Paige Wingert | Entrepreneur of the Month | May 2019

By: Sarah Zomaya

I have the great honor of introducing you to Paige Wingert ’92, our May 2019 Entrepreneur of the Month. Paige founded Legacy Athletic during his second year at Dickinson Law School with co-founder, fellow law student, and roommate, Mark Landgren ’92. With the initial goal of creating the ultimate baseball hat, Paige has since grown his business into a leading supplier in the hat, apparel, and home décor industries. Legacy Athletic recently merged with League Collegiate Outfitter and together, under the name L2 Brands, the merged business is serving the collegiate, resort, and corporate markets. Based in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Paige is now the innovative CEO of L2 Brands and is passionate about leading the merged company.

Prior to my interview, Paige and members of the Legacy workforce gave my Company Creation class a tour of the facility. Following the tour, our class had an informative and fun Q&A with Paige and Legacy’s counsel, Jeremy Frey. You can read about our visit here. Paige appeared to me to be a principled man who rightly takes pride in the company he has built.

Elements for Success

Paige conveyed that in order to succeed in the early stages of running a business, you have to be passionate about your product or service. Companies will inevitably go through hard times and some entrepreneurs start a business because they like the idea of owning their own company, but it takes passion to get over the hurdles and succeed. Paige added that communication is key when it comes to running a business. Entrepreneurs have to be able to communicate their vision competently in order to grow the business. Paige explained that in the early stages of his business he had been working on the product day in and day out for years. In order to grow the business and bring other members aboard, Paige had to take a step back and communicate his vision and ideas for the business.

Watch Paige elaborate on elements for success here.

Follow this link to hear Paige describe his experience when times were tough with the business.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

Paige has had over 25 years of experience with running a business. His advice for entrepreneurs is to self-evaluate; know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. As Paige explained, the things you’re good at – do that as much as possible, the things you’re not good at – you have to have confidence to hire people who have that skill/expertise. Paige attributes his success, in part, to his well-rounded team. The team at L2 Brands is made up of people with all different skill sets and all different personality traits. Paige described that he is a Type A person, very self-driven and motivated to get from point A to point B. Paige’s Senior Vice President and brother, Brandon Wingert, on the other hand, is very analytical and thorough. As a team, Paige and Brandon are effective and efficient because they have personality traits that complement each other.

Follow this link for to hear more of Paige’s advice for entrepreneurs.

Check out this link to hear Paige discuss his most valuable lesson.

Key Considerations Surrounding Merger/Acquisition

Legacy Athletic recently went through a major merger with League Collegiate Outfitters and Paige was willing to offer some insight into that process. First, you have to make sure that the products or services of the two companies complement each other. If the products or services don’t meld, then combining the two businesses may not be the best option. Aside from the typical business due diligence, Paige explained that you have to put a lot of time and effort into assessing the “people part of the business.” This can be hard to assess, but you must consider how to bring the organizations together and how long it will take to get everyone in step. During the merger process, the executives and high-level employees are working on the deal for months, but they must remember to constantly communicate that information to the rest of the team.

Click this link to hear more about Paige’s consideration surrounding mergers and acquisitions.

Using Your Law Degree in Business

Paige recounts that over the years many people have asked him, “you have a law degree, why are you making hats?” Paige explained, “I have never had one day of regret about the three years I took to get my law degree…the education I got in three years of law school was transformative to me as a person…I deeply believe that you go through law school and the whole teaching method, and you come out really a different person – it’s a tremendous education.” Paige also noted that he benefits from the technical aspects of a law degree too; he can preliminary read contracts and is better equipped for negotiations. Paige emphasized that the real difference maker in how he uses his law degree is his ability to hone in on the crux of an issue. In law school you are trained to cut through the clutter, the red herrings, and get to the heart of the matter – Paige expressed that this ability is not only extremely valuable in business, but in all aspects of life. The ability to analyze and hone in on the true issue will lead you to making wise, informed decisions.

To hear more about how Paige uses his law degree in business, click here.

