson of KB Building Services. Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
From left, owner DJ Rezac and President Channing Johnson of KB Building Services.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

In the Trust Business
KB Building Services Brings Partnerships to Forefront

When DJ Rezac decided to buy the family janitorial service from his mother and aunt in 2003, KB Building Services served a limited footprint with 40 employees. Today, the combined leadership and vision of Rezac and Channing Johnson, company president, has grown the firm to 300 workers providing comprehensive janitorial, carpet cleaning, hard floor maintenance, and construction clean-ups for clients in three states.

“We specialize in customer service,” Rezac said. “We’re in the trust business as much as we are the cleaning business. We try and partner with people we like and people we trust and we hope they trust us as well. Trust us that we’re going to get the job done, trust us that we’ll be a good partner, trust us that if anything goes wrong, we will work together to come to solutions.”

Accommodating such growth and expansion has been no small challenge. Both Rezac and Johnson are quick to share the credit, praising employees for their hard work and commitment and Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska for imparting the expertise needed to effectively lead a multi-state enterprise.

“EO, for me, has been a place to learn and grow,” Rezac said. “It’s a member-led organization, a carry-your-own-bag organization. That’s where I think I’ve really been able to hone a lot of the leadership skills that I use today, through my relationships at EO. The more I got involved, the more it helped my business. It has been super cool.”

Rezac has been a part of the group since 2003 during which time he’s sat on EO Nebraska’s board of directors, serving as president in 2010, and on the global board from 2011 to 2013.

“To me, the peer aspect is really important,” he said. “There’s not a lot of people who know what it’s like to have an impending payroll coming up in two weeks and accounts receivable not yet collected. I think that the peer relationships are super powerful.”

Johnson has been involved with EO for seven years and is currently participating in the Key Executive Forum where the focus is on leadership development, learned as a cohort with other business owners.

“Being surrounded by other people who are in similar situations and understand what you’re going through, who have a high-level, big picture mindset has been great,” Johnson said, adding that the lessons she’s learned about her own leadership have enabled her to empower others on the KB Building Services team.

“Our four core values are consistent, dependable, proactive communication and do what you say. Our mission is to serve others,” she said. “We do an extensive front-end process looking for people who really align with our core values and build that up on our team.

“We teach them, train them, and then allow them to be empowered to make decisions because we’ve given them the tools to do so. I think that overall trust comes from having such great alignment between our customers, who we call our partners, and our employees from the very beginning.”

10101 J Street    Omaha, NE 68127
kbbldservices.com • 402-330-8243
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Pat Moran, owner of Lincoln Coin & Bullion. Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
Pat Moran, owner of Lincoln Coin & Bullion.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

Freedom of Ownership
Moran Thrives’s with Lincoln Coin & Bullion

The world of entrepreneurism has been a leap of faith for Pat Moran, owner of Lincoln Coin & Bullion. Formerly a mechanical engineer with 20 years of experience designing power plants, he bought the business with a partner in 2019.

“I’d always thought about doing some sort of business,” he said. “When you work for someone else, you put effort in but you don’t necessarily see the results or rewards right away versus here, effort in equals reward out, generally. Not just financially but any number of rewards.

“I was looking for a side business when this came up for sale. We looked at it and ended up deciding to go in on it together. He’s the silent partner and I’m day-to-day. I wanted to do this to show my kids what it’s like to work for someone else and what it’s like to own a business and give them that exposure.”

The company, which employs four, deals in bullion and historic, collectible coins and currency. Moran, a native of Pennsylvania, admits he knew little if anything about numismatics (the study of coins), even less than he knew about the day-to-day challenges that come with being an owner.

“Entrepreneurism is not as easy as it looks,” he said. “No one in my family owned businesses. I didn’t really have anyone to ask and bounce thoughts off of.

“On the other hand, you get to choose what you want to work on as far as how you want to do things, how you want to develop people, what to learn, what to expand into. It’s the freedom of choosing your day that appeals to me.”

