The Cole file Featured

4:41am EDT March 1, 2006
Born: Memphis, Tenn.

Education: Did not attend college

What is the biggest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge that we as an organization have faced is, how do we transition from being an entrepreneurial-driven organization to becoming a larger, more management team-focused and -driven organization.

Jumping from one level to the next level is what any business finds difficult in growth. Managing the growth in a controlled fashion and being able to make that transition at all is No. 1.

No. 2, credit to the founder, Bill Hutter, and credit to a lot of the people here, is that this organization is transitioning and has transitioned into an organization that has grown beyond just being entrepreneurial. The good news is that we have retained that as part of our culture, yet the organization is not 100 percent dependent on the entrepreneur and the founder.

That is a testimony to Bill. A lot of entrepreneurs are a stumbling block for not allowing organizations to attain the level of success they could. Bill has actually hired, trained and empowered people in management capacities to help grow the company.

What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
One of the things that Bill (Hutter) has shown me is that when you are young and trying to climb the corporate ladder, you really need to be humble and grateful. Out of those things, you are able to enjoy the accomplishment. I really believe that your success comes from the success of others.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
There are two people. My mother is one of them. She is an incredible businessperson. She showed me the importance of perseverance.

She also taught me the ability to be patient. Sometimes you have to wait and be patient for a solution to come around.

Another person is Jim Near, the former CEO and president of Wendy’s. What I really admire about him is how he was able to take business basics and principles and translate them from a small stand-alone business to a huge restaurant chain. I also admire his humbleness and graciousness.