Best Attribute in a Company’s Legal Counsel

In our conversation about a company’s legal counsel, it was very clear that Paige and his company’s legal counsel, Jeremy Frey, have an exemplary relationship that benefits the entire organization. Paige discussed that when looking for company counsel, your attorney has to have the basic degree of competency – this may seem common-sensical, but don’t take it for granted. Paige also explained that you want to find an attorney who has the ability to emerge and learn about the business to such a point where the company counsel serves not only as a legal advisor but also as a strategic business advisor. The ideal company counsel has a deep knowledge of the organization: the history, the current challenges, and the company’s direction. Paige’s legal counsel, Jeremy, even described a time when his young son pointed out Legacy Athletic apparel while at Disney World. Paige succinctly put it that, “there’s no substitute from really knowing that specific company’s needs.”

To hear specific advice for law students who want to represent businesses, click here.

Book Recommendation

When asked about a reading recommendation, Paige gave me “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.

 

 

I appreciate that Paige was able to take the time to chat with me so that I could share his insights with you!

 

 

 


Sarah Zomaya, at the time of this post, is a second year law student at Penn State’s Dickinson Law. She is from Southern California and is interested in corporate transactional law. Sarah is currently serving as Vice President of the Business Law Society and as an Associate Editor of the Dickinson Law Review.

Olivier F. Noel, PhD | Entrepreneur of the Month | April 2019

By: Zach Gihorski

I have the great honor of introducing you to Olivier Noel, our April 2019 Entrepreneur of the Month. Olivier is an inspiring individual.  In 2017, he was named as a Forbes 30under30 in science, and he is a co-founder of DNAsimple. DNASimple drew nation-wide attention from Olivier’s appearance on the popular entrepreneurship tv show Shark Tank, where his company received a $200,000 investment from, Dallas Maverick’s owner, billionaire Mark Cuban. DNAsimple’s business concept is — quite simply — a match making service between medical researchers and potential research participants. The company creates this relationship by paying willing participants $50 to spit in a test tube and be included in a database that medical researchers can use as a resource.

While the company part of Olivier’s life is quite compelling, it only adds to his academic accomplishments. Olivier is currently completing the clinical rotations portion of his Medical Degree (MD) program at Penn State’s College of Medicine. Prior to seeking his MD, Olivier received a B.S. in Chemistry, focusing on Biochemistry, from Queens College in New York. Olivier subsequently earned his Ph.D in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from Penn State University.

A question that is often heard floating around the halls of institutions of higher learning is, “where is the optimal intersection between academic theory and practical industry skills?” I believe the answer to that question is sitting across the table from me wearing his lab coat and a smile.  We were fortunate to join Olivier for a conversation at the Center for Medical Innovation in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The Entrepreneurial Mind: Plan. Lead. Innovate.

Overcoming obstacles

“Going forward, I anticipate balancing medical school, seeing patients, research and science, and also the innovation – bringing it all together.”

Olivier expressed that he has faced obstacles along his life’s journey. Born and raised in Haiti, he moved to the U.S. after completing high school. Olivier explained that during his college education in New York he faced financial challenges and worked a mix of retail and tutoring positions, a total of 5 jobs at one point.

Later, Olivier was faced with the extensive challenge of launching a cutting-edge biotech business (DNASimple) during his Ph.D. program. Olivier said that learning how to balance all of the responsibilities of running a business and attending school was quite an obstacle, but one he has overcome.  Having a great team around him has helped.

Hear a little more about the obstacles Olivier has faced.

two elements of success

“Great planning and great discipline”

Most entrepreneurs understand the value of planning and hard work. But Olivier explained it is an important part of problem solving to have a plan A, B, C, D, etc. not because you are planning to fail, but to force yourself to see there are multiple avenues to achieving your goal.

Olivier also believes it takes great discipline to stick with those plans and achieve success. The ability to persist through the setbacks, and keep your ultimate goal in focus is key.

Hear more from Olivier about his take on habits for success by clicking here.

Perspective  – Young Entrepreneurs

It is a difficult path … It takes a lot of perseverance, it takes a lot of determination, it takes a lot of will … I like to say there are a lot of good days and bad months.”