Moran said the three biggest challenges he’s tackled — dealing with the emotional roller coaster of business ownership, balancing everything in his life and managing people — have all been topics addressed through his participation with Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska.

“[EO] is a tremendous source of accumulated knowledge, experience and resources,” he said. “For someone in my position that’s newer to all this, it’s been invaluable.”

Between the guidance of his business partner and the support he gets from EO, Moran is quickly getting up to speed on the finer points of being an entrepreneur.

“Folks are much more willing to help than you think,” he said. “The resources, the knowledge, everything is out there and people are willing to share it and help you if you ask.”

3534 South 48th St., Suite 4    Lincoln, NE 68506
lincolncoinandbullion.com    402-327-2853


From left, Caleb Schadel, DDS, EO member James O’Brien, DDS, and Blair Racker, DDS. Photo by Debra S. KaplanBy Dwain Hebda / Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
From left, Caleb Schadel, DDS, EO member James O’Brien, DDS, and Blair Racker, DDS.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

From Navy to Private Practice
O’Brien Builds Oral Surgery Team in Heartland

Throughout Dr. James O’Brien’s career, maximizing opportunities has been key to his success, to say the least. In dental school, he never considered entering the military, yet wound up serving in the U.S. Navy for 12 years. During that span, he gave little thought to life after the service, yet by the time he retired in 2020, he’d already spent two years moonlighting with Omaha & Council Bluffs Oral Surgery where he is now managing partner and co-owner with Drs. Caleb Schadel and Blair Racker.

“I commuted from Honolulu to Omaha,” he said. “It was a really unique opportunity to be able to feel out if private practice was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and see if this particular practice was a good fit. As that continued to go, I discovered I really wanted the challenge and the opportunities within private practice. I was sort of energized by that challenge.”

O’Brien said his military experience was a mixed bag insofar as how it prepared him for life as an entrepreneur.

“Management and leadership skills, personnel management in general but also management of stressful situations and your own internal stress as well, the Navy did that better than any civilian scenario or situation,” he said. “What my time in the service instilled in me was how to treat people, how to help people navigate fairly uncomfortable situations and just hard work. When you’re at sea, you work seven days a week. There are no vacations, there’s no break.

“The part that I did not learn in the Navy was basically how to create relationships and partnerships,” he said. “In the Navy, the patients just showed up whereas our practice is purely referral-based. There’s no direct-to-consumer marketing, it’s all basically B2B. Creating trust between the general dentists that send us patients and their patients and our practice was one of the original challenges but also one of the things that I was energized by, and I find a lot of fulfillment in.”

Part of O’Brien’s evolution as an entrepreneur has come through membership in Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska, to which he was introduced by colleagues. He said the organization has given him a community of people of like mind and in similar situations that he can relate to.

“[EO] sounded very intriguing to me and it’s helped with my responsibilities of managing the business aspect of things,” he said. “In the Navy I didn’t have to worry about payroll or things of that nature but here, between my partners and I, we have to manage all of that and be good stewards of the company.

“I find it energizing to have become more engaged with a community of people who have shared those challenges and whatnot. That’s been the part about EO that’s been the most fulfilling to me; it’s a way that I can challenge myself personally and professionally and create those collegial bonds with other people going through the same thing.”

5040 S 153rd St.    Omaha, NE 68137
8340 West Dodge Rd, Suite 101    Omaha, NE 68114

3265 S 24th St.    Council Bluffs, IA 51501
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Steve Kanne, Owner & COO of Prime Secured Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
Steve Kanne, Owner & COO of Prime Secured
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

Upskilling to Success
Kanne takes Prime Secured to Next Level

Grit, resilience, and determination are not just values to Steve Kanne — they are the core of his character, ingrained through his upbringing on his family’s Iowa farm. Kanne carried these principles with him, destined to carve out his own path to success. His aspirations weren’t merely dreams; they were blueprints for a future he was determined to build.