Often, young entrepreneurs are told that if they have a “great” idea they should pursue it. Olivier adopts a more traditional approach to guiding young entrepreneurs: he feels it important to first find a problem in need of a solution and then reverse engineer the business steps.

To hear more advice from Olivier on being a young entrepreneur click here.

Balancing School and Business  

“You just can’t simply hope that you can do it, and balance it, and make it work.”

Throughout the conversation Olivier touched on the topic of balancing school and entrepreneurship. When asked to expand on his experience of balancing the two, he smiled and suggested he is not recommending it for everyone. However, if you are going to do it, you must have more than just hope, you need to have a plan. It is important to visualize what it would look like in a perfect world and be honest with yourself when determining if it would be possible to manage.

Olivier finds it important to look at your level of performance in both school and business and to be critical in evaluating whether you are reaching the level of performances you expect of yourself. That is, you must be honest with yourself about how much help you need from your business team members and support system.

If you want to hear Olivier talk more about the keys to managing school and running a company click here.

Advice for Law Students

“I think the relationship is fundamental and establishing trust early-on will go a long way.”

The relationship between a lawyer and business owner is one that receives a lot of attention in law school. However, it was refreshing to hear from the entrepreneur’s point of view. Olivier first spoke to the critical importance of establishing trust.  From that trust, the entrepreneur can treat their lawyer like a co-founder or partner – as a critical member of the business’s management team. Olivier also spoke to the value of using the lawyer proactively in a full-spectrum of business decisions as well as the importance of keeping the lawyer apprised of future innovative ideas.

Listen to more of Olivier’s thoughts on the relationship between the lawyer and the business owner here.

Mentorship

“When people think of mentors they often think of a one all-purpose mentor, but I think in reality it does not always happen like that.”

What are Olivier’s feelings on mentorship? It is a crucial part of his story. He believes it is important to have different mentors for different areas of your life; taking the approach of creating a personal, trusted board of directors to provide mentorship. Olivier has mentors from college, graduate school, the business industry, and the science field, all who play a regular part in his personal and professional development.

Olivier’s humility was evident throughout our conversation. He explained how grateful he is to have an incredibly talented team helping him, one of them being his former fellow graduate student Joel Coble.  Olivier expressed how he enjoys letting smart and talented teammates do what they do best without needing his constant oversight.

If you want to hear more on Olivier’s take on the value of mentorship click here.

Book Recommendation

Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama”

Many law students, like myself, have an innate love for learning and reading non-legal works. When asked to share some of his favorites books, Olivier replied that he is a big fan of audiobooks and Tedtalks. However, he loves autobiographies, particularity autobiographies of U.S. Presidents, explaining that President Obama’s 2004 novel, Dreams from My Father, was especially inspiring to him.

Closing Thought

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Before the conversation concluded, Olivier and I shared some of our favorite authors and quotes. Ultimately, he left us with a great piece of advice he believes is important in life and in business by quoting the famous leadership author Stephen Covey (see quote above).

Want to learn more about Olivier’s future projects?

In addition to all the impressive endeavors outlined in this post, Olivier is committed to helping fellow medical innovators. He is preparing to launch his Bench to Bedside to Business Pipeline this coming fall, a database designed to connect like-minded medical innovators and allow them to share ideas. Olivier’s new business will also potentially allow companies interested in investing to invest in projects in the Pipeline. To hear Olivier, discuss the Bench to Bedside to Business Pipeline click here. (Olivier’s presentation starts at video time 6:30)

Videos containing Olivier Noel’s powerful insights can be view by clicking the links throughout the article.

If you would like to get in contact with Olivier – please reach out through his personal webpage.

Olivier’s Social Media Contact Information

https://twitter.com/ofnoel7

https://www.instagram.com/olivierfnoel/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/olivierfnoel/


Zach is a second year law student at the Dickinson School of Law, where he is an active student leader.  He is actively cultivating relationships with outside resources to give opportunities to his classmates. He is passionate about using his experiences in both the private and public sector to find innovative solutions for the world’s agricultural, energy, and environmental needs. Look for the other blog posts that Zach has written for this blog.

 Photo source: http://www.teenpodcast.com/balance/

Kevin Harter | Entrepreneur of the Month | March 2019

By: Arther Hart

I have the great honor to introduce you to Kevin Harter, our March Entrepreneur of the Month. Kevin is an experienced healthcare and technology executive, board member, serial entrepreneur, and long-time volunteer for education-related initiatives.

Kevin has more than 35 years of experience in new life science and technology businesses. He has held more than two dozen board seats in healthcare, technology and financial companies. Kevin has served as chairman, president, and CEO of Saladax Biomedical Inc., a leader in personalized diagnostics. He co-founded the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania and Keystone Medical Systems.

In addition to being named as our Entrepreneur of the Month, Kevin has been the recipient of numerous awards for his professional and volunteer achievements. These awards include the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young/Inc. Magazine, Outstanding Leadership in Technology Award from the Technology Council of Central PA, and the Alumni Fellow and Philip Philip Mitchell Service Award from the Pennsylvania State University.

Kevin has a passion for mentoring and teaching young entrepreneurs. He has taught classes for Penn State Harrisburg and continues to teach business skills through the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine. Entrepreneurs, and law students that are interested in representing entrepreneurs, can learn a great deal from Kevin’s experience.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

“It does take some level of courage to jump into the uncertainty and definitely takes a lot of hard work.”

When I asked Kevin what his greatest accomplishment was, I was surprised by his answer. It wasn’t about any of his great business deals or the impressive amount money he raised, it was having the courage to start in spite of the financial risks. Courage, according to Kevin, is an essential part of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Click here to watch the interview.

The other absolutely essential part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is hard work. It is not enough to have the dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur, it takes a lot of hard work to get there. An entrepreneur should treat startups like they are training for a marathon.

Click here to hear Kevin elaborate.

Many businesses follow what Kevin calls “The Startup Curve.” At some point after the initial enthusiasm has worn off, there will be a period called the “Trough of Sorrow.” Hard work is absolutely necessary to pulling a startup out of the “Trough of Sorrow.”

Thinking like an Entrepreneur

“Don’t think of entrepreneurship as getting a job managing a business.”

Kevin emphasizes that entrepreneurs need to recognize that entrepreneurship is not the same as management. While it is true that entrepreneurs are managers, they are not confined to that role. Kevin explained the difference between the two is that entrepreneurship is identifying, creating, and acting upon an innovative opportunity to create value while management is the administration of an organization.

Entrepreneurs, according to Kevin, should have a 2-stage mental process. One side is very creative and optimistic while the other side is risk averse and pessimistic. An entrepreneur has to be very optimistic about the opportunities and where they are going to take the business while at the same time being careful and looking out for the things that can go wrong.

Watch the interview here.

Risk and Uncertainty

You’re going to deal, in entrepreneurship, with a great deal of uncertainty. Your ability to manage that uncertainty is going to determine your level of success in entrepreneurship.”

During a lecture to Dickinson Law’s Company Creation class, Kevin made a surprising point about the relationship between entrepreneurs and risk. Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs are not, or at least should not be, chronic risk takers. Rather, successful entrepreneurs learn how to mitigate the risk involved by effectively dealing with uncertainty. To effectively manage the uncertainty, successful entrepreneurs learn to make good, informed judgment calls and not dwell on past mistakes.

For these and more entrepreneurial tips click here.

Startup Finance

“The first question I would ask myself is, do I need money?”

Kevin’s first bit of advice when it comes to raising capital is that an entrepreneur must ask whether they need money. There are a few things an entrepreneur needs to do before seeking money: clearly identify who your customer is, what they want, and what the value is that you can provide them. Then, if you are able to calculate how much money you need to create the business, you can look at raising it. According to Kevin, 79% of businesses fail because they haven’t properly identified their customer, and end up building or developing the wrong thing.