In 2001, after working in the competitive arena of sales, Kanne reached a turning point. He knew he was ready to put his guiding principles to use and boldly took a step toward making his dreams come true by co-founding Omaha-based Prime Communications, Inc., now known as Prime Secured. Under his leadership, Prime Secured has flourished into a premier provider of enterprise physical security, managed security services, and managed IT services, with a growing team of 180 professionals nationwide.

“My strong background in finance and accounting was an advantage in my entrepreneurial journey,” he said. “And my four-plus years in sales didn’t just sharpen my skills — it gave me the expertise to effectively market and sell our company, our products, and our services. These areas of knowledge became resources that I relied on greatly.”

Like all entrepreneurs Kanne had his share of inexperience, mainly taking on the fresh responsibility of managing and leading others. There was an added nuance to this task as many of the company’s employees lived outside Nebraska, working remotely well before it was commonplace.

“Before founding Prime Secured, my journey had not yet led me to a role where I was responsible for leading a team. The skill I had to master was people management —the art of guiding a group toward a shared vision,” he said.

“I had been called a supervisor before, but that role wasn’t really about leading people. Actually, guiding and mentoring a team was somewhat foreign to me. I had to invest in training, learning, and practice to refine that skill, which I now consider a great strength of mine.”

Part of that refinement started in 2007, after a long recruitment from a peer, he joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska and has never looked back. He calls his experience with the international organization a transformative one in his development as a leader and a business owner.

“I’m a huge advocate for continuous learning and investing in yourself. My journey with the EO group has truly been fantastic, allowing me to do just that,” he said. “I joined the group after a year and a half of hearing positive recommendations. Once I became a member, I immediately saw a return on my investment.”

Kanne said the ability to interact with peers who were facing many of the same challenges as he has paid off with an improved skillset. More than that, it gave him a community of people who understood what he was going through in trying to grow a business.

“My aspiration has always been to own a business, and it’s an experience I wouldn’t change for anything. Yet, it’s not without its overwhelming moments. Discovering that I wasn’t alone, that others were navigating the same challenges, was an absolute game-changer for me,” he said.

“As I evolved personally, the ripple effects positively impacted our company. Networking with individuals who shared my mindset and vision proved to be transformative for our business. The initial years presented challenges in leadership and management, but with the support of EO, I managed to not only navigate but also master it.”

Steve Kanne and Prime Secured are on an ascent. Kanne continues to apply his foundational values and skills gained from his early life experiences, enriched further by mentorship from EO Nebraska, to elevate Prime Secured to unprecedented levels.

“Get ready to hear more about Prime Secured — it’s inevitable. Our team is at its strongest, our leadership is at its most robust. We’re committed to not just providing our clients and the community with peace of mind through top-notch physical, cyber, and managed IT services, but we are also creating a culture that fills us with so much pride. It’s a culture that people are eager to join and be a part of.”

3603 N. 222nd St., Suite 102    Elkhorn, NE 68022
402-289-4126 • primesecured.com
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Owners of The Winery, from left, Holly Jones and Julie Hockney. Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
Owners of The Winery, from left, Holly Jones and Julie Hockney.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

Wine and Design
Interior Designer Hockney Launches Family of Companies

Like most people, Julie Hockney’s resume lists a string of businesses to which she’s devoted time and talent. Unlike most people, the companies listed on Hockney’s resume for the past 17 years are all firms she’s launched and grown into successful ventures.

Starting with JH Interior Design in 2007, Hockney expanded her business holdings to include Bouquet, a full-service floral design studio, opened in 2014; The Studio by JH, a retail store featuring a showroom and art gallery, opened in 2021; a second interior design branch in Steamboat, Colorado;and finally The Winery, a defunct wine shop and deli she and co-owner Holly Jones bought and resurrected in 2022.

Hockney said despite the unique nature of each venture, there are certain foundational elements all her companies hold in common.

“Consistently, I know we have a product that’s good,” she said. “I believe so strongly in what we can do and how we can take care of people that I don’t doubt the product, whether it be interior design consulting or floral arrangements or retail items.

“I would say the trickiest thing to master across all of them was probably finding the right people to execute the vision. As an entrepreneur, I need the push of starting and then finding the people to carry it out. Finding the right people, I think, is always the hardest part.”