Customer discovery is key to avoiding this pitfall. During the early stages of a business, entrepreneurs should be spending as little as they can with the goal of testing a hypothesis. The hypothesis being that the entrepreneur has built a repeatable and profitable business loop. Once an entrepreneur has proven all of their hypotheses, they can begin to look for additional funding to grow their business.

Watch Kevin’s explanation here.

Advice for Law Students

“You are going to need to provide information in a way that entrepreneurs can make judgment calls that are very difficult and frequently wrong.”

The best startup lawyers become good partners with the entrepreneurs they represent. Entrepreneurs deal with a large amount of uncertainty and they often need the help of an attorney to make the best decisions they can. The best thing an attorney can do for entrepreneurs is give good advice, in context. They should learn to ask the question “why” and seek to understand their client’s motives as well as objectives.

Click here to hear Kevin elaborate.

Kevin’s Recommended Reading for Entrepreneurs

Talking to Humans

Business Model Generation

Value Proposition Design

The Startup Owner’s Manual

 

Videos containing Kevin Harter’s great advice and insights can be viewed through links in the above article.

Photo Source: Penn State Hershey College of Medicine


Arther Hart is a second-year law student at Penn State’s Dickinson Law. He is from Northern Utah and an interest in Health and Technology Law. He has a degree in biological engineering from Utah State University.  Currently, Arther is interning at the Center for Medical Innovation.

Trisha Cowart | Entrepreneur of the Month | February 2019

By: Sarah Phillips

I have the great honor to introduce to you Trisha Cowart, our February 2019 Entrepreneur of the Month. Trisha is a co-founder of the innovative law firm Cowart Dizzia LLP. This cloud-based, multi-jurisdictional, all female law firm focuses on providing dynamic solutions in the field of regulatory healthcare counseling for a wide variety of clients. The firm provides healthcare facilities with educational trainings, collaborates with agencies and caseworkers to resolve healthcare eligibility issues, and enforces facilities’ rights under Medicaid laws.

Trisha received her B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University, then graduated from Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law, and shortly after graduating, began working as a Clinical Professor at the law school’s Elder Law and Consumer Protection Clinic. Before starting Cowart Dizzia LLP, she was a partner at a national law firm, where she focused her practice on Medicaid eligibility, civil litigation, and Medicaid regulatory issues. Trisha was kind enough to sit down and share her business and entrepreneurship story with us.

Elements for Success

The first element of success is finding the right and trusted business partner.

What does Trisha credit for the success of her law firm? That’s easy. Trisha says that the key to the law firm’s success has been the strong and balanced relationship between herself and co-founder of Cowart Dizzia LLP, Gina Dizzia. For Trisha, operating a great business is all about finding the right people to go into business with. Trisha recommends that picking your business partner be a slow and deliberate process; it is important to find a partner with complementary skills, but also a partner who has different strengths and can excel in different areas.

 Creating the right company culture is also crucial to developing a business that people want to be part of. For Trisha and her business partner, this means fostering a work environment where the attorneys are enjoying their work and happy in their personal lives. Allowing the firm’s attorneys to telecommute is unique, but for Cowart Dizzia LLP, it’s what makes them successful.

As our conversation continued, it seemed clear that a big element of Trisha’s success as an innovative entrepreneur is that the law firm she and her business partner created has allowed Trisha to pursue a career she is passionate about. Trisha has devoted countless hours to developing meaningful client relationships and putting in the extra time and care to make sure the business flourished in its early stages-all because she was passionate about the work, her clients, the law firm and truly believed in the mission.

Developing strong relationships with clients is also fundamental to your business’ success. Click here for more on why forming long lasting relationships with your clients matters according to Trisha.

Entrepreneurial Risk

You have to think about taking a risk, but you also need it to be a well thought out and calculated risk.

Inherent to being an entrepreneur is taking risk, but Trisha explained that successful entrepreneurs will take calculated risks. For her, that meant taking a risk and leaving her old firm, but doing enough planning ahead of time to set herself up for success.

Part of that planning involved identifying her market, and also determining if there was room for her growing business in that market. Without growth potential, it can be hard to carve out and sustain a place in the marketplace.

Trisha also strongly believes that entrepreneurs can plan for success by finding ways to utilize each team members’ unique strengths. Hear more from Trisha about the value of risk taking and effective management.

Lessons Learned

Our clients’ needs have changed, and you have to adapt and grow with those needs.

If there was one theme that kept coming into our conversation, it was the importance of accepting that change is an inherent part of running a business. If you can be ready to adapt as your clients’ needs shift, you will be able to better meet those needs or fill that opening in the market. Part of this is also understanding that how your business starts may not be the way it ends, and that can be a good thing if it means that you are changing in a positive direction.

Trisha also learned quickly the value in seeking advice from others, especially in the early stages of starting her business. Trisha and her business partner consulted with an attorney and an accountant to make sure that they took all the necessary steps to establish their law firm correctly.  By consulting with experts, they felt more confident in the potential success of their entrepreneurial endeavor.

Learning to adapt best management practices can also play an integral role in the long-term success of your business. Hear Trisha explain why this is important.

Advice for Today’s Entrepreneurs

Keep your costs in-check.

Finding and using innovative methods to lower costs, especially in the early phases, can be extremely helpful when starting your business. Trisha’s law firm uses cloud-based platforms, shared works spaces and a website creation platform to limit costs where possible. This has allowed them to focus on growing in their market niche and establishing themselves as the leader in their field. Trisha explained that after you’ve solidified your identity and experienced financial success, then you can reinvest for expanding or adding on “extras” to your business.

For more creative ways about how to limit costs, click here.

Advice for Today’s Law Student

Your cover letter is your first chance to make a great impression.

Being open to learning about different areas of the law is important as a law student. Trisha found her passion by accepting an internship opportunity at the school’s Elder Law Clinic. Law school, and your early career, should be focused on finding what makes you happy and discovering which area of the law you can be passionate about. Taking advantage of every new experience that comes along is just one way Trisha hopes current law students will continue to challenge themselves as they work through law school.

Trisha also strongly encourages all law students to learn the value of a personal and well-planned cover letter. The cover letters should reflect interest in the position and should demonstrate that your experiences match well with the firm or business. A cover letter that simply copies and pastes pieces from older versions will not make you stand out, and chances are it will not reflect your best qualities.

Being open to learning about different areas of the law is also important as a law student. Trisha found her passion by accepting an internship opportunity at the school’s Elder Law Clinic.

Hear Trisha explain why taking advantage of new experiences is valuable.

Videos containing Trisha Cowart’s great insights can be viewed through links in the above article.

This post was authored on February 2, 2019.


Sarah Phillips, at the time of this blog post, is a second year law student at Penn State’s Dickinson Law. She is from West Amwell, New Jersey and has interests in agricultural, land use and business transactional law. She is currently serving as a Honor Code Representative and a Law Lion Ambassador.

Photo source: https://www.businessknowhow.com/money/bizexpenses.htm

Greg Sutliff | Entrepreneur of the Month | January 2019

By: Gregory Archibald

I have the great honor to introduce you to Greg Sutliff, our January, 2019 featured entrepreneur. “Sutliff” is a name familiar to most individuals living in Pennsylvania. Many drivers across the state have purchased their vehicles from one of the Sutliff car dealerships or at the very least heard their catchy jingles over their radios as they cruise down the highway. Greg Sutliff, is just as well-known in the entrepreneurial community. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview him and gain insight into his views on the entrepreneurial mind and how to raise a successful business.

Greg Sutliff began working for his family’s business, Sutliff Chevrolet, in 1947. However, he did not move straight into the working world after graduating from high school. Mr. Sutliff graduated from Brown University in 1953 with his BA in Economics, and soon after served in the U.S. Navy until 1956. After his departure from the Navy, Mr. Sutliff attended Dickinson Law and obtained his Juris Doctorate in 1959. By 1962, Greg Sutliff returned to Sutliff Chevrolet as the general manager of the company.

Entrepreneurs and law students who would like to represent entrepreneurs can learn from Mr. Sutliff.  “…the law student needs to be able to fill in the blanks for the entrepreneur.”  Click here to hear Mr. Sutliff elaborate.