Hockney said there’s a lot that goes into the definition of the “right” people, but one component she’s leaned into is finding people good at the things she’s not as accomplished in. This hiring mentality helps her delegate responsibilities with confidence.

“The best piece of advice I could give is when you begin, you wear all the hats. I was head of marketing, I was head of finance, I was head of HR, sales, design,” she said. “It’s determining which hat to give away first and giving away the ones you’re the worst at or just find yourself getting frustrated with because they take too much time or they’re not the best use of your time. Find someone to do it that’s way better at it than you are. I wish I would have learned that sooner.”

Hockney also advises the would-be entrepreneur to seek as many resources as possible. It’s what led her to Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska, where she’s benefited as a member and helped others through EO’s leadership positions.

“EO provides the pure comfort in surrounding yourself with other people who have been in your shoes and understand that it’s lonely at the top or what it’s like to really put all your chips on the table,” she said. “But more important is being around people who have done things before you and can share their experience or what they would have done differently.

“There is a belief in EO that the answers are within everyone, it just takes some time and experience to get there. It’s this really interesting form of vulnerability that then turns into great discernment and next steps.”

741 N 98th Street    Omaha, NE 68114
Hours: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm Mon-Fri
11:00 am – 2:00 pm Sat
wineryomaha.com    402-915-4141
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Jason Koranda, CEO and co-founder of WOW Sports and BigMouth, Inc.Photo by Debra S. Kaplan
Jason Koranda, CEO and co-founder of WOW Sports and BigMouth, Inc.
Photo by Debra S. Kaplan

Business of Creating Fun
Koranda expands Outdoor Recreation Business WOW Sports

In business, there are all kinds of things that can’t be anticipated. Take Jason Koranda; while living in China, he started WOW Sports, which manufactures and markets products for recreation on the water, with his mentor, the late LeRoy Peterson, Jr.

“LeRoy was the godfather of towables,” Koranda said. “He was one of the first to really innovate in that product category. I was helping with product development and working with the factories there.”

Koranda might still be operating overseas had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My wife and three kids and I moved back [to Omaha] in January of 2020,” Koranda said. “We came back thinking we were going to be here a few weeks while COVID blew over in China and we never made it back.”

Koranda added novelty gift and pool float company Bigmouth Inc. to the fold that year and together the two companies thrived.

“The thing I like most about being an entrepreneur is having the freedom to do,” he said. “You have to do what’s best for your business, but you have the freedom to do what you think is best for your business.

“You’re able to manage your time in a much freer way. There is a creative aspect to being an entrepreneur. You’re creating something that hasn’t existed, an organization that would not exist if not for you and your co-founders. You can really take it any way you want to. That’s been cool.”

Koranda said while he learned much under Peterson’s guidance, each day in business is still a study of discovery and adaptation.

“There are no guarantees,” he said. “You have to make decisions and put your best foot forward and see what happens.

“Some are going to work out and some are not. You don’t really lose, you either win on the decisions you make, or you learn. I think that’s a good way to live and a good way to run a company or lead an organization or a group of people. Not everything is going to work out, but that’s OK.”

The universality of such truths has been reinforced through Koranda’s participation in Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nebraska, which he joined in 2021 and now serves on the board.

“EO offers a lot of opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said. “Since I’ve been part of EO, I’ve attended national events outside of Nebraska. I did executive education courses at Harvard University, The Wharton School and MIT. All these executive leadership events are strictly for EO members, not just in Nebraska but globally. There are people there from all over the world.”

As his businesses continue to prosper, Koranda said EO has provided insights that help keep the company on a solid foundation.

“It’s really helped me provide some organization in my business,” he said. “We grew a lot during COVID, I think probably we tripled our business during those years, and [EO] offered me a lot of guidance in how to structure an organization. It’s been great.”

14301 FNB Parkway Ste. 100    Omaha, NE 68154

wowsports.com • 844-WOW-9063
bigmouthinc.com • 855-969-2345

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