A Valuable Lesson

 “The first thing you need to know about is who you are.”

Throughout our interview, it became clear that Greg Sutliff was truly a man of “firsts,” and was not one to shy away from new ideas or advancements in the industry. In fact, he credits most of his success to being open-minded and adaptive. In the 1960s, Sutliff Chevrolet became one of the first car dealerships to have a computer for keeping track of payroll and inventory. As it was one of the earliest IBM models, no one had developed a program to complete such tasks. To solve this problem, Mr. Sutliff self-learned computer programming and programmed Sutliff Chevrolet’s computer.

In the 1970s, Mr. Sutliff brought an idea he had learned in law school to the automotive business. The “Last in First Out” (LIFO) accounting method, at that time, was not commonly used to organize automotive inventory. However, Mr. Sutliff felt that switching to the LIFO accounting method, though novel, may help his business. When he saw its success, he was quick to bring the new method to accounting firms and other dealerships in the area to allow them to share in the usefulness of his idea.

Hear it (and more) from Mr. Sutliff here.

The Entrepreneurial Mind

“The entrepreneurial mind is a sailing mind. You don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what the wind is going to be, but you figure it out as you go. You have a destination in mind, but the way you go today is not the way you go tomorrow.”

           One key element to success that Mr. Sutliff shared was the importance of knowing not only your own skill sets, but also the skill sets of those around you. He was quick to admit that although he knew he was a strong manager, he was aware that he did not have the skills to work effectively in sales. As such, he knew from an early stage that it was important for him to find employees who possessed this skill set to not only sell cars, but to also teach other employees how to properly sell a car.

Early in his role as general manager of Sutliff Chevrolet, Mr. Sutliff came into contact with an organization that administered a type of workplace personality test that would indicate an individual’s work ethic, as well as the area of the company in which they would be most effective. Mr. Sutliff credits this test with a large portion of the company’s success. When he placed an employee in a position with the test results to back it up, he was confident that the employee would be a productive member of the company.

Watch Mr. Sutliff’s explanation here.

The Element for Success

 What is most important?  Honesty.  “An honest man will not work for a dishonest man.”

When I asked Mr. Sutliff what separated successful entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack, his answer was simple: successful people make themselves different. New ideas happen every day in the business world, but it is the ideas that make a company truly stand out from their competition that provide the foundation for success. For example, Mr. Sutliff and Sutliff Chevrolet offered extended warranties on their vehicles, despite the fact that these same warranties were completely unprofitable for their competition. The idea was a simple one, but Sutliff Chevrolet stood out from the crowd because they made it work. Mr. Sutliff developed a system that allowed customers to prove that they had given their cars the proper routine maintenance. If the cars were properly taken care of, the warranty would be honored, and an inconvenienced customer would be transformed into a loyal client.

Watch the interview here.

Success

 “You need to have dedication. You need to have vision. You need to have a persona that will attract quality people to work for you.”

In addition to the original Sutliff Chevrolet location, Greg Sutliff has operated a Volkswagen store, a Buick GMC Cadillac store, a Cadillac Hummer Saab store, a Ford Store, a national car rental franchise, and helped to develop the Saturn brand. At its peak, Mr. Sutliff had five Saturn stores throughout central Pennsylvania, and sold more Saturn vehicles than all other franchises put together: approximately 48,000 total.

Mr. Sutliff has received the GM Dealer of the Year Award twice, and has presided as president of the National Chevrolet Dealer Council. Mr. Sutliff is a community philanthropist, and has consistently provided generous donations to United Way. Throughout his life, he learned how to sail and became an experienced pilot, all while raising a family.

Hear Mr. Sutliff’s advice for today’s entrepreneurs and lawyers.

Videos containing Mr. Sutliff’s great insights can be viewed through links in the above article.

This post was authored on January 5, 2019.


Greg Archibald, at the time of this post, is a second-year law student at Penn State Dickinson Law. He is from Central Pennsylvania and is interested in civil litigation. Greg is a founding member of the Business Law Society and is currently an Associate Editor of the Dickinson Law